Now, I'm not going to pretend that I heard everything Ms. Dash has said but I do agree with her about BET and Black History Month. She gets a lot of flack, my position is always that she has the right to her opinion. Anytime a black person goes against what is perceived to be the "black grain" he or she is labeled "anti-black." Whether Stacey is or not I have no idea. But what I do know is that I agree that in this new millennium black people should handle these matters in a different way. I know these and other mediums were created out of necessity and maybe frustration that our voices, talents, and contributions were being excluded. That is not to say that the need is no longer valid. However, using terms that alienate others is not helpful to our cause. I think a more subtle approach will do more than a statement of separation does.
I hate terms like "black neighborhood" and "black movie or TV show." "Black church" annoys me every time I hear it. Because in theory, when there exists a "white neighborhood" and a "white church," there shouldn't be a problem right? (And I know these terms are used just as much)
So when a black person moves into a predominately white neighborhood and is told to get out. Should the correct reaction be, "Well it is a white person's neighborhood. Let's pack our stuff?"
Think about it. It's almost like reversed psychology and some black people are falling right into the trap. This goes back to black people being American, just American, and to that end we deserve the same rights as being said American.
Offense is just as powerful as defense. I want to see black history included in our educational materials not an aside for a month. The shortest month of the year at that. No, Black history belongs in the text. Black history is American history. It should be celebrated every month. As should everyone else's history who contributed to this great nation. We need to make sure that is the case. That's what we need to fight for in this decade and those to come.
I won't say that BET doesn't need to exist. In fact, I think it needs to exist. But imagine for a moment if the network was called, the "XYZ Network," and 90% of their programming featured black artists and 10% featured non-black artists (which BET seems to be doing these days). Would anyone dare say, "Why do you feature so many black people?" And if one did ask that rude question, the answer could in turn be, "Why not?" How many magazines feature 90% white artists and 10% non-white artists? And that's ok? Just par for the course? Do they call themselves "white" this or that? Nope, they don't have to and we shouldn't either. I would find that to be a more powerful position than simply throwing up "black-label" barriers. Feature whomever you want but also be welcoming to those who are sincerely interested in stories, features, and entertainment from artists and people who happen to be black. By labeling something "black" by definition the assumption is that you exclusively speak to and for black people. No one can or should try to do that, black or otherwise. This is not to say that BET has ever tried either but to the uninformed, it would appear that way.
I recall reading a recent fan letter in Ebony magazine. Maybe a year or two ago. It was from a non-black person. He said that he had just read Ebony for the first time because his favorite actor, Sam Jackson, was on the cover. I was delighted to find out he enjoyed the magazine overall. So much so that he felt compelled to write them a letter. Wouldn't we like this to always be the case? Non-black people being given the opportunity to enjoy us for being us and not feeling like a trespasser in "Blackland?" Like Ms. Dash said, "Black people need to decide what they want, do you want inclusion or separation?" If others try to exclude us we (rightfully) get angry but when we exclude ourselves, with whom should we be angry?
"There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs-partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”- Booker T. Washington.
Helen Willis, The Zebress