Just because everyone has a sphincter doesn't mean everyone uses it well. In the same spirit, everyone has an opinion, but not everyone thinks thoroughly about what they say. I recently read a blog from a former model and reality show personality that annoyed me. It wasn't so much that she had a different point of view; it was that she probably didn't take the time to do any research on it. Then again, when you're so busy, what time do you have to just research what you're talking about before you spill it to the masses?
She has swarms of comments on her blog. It's fascinating to see the oblivion in which so many people out there live. If I read what they're saying correctly, I should believe in one united America, where there's only a smidgeon of racism and the days of slavery and institutional racism no longer exist. Maybe now we don't even have to have BET, TVOne, Black History Month, or anything else that segregates Americans from one another. Also, in this world, maybe we can even date someone from another race and not have a racist bone in our bodies.
First off, Carter G. Woodson, the creator of Black History Month, actually intended for Black History Month to be temporary, hoping that people would fully integrate Black History with American History. Of course, that comes with the caveat that Americans would have to recognize African-Americans in that history. Unfortunately, and to this day, there hasn't been a sufficient integration of any underrepresented group, (Latino, indigenous, Asian, or otherwise) in American textbooks.
The reason why there is no Caucasian/White History Month, a WET, or a White Remembrance Museum is because these already exist, in abundance, in the form of NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, The CW, MTV, CSPAN, the local art museum, history museum, library, government building, school textbook, the New York Times, and the Daily News. In other words, there's loads of documentation of the contributions of the dominant society. The reason why these alternative outlets exist is because of the lack of inclusion in these outlets except when it pertains to criminals, athletes, and musicians.
People love to look at Obama as a beacon of hope, but that's derisive and indicative of where we are as a culture. Obama is the first legitimate Black candidate in the eyes of the dominant culture. He is not some racial obligation fulfilled. He is a starting point to a long and winding road.
Secondly, BET was created by Bob Johnson for entertainment purposes, but also because there was a niche whose need wasn’t fulfilled by the major networks or the cable networks. As many jokes as we make about Seinfeld or Friends not being friendly to underrepresented people, it's the truth.
It's not self-segregation when segregation is the precedent that has been set for half a millennium. People who don't actually take the time to research what they're talking about find themselves at a loss when they see the many Holocaust remembrance museums, the indigenous reservation tours, and the Black/Latino museums that exist. Many of these are losing funding for reasons like, "We are already integrated." Would these be necessary if the natural history and American history museums actually integrated these cultures more thoroughly into their edifices?
People who assert that we are all Americans immediately discredit their assertion by simply disregarding slavery as something people should just get over and move on from. Americans readily recognize — and give reparations for — the Jewish Holocaust as well as Japanese internment, but when it comes to African Americans, the government turns a cold shoulder – and that's the point.
No matter how many Black men or women you've dated, no matter how many Black friends you have, and no matter how many Black musicians and athletes you have pasted on your wall, none of it can atone for your insistence that there's no party responsible for these acts. There isn't a group of people benefiting from that legacy. Unfortunately, people still view the discussion of slavery and oppression as some pity card, while people may view other causes as noble and valiant.
Personally, I hate to make this a Black and White issue, but the entry I read prompted me. This is a real American issue. If we truly believe in diversity, and everyone being an American, then it concerns me that, in the eyes of this person, everyone should just meld into a monolith with one Anglo-centric culture, as if one culture is better or greater than the other. My focus is not against the common person; wherever you come from, I see so much potential in everyone to come together and make something beautiful happen.
If you choose to boycott BET, then that's strictly up to you. Personally, I'm not a fan of BET for various reasons. I congratulate those who take time to celebrate someone else's history all year round. However, until we are more aware of the systems that work against true integration, then we have no business flushing Black History Month down the toilet, much the way I wouldn't suggest flushing down Latino History Month, St. Patrick's Day, or Women's History Month. Everyone has had a stake in this country, and that stake is not fully recognized except in back pats and head nods.
Ironically enough, the very people who disregard observing other people's cultures always point to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as an example of absolute integration. Yet, he even said, "Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose, they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress." What, then, are we asking ourselves when we turn a blind eye to the continued injustices of the day and perpetrate this colorblind (as opposed to color-conscious) society? Will we ignore the atrocities of Jena 6 and ignore the racial component of it all? Will we simply call Elvira Arrelano an illegal immigrant when so many of us associate "illegal immigrant" with a Mexican face? It makes me wonder.
Then again, everyone has their own opinion, just like everyone has a sphincter. My problem is not with the way you use it, but with the mess you leave after you use it.