I Don't Wanna Be Called Yo Niga - Public Enemy (mp3)
Dignity - The Heavy (mp3)
Blackjack - Everclear (mp3)
Few things are less wise than for a pasty white boy to dare get mixed up in opinionating on something like the Black Entertainment Network. The minute a pasty white boy throws his opinion out into the world, it can be sliced and diced, critiqued and lambasted, because it's as pure a Catch 22 as you can get. Fortunately, this pasty white boy's opinion only goes out to a small handful of people who already know better than to pay attention to his rants, so hopefully I'm in a relatively safe harbor.
If you didn't know, a number of corporations including GM and Pepsi have pulled their ads from BET's afternoon programs. Their action is the result of protests, chiefly from a group called Enough is Enough that is trying to fight the negative stereotyping of African-Americans in our media. There's more sex, booty-shakin' and gangsta threads in two hours of afternoon BET programming than there are holes in George Bush's logic.
Enough is Enough makes an admirable gesture made all the more admirable for their willingness to take on one of their own in the BET. Although Viacom-owned (read: overseen by rich honkeys), the folks at the top of the BET ladder are most decidedly black and have been the target of some scathing critiques, including Aaron McGruder, creator of The Boondocks (early part of the linked YouTube clip includes an example of this).
(Side Note: Aaron McGruder's sense of humor is so harsh it makes late-model Bloom County and Outland read like Family Circus. Boondocks can be so harsh, in fact, that it's often just not funny. But I admire the dude for channeling some serious and righteous fury into a cartoon.)
The damned if ya do or don't part of this is, BET isn't losing any of the advertising from these corporations. They're still paying BET exactly the same amounts as before, but their ads are now going to different time slots. Why the half-assed protest? Because the minute these big white corporations pull all their money from Black Entertainment Television -- no matter that they would claim it's in the interest of quashing stereotypes, no matter that a group of black activists are in full support -- they're opening themselves up to accusations of racism.
So BET isn't losing a penny in this, and they'll never have to face the level of scrutiny for their misdeeds that Don Imus in his goober cowboy hat will receive for his comments, in spite of the fact that, without question, the shit BET shovels is swallowed by more people and does far more damage than Imus ever could.
Mine has been an existence of cultural cluelessness, although I've always hoped for the best and tried to minimize whatever racist tendencies I've witnessed in myself or those around me. I'm not one of the gajillions of stupid white people who starts any sentence with "I'm not a racist, but..." Those words always seem to preceed an extremely racist comment. How could it not? The entire reason for the existence of those five words is to grant the user carte blanche (or should I say "carte black"?) to utter inappropriate opinions or observations.
It's a shame The Cosby Show is so under-appreciated, as is Fat Albert, for that matter. Bill Cosby is proof, to me anyway, that even a philandering perv can have some seriously righteous causes and make positive cultural waves, often in spite of himself (see: Bill Clinton).
To be fair, it's difficult to sound the alarms too loudly when our most bankable movie star is black, our most influential TV personality is black, our most esteemed athlete is black, and we're on the verge of electing our first black President. The existence of four supremely successful people doesn't magically erase racism from our culture, but it sure as hell buffers one's righteous fury, especially if you're a clueless pasty optimistic white boy.
One day, pasty white people and black people with a variety of melanin levels will have the ability to sit down together and calmly discuss misconceptions, ignorance, opinions, and observations without the dreaded fear that the discussion will end with the two sides feeling assaulted or more distant. I'll probably be dead by then, but I'll keep my eyes open just in case.
"I Don't Wanna Be Called Yo Niga" is off Public Enemy's fourth album, Apocalypse 91... Public Enemy Strikes Black. "Dignity" is off The Heavy's only album thus far, Great Vengeance and Furious Fire. "Blackjack" is off Everclear's 2003 album, Slow Motion Daydream. All are available on iTunes or Amazon.com's mp3 site.