I have been unable to wrap my head around the notion that putting our ignorance on blast for the world to see is somehow a good thing. It may be good for a struggling network trying to stay “in touch” and “relevant” to its community, it may be good for the network executives at Viacom who are looking at their bottom line, and it’s probably great for the advertisers who are looking to market to the folks who would tune into a show like this, but that’s about it. A blog is one thing, but to turn it into a show is a completely different situation and by it being on one of the “Black” stations, it’s almost as if we are cosigning the show ourselves, saying, “Yeah, that’s us.”
Name change or not, A Hot Ghetto Mess aka We Got to Do Better is going to take us back several decades of hard fought battles for respect. Respect for a group of people that have and continue to endure so much in this country. It won’t matter if you’re a part of the upper class Black bourgeoisie when 13-year-old Timmy tunes in from white suburbia, and it won’t matter if you don’t even watch the show, once these images are broadcast on national television, that’s going to be the image of Black people for everyone everywhere. Are you ready?
When a white gay man dressed up in drag and blackface and began impersonating Southern Black women, we immediately went on the defensive, including myself. How dare he? Who does he think he is? However, should we rethink our position on Charles Knipps aka Shirley Q. Liquor?
Here’s a dose of reality for you: BET can and will do more damage to Blacks in 30 minutes than Knipps could ever do in any of his shows.
It’s no secret that Blacks continue to be exploited in this country. It’s not always as overt as it was with slavery and Jim Crow, but it still happens. If you ask me, this is just the latest example. Blacks are being used to boost the ratings of a network and create financial wealth for its advertisers. Us on the receiving, we gets nothing but the embarrassment of being Black.
If We Got to Do Better, how is this show supposed to help us accomplish that? After we finish laughing at each other so hard that it hurts, are we then supposed to be inspired to do better for ourselves? All this show is going to do is further put out there that Blacks are ignorant because when it’s all said and done, we’ll all be lumped into one dumb ass category. Don’t think other races aren’t going to tune in just to get a good laugh at us. I wonder who will be laughing harder, them or us.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve seen worse in our community right here on the streets of Compton, Watts, and South Los Angeles. I’ve seen things and people that almost made me take out my camera…I said almost. What stopped me was looking at the bigger picture. Yeah, it may be funny, but in reality, this is the effect years of slavery, coupled with Jim Crow, backward thinking and teaching, and self-hatred has after manifesting itself in poor communities with people who just don’t know any better. Now ask yourself, is that really funny?
If you want to really know what A Hot Ghetto Mess is, I’ll tell you. A Hot Ghetto Mess is when you have communities of poor people of any color that can’t find employment at a living wage, or affordable housing, they have relatively no access to decent healthcare, and a school system that is not educating their children and preparing them for future. A Hot Ghetto Mess is when you have people killing each other over a color, calling each other niggas and bitches, and then try to justify it to you. Now that’s what you call A Hot Ghetto Mess.
But this isn’t bash BET hour, after all BET is only trying to reach its targeted audience with the shows that it thinks will connect to them and raise their ratings. If more than just a couple of us had watched the BET Nightly News, it might still be on the air. It’s no different from rap music. Labels sign the artists that they think they can market to us, networks pick up the shows that they feel have the greatest chance of boosting their ratings thus attracting advertisers. Unfortunately, whether you believe it or not, it starts and ends with us and the reality is, this show will probably be the networks saving grace and that in and of itself is enough to make you depressed and throws you into the awful reality that we could do better…but we won’t.