Aug 27

The History of BET

Black Entertainment Television (BET), headquartered in Washington, D.C. and currently operates under the VIACOM umbrella.   With more than 90 million homes watching worldwide, it is the well-known station targeting African-American viewers.  It is also a leading provider of black American cultural and entertainment based programming, both of original creations, acquired properties and musical presentations.

After stepping down as a lobbyist for the cable industry, Freeport, Illinois native Robert L. Johnson decided to launch his own cable television network. Johnson would soon acquire a loan for $15,000, and earned a $500,000 investment from media executive John Malone to start the network.[3] The network, which was named Black Entertainment Television, launched on January 25, 1980.[4] Initially broadcasting for two hours a week as a block of programming on Nickelodeon (it would not be until 1983 that BET became a full-fledged channel), the network’s lineup consisted of music videos and reruns of popular black sitcoms.  (from Wikipedia)

BET has gained popularity with its’ vast black audience, but has faced a number of major African Americans critics such as syndicated columnist George Curry, cartoonist and television producer Aaron McGruder, movie director  and producer Spike Lee, and former Syracuse University professor Boyce Watkins. These critics and others denounced BET’s programming, claiming it promoted sexism and anti-intellectualism.

They also argued that showing rap and hip hop-oriented programming along with comedy programs either intentionally or inadvertently promoted anti-black stereotypes. BET founder Richard Johnson and Viacom executives claimed they were providing the programming the market demanded. In 2008 a number of prominent black ministers (“Enough is Enough”) publicly protested BET programming choices outside the network’s headquarters.

Enough is Enough supported a 2008 report “The Rap on Rap” by the Parents Television Council that argued that BET’s rap programming, which they believed contained gratuitous sexual, violent and profane content, was targeting children and teens.

The controversy continued in 2010, when BET co-founder Sheila Johnson said she is “ashamed” of what the network has become. “I don’t watch it. I suggest to my kids that they don’t watch it,” she said. “When we started BET, it was going to be the Ebony magazine on television. We had public affairs programming. We had news.

The criticism has not impacted the growth and acceptance of BET and the various shows and programs they have created.  In 2013, it is reported that 79.82% of households with television receive the BET network.  However, there is no information available as to what percentage of those households chose to get the network, or receive the network as part of a larger cable package.

According to the sales material, “BET provides contemporary entertainment that speaks to young Black adults from an authentic, unapologetic viewpoint of the Black experience. BET connects with its target audience in a way no other media outlet can providing hit music, entertainment and news programming that is reflective of their experiences.  Our outstanding mega-specials keep viewers regularly tuned in for the latest and greatest in Black entertainment.”

Sep 23

Look! Common Defends Colin Kaepernick

The MC spoke during EncourageHERS.

Sep 20

Trump and Farrakhan, a match made in racial nationalist heaven – Charlotte Observer (blog)

So, another chapter in the Donald Trump Outreach to Black America saga unfolds Wednesday night.

Let me speak for African Americans across the country in asking: What have we done to deserve this annoying, misdirected, condescending excuse for voter “outreach”?

Surely by now Trump knows that black people are insulted by his “What do you have to lose?” taunt. And make no mistake, that’s what it is – a taunt.

I can’t help but think he’s just doing it now to needle black people. After all, black members of Congress branded him an arrogant racist in the wake of Friday’s crassly handled, apology-less disavowal of the birther conspiracy theory against Barack Obama.

So what better way for Trump to “hit back” – to use a favorite construction of his – than by holding a town hall meeting Wednesday to discuss “the core issues and concerns surrounding African-Americans”?

It’s on Fox News. Assisting him with the explication of black America’s ills will be his African American preacher friend Darrell Scott and none other than that noted scholar of the African American experience, Fox blatherer Sean Hannity.

Give me a break! This is like Louis Farrakhan calling for a town hall meeting on Black Entertainment Television to talk about all the woes of white people.

Yes, Louis Farrakhan. Both are racial nationalists. Both love conspiracy theories. Trump hasn’t met one he won’t entertain. Farrakhan still insists that Osama bin Laden was innocent and that the U.S. government used the 9/11 attacks as a pretext to attack Muslim countries.

Both are known for going too far while “telling it like it is.” Trump’s followers eat it up when he tells black people how terrible their inner city communities are. Farrakhan’s black audiences seem to love it when he delivers his blistering indictments of white mischief, using the historical sins of slavery and atrocities against American Indian nations as proof.

