Thursday, October 6“Racism never sleeps.”

BET Awards: The catastrophe with silver linings

I’m a grateful person. I don’t ask for much, especially when it’s free, but this Sunday’s BET Awards had me asking “where did the money go?”

I agree with Corey’s column about the failures of this awards show. There were more than a few eyesores that I can’t help but pick at from this year’s ceremony. There were fumbles and malfunctions that tell me the BET Awards show definitely could of use some improvements.

This show ostensibly intended to celebrate Black Excellence in entertainment, which is certainly debatable given some of the performances, but one of the worst parts was how low budget it looked on the screen, rather than the grand blockbuster show we deserved.

I won’t mince words: the production was horrible! Despite this, there were some sweet spots that deserve a little love. Not the fashion, not the showboating, and not Idris Elba (who deserves extra love) but the use of the platform by some of the celebrities to elevate our culture through a diversity of worldviews, like reminding the world we care about the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, one celebrity reminded the Supreme Court’s with a finger.

On the cultural front, BET also had its first Afrobeats performance, sounds from east and South Africa, that are picking up steam in the U.S. There was also a collaboration from BET and Doritos called the Solid Black Program, which gives a platform and resources to Black change makers to unapologetically be themselves. This resonated with me, since more often then not people are hesitant to be themselves without feeling ashamed of embracing their uniqueness. Some people are frozen in the mindset that they must be who they think other people want them to be. But when you’re unapologetically your true self and open up, then you may feel free to fully express who you are without the fear of judgement. This is especially true for Black women who may feel they must conform to what society believes they must be. Black people are not a monolith, and I’m glad there were artists willing to reiterate this message.

The most glowing display of our uniqueness that was hard to miss at the BET Awards was Black hair. It is definitely a special part of our physical identities. I was reminded of this as I took note of every hairstyle celebrities flaunted at the show. Black hair has been attacked and taunted for so long by White people, but there is great beauty in Black hair, and I was thrilled to see Black celebrities own it.

BET also highlighted a program started last year called the Dove Crown Research Study. Some people may have never been heard of the study, but it seeks to promote change and combat hair discrimination in all places. While all women experience pressure to conform to certain standards of appearance, society’s bias has resulted in unfair judgment and discrimination against Black women based on their hair texture and styles. The study showed that a black woman is 80% more likely to change her natural hair to meet society standards or expectations at work. It also showed that 1 in 2 Black children have experienced hair discrimination as early as 5 years old.

This is clearly an issue that not only black women have been burdened with. My 7-year-old nephew for example, who just only today told me that in school kids ask him about his hair. He focuses so much on it in school that I can envision it becoming something he possibly grows self-conscious about over time. My nephew’s hair being natural and questioned in school made me only imagine what kids that wear locs or protective styling may endure. As of late, I also see too many reports of children being kicked out of class or events because their hair doesn’t conform to societal norms… according to other people’s ideals.

In the U.S., the laws in many states do not currently offer protection for race-based hair discrimination, even if the hairstyle is attributed to racial identity. This means that Black women can be denied opportunities for employment or a promotion without consequence because of their hair. On March 18, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the CROWN Act, in part by Doves crown research, And hopefully, next it will be passed by the senate. 

The Black community could use more studies to promote a better understanding of Black hair so that our racial identities are embraced instead of shunned.

Despite the BET Awards being an utter catastrophe, the work that was highlighted in the show that’s being done to improve the lives of people in Black communities was definitely worth sitting through… and of course, seeing Idris Elba.

If next years awards show is an equal disaster, I’ll stick it out and once again hope there is a silver lining to see the the culture being lifted up, instead of being the catastrophe that it was.

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