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Shame On You, BET!

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Dr. Janet Taylor: I watched the recent BET (Black Entertainment Television) Awards Show, held at the Shrine Auditorium, for two reasons. The first was obviously because I wanted to watch the tribute to the recently departed Michael Jackson. The audience, including myself, was not disappointed. From Beyonce to the surprise appearance of Michael's sister, Janet, the awards show touched the hearts of millions. The second reason that I tuned in was for the live acts. There is nothing like listening to singers in real time.

lil wayne and drake on BET

Now, I enjoy rap, with the exception of rappers who use lyrics to degrade, defame, or threaten others. In my opinion, the music is not productive and I frequently will simply turn it off. On the show, when rapper Drake appeared sitting down to rest his torn Achilles, I was like, OK ... pretty tame. I don't have a problem with Lil' Wayne; he is creative and his writing is brilliant at times. However, his song "Every Girl" is offensive and disturbing. Here are the shocking lyrics -- read them with caution. Perhaps, they are what our kids are used to. I have teenagers, girls no less, who have heard the song and like it. My problem was with the preteens who were proudly onstage, shaking their groove thang to this misogynistic, disrespectful song. It was ridiculous. Debra Lee, the CEO of BET, also the mother of two children, should be asking herself who approved this and how these young girls were allowed to be a part of this "act."

It is time for perspective here. In the minutes that were wasted onstage during this song, almost four women were forcibly raped in the United States. The age group of 13-17, to which these young "dancers" belong, has the highest number of victims of forcible rape at 32%. Women who are sexually or physically abused just once in their lifetimes are more likely to experience a poor range of physical and mental health outcomes.

Why are we as women and mothers passively allowing our young girls to be utilized as sexual entertainment? We need to wake up and understand the importance of what we expose our children and teens to. Surely, you would not pop in porn for movie night with your family, so how can one justify the bright idea of preteens rocking out to hardcore rap under the watchful eyes of the adults in the audience?

The negative portrayal of young women and girls can lead to unequal power in relationships, influence sexual behavior, contribute to violence against women, and challenge what are acceptable norms and behavior within gender. I am not making an indictment against rap; my issue is with the producers who allowed this debacle to happen.

Find the clip (we tried, but it looks like BET has pulled it from YouTube), and talk to your daughters and sons about the song and the "dancers." It's an opportunity to hear their feedback and share your own thoughts and experiences.

For the record, my girls thought that it "was strange" and inappropriate. They were embarrassed for the girls. I agree. 

** Editor's note: We contacted BET for a comment. They have yet to get back to us.

next: Candy Spelling: Wishes for Michael Jackson
37 comments so far | Post a comment now
4theLove_oBsbll June 29, 2009, 5:02 PM

With regards to lil Wayne’s “every girl” performance… I missed it; however, after hearing the song on mainstream radio I decided to purchase the song 2 weeks ago on itunes. I did by the Explicit version by choice. However, NEVER, before have I been so embarrased by a songs lyrics. I have 2 teen boys and 2 teen girls and am appalled by the nonchalant way that this generation speaks to the world.

It is an uphill battle to raise kids with respect today…

cassamandra June 29, 2009, 5:31 PM

My friends, I’d rather live in a world where men can express their desire than in a world where they can’t. Rather in world where they can express it as rawly as they feel it than in a world where they pinkwrap it. It’s a form of knowledge, and you two — the writer and the first replier — want to not know. And _that_ is the worst thing you can do to your daughters.

Cindie June 29, 2009, 5:35 PM

YOU can say this with conviction I might add and get away with it…however a “white” person would be called racist. So what does that make you?

Indigo June 29, 2009, 6:42 PM

I was appalled and embarassed at how BET let not only Lil Wayne but a few others show their colors and ruin Michael Jackson’s tribute. I was absolutely embarrassed to watch those young GIRLS dancing on stage to those lyrics. Half the song was even bleeped out due to its offensive language. BET should be ashamed.

Chrissy June 29, 2009, 6:51 PM

Sorry cassamandra, maybe in your sad world all men are like Lil”Wayne but not my.
We, all of us, need to speak up and say that attitude and behaviour is unacceptable. How else are our kids going to know? That’s our right to free speech.
I’ve thougth Lil Wayne been disgusting since “Fireman”
And Jamie Fox’s “Alcohol” (waiting for a women to get drunk enough to take advantage of her) is disgusting too.
If ain’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
Thanks Dr Taylor for writing this piece.

Ann June 29, 2009, 7:04 PM

The lyrics are disgusting. I can’t believe it. I agree that this is embarrassing and our teens are so used to hearing these words, they don’t think twice. They are immune.

Honest Sammy June 29, 2009, 7:06 PM

Look, if you don’t like it, don’t listen to it. Little Wayne and Drake are entertainers. Are their songs so different from Marvin Gaye, or Michael Bolton. The answer is no. The real problem is the miseducation of today’s youth in knowing the difference between misogynistic offensive lyrics, and a little harmless word play about girls they are into. The lyrics are very tamed from what they usually are. I appreciate that these fine young strapping stallions are doing something creative and positive with their talents. And what’s the harm of giving a few girls some airtime on a highly watched channel. I’m sure they tivo’d the event and will remember it for years to come. Drake and Little Wayne are role models we can all want our children to look up to…and aspire to be.