And as controversial as both men rightfully are, both have that charisma thing going. Trump’s a TV impresario who always seems to shine when the lights come on. Farrakhan was once a calypso singer who performed under the name “The Charmer.”

There is one very big difference between the two, of course. No major national party has ever crowned Farrakhan its nominee. There’s no Secret Service detail assigned to Farrakhan, no national media pack straining to hear and record his every word.

Trump, given the biggest spotlight of his life, has now chosen to use part of it in a cynical, shameless trolling of black America. If he really wanted to help with the very real problems he knows nothing about, wouldn’t it make far more sense to do less talking and more listening?

After years as the birther-in-chief, peddling lies aimed at de-legitimizing America’s first black president, does he expect anybody to think he actually, really, sincerely wants to help? If he wasn’t a part of a campaign and in need of an anti-racism shield, would he still be stopping by black churches?

Will Trump apologize for the birther nonsense during this town hall? Who knows? Will he mean it if he does? I sincerely doubt it, given how hard and how long he pushed the issue.

Here’s a better question: Just how racially gullible, if I may make that a term, does Trump think fence-sitting college-educated white women are? After all, that’s who this “outreach” is really meant for.

Black folks certainly aren’t fooled. His poll numbers with black people remain exactly where they’ve always been – in the cellar. If there are any white people beyond his hardcore fans who are taken in by this stunt, allow me to say I find that amazing, not to mention utterly disappointing.

Sep 19

See What Michael Jackson’s Youngest Son Looks Like Today

He changed his name and he’s all grown up.

Sep 19

DMX Hops on the Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour

The celebration continues.

Sep 19

Emmys to get a big dose of diversity after Oscars controversy – CNBC

If this year’s Academy Awards were pelted by critics for being “Oscars so white, ” the 2016 Primetime Emmy Awards may earn the catchphrase “Emmys so colorful, ” based on the diversity of the nominees and those who win.

The 68th annual tv award ceremony which aired Weekend treated audiences to one of the most racially diverse set of nominees in recent years. It also marks the first time that actors associated with color have appeared in every leading actor category.

Several required home Emmys on Sunday including Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek and African-American actors Regina King, Sterling K. Brown and Courtney M. Vance.

Keegan Michael Key plus Jordan Peele, the African-American comedy duo behind Key & Peele also took home an Emmy for Outstanding Variety Sketch Show.

In addition , winners in the writing categories included Asian-American writer and actor or actress Alan Yang and Indian-American writer, actor and comedian Aziz Ansari, who took home an Emmy for Best Comedy Writing for penning an episode of Netflix’s “Master associated with None. ”

“There’s 17 million Asian Americans in this country, plus there are 17 million Italian People in america — they have ‘The Godfather, ‘ ‘Goodfellas, ‘ ‘Rocky, ‘ ‘The Sopranos’ — we got Long Duk Dong, ” Yang said during his acceptance speech. “So we’ve got a long way to go but I believe we can get there. ”

The particular surge of more equal representation in television has captured not just the attention of critics and viewers, but advertisers as well. The wider scope of diversity on display also boosts the breadth of variety of viewers, some argue, that is something coveted by ad companies seeking to reach key demographics.

“Advertisers want to jump on board, ” Jorge Granier, executive producer associated with “Jane the Virgin, ” a show featuring a Latina lead actress, informed CNBC in a recent interview. The show’s narrator, Anthony Mendez, has been up for an Emmy award this year.

“Latinos are the fast developing demographic in the United States, it’s a huge viewers, ” Granier added. “They have got great purchasing power, they generate trends, they are early adopters. ”

And they aren’t the only ones, according to Granier who co-founded Latina Everywhere and Pongalo — content platforms for Spanish-speaking and bilingual audiences.

“Likewise with the African American community, which is a very large and effective demographic, that can signify quite a alter in a large company’s bottom line, ” he said. “So, by targeting a broader audience, by being a lot more inclusive, your business is going to grow, your company is going to succeed. ”

Granier’s partner Rich Hull told CNBC that the Latino community collectively provides about $1. 6 trillion in buying power and they aren’t afraid to spend it.

“We realize that the Latino market is drastically under-served, ” Hull said. “They over-index for mobile devices, they over-consume enjoyment [and] they have cash to spend… so , it’s shocking that they are so under-served when it comes to press in general, but really digital press. ”

Hull also observed that the African American community spends thirty seven percent more time watching television than every other ethnic group, making the big screen a prime location for advertisers to tap into.

