One of my new acquaintances ( I can’t decide if she’s a “friend” because of the way she talks to me sometimes.) called me yesterday to argue that I should at least attempt to have a conversation with someone from BET about “Hot Ghetto Mess.” I scoffed. But she went on to explain some kind of model for civil disobedience and the various steps of escalating pressure and said that somewhere in that process there has to be “reconciliation” or something. She can explain it better because I really wasn’t trying to listen to hear her about talking to BET. My position all along was that Black folks don’t need to ask BET for anything. Once we start efficiently and effectively wielding our power as consumers, BET will come looking to talk to US. However, she was undaunted , and continued to explain the methods of Gandhi, MLK, and even trotted out Jesus ( Is she sure my Mama didn‘t call her?)! So I am extending an offer to BET to sit down and have a “conversation” about “Hot Ghetto Mess.” Y’all know how to reach me. This post explains why that might be BET’s best interest. I hate when bloggers, actors, musicians, reporters, etc. use their forum to talk about their personal issues, but I will relent this one time because I think it might make some things clearer to folk.
Today I read a post over at Bronze Trinity, one of the very first bloggers who embraced this blog when I was first starting out. She said:
“I am in awe and everytime this blogger achieves something I am shocked. I always think 'oh nothing will happen' or 'what's the point'. The next thing I know it she has a victory. I really do not understand why this is working because I never expected it to...maybe she rubbed a genie or something...Its hard to keep up with this activist blogger”I can't count the number of times since I have started this blog that another blogger has sent me and e-mail saying "Gina, I can't believe you did X." Every once in a while, I would slip up and give a blogger some unsolicited advice, but I have taken pains to hide my background, skills and abilities. To whom much is given...blah blah blah. People won't ask you to help if they don't realize you know how to do it. Been there. Done that. Not. Fun.At. All.
I have a confession to make Bronze Trinity, despite the colloquialisms, the strong Texas accent, the frequent typos, and loose adherence to spelling and grammatical rules, I am not some little country bumpkin from Texas with a blog. There is a reason why this blog exploded out of nowhere, which I think you will realize shortly. Did you notice that from the inception of this blog I have placed limits on all the things I will and WON’T do?
Almost since birth, I have held a leadership role in every kind of organization imaginable. The apex of my accomplishments as a student leader was supposed to be an event I planned at the University of Oklahoma. I brought Johnnie Cochran to campus. Now to hear my friends tell it, the speech was a smashing success. They had a great time. I DID NOT! I was exhausted and tired and the people who gave me the most grief were the people I worked so hard to make sure they could get to see Johnnie in Oklahoma (Y’all know it was US!)
At the end of his speech as I am escorting him to his next engagement, ONE OF THE THINGS I WAS OBLIGATED TO DO! This student film crew, two Black girls, wanted to stop for an unscheduled on camera interview, I tried to explain that Mr. Cochran had to move along, but this SISTAH said something really nasty to me and humiliated me in front of one of my idols. Shortly thereafter I went to dinner with Johnnie, Melvin C. Hall ( also an attorney and the only African American member of the OU board of Regents), and James Blake ( the first African American head coach of the football team).
So there I am, sitting there with probably three of the most powerful Black men in the entire state at that instant in time and they are trying to convince me that my people are not a bunch of mean spirited ungrateful wretches. Can you imagine? I’m sitting there with two accomplished attorneys. I should have been asking them for advice about law school. Heck! I should have asked them for a job, but I’m sitting there boo hooing over an Absolute & Sprite at the end of what should have been one of the best nights of my life.
That day I vowed to NEVER. EVER. Take any substantial leadership role in ANY group for the rest of my life. I meant it. I won’t even take a leadership role on our family reunion planning committee. ( Ask my Mama.)
The Origin of What About Our Daughters?
So here comes Diane Weathers on the Oprah show “After Imus: Now What?" She looked so despondent and frustrated while I was sitting there chilling reading my favorite blogs. Watching her in such apparent distress, I said to my self “ All that lady needs to do it X and then do Y, and then Z. Problem solved! They just need a blog.” So despite my vow to not to try to organize ANYTHING of ANYBODY for ANY PURPOSE EVER.EVER.EVER ( Did I say EVER?), I didn’t see any harm at the time in taking five minutes out of my usual hours of evening web surfing to throw up a post or two on my way to my favorite blogs.
