by guest contributor Tami from What Tami Said
On Friday, Jan. 25, WAOD posted the article "What would Jesus do...about BET," breaking news about a letter (press release) praising Black Entertainment Television for evolving and "standing up for freedom of expression." The communique was signed by high-profile preachers and leaders of prominent religious groups, and disseminated by Rev. Ronal Tune, a consultant affiliated with The Carroway Group, a PR firm employed by BET. In that post, and the others that followed, we asked how holy men and women devoted to the uplift of the black community--leaders like Father Michael Pfleger, who little more than six months ago purchased billboards around Chicago decrying misogyny in rap music, and Bishop Vashti Mackenzie, an advocate for black women--could in good conscience align themselves with BET.
The letter seemed like a bold slap in the face to black people and women in particular. Here were our leaders praising BET for tossing crumbs to the black community, while continuing to kill our people every day through a celebration of violence, materialism and misogyny. It couldn't be true that our community's religious leaders have such disdain for us. Could it? Rev. Tune says:
I'm shocked at the assumptions made in this post so I have e-mailed all ofMeanwhile, the offending letter was stricken from Rev. Tune's Clergy Strategic Alliances Web site. (Now folks ought to know that you can't erase stuff from the Internet so quickly.Here it is.) Gina and Shecodes called and e-mailed the signatories of the BET letter.
clergy on the letter to make them aware of it. Perhaps they will respond to your
statements individually. I spoke to Rev. Haynes after I received a call from
Enough is Enough and it appears that he was under the impression that there was
a different letter being referred to in his conversation with whoever called
him. When I told him it was the same letter that he received from me, he said
there wasn't a problem. I assure you, that every person on this letter regarding
the BET Honor Show read it prior to release and knew their name was on it.
Dr. Cynthia Hale quickly responded, assuring that we were all on the same side, that the leaders who signed the offending letter meant to congratulate BET Honors Award honorees only and that they were unaware of BET's duplicity. Dr. Hale promised to speak to all pastors involved and get back to us.
On Tuesday of this week, Dr. Iva Carruthers responded to WAOD's inquiries through the site's comments sections, saying in part:
Yes, we share the concerns about misogyny and the degrading and disempowering media images and messaging—both blatant and subtle—not just by BET, but in all American media. So yes, I signed the letter and I was not at all deceived.
It is unclear how Carruthers' "concerns about misogyny and degrading and disempowering media images" squares with lauding BET for standing up for "freedom of expression," or how praising the channel's "willingness to listen to viewers" with community activists' experience that BET is anything but willing to listen and respond.
No other leader has bothered to respond to WAOD's inquiries. Not one. And we are waiting.
It has been little more than 48 hours, excluding weekends, since WAOD broke this story. Now we know these religious bigwigs are busy, but if you were a community leader, would you let your name stand associated with BET on a site devoted to ending the war against black women--a site that receives thousands of hits a day and is listed as one of the Web's most influential sites on Technorati. I wouldn't. Unless, of course, I supported the channel and its content.
The way I see it, silence = endorsement. If by Friday--one week after WAOD's initial post--this Web site's readers have not heard from the religious leaders that signed the BET letter, then we all know where we stand. Don't we?