The 2016 BET Awards was a special night for many reasons. We got to see the Prince Tribute he deserved, an amazing debut from talented future legends Chloe and Halle, and an overall well produced celebration of Black Culture (though I was pretty underwhelmed by Desiigner's and Bryson Tiller's performances... I'll address that in a future post about Hip-Hop performances.)
But the greatest moments came in the form of an amazing opening performance from Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar, a well deserved Lifetime Achievement Award for the God Thespian Samuel Jackson, and a soul stirring speech by the always brilliant Jesse Williams.
Let me begin by saying, I do not write think pieces. All of my work is a conversation, where I simply wish to share a viewpoint, and hope to gain a wider understanding from whatever discourse follows. This is a praise/challenge piece if anything. It is one thing to speak one's mind. It is a powerful act when that thought is derived from a place of knowledge, understanding, courage, humility, and love.
That is what made that moment so special. It wasn't about him. It was about action. Challenging those who have become successful to remember that the fight is not over after they have gotten their coin. That change is not about comfort, for anyone, but especially not those who stand on the sidelines. It's understanding that "progress" is not the goal. Until there are no future Rekiya's, and Tamir's, and Trayvons... We have not progressed, we are still fighting.
It's about Black Men acknowledging the sacrifices Black Women make for us all, and pushing ourselves to honor them and all that they give for us.
There were gems throughout that entire speech. Personally taking Hollywood to task, and Black Men in Hollywood in specific, is what resonated with me. As a writer/producer, I feel that my history demands that my voice empowers the future of my people. I acknowledge that behind the scenes Black Celebs are VERY active in their communities, but brothers we need to HEAR you. Your voice is just as valuable as your money, and it takes both to change the world. White Allies we need to HEAR you. Being quiet while your people oppress mine does no one any good.
(So yeah, Justin, scientifically we are one people, but until your people treat my people like your people, that is not our reality. I'm not mad at you like many are, but try to dig a lil deeper fam. Especially after the whole Tittybowl thing.)
The entire night for me was amazing and did much to restore my faith in the brand of BET. From the original programming, to the New Edition mini series coming out next year. (I am personally hurt I have to wait a year for that.)
The BET Awards 2016 was an overall fantastic display of Black Excellence. I love that BET seems to be taking itself seriously again, and providing entertainment that respects the intelligence of Black America, without eschewing the flavor that makes us so amazing. I hope that this is the beginning of a rebirth of BET, and that they continue pushing the envelope. Black Entertainment is the standard bearer when it comes to being innovative and they better not forget it. Because like Jesse said last night "Just because we're magic, doesn't mean we're not real." (and you can take that in a couple of ways.)
...P.S. Friendly reminder this happened.