I received the note below from the young Ghanaian lady, Abbie Agyekum, who started the BET Awards petition to have BET treat our artists with the respect they deserve. Her petition was one of many advocacy tools I discussed for bringing BET Awards’ attention to our artists who have been ignored the past three years.
The petitioner now has a change of heart and has chosen to delete her petition. I, needless to say, hold a different position and do not feel statements she received was enough grounds to delete this petition. But, as a wise woman once said to me, “you always have a right to change your mind.” The lady here felt the need to do so and has. For the benefit of persons that I directed to the petition, it only make sense I share the basis for her cancellation below.
Read it below.
I got a particularly important response to one of my emails.
It was a very detailed response from someone who helped bring African artistes to the attention of the BET and helped start the African act category, so her response was very important to me.
She explained how nicely the African artistes are treated -a weekend of celebrations and being honoured – even better than how the domestic nominees may be treated. She also explained that they were not awarded backstage but rather at a special breakfast in their honour.
She was upset that so much effort and planning had gone into the show but we had only chosen to focus on this part. She asked us to keep in mind that it was a(n) (imperfect) process and we have to keep in mind that Viacom, which owns BET, is focused on respecting their domestic schedules and ratings.
After I heard from her I decided to take the petition down. I’m not doing this because I have lost my nerve or think this issue is no longer relevant. Honestly, I am still disappointed that African artistes are still not considered marketable enough to appear on the big stage (that’s not what she said, but that’s what it boils down to, isn’t it?).
Now I am convinced that this isn’t something the BET should be petitioned to do. And if they change things, I want it to be something they HAD to do, out of commercial necessity and not ‘pity’ or social pressure.
Let me explain: They deal with ratings, so their actions can only be a response to demands by their viewers – mostly young African Americans. For that to happen, African artistes need more exposure, till they can command ratings similar to that of ‘mainstream’ artistes.
So I don’t think even a petition can change their view, because the ratings must translate into the ringing of cash registers.
So the task is bigger than a petition, it’s promoting African artistes until they cannot be ignored and must be exhibited.
Try that on for size. Promote them as much as you can, and then some more.
All the best!!! And when you see them perform on the BET stage one day soon, you can be proud that they earned the spot because they were in demand all over the US and not because it was given to them as a handout.
Good luck. we need it x