We need to talk about the messiness of Black History Month 2019, and how much we miss the gorgeousness that bedazzled last year’s celebration, when the vibrancy of the months leading to the highly-anticipated release of the cultural phenomenon that was and still is Black Panther, provided the primal unification of Blackness that supremely attacked the disease of White supremacy for a season.
Fast forward to the present, and the allotted month that was supposed to uplift and beautify with collages of ancestral rhythms — recalling the currency of Blackness overtaking the globe with Wakandan authority — has been tragically hijacked by the venom of historical atrocities that have been vengefully reactivated to stifle the soundtrack of Black lives with the static of how we don’t matter.
The media has played a vital role in this circus of shitty fare being swarmed around platforms that expand wide enough to contain the eyesores — plunging sensitive minds into the tunnels of discontent with the internalization of triggering content that effectively blasts through with robotic placements.
News organizations and entertainment outfits are desperate for the material that cause users to throw fits of rage, and there’s simply no end to the fiesta of hate that must remain initiated for the clicks and memes that ultimately set up the editorial calendar for the weeks ahead.
And so we must bitch about the White-owned BET, and how it no longer caters to a Black audience with the dignity and respect that is required for a massive company of that scale that claims the slogan — Yes to Black.
The white dude that owns Viacom, the company that bought BET back in 2001, Sumner Redstone, must’ve been thrilled with his ambitious acquisition, that basically stripped the once Black-owned entity into fragments of unrecognizable bits, that have been too uneven and jagged to fit into the cohesive collage of coherency with reliable consistency.
The quality of programming and summation of the Black experience hasn’t been up to par, and the general consensus over the years has been regulated to the tremendous betrayal of a network, that can’t seem to supply the ammunition that elevates the uniqueness of why entertaining while Black isn’t a trend —because it’s simply how we do.
There’s also the sinister side of BET, that was revealed during a noteworthy annual event that gathered all the notable Black women of the industry under one roof in an intimate setting that was helmed by former Obama top aide, Valerie Jarrett, with special guest of honor — Michelle Obama.
The former and beloved first lady was offering a sneak peak of her upcoming bestseller Becoming, and as expected the occasion featured journalists representing reputable outlets, as they carefully took pertinent notes to document the regal ambiance.
Washington Post fashion critic, Robin Givhan was part of the illustrious group, and after it was over, the 2006 Pulitzer Prize winner for Criticism promptly did what anyone in her station would do, which was to publish the article that highlighted what she had witnessed.
As soon as the post was made public, the attention it garnered was mostly negative, as the other Black women attendees accused Givhan of breaking the code by shattering the sacredness of the space that only agreed to accommodate the chosen few, on the basis that their lips would stay sealed in order to protect Black sisterhood, and the Black woman who graciously divulged the words of wisdom.
The avalanche of condemnation was swift and furious, and before long, Givhan was the targeted victim of the hatefest that inexplicably stemmed from her desire to fulfill her job duties — accordingly.
BET Networks hosted the festivities, and once it was clear that Givhan had incited the ire of blue-checked members of Twitter, the next thing to do was to not only unceremoniously throw her out of the ongoing conference, but also cancel the panel she had been invited to moderate.
The interesting aspect of the mind-boggling fiasco, was the fact that BET had also posted clips from the event that matched what Givhan had shared in her brief and insightful essay. And so in order to avoid the penalty of replicating the actions of the person that was getting abused for reasons that didn’t add up, BET hastily deleted the damning tweets from its feed.
That disgusting display of unprofessionalism was a disheartening peek into the operations of an organization that professes to be what it can’t seem to muster or outrightly refuses to attain.
How disgraceful to watch a professional Black woman of that stature being unfairly mutilated at the hands of a network that’s supposed to protect her interests and integrity at all costs.
This is when the difference between “White-owned” and “Black-owned” is abundantly clear.
And apparently the ritual of shaming Black women, while encouraging Black people to turn against each other to the delight of gawking Whiteness is absurdly irresistible, as we’re feted with another episode that involves two female rappers with scarred history.
