General Question

chelle21689's avatar

Are sites and networks like BET and racist?

Asked by chelle21689 (7770points) August 18th, 2012
36 responses
“Great Question” (7points)

I hear a lot of white people complain that if they were to start up their own TV network or website called “White Entertainment Television” or then they would be considered racist. I hear many things like, “Why shouldn’t we have our own history month too?”

Honestly, I feel like a lot of people don’t understand why networks like BET (Black Entertainment Television) or exists. I try to explain that because we are a minority in America we’re going to have things targeted towards us for a small group to share cultural values. I’m not saying whites can’t have their own but it is looked down upon because of the past with white groups formed because of supremacy such as the KKK. If whites lived in a country like Thailand and formed their own group of similar cultures such as Italians, Germans, or whatever then it’d be understandable because they are a minority.

I’m not black, but honestly I see most of the nit-picking with blacks about getting their own networks, dating sites, etc.

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bookish1's avatar

In this society, I’d say every month is already white history month, every channel is already White Entertainment Television, just like every day is straight pride day.

marinelife's avatar

Since whites are in the majority and in control of society (a rapidly changing set of facts), it is all white all the time.

These efforts are attempts to balance things out a little.

chelle21689's avatar

I know that. I try to explain to a classmate on Facebook when her and a bunch of my other old high school mates chimed in about how whites are not being treated fairly for not being able to have their own “white people meet” because it’d be considered racist. I don’t think they understand why we have stuff like this..

FutureMemory's avatar

Well said, @marinelife and @bookish1.

If only more white people understood this relatively basic concept :/ ...

bookish1's avatar

@FutureMemory: Agreed! But I’m not white. I just pass as white the great majority of the time in my country. But it means I think about race a hell of a lot.

bolwerk's avatar

What I want to know is, just what the hell do these types of people imagine will be found on a White Entertainment Network? Family sitcoms other than The Cosby Show? World War II documentaries? Commemorative coin infomercials? Hair products for whites? Casual dining chain reviews?

There is a fairly coherent “African American” (not using the term to be PC) culture with rather obvious historical roots. It doesn’t seem that hard to figure out why BET makes a modicum of sense, while WET might come across as a tad racist.

Besides, isn’t SpikeTV close enough?

RareDenver's avatar

What would be the point in a White People Meet? White people meet other white people all the time. I know this because I’m white. I also meet Asian, Africa, Arabian, Chinese people too but then I do live in a large multi cultural city.

chelle21689's avatar

We had a civilized debate. She came to the conclusion that the name is what bothers her because it’s racial and not based on heritage. “BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TV” focuses on race according to her lol.

DominicX's avatar

If BET doesn’t put forth the idea that black people are superior to other races, then it’s not racist. A lot of people don’t seem to understand what racist means. I don’t really see things like BET as being that necessary, but they’re not racist. And the reason things like WET aren’t formed is because there’s no calling for it—it’s completely unnecessary, even more so than BET. Now, a lot of people seem to think that if they created something like that, it would be racist, but I’ve never actually seen anyone try.

Brian1946's avatar

I know this analogy might be a stretch, but it would be like people who have never been convicted of anything or incarcerated, complaining that the Innocence Project is discriminatory because they’ve never tried to help them. ;-)

JLeslie's avatar

Not racist. As you say, minority groups have their own clubs, TV stations, organizations, because the majority already has those things de facto. I don’t agree with a club specifically keeping people out, like a black club saying a white person can’t join, and obviously white people can watch black TV stations.

The one negative about having black stations is I think white people are less likely to watch that channel. Imagine if Cosby had been on BET? But, at the same time, if the shows speak more to that sub culture, why not put them on one station?

Using the term black isn’t racist. Black people are minorites because they are black, not because of the continent they originated from. Most black people I know identify with being black, not with being African. I identify with being white and Jewish, not so much with being Russian and Latvian.

YARNLADY's avatar

he sites themselves are to preserve cultural pride. Some of the individual users are racist, which is bad, but there is nothing wrong with pride.

DrBill's avatar

BET does discriminate. Therefore I refuse to watch or support it. The other stations show programs featuring all races, BET will not broadcast any program that does not have predominate black actors. Their actions prove daily that they are bigots.

