…BET aka Black Entertainment Television.
This network and its recent affiliate network TVOne are responsible for the demobilization of the African American Community. It’s not the only reason but it is the MAIN reason. Over the last 25 years, the stereotypes this network projected on the unprepared African American Youth and Young Adults created a false identity and to an extent, a false reality to America and African Americans. This network alone has done more damage than the gang violence that plagued Urban America during the 80s and 90s.
For those who don’t know by now, the network’s founders sold BET to Viacom in the early 90s in the hopes of having America’s first black-owned airline. The venture quickly tanked and due to the network founders’ greed, millions of unsuspecting African Americans would pay the price and continue to pay for it to this day.
BET’s new ownership wasted no time brainwashing 3 generations of children and young people from the 1990s to now. It’s horrible to perpetuate stereotypes about a race to other people. It’s unforgivable when the target demographic is the race that is the subject of said stereotypes. This is exactly what BET did to the African American community.
Let’s be real: The mid-1980s were a transitional period for Black Entertainment in general: The Hip Hop culture was becoming a nationwide phenomenon. Friends were freestyle rapping on the front steps of their projects in New York City, The Cosby Show was becoming a national icon and a recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee called N.W.A.–You might have heard of ’em–was becoming famous and imfamous. The 1988 film Glory starring Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman and Samuel L. Jackson followed in the footsteps of ROOTS from a decade earlier with its dramatic retelling of the 54 Regiment from Massachusetts. The nation’s first African American Regiment fought in the Civil War and paved the way for African American equality in the military.
Then, BET came along.
From what I’ve heard from folks, BET was a decient cable network during the 1980s. Then in a business move motivated by pure greed, the network’s African-American founders sold it to Viacom. Under its new management, BET wasted no time giving Black America a false reality. The Music Videos, the Gangsta Rap and later the reality TV Shows. They all had the same purpose and that was to do what MTV couldn’t: Show impressionable young people what they could never have under normal circumstances and tell them they want it anyway.
Coupled with the so-called War on Drugs, the movies that glorified the black gangster (Menace II Society) and The Clinton (42) Administation’s Mass Incarceration Policy that unfairly targeted African American men it was the perfect storm of propaganda for young African Americans. Blacks were made to feel that they had no hope if they didn’t have natural talent as an athlete/actor/rapper and were better off turning to crime if they wanted to survive in America. African Americans who tried to fight the machine were quickly silenced like so many before them–let’s be honest, the music industry and tabloids were what killed Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., not just their killers (both murders still “unsolved”, by the way).
The common thread with all this: BET.
My siblings will tell you I would get up and leave the room if they didn’t let me change the channel. Even at age 7, I knew there was something horribly wrong with BET’s programming. It felt like straight-up brainwashing and that’s a pretty scary thought for a first-grader to have about ANY TV channel when you think about it. Not saying I didn’t like rap or hip hop. It was something about BET that I never liked. It wasn’t until about 12 years later when Hip Hop made the jump to MTV and so on that it all made sense to me: BET had done its job of demobilizing African American young people from politics at all levels.
Remember: African Americans had been prominent in sports, movies and TV long before the 1990s. It wasn’t until BET came along that the focus shifted from empowerment and motivating to fanticizing and dramatizing. 10 years ago, people began to wonder when the change happened. What could have changed two generations of African American youth compared to the ones before them so drastically, passing the corruption on to their children and grandchildren?
Look, there was alot of positive black programming the was prevalent during the 1990s. The Wayans Brothers, Sister Sister and Living Single, Smart Guy and The Steve Harvey Show are a few examples that come to mind.
The early 2000s saw the emergence of Tyler Perry. As much as some people like to deny it, his plays were the wake-up call Black America needed to finally break the cycle of self-destruction. Contrary to what HIS critics like to say, Hip Hop wasn’t the problem. It was the medium. He knew this and beat the establishment at their own game while giving the majority of Black America its self-worth back. Not saying he was the only cause but his role was a significantly large one. Much of the hate toward him comes from the fact he is an entrepreneur and his endorsement deals with Oprah Winfrey.
…And this was what told Black Americans YES, THEY CAN.
Obama becoming the 44th President was what told Black Americans they CAN be anything they want to be if they’re willing to work for it. I have often said on social media Barack Obama was the President this country needed at the time but not the one it deserved. He reminded Black Americans and the world for that matter America still has a race problem simply by being President.
A problem BET played an integral role in distracting Black America from for almost 20 years. Think about it: The Million Man March wasn’t as effective as it should have been due to the lack of grassroots support and media coverage. Speaking of, BET has shown ZERO interested in becoming an agent of positive change in the years since the subject of race relations became a serious national conversation for the first time in decades.
Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial? OJ Simpson’s court case? Bill Cosby’s sexual assult indictment? Ben Carson and Herman Caine running for president? They’re all red herrings strategically utilized at specific times in an effort to distract Black Americans from the REAL issue they need to focus on: Racial Inequality. We live in a country where All Lives Don’t Matter and the racists who run this country are no longer beating around the bush about it either. I’ll talk about this more in a separate blog post.
As I said the paragraph before BET, a network that targets African Americans doesn’t have a track record for being a vehicle to inspire its target demographic to make positive change in themselves and others. Its sole objective is and always has been to perpetuate stereotypes African Americans have about themselves as a people, as a creed. Given who owns the network it’s no surprise to me at all. I doubt the network fully understood then the devastation its propaganda machine would be. Many have said in the years since the 2000 election that if African Americans had a mass media platform, George W. Bush would’ve cleanly lost the 2000 election and John Kerry would have won the 2004 election.
BET today is rarely given a second glance since it long served its purpose. It conveniently faded into obsecurity after the 2008 election as if to say “Now that there’s a black president, there’s no longer a need for a black network.” All the programming that was prevalent on BET now airs on MTV, TVOne and other similar networks. Even so, I will NEVER forgive BET for its role in the cultural destruction of Black America. Damage that will take at least two more decades to recover from at best.
As an educator, I saw firsthand over the last 12 years BET’s lasting effects on African American students. Teachers today are fighting a losing battle they were winning 20 years ago. They’re fighting against pop culture expectations African Americans have about themselves. The advent of social media is why it’s now a losing battle. At least teachers has a chance 20 years ago.
As the above picture suggests, not even the unborn are safe from BET’s corruption: My youngest brother’s first word was an expletive. He was born in 1992. As everyone knows, I worked in classrooms for 12 years. I’ve seen much during that time but one student I met during my second year working for Boston Public Schools confirmed for me BET is responsible for corrupting the most vulnerable. I was observering a preschool class when the principal asked an African American student what he wanted to be when he grew up. He turned to her and proudly said “I’m going to be a Gangsta when I grow up!” I was probably the only adult in the room who wasn’t shocked by his reply. More so when I found out later the boy’s young mother watched BET every day she while she was pregnant with him. Of course there were likely other factors but BET’s role in his prenatal “education” can’t be overlooked. The unborn can hear sounds outside the womb sometime between the 3rd and 4th month of pregnancy.
In closing, now eveyone knows in full WHY I hate BET. Always have and always will. There’s trash networks and Trash TV but the evil BET is responsible for…well, it’s in a class of its own. Much of my reasons are personal though I’m sure that there is factual proof to back it up with.