Sep 17

A black boy and a Barbie named Kenya: Why Ava DuVernay’s … – Los Angeles Times

Director Ava DuVernay is no stranger to being bold. Not only was her 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. biopic “Selma” nominated for a best picture Oscar, she’s the first woman of color to direct a live-action film with a production budget over $100 million. And she’s used that clout to cast a young actress of color, 13-year-old Storm Reid, as protagonist Meg Murry, previously played by a white actress, in Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved classic “A Wrinkle in Time.” 

Still, with “Queen Sugar,” the scripted drama DuVernay created for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN, bold might be an understatement. With a young male character who plays with a Barbie doll, the Long Beach-born writer-director is consciously aiming to stoke conversation about identity in the African American community.

“I wanted to make sure ‘Queen Sugar,’ in a lot of different ways, is pointing to parts of our conversation as a black American family,” she said, “particularly the things we close our eyes to and don’t talk about or don’t know how to talk about.”

“Queen Sugar,” which is adapted from Natalie Baszile’s novel of the same name, follows the life of a trio of siblings in Louisiana after their father bequeaths them an 800-acre sugarcane farm following his death. Starring in the hour-long show, executive produced by DuVernay and Winfrey, are Rutina Wesley, Dawn-Lyen Gardner and Kofi Siriboe. Playing the young boy Blue, with a love for a Barbie named Kenya, is Ethan Hutchison.

DuVernay spoke exclusively with The Times about the decision to have Blue playing with a doll, something that didn’t happen in the book and isn’t often present in stories about black family life. She also spoke about taking her time to tell the story of “Queen Sugar” and her hope that audiences will “sink” into the show.

How did you decide on this particular story line with Blue and having him play with a Barbie?

I wanted to make sure that the story of “Queen Sugar” reflects all parts of our identity as black people. I want to start to interrogate the ways in which we embrace our identity, and that’s happening with all the characters. Everyone is upside down with who they are and what it means to be someone else. It felt like there was a good opportunity with Blue to do the same, particularly around issues of identity as it relates to the ways in which we conform to certain notions of masculinity in the black community.

I’m really sensitive to the story line because I don’t want it to be something that we’re flag-waving or using as a big story point in a “special episode of Season 1.” I really want to start to seed it in. Literally for much of the first season, no one’s paying attention to the doll except Ralph Angel [played by Siriboe], his father, who’s very aware and very protective. As Blue becomes older, and as other people in the family notice [the doll], it will start to become a point of conversation. This is a commitment from me and the writers to really explore this story line in a long-term way.

Sep 15

KSU responds to racially controversial social-media post – Salina Post

MANHATTAN -A former K-State student’s Snapchat selfie has drawn the attention of the university after the photo was shared by another student on social media.

The Snapchat photo went viral Thursday after two girls in blackface posted a selfie with the caption, “Feels good to finally be a n—–.”14369967_1140978549274395_6949873094673701855_n

K-State Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Pat Bosco addressed the issue with this statement:

Dear students, faculty and staff,

I have become aware that one of our students posted a racially offensive photo today on social media and used one of the most derogatory words in the English language. This photo has students, faculty, staff and other members of the K-State family upset. It rightly should, as there is no place for racism at our university, regardless of what the intentions may have been. K-State prides itself on being one family, no matter your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or abilities. All members of the K-State family deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

As always, I want to applaud our students for their maturity and actions when it comes to these issues. Our students, faculty, administration and the Office of Diversity have done phenomenal work in areas of diversity and inclusion on our campuses. I especially want to note the diligent work of the K-State Black Student Union and its efforts and legacy of addressing these issues in an effective and pragmatic way. Over the past few years, BSU has worked in unison with the Staley School of Leadership Studies on its Cats for Inclusion Campaign. This campaign works to create effective dialogue around issues of race, and teaches would-be allies on how to take an effective anti-racist stance:

I also am proud of the preliminary work that a cross section of student leaders from various organizations, including the Black Student Union, Hispanic American Leadership Organization, Asian American Student Union, Native American Student Association and the Student Governing Association, has done to create a student initiative around issues of diversity. Even

K-State’s Beta Upsilon Chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha released this response:--click to ENLARGE

K-State’s Beta Upsilon Chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha released this response:–click to ENLARGE

with these initiatives, we obviously still have work to do. We are firmly committed to the principles of community at Kansas State University, and it is important that we educate our students daily on these principles. We must do better, and we will do better.

Pat Bosco
Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students

Sep 15

Find Out Which Original ‘Empire’ Star Just Left the Show

A major change is coming to the third season.