Even then, I set very clear limitations on what I would and would not do. I was supposed to be the town crier. Everyone else was supposed to use the information I’d gathered to take action. You saw a textbook example of how all this was supposed to work with Eddie’s protest of DL Hughley in Ft. Worth. That is the model I hope to return to when this madness is over.
The Way All this was SUPPOSED to Go Down
Trinity, I clearly don’t have access to a genie in a bottle because I would wish that this “Hot Ghetto Mess” mess had gone down the way I had planned. The way this was supposed to work was that I was supposed to alert the world about “Hot Ghetto Mess” and these civil rights groups were supposed to ride in to the rescue and carry the plan forward. My plan went awry because I did not anticipate their glacial pace and they didn’t move fast enough. I was supposed to remain semi-anonymous in relative obscurity, instead my blog became one of the public faces of the opposition to BET. So I found myself in the middle of a battle with one of the largest media companies in the world. While I thought that the cavalry was chilin’ at a roadside coffee house.. I resented those groups for not doing things exactly the way I had planned. The Universe apparently had plans of its own.
Who BET is Dealing With
You are dealing with a graduate of Duke University School of Law, a National Achievement Scholar, and a National Merit Commended Student. A person who has planned more events in her short lifetime that I have time to list here. You are dealing with the little Black girl who organized a successful boycott of the Eugene Field Elementary School cafeteria IN THE FIFTH GRADE!( Again, ask my Mama.)
Track down my trial advocacy instructor at Duke, Judge Charles Becton. Ask him about my performance in his class in 2001. When the class ended up with an odd number of people for our final, a mock trial, I volunteered to be the one to work by myself. Ask him what Gina was able to do ALONE. Then ask yourself what she would be able to do with a growing online army and now an alliance with civic groups and organizations. I’m not saying that to be arrogant, but Debra Lee needs to get a clear picture of who she is dealing with. It was my deepest desire to plug away unnoticed until I can retire to my dream cabin in Asheville, NC.
After law school I made a deal with the Universe: Don't ask too much of me and I won't ask too much from it. Then along came “Hot Ghetto Mess” and forced me to return temporarily from my self-imposed exile to beat it back. I’ve sacrificed my anonymity for this. Most IMPORTANT, I have sacrificed all of my ANYTIME minutes for this!( Y’all really need to buy a button or hit that donate icon to offset this beast of a bill headed my way.) So please believe that I am not joking with Viacom and BET.
Know that I can stand toe to toe with any of the strategists, executives, and public relations people who have been giving BET such poor advice on how to handle this “ Hot Ghetto Mess” MESS.
Debra Lee, trust and believe that if the Universe dragged me kicking, screaming and clawing from NINE YEARS of SELF-IMPOSED mediocrity, the universe has equipped me with the knowledge, skills and abilities to finish what IT started.
We Take No Joy in This
I once loved BET. Growing up in east Texas, BET introduced me to Black folks, the likes of which I’d never seen. My grandparents were the only ones with cable back then (My Daddy didn’t believe in paying for TV when you could get it for free.) Donnie Simpson was so smooth. Even Sherry Carter grew on me, I liked her style. Bev Smith was so POWERFUL. Ananda was so confident on Teen Summit and who could forget Ed Gordon and his suits of many colors.
So despite all the DIRT that BET has done over the years, I take no pleasure in the nationwide campaign about to be launched against you and your advertisers.
So Ms. Lee and Mr. Hudlin, help US. help YOU..
I’m sure you want to let your employees out of the bunker where they have been hiding from the media and I want to return to my favorite new pastime of throwing virtual rocks at Rev. Al and the students of the Russell Simmons School of Obfuscation and Redirection. Plus the last installment of Harry Potter comes out this weekend and I really wanted to read it before people tell me who dies at the end.
HOWEVER, if BET continues to maintain a glass jaw and moves forward with airing “ Hot Ghetto Mess,” we will relentlessly pound away (figuratively) at that glass jaw until we smash it into tiny little pieces. The Universe demands it!
Now is the time to tell those employees hiding out from reporters in the BET bunker to head to an undisclosed location.
You know how to reach me. ( There Janis. Are you happy now?)
Disclaimer: Dear Mr. Federal Agent: This post may contain similes, metaphors, and analogies, sometimes known as figures of speech. So please don’t’ come knocking on my door. Y’all don’t act like it ain’t necessary to say that in this day and age.