Over the years, the BET network has undergone some changes most of which I have not necessarily been in agreement with, however, I still find myself delighting in the BET Hip-Hop awards. As I'm certain many others hold similar sentiments More specifically, the cyphers. A collective display of raw and irrefutable talent. The re-introduction of old-school artists, the cyphers, as well as performances are the usual contributing actors to the collective appeal of the show. But, this year, as well as last, there was something missing: the category catering to the acknowledgment of African artists. I did not watch the awards in its entirety, however, I was able to watch the cyphers via BET.com. It was painfully brought to my attention by an article I just read a short while ago, which explained the nature and solution of this matter in exemplary detail:
Let me get this straight. BET goes into Africa (with over 800million people) and establishes its subsidiaries with the obvious goal of making profit from Africans. Yet, within the USA, it cannot dedicate even one minute of air time in its actual award shows for the very Africans it solicits and makes monies off of? If you will not air African artists at your BET Awards or BET Hip-hop Awards show, why patronize these acts? You are already in Africa so what exactly is the point of a nomination on a BET Awards show or making our artists go through a BET Hip-hop Awards Cypher presentation and yet BET Networks does nothing with it?
Take everything mentioned in the article above into accord while reading my perception of this issue. Speaking for myself--an African woman, who was born in Nigeria and migrated to the US at a young age, I must admit the division within color-lines, especially amongst Blacks is borderline sinful. This is a matter that should compel most, both of African and African-American diaspora, to express their opinion and shine light in hopes that Debora Lee and co. will recognize their faults and go about actions to rectify it.
Being of Nigerian descent, right at the beginning of my insertion into the US public school system in 6th grade, I experienced firsthand the depth of how judgmental and indifferent African-Americans can be towards Africans. I had a slew of insults, and undermining nicknames thrown my way on a day-to-day basis. Sure, I experienced this at hands of children, but I always felt that the nature of the social-climate is reflected most closely in the conduct of the youth. This behavior, evidently, is present in this matter. How? Well, I lived in Nigeria long enough to observe the appreciation of American, as well African-American culture. I kid you not, if there were a people more charmed by the so-called "American dream", it has to be non-Americans. I can recall conversations with classmates, filled with words of adoration towards America as a whole. Now hearing that, in respect to how I've perceived most African-Americans speak of Africans, how come they--African-Americans, can't harvest a similar degree of appreciation?
The fact that BET shies away from exposing and shining light on the beautiful aspects of African culture on their network is embarrassing. After all, it is Black Entertainment Television. Like the article read, "if there was a crisis in Africa i.e. famine, war etc. depending on how much buzz mainstream media creates, BET would dedicate at least a minute to remember the Africa the West is used to seeing." For every delight, there is its counterpart in torment. The West is familiar with a poverty-stricken, disease-ridden Africa; that is not all the entire continent has to offer. While seemingly on their quest to compete with the likes of MTV and VH1 , they have failed where it counts most: catering and appealing to every aspect of Black culture in its entirety.
Collectively, we are a learned society; we often grow to become what we see--a product of our environment, if you will. If BET set out to do a better job in exposing the highlights of African culture, it will, in the long-run, build a greater understanding and overall appreciation of African culture by African-Americans. Hence, bridging the unnecessary gap that exists within the African diaspora.
The culture and art of music is, to my understanding, designed to create a state of togetherness and extinguish the presence of differences. The evolution of African music can be accredited to the hard work of its artists, and I, along with most, think recognition should be in order. I understand, as the article mentioned, BET has established an international subsidiary, but why not include African musicians in the award festivities? And by include, I mean, go as far as airing/mentioning the award category specific to African music? Bear in mind, these artists, as the article mentioned, financed their trip to the US to be present for the awards only to leave empty-handed and unrecognized. Now I am under the impression that that's the significance of the BET network and other networks localized on the music and culture of it: to aid in increasing awareness and popularity of musicians. I feel as though the BET network fears the criticism they will receive from African-American people, considering their tendency to be overly judgmental, as I mentioned above. BET, seemingly, must be unaware of their stance in the Black community all over the world. Rather than emulating the content and conduct of other networks, they ought to strive to create a mold worthy of emulating. This is also is another supporting point as to why MTV outdoes BET when it comes to the overall presentation and appeal in award shows.
In closing, I feel as though I haven't said enough on this matter, but that is a duty that does not entirely rest on my hand. I'm passing the torch on to you, the reader. Please, if you are reading this, I encourage you to share the article referenced or mine or just simply express your opinion on this matter. Actions bring about change.