Jenna June 29, 2009, 8:21 PM

WOW! that song is down right bad.. never ever would i let my girl listen to something like that

Kimberly Seals Allers June 29, 2009, 10:04 PM

Dr. Taylor, I was equally appalled to see such youngins on stage during that act. As a fan of hip hop and lover of free expression, I too, thought BET should not have allowed such young girls on stage for that particular act. As I watched the award show with my Facebook crew, we were all sending similar WTF?? messages about the tweens on stage. Consenting adults, maybe. 12-year olds? Hell to the no! BET. We can do better. We must do better.

Melinda June 30, 2009, 12:43 AM

I just want to know when rappers, BET, mamas, daddies and everyone of us is going to say enough is enough already. How in God’s name could it have seemed like a good idea to allow young girls on stage while those lyrics were being sung? In whose reality does this make any sense whatsoever? The only thing that will save rappers from continuing to look and sound like pervs looking for sex wherever they can find it is if a popular rapper stands up and says that THAT performance was just too much. SHAME on BET and WOW what a missed opportunity to do a real tribute performance instead of that embarassing, “bleep” filled song.

Alexis June 30, 2009, 2:21 AM

I am a 24 year old woman and I was appalled and disgusted to watch lil Wayne’s performance. It was Disgusting. My husband and I watched the show together and we could not believe those young girls were dancing on stage. Our mouths dropped to the floor when we saw their young tween faces. I would love to support an African American cable channel, but with garbage like that on I just can’t.

Simone June 30, 2009, 1:25 PM

Lil Wayne and Drake and whomever can only sell what consumers purchase. On the same accord, the BET caters to those consumers. If that’s what their market is requesting and dancing to and purchasing, those are the performers they need to book for good business. I personally don’t like them, and choose not to listen nor to watch BET. I watched the awards for the MJ tribute, and do feel certain performances should have been nixed for the sake of the tribute…but placing blame on Lil Wayne or BET (which are business entities) isn’t fair. Rappers have the right to express themselves in any manner they wish. It’s up to us as responsible individuals to decide what we support, and to help our children distinguish garbage from artistic content.

Your Choice June 30, 2009, 1:43 PM

Well I am here to say that Lil Wayne and Drake are not supposed to be raising your children, YOU ARE. I do believe that of the children dancing one is his daughter and the other you may as well say is his niece or at least the daughter of a very close friend. The girls have a group coming out and probably thought this would be good press so to speak. We are blasting BET; however BET is not the parents of these children. Stop letttin the tv, school, video games, etc. raise out children and raise them ourselves!
On another not the tribute to Michael Jackson was horrible! BET SHOULD HAVE done much better. I hope MTV will

Drew June 30, 2009, 2:46 PM

Years ago, when our local cable channel tried to take BET out of their line-up, I organized a campaign that led to their reconsidering that move. Over the years, I’ve watched you pull every show worth watching, such as BET on Jazz, and black documentaries, replacing them with the trash and buffoonery we see today. My thought is that A: The staff is actually composed of white KKK members, bent on showing us in as bad a light as possible, or B: This station has been taken over by a staff of backward thinking, ghetto minded, uneducated, African americans, who lack the insight, education and Will to bring quality to what should be a channel for ALL our people, and not just the thugs being currently catered to.

To say that the the awards show was a disgrace is charitable, at best. I never thought that I would say this, but if this was the best you could offer, I can’t blame the rest of America for laughing at us as a race, and thinking that we only care about money and sex. You’ve brought shame to all of us, and the damage you’ve done both to our image, and the psyche of Black America is incomprehensible.

That being said, I want you to know that I will do everything in my power to get rid of BET. And I think that we as a people should start to take a long look at ourselves, and take back control of our culture from these no talent “Artists”. And to Jamie Fox: I’m DONE with you, “Brother”.

Rap music has given us nothing. It’s designed for people who can barely sing, can’t write, and are too lazy to play an insrument. No, a turntable is not an instrument. It’s financed by white america, and our young people stupid enough to fall for the hype. It’s like watching kids on the playground telling each other nasty words. We’re better than that, people. All of us.

You need to shut BET down. Or you need to start respecting us as a community of intelligent, proud, African Americans.

Shame on all of you, and condolences to the Jackson family, both for their loss, and the added suffering of being associated with this so-called “tribute”. I’m so very sorry…..

Laura June 30, 2009, 3:54 PM

I’m a 21 year old female and I like the song. I could live without them saying the “p” word multiple times but to each it’s own. First off I didn’t understand why that song was done, especially when we had been doing beautiful songs by Maxwell, Tevin Campbell, etc. It didn’t make sense to me the show was supposed to be about Michael Jackson and not a word of that song had anything to do with what Michael Jackson stood for. There’s a time and a place for everything, and that was neither the time nor the place. Lil Wayne should be ashamed of himself that he would let his daughter get on that stage