I discriminate against everyone and everything that is racist, there is no room for it in my life.

Patton's avatar

The doctor doth protest too much, methinks.

DrBill's avatar

You are welcome to your opinion.

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rooeytoo's avatar

I have never watched this station, I don’t think it is shown here but if the policy is as @DrBill describes it, then it is indeed racist. Anything that promotes differences instead of similarities is counterproductive. If you live in america, you should be american, end of story. When I moved to australia, I did not try to turn it into the USA, I did not try to maintain my individuality or american culture. I moved here because I wanted to be australian. I can maintain my own culture in my own home and life. I do not need to make all australians see it the american way.

tom_g's avatar

I have been sitting here typing and self-editing for awhile because I suspect I am about to get the “you’re an a**hole” award tonight.

I’ll just leave leave my comment as a nice, unoffensive….

No. It can only be interpreted as racist if you have never bothered to figure out what racism is.

Patton's avatar

I always find it amusing how Americans value individuality right up until some minority group stands up and says “we’re individuals too!” Then it’s all “we shouldn’t be talking about our differences!”

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mazingerz88's avatar

People…couldn’t just they all get along? Brother, brother, there’s no need to escalate…

Nullo's avatar

Yes, in a broad sense. They acknowledge or else underscore the fact that they are targeting a culture that correlates strongly with physical features. BET, as far as I know, does not target non-American blacks (Pacific Islanders, Africans, Australian aboriginals, etc.)
“African American Entertainment Television (AATE) probably wouldn’t be as catchy.

@mazingerz88 Please direct your attention to mankind’s history. Be sure to note all of those wars.

JLeslie's avatar

@Nullo they are targeting a specific audience, a specific subgroup. Blacks from those other groups don’t identify usually with black Americans who have been here for generations, whose ancestors were primarily brought here as slaves. They have cultural differences.

The channel having a target market is the same as the SciFi channel, Spanish speaking channels, History channel etc.

@DrBill Is your main objection they target a black audience? Or, that they only have shows with black actors? I don’t even know if that os the case. I rarely watch the channel. Do they not allow any “white” shows? Or mixed race shows?

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JLeslie's avatar

Just tuned into Julia, show from back in the 60’s with a female black main character. Dihann Carrol is so beautiful. The cast is pretty mixed overall. I grew up watching shows with black actors, sometimes they were the main characters. Julia, The Jefferson’s, Sanford amd Son, Good Times, Cosby, Different Strokes, Gimme a Break, My Wife and Kids, and more. I have always watched shows with black people, but I almost never tune into BET TV station. The color of the actors on a show would not even occur to me. I never thought of any of those shows as black shows. I don’t like when blanket statements are made about the TV being void of black shows, or that black people have always been represented in a negative light. That just isn’t true.

Blackberry's avatar

@rooeytoo Race can be used with different context. When people say there is no race, they’re usually referring to race as a phenotypical trait. This is to counter actual racists that may suggest people separated by these phenotypical traits may be inferior or superior due to them.

On the other hand, we also use race in society to label and separate people. This is useful for making descriptions. Why would I describe your shoes when it would be easier for me to say your skin color etc. This is not racism, though, it’s making an observation.

Nullo's avatar

@Blackberry Race is only phenotypical traits. We’ve isolated and stigmatized those, giving rise to labels and subcultures.

keobooks's avatar

I don’t know if anyone remembers this, but when the Fox channel (not Fox News) came out, it had a fairly decent African American sitcom lineup. I think the most famous one was In Living Color, which gave the Wayan brothers and Jim Carey their starts. Once Fox got more established, they dropped almost all of their African American shows and went all white.The same thing happened with the WB network when it started.

I read an article about this phenomenon about 10 years ago. I wish I could find it. Basically, African American comedy is an economical way to start your lineup when you are a new network. The shows are cheaper, and you are almost guaranteed an audience looking for “black comedy” on network media. It’s a good way to establish yourself as a channel.

But the big corporate sponsor money comes from shows that appeal to white people. Generally, with very few exceptions, white people like shows about white people. So the black shows get cancelled so the networks can get the big money.

