Business / National / Opinion & Editorial / Politics / TV

If BET won’t support black America, then black America won’t support BET

On Oct. 10, the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March was held in Washington, D.C. at the National Mall, but coverage from BET was slack.  (Photo by Meleah Holmes)

On Oct. 10, the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March was held in Washington, D.C. at the National Mall, but coverage from Black Entertainment Television was slack. (Photo by Meleah Holmes)

An Editorial by Meleah Holmes

On Oct. 10, the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March was held in Washington, D.C. at the National Mall. Thousands of African-Americans joined together to march and spread awareness about the injustice that blacks have faced…and still face in America. The Million Man March demands “Justice or Else!”: justice in our inner-city schools, justice in the workforce, justice against racial profiling, the list goes on.

I find it interesting that we marched for the same exact thing 20 years ago in 1995. Still, America finds a way to place our voices on the back burner.

I participated in the march on Oct. 10 and the sight was absolutely breathtaking. To see all of my brothers and sisters stand together in solidarity to combat issues such as police brutality and discrimination was amazing. I’ve never felt so at home. The march was peaceful and, from what I experienced, not one person was arrested. I did personally feel, though, that the white police officers were waiting for an opportunity to shut our march down.

When we arrived, the officers were not welcoming at all. Out of the group I attended the march with, most of us received cold stares when we spoke or waved to the officers. We only received greetings back on a few occasions. Now, this may have been because of the time of morning; maybe that hadn’t had their coffee yet. Who knows?

Either way, we never gave the police the opportunity to shut us down or justify the use of force and, for that, I am so proud.

Though the march gained a lot of coverage from personal media blogs and small black-owned newspapers, many people noticed the lack of coverage by Black Entertainment Television. BET was nowhere to be found. Now, I am not saying that the lack of coverage by BET made our goal or agenda any less successful. I am saying, however, that BET claims to be the voice of black America, but they never truly speak up for us unless their own agenda is being fulfilled.

BET expects to have black support to gain ratings and make their money. So why didn’t BET support the black community during one of the most pivotal moments in black America? This is a serious question that demands an answer!

Many decided to boycott the BET Hip-Hop Awards this year to lower BET’s ratings and hit them where it hurts. According to Nielsen TV Ratings data, Tuesday’s BET Hip-Hop Awards dropped 1.1 million viewers. This may not sound like a lot, but this is a 40% decrease from last year’s 2.9 million viewers. I would like to think that this decrease in ratings is a portion of the “or else” for the ongoing injustice towards us. I am personally proud of the boycott because it shows what can actually be accomplished when the community stands together in solidarity.