Sep 13

These Touching Tributes Show 2Pac’s Heritage Is Strong

The legendary rapper left us 20 years ago today.

Sep 13

Despite diversity campaigns, the people directing TV are still white and male – Washington Post

UPDATE: Due to an editing error, the DGA’s release of their latest data about directors of episodic television misstated the number of minority directors on Showtime’s “Ray Donovan.” Both the DGA and Showtime reached out to note the error in DGA’s explanation, and this piece has been updated to reflect the change.

Despite high-profile commitments to inclusion in hiring from producers such as Ryan Murphy and J.J. Abrams, a new report from the Directors Guild of America suggests that television studios made little progress in hiring women and people of color to direct episodes of television during the 2015-2016 season. And a number of findings in the DGA’s survey suggest that opportunities for underrepresented directors are not expanding as fast as the television business itself is.

FX President John Landgraf has been predicting what he calls “peak TV” for several years now as networks produce more and more original series in an effort to convince viewers that their channels are essential, especially as consumers express frustration with costly cable bundles. In the 2015-2016 season, 299 scripted series aired more than 4,000 episodes.

Women directed 17 percent of those episodes, and people of color directed 19 percent of them; in each case, that’s up a percentage point from the 2014-2015 season. For the second year in a row, women of color directed only 3 percent of TV episodes.

Given the attention that has been paid to Hollywood’s hiring practices during this period, these are small increases in woeful numbers. And while the entertainment industry is project-based, which means that gains in employment can be reversed quickly if a show is canceled or a movie project comes to an end, the flip side of this is that every project that comes on line and every new season of a television show is an opportunity for a studio or a showrunner to hire more women and people of color should they choose to do so.

The opportunities that directors from underrepresented communities are getting sometimes come from unexpected places. The broadcast networks may have a reputation for being somewhat conservative in their content, but the shows that aired there were most likely to have episodes directed by women (20 percent) and second-most likely to have episodes directed by people of color (19 percent). Basic cable networks were least likely to hire women to direct episodes — just 14 percent of basic cable episodes were helmed by women. And their lead in episodes directed by people of color got a boost part from a single, prolific director. Tyler Perry directed almost 6 percent of all basic cable TV episodes, lifting the total of those episodes directed by people of color to 24 percent. Premium cable channels, which claim greater license to be able to produce daring content, were least likely to hire women, who directed 15 percent of episodes that aired in places such as HBO and Showtime, and people of color, who directed just 10 percent of those episodes.

The picture in streaming services isn’t encouraging, either. People of color directed only 8 percent of the episodes in the original series that outlets such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu distribute. Women directed 17 percent of those episodes. Rather than breaking free of the bad old hiring patterns of the past, it seems that streaming services are replicating the flaws of the networks they hope to out-compete. (Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos owns The Post.)

Looking at the DGA’s best and worst lists — the former for shows that assigned at least 40 percent of their episodes to women or people of color, the latter for shows that hired women and people of color less than 15 percent of the time — it’s clear that leadership matters.

Three of the four series that were entirely directed by women and people of color are projects of BET Productions, the studio of Black Entertainment Television. Shonda Rhimes, the powerful showrunner who programs an entire night of television for ABC, is clearly making an effort to hire people who are traditionally shut out of the directors’ chair: 58 percent of the episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy,” 52 percent of the episodes of “Scandal” (both of which Rhimes runs), and 47 percent of the episodes of “How to Get Away With Murder” (which was created by one of Rhimes’s proteges), were directed by women or people of color. Ninety percent of the episodes on John Ridley’s anthology series “American Crime” were directed by members of underrepresented groups, as were 80 percent of the episodes of Jill Soloway’s “Transparent.”

Earlier this year, Murphy promised that half the directors on his shows would be women, racial minorities or LGBT people (who are not tracked by the DGA study); 60 percent of the episodes of the first season of his “American Crime Story” were directed by women or people of color. But pledges aren’t always a guarantee of jobs; Abrams’s production company may be asking agencies to send in a list of candidates for all jobs at his company that are proportional to the actual demographics of the U.S. population. But Hulu’s “11.22.63,” a Kennedy assassination miniseries for which Abrams served as an executive producer, made the DGA’s “Worst Of” list, hiring no women or people of color as directors.

The guild singled three shows out for criticism, writing in the report that “it is worth noting that ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ and ‘Workaholics’ continue to bear the distinction of making the ‘Worst Of’ list year after year, having hired no women or minority directors since their respective debuts in 2005 and 2011.”

Naming and shaming, it seems, will get Hollywood only so far.

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