Why We Need #BETSOBLACK

Why We Need #BETSOBLACK

Some clues for the clueless on why BET is needed.

Published January 21st

How are you Stacey? Don’t want to spend too much time on this as we kept our retort short and to the point on social yesterday. Hope you got the message. We kid about the check. But we’re wholly serious about having a network that represents Black culture.

The argument crops up all the time. Why do we need BET? Why isn’t there a White Entertainment Television? The answer is always the same: there is White Entertainment Television. It’s called Fox, NBC, ABC and every other network on the screen.

Do we really need to have this conversation again? Just to cover the bases, let’s dig in. A little history lesson: there was once a time when Jet magazine’s most popular page was the very last section in the publication. It was a listing of when and where you could see Black people on television. Monday at 8: Gary Coleman on Diff’rent Stokes. Tuesday at 9: Kim Fields on The Facts of Life.

Marinate on that for a bit.

There actually needed to be a place in a magazine where Black people could find out where they could see other Black people on sitcoms, dramas and news specials.

And it was a single page.

Move forward to 2015, Black faces are everywhere on television. Salute to Kerry Washington, Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard and the like. Just because there are enough Black faces on television to fill an entire issue of a magazine as opposed to a single page, doesn’t mean we don’t need a channel catered to a Black audience.

We know Stacey Dash is trolling us when she says there’s no need for BET (a particularly ridiculous claim considering BET resurrected her entire post-Clueless career with a role on The Game). Let’s be real here. Where will you see a special dedicated to highlighting the accomplishments of entertainers, athletes and activists like BET Honors? The easy answer would be to honor them during mainstream award shows. That would be awesome — but as #OscarsSoWhite has shown us, we’ve still got some work to do to bring that to fruition.

And BET showcases more than just Black artists. We honor those who represent our ideals and respect our history, no matter what color they are. Besides Darius Rucker, a former rocker turned country music musician, and rapper Nelly, who dipped his toe into the genre, are the Country Music Awards making room for non-white artists?

BET is an equal-opportunity supporter of quality entertainment. Justin Timberlake participated in the tribute to Charlie Wilson at the 2013 BET Awards; Tori Kelly and Robin Thicke honored Smokey Robinson at the 2015 BET Awards. Ask Sam Smith if we exclude other races. Yes, the word Black is part of our network’s name — that doesn’t mean we dismiss everyone else.

On January 31, BET will air its annual Celebration of Gospel. Where else would you see this? Gospel music pioneer Andraé Crouch recently passed away. All of the mainstream media news sites dutifully posted clipped obituaries. But where else will this man’s life be fully appreciated and honored by his peers in gospel music? Yup, BET.

When another network does a Celebration of Gospel, then come to me talking about whether or not BET is necessary.

When some channel rolls out the red carpet to celebrate African-Americans in music, then come to me talking about whether or not BET is necessary.

When any of the major networks have more than one or two shows devoted primarily to African-American characters, then come to me talking about whether or not BET is necessary. By the way, the answer would still be a resounding yes.

As long as television is #OhSoWhite, there will need to be #BETsoBlack

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Written by By: Aliya S. King

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