It’s no secret that Nicki Minaj and recent Grammy winner Cardi B have been embroiled in a tumultous rollercoaster that has supplied endless engagement for fans on both sides of the aisles.
The epic battles have also given gossip sites countless opportunities to leverage the contentious vibes between two women of color, who have amassed an enviable level of success, but unfortunately can’t enjoy the rewards without annoyingly bumping heads.
The editors gauge the temperature of these high-stake wars, and conclude which of the celebs is on the losing end, and once that’s established, the next item on the agenda is to vilify the “loser” with venomous headlines begging for clicks, while exalting the “winner” with dutiful praise.
This explains why Nicki Minaj has been the target of relentless harassment by loyal fans of her prized nemesis, that claim how the undisputed Queen of Rap is pathetically envious of her much younger counterpart, who is being hailed as the best thing since “being the best” evolved into something that is heavily reliant on the byproduct of our discontent.
Online journalism has surrendered to the task of creating the climate of hostility that is borne out of the need to stifle the duty of presenting the facts as they are — for the benefit of delivering the goods and services that cater to the wiles of the blue-checked crowd and the appetite of robotic followers — who will mob any publication that dares counter the overwhelming vote.
Perhaps that’s the reasonable explanation for how BET joined forces with the maddening crowd by releasing a tweet that was meant to congratulate Cardi B’s latest coup as the first female rapper to win a Grammy for a rap album, while covering all the basis with an offensive swipe at Nicki Minaj for her major loss that, once and for all seals her fate as the unfortunate and bitter “has-been.”
We really need to discuss BET’s utter disrespect of Black women, and how this public display of gross negligence and standard unprofessionalism by an organization that rejects its roots in favor of Whiteness — by nefariously dividing an already vulnerable community — has to be permanently thwarted sooner rather than later.
Twitter users didn’t take kindly to the ill-fated tweet, that was recklessly posted in the hopes of inciting the ire of fans, who were armed and ready for another round of an exasperating game that leaves everyone bruised with no victories to record.
It was a needless attack — formulated out of spite and the pathetic need to celebrate the wins of Cardi B at the expense of a seasoned talent who wasn’t nominated and didn’t even attend the glitzy ceremony.
How is it that a recognizable company that conveniently touts its commitment to “all things Black” can in the same breath weaponize that power against an industry heavyweight, and still expect her to show up and perform at an upcoming festival that is ironically titled — BET Experience?
What the fuck?!
It’s no surprise that Nicki Minaj withdrew her consent to participate in an Experience that no longer deserves the courtesy of her presence or demonstrated trajectory that spans over a decade. And thankfully, a host of scheduled performers have faithfully followed suit.
It’s disturbingly obvious that BET is flailing when it comes to its adherence to the mission statement, that was meant to celebrate and exalt Blackness, and the Black women who contribute immensely to the noted landscape, with their special brand of creative genius that enhances the vibe of our vibrant narrative.
It’s quite disappointing to be paralyzed by the vicious antics of each of the departments that comprise of an ailing institution, that literally took forever to appropriately respond to the resounding disapproval of naysayers, who considered the offensive tweet that once again publicly pitted two Black women against each other, as the ultimate betrayal.
The apology was just a little too late because the irrevocable damage was epic, and it still resonates with the bitterness that illustrates how Black entertainment under the tutelage of White owners, can permeate the channels of discovery, that challenges the myth of how Black people will accept any form of engrossing content, even if it incapacitates the road to progression.
This recent snafu is particularly alarming during Black History Month, when all outlets that are programmed to do right by us with exemplary measures are required to go above and beyond high expectations, with quality offerings that match what we are and what the young and impressionable aspire to be.
BET’s lack of respect for the Black Experience and the Black women who are dedicated to upholding their end of their bargain with the unrelenting support of those who are tasked with those provisions, is unforgivable and blatantly criminal.
And we need to continue talking about what that means, and how it will affect the interaction between Black Entertainment Television, and those of us who won’t be partaking in future installments.