BET prostitutes what began as honorable undertaking
Black broadcast media can be a wonderful thing. In fact, in the 1960s, when America loosened up the airwaves enough to allow us access, all kinds of refreshing things happened. Radio stations like WLIB with DJ Frankie "Hollywood" Crocker played James Brown, Aretha, Kool & The Gang, Gladys Knight and the Pips and much more ... Black broadcast media can be a wonderful thing. In fact, in the 1960s, when America loosened up the airwaves enough to allow us access, all kinds of refreshing things happened. Radio stations like WLIB with DJ Frankie "Hollywood" Crocker played James Brown, Aretha, Kool & The Gang, Gladys Knight and the Pips and much more -- which meant that soul folk no longer had to be glad whenever recording artists had hits big enough to hit the White stations. On television, Tony Brown's Journal started going out over PBS and Gil Noble got to do Like It Is on ABC. All this thanks to Civil Rights era riots that scared the nation into hurrying up and placating an African America sick and tired of sitting still for the same old dumb stuff, having our sensibilities obscured and our self-expression obstructed.
So yes, it can be wonderful. Fast forward to the current state of affairs: it also can be considerably less than wonderful. Truthfully, it can be pathetically counterproductive when instead of being put into effect for communal empowerment, Black broadcast media is exploited as a money market that stalls our overall growth -- something that, to this day, we can ill afford.
I'm talking about Black Entertainment Network (BET), arguably the most powerful influence on our up-and-coming generation. Teens (will anyone argue that youngsters are not our future?) plug into videos by the hour, virtually programmed to internalize and enthusiastically emulate self-defeating stereotypes. Young men have drummed into them a credo offering the-thug-life-is-the-life-for-me, counseled that it's all about making gangsta-money and having gorgeous, materialistic-minded young women hanging off their arms, preferably two at a time. A young woman has it instilled into her psyche that the way to be worth something is to be hanging on the arm of some thug.
We have folk behind the BET scenes keeping artists, accountants and record execs rich by indoctrinating our youth to become bona fide bad-boyz and hip-swinging, booty slinging hoochie-mamas. Which one can't find much fault with in small doses. There is, after all, freedom of speech and artistic license. But they way the airwaves are inundated is dangerously debilitating. Male adolescents who gravitate to this model wind up flunking out of school and graduating the penitentiary. Female adolescents find themselves peddling their panties for the illusion of social security. While kids of the artists execs and accountants attend Ivy League institutions on a fast track to successful careers in the real life.
Five will get you ten that Black men and women at Black Entertainment Network don't allow BET in their homes and would get out the razor strap if their kids even made so much as the first noise about wanting to grow up and be like Thug-Mug, Sylvia Sexpot or anybody else glamorizing a dead-end existence.
I'm not saying BET shouldn't exist. Nor am I denying that, albeit in the way wee hours, two or three in morning, the network airs religious programming. What I am saying is that Black Entertainment Network is ruthlessly is sending our young people right down the river. This is not what Black access to broadcast airwaves was supposed to be about. It certainly is not why we raised all that hell way back when.
Just like BET feeds on teenage narcissism, libido and pliable self-esteem to turn a big fast buck, it takes a little more time, energy and investment of integrity to offer them positive input. That is the problem I have with Black Entertainment Network, which prostitutes what began as an honorable undertaking.