Well well well….another controversy over diversity. The Oscars are being heavily scrutinized for the lack of diversity in the nominations. Now, actress Stacey Dash is making very bold statements about prominently black networks and celebrations. Donald Trump even speaks out and agrees with her. The big pieces of the puzzle that these bold celebs are missing are HISTORY and CONTEXT.
For Stacey Dash to say no need for the BET TV network and Black History Month is incorrect. Her points she made in her FOX interview are understandable. However, she failed to acknowledge that Black History Month and BET were started decades ago during a time when it was needed. BET started because there weren’t many shows and movies airing on other major networks with blacks being featured – especially as leads.
Today, BET is one of the few TV networks that air indie black films, TV shows, and documentaries. These features are hardly aired on other major networks because it cost a lot money, time, and networking to get these films exposed and aired on other networks; these are resources filmmakers may not have or can afford – especially if starting out.
This is especially the case with so many mainstream shows and films already stocked up on those big networks – including shows made by Marvel or DC Comics (Supergirl, Agent Carter, The Flash, etc.) which already have a huge backing and banking for film and TV.
So yes, BET is still alive today, because it allows those who cannot afford to be placed on other stations the opportunity for their work to be seen and viewed by millions, both white and black...the whole rainbow. For example, this includes popular TV shows like The Game, which was a hit show on The CW and was dropped after a few seasons. It was only revived and continued for years after the contract ended with CBS, when producers and BET were able to take the show and air it on BET. If not for BET, many would have been out of jobs and fans would have been disappointed that their fave show ended indefinitely.
(BET is not a perfect network, but it still provides platforms for diversity.)
So NO, it is not about segregation, it is about opportunity. Opening doors for those who got the door slammed in their face, and who legitimately tried but because their work isn’t mainstream yet, they struggled to get the connections to make it to other top stations/networks.
And furthermore, other races and cultures have their own stations as well. The reason no one complains much about them is because the language of the show or film may not be in English. So you’re wrong Stacy and Donald…..do your research before you judge.
Black History Month is clearly still around because it is a celebration of history and tradition. It celebrates and highlights AMERICAN history and culture, and it just narrows it down to black culture that was usually not even mentioned fully and accurately in history books decades ago. Black History recognition (and eventually later the Month) was started in the 1920s to encourage the teaching of the history of African-Americans in all public schools. This is during a time when society didn’t care much about black history, and blacks were being oppressed and discriminated against more than other races – which is why we needed our own platforms to uplift the race. Today, that tradition and pride of recognizing greatness still stands.
And guess what – all races and cultures (including white people who celebrate their heritage from Ireland, Germany, UK, Australia, etc.) take time or even a month to celebrate their history, culture, ancestors, and heritage. It just may not be as mainstream or as popular known as Black History Month.
I could go on about this one, but I feel intelligent and well-rounded people understand my point, and know that it is unnecessary to criticize a positive and uplifting celebration of a culture that only decades ago and even still today – struggle and/or is persecuted in some ways. Black History Month is not segregation, it’s a celebration of American history that was often untold. So leave it alone people.
Finally, the Oscars. Boycott if you want. Watch if you want. At the end of the day, there still needs to be more diversity in the great areas of film and art. Period. And to be frank – maybe there wasn’t any amazing performances that deserved Oscar nominations from the roles that the people of color or women played. It is what it is.
So the BIG takeaway is that more opportunities need to be made for all types of people. Yes, some roles in film require a certain look or certain reality that may not match with everyone…we get that. But it’s film and television – and that’s the beauty of creativity and art – people can adjust it and stretch norms and expectations of reality – which will allow others the opportunity to explore new roles. Just because it makes sense to put a male as a lead, doesn’t mean you have to all the time.
And guess what genre is doing an awesome job of this: BROADWAY!!
Broadway does an excellent job of putting all types of people together in great roles. I’ve seen roles of brothers and sisters played by white, Asian, and black characters mixed together. Who cares?! Kudos to all the actors! Yes…The stories and plays may be based in London during the 1800s, but it’s still OK to add women and minorities into the play – audiences KNOW it’s fictional. And they’ll appreciate the diversity even more so. It doesn’t all have to be reality.
Added note: The Oscars are to celebrate American film. So are these noms and films reflective of America?
Yay or nay…..diversity needs to happen more – from the first step. And we can do that without getting rid of history and celebration of cultures. People need to understand the history and context of situations and perspectives – before making bold and uneducated statements on TV.
So Stacy and Donald – pick up a history book and read please in your spare time…..that’ll help : )