Everyone can’t be martyr and not everyone cares enough to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. America is the last place to look for voluntary corporate responsibility, but every now and then you find something special. On January 25th, 1980, black America could tune into BET and find nearly every demographic within our race represented in its programming. 32 years later, that is far from the case.
In its present form, BET is nothing more than another urban television channel that comes with your basic cable package. In the words of Big Sean, it’s all “A$$, A$$, A$$, A$$...”
How does a broadcasting company that represents BLACK entertainment and uses the slogan “We Got You” consciously get us further from where we wish to be? While they may provide scholarships, how important is their mission for education when none of the programming educates? The programming is consistently sitcom, music video programs and reality series and reruns of old black films. Entertainment or not, when anyone thinks of BET, it is the BLACK station. It is the most available way to peer into our “culture.”
Since its sale to Viacom, BET has rapidly declined in accurately representing our “culture” as a whole. It spams viewers with a portion that functions as a detriment to the perception of blacks and their ambitions. Undoubtedly, it is important to see a rapper from similar circumstances on television on display as an example of success. Similarly we needed Tavis Smiley, Jeff Johnson and Touré to show the kids who write in their journals at night and follow current events to be an example, that if you want to tell the world what is really happening, you can do that too.
BET is failing the people whose backs they’ve made millions on. When you are in a position of power or influence, it is up to you to guide the ship, you cannot run away from your responsibilities because it easier to succeed in doing so. By no fault of BET’s own, it is entrusted to raise children.
But if your CEO and President speak about the advancement and progression of the culture and race, would it not be prudent to produce programming that would do so? What I have learned is people and companies that are run by them operate in patterns. Actions speak louder than words, except for in the case of Black Entertainment Television and Deborah Lee. When they use the slogan, “We Got You.” It is not endearing as it is most often used, it is sinister as in, “We Got You” buying into materialism - not the intellectualism that will ultimately “get you” through.