BET, MTV poor representation of blacks

As the world becomes increasingly technologically advanced via video, Internet, DVD, MP3s, cell phones, etc., black people have become poster boards for destructive and deviant behavior. Let us examine the impact that music videos have on us subconsciously.

Why are so many black people accepting of denigrating images expressed in music videos?

Why are so many black people so willing to participate in these psychologically scarring representations? Don’t we know that others will buy into the distorted images that they see in those music videos? Then we wonder why people of other ethnic groups treat us the way they do when we come into their places of business.

When was the last time you heard one of your peers use the phrase “locked down?” How did we allow prison terms into our everyday vocabulary, let alone a college campus? What about getting “locked down” with some books and trying to increase your vocabulary, getting on the dean’s list and acting like college students?

Most of us probably do not come from environments like the ones represented in music videos. Robert Johnson’s BET, or shall I say Viacom’s BET, with its glamorized images of ghetto life, is the leading contributor to this mis-education and misrepresentation of black people. Do you think Johnson would have his own children appear in these videos? I think not.

He is far removed from what is shown in the videos. For those who dissent, if you are fortunate enough to be within ear reach of Robert Johnson, ask him where does he live.

When you have young black males walking around as if they are the diamond mines themselves, they are not aware of the countless Africans being maimed or even killed extracting the mineral. Not to mention, we have even more young black males wearing oversized clothing that is generally two or three sizes larger than necessary.

Are these our rites of passage as black men? I wholeheartedly disagree.

What about the black women? It always amazes me how they can allow themselves to be portrayed as nothing more than someone who gets in a horizontal position for a man with a nice car. Sisters, if you continuously allow yourselves to be represented this way, it only compounds the problem.

We should take individual and collective action against those who perpetuate these distorted images.

The first thing that we must do is boycott MTV and BET videos. The television executives will see a drop in viewer ship (meaning loss in advertising revenues and profits) and will hopefully change the programming.

In case you did not know it, those MTV and BET executives live far away from the distorted images that they portray about us nationally and even internationally.

Our response should be the following:

1) We should write these media organizations, and let them know that these blatant misrepresentations are unacceptable; 2) We should hold these Black artists accountable for participating in such acts; and 3) Inform them that they will lose our support if they continue in such acts of disrespect.

Believe it or not, there are individuals who spend exorbitant amounts of money, and time in devising ways to ensure that we keep our minds and spirits on this type of decadent behavior.

This will only lead to our collective demise as a black people. If you don’t believe me, check out who is behind “Flava Dolls” by Mattel, “Thug Wear” by DMX, or the association of Nelly with “Pimp Juice.”

Michael B. Bakeley, MPA, is a doctoral student from Detroit. He can be reached at