So a cable channel comes along. They decide to cater to the mobile niche market left neglected by other media. They buy African American shows and hire African American producers and execs. Niche channels are all over cable networks. They don’t have to have as big of a market share to be competitive on the cable network. BET has enough market share to thrive.

There’s no real need for a white broadcast network. Not enough people would be drawn to the show because very few white people consciously think “I want to watch a show with white people.” They just turn on the TV and will change the channel if it looks too black and keep watching if it looks white. And they won’t even realize they are doing it. So you could have a white channel, but it would likely bomb in ratings.

I hate to be all cold about it, but BET and all the other cable channels are not funded by the government. BET is not public television. It’s there because there are lots of people who want to watch it and it generates enough money to stay afloat. It not only benefits the viewers, but it benefits the corporate sponsors and the cable companies.

If BET didn’t make enough money to make a mark in the industry, it wouldn’t exist. It’s not a special charity channel made so that black people feel validated. So stop complaining about it, white people.

JLeslie's avatar

@keobooks Very interesting. I agree, it is a business model, not a charity. It’s all market niches and money. I wonder if the black shows previously made it not only because they were very entertaining, but because they were in a good line up. Placed after a show that already had great ratings, and viewers gave it a chance. My husband is the one who usually picks new shows for us to try, and it doesn’t seem to me he pays attention to race at all when first giving a show a chance. I don’t think I do either? But, if it seems very “black” culturally, I am probably not going to keep tuning in. In living Color never appealed to me. Hip hop dancers definitely not doing it for me. And, Jim Carey, I know he is a white guy, it is hard for me to watch him, literally hard for me to look at him. That show had Hispanics too. It was actually fairly diverse.

Maybe it has more to do with if the target market has discretionary income to spend? Then the sponsors are going to line up. As long as the audience is at a good socio-economic level, the sponsors are happy. I wonder how many products are specifically targeted at black people over white? Not too many I would guess. All I can think of is hair products, hair salons, some make-up lines, and churches, but I am sure there are more. Pepsi specifically targeted black people in their history, they get credit for it as a brilliant endevour and credit for having a black sales team back in the day of segregation and Jim Crow laws, but at the same time attempted to maintain their white customer of course; not sure who they target now. I guess if I tuned into BET for a few days I would see who and what advertises on that channel.

I just watched 20 minutes and the commercials have 90% black actors so far if the ad has actors on it. It made me realize something. When it comes to TV shows and movies I don’t think I filter by what color the actors are. But, when it comes to ads, I think I do somewhat if I were honest.

chelle21689's avatar

How is BET racist and discriminates if they allow people onto their show of all colors as long as they “fit in” with their culture? Chinese rapper Jin, white rapper Paul Wall and Eminem, and Fat Joe (Puerto Rican) just to name a few. Heck, Justin Timberlake and Tom Cruise were guests too and invited to the awards.

susanc's avatar

Need to distinguish between facts (some people are black, some are white) and attitudes (some people are inferior, only people like me are fine). BET isn’t anti-white. It’s fun and familial for people tuned in to life as black people live it right now and right here. White folk might enjoy it and maybe learn something from it if they aren’t hanging out that much with black people. No one is telling them they aren’t allowed to. Therefore no oppression. Get a fucking life.

Nullo's avatar

@keobooks An interesting economic perspective.
I don’t think that people are griping about not having WET, though, but rather about the double standard inherent in what TvTropes (you have been warned!) refers to as N-Word Privileges.

Patton's avatar

@Nullo Race is definitively not phenotypical traits. The point is well made by the American Anthropological Association Statement on Race: physical traits supposedly associated with particular races can be easily found outside of those races (including skin color!), and race has always been about more than physical features. “Race” is more about history than genotypes and phenotypes. So in fact, it’s exactly like @Blackberry says.

The whole issue of “n-word privileges” also seems to be mistaken. People would be complaining even if that word were never used on BET. And if that really were the issue, then it would just show how stupid some people are. A double standard can only exist when situations are similar. Uses of the n-word by it’s original targets are not the same situation as uses by others. If you don’t even know what “double standard” means, perhaps you should retire it from your vocabulary for the time being.

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