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Thursday, July 12, 2007

My Campaign Against " Hot Ghetto Mess" - In MY OWN WORDS!

Hmm. Well, yesterday was interesting! I guess people know BET is going to try to air “ Hot Ghetto Mess” now.

I am going to go ahead and give my own version of this story because some things are getting lost in translation so I’ll give you a brief firsthand account.

This video of DL Hughley attacking the Rutgers basketball team is what precipitated our campaign against “Hot Ghetto Mess.” Didn’t know about Hughley’s comments on the Tonight Show? Join the club. Hughley made these comments mere days after Don Imus was fired, in a forum, The Tonight Show, whose audiences dwarfs Imus’, but there was absolutely NO reaction from the media outlets who had mere days before been rabid about Imus. There was also NO outcry from a single civil rights group. We did our best to highlight what he said, but for the most part, the usual suspects have ignored Hughley's comments.

To reward Hughley for his attack on these young Black women, BET decided to give him his own show on Black Entertainment Television called “ Socially Offensive Behavior.” THAT is why I was on BET, to try to figure out who was supporting Hughley’s show. I actually stumbled across “Hot Ghetto Mess” I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when I saw that blackface cartoon staring back at me. If you really want to hear how hard seeing the cartoon affected me, go listen to our archived podcast the following day. I was so angry, I had a case of indignation induced insomnia.

Why did you start this site?
I started this site after watching Oprah’s town hall meeting. Diane Weathers was just so frustrated and so was I. I remember her saying that African American women needed to take the lead to combat negative portrayals in popular culture, Hip Hop in particular. I didn’t find any one site or organization whose sole focus was on the portrayal of African American women in popular culture. So I actually started the blog in hopes that someone would see it and contact me so I could just direct people to that site. I wanted to feature people who were fighting negative images of Black women. People kept asking why people hadn’t spoken out about Rap music and its videos. I was like “ WE HAVE! FOR YEARS!”. People just hadn’t been paying attention. That is why we have “ Featured Activism of the Day” posts.

What is your goal?
My ultimate goal is that people who want to see and listen to content that I think degrades African American women are the ones who pay for it. I merely request that large corporations who want me to utilize their products and services don’t turn around and use my money to promote images that I believe harm African American women.

Have you spoken to Jamila?
No, but I did issue her an invitation to appear on our podcast, “The Black Women‘s Round Table.” We’re both lawyers so it would be an interesting conversation.

What do you think about the website Hot Ghetto Mess that is the basis for the BET show?
I get Jamila’s original point. I too am horrified at times at the lifestyle choices people seek to promote. Clearly many of the people who ended up on the site wanted some attention because many of them posed for the original photo. I am sure, however, that many of them were unaware that they would end up being beamed around the world.

I find portions of her site disturbing. I think the photos of small children in compromising positions ( in my opinion) disgusting. I find her depictions of, at the least, child neglect, at the most, child abuse, exploitive. In a word, Jamila lost her way and went from social commentary to exploitation, and she is doing very well apparently.

What do you think about bringing the website to BET?

Even Jamila has admitted that BET just doesn’t get it. I can’t imagine why she would trust them to produce social commentary.

What do you think about BET?
I think BET is Viacom’s “ Hot Ghetto Mess“. I find it ridiculous that Reginald Hudlin is trying to shield Viacom by saying that Viacom takes hundreds of millions of dollars from BET, but does not care where the money came from.

I find it ridiculous that Hudlin is trying to pass this off as “tough love” or BET’s attempt to demonstrate concern for the state of Black America. Who helped push us here? Despite Hudlin’s comments about the public service that “Hot Ghetto Mess” will perform, the BET.com pages promoting the show and soliciting videos say otherwise. The promotional page describes the show as a “ car wreck you can’t look away from.” When did causing car wrecks become a public service? The site soliciting videos for BET’s show doesn’t say it’s a social commentary.

So who did BET lie to? Reporters, asking questions after the controversy emerged or the people who sent them videos and photographs?

In addition, producers for the show who went around soliciting videos on the internet certainly didn’t portray it as a social commentary show. They went looking for the very worst of African American culture so they could beam it to the world, encouraging people to go looking for foolishness.

Why did you call for a boycott?
First, we didn’t even have to get that far with the corporations. When I just said that I wanted to let them know that their ads were appearing on a page with a blackface cartoon, they gasped ( literally). I didn’t even have to get to a request. They moved without any request once they became aware of what was happening.

This just proves my point. People have been railing at BET and the entertainment industry for YEARS, but in less than 8 hours I forced BET to remove ALL of the advertising from the pages promoting Hot Ghetto Mess on BET.com, and as an added bonus, “Socially Offensive Behavior.”

At the end of the day, if you want the entertainment industry to change, stop writing letters to BET and entertainment companies. They don’t care what we think. If you want to change what is on television and radio, call an advertiser. I promise you that the entertainment companies listen to their advertisers. So that is why our motto is “ Stop Funding Foolishness.”

I'll have more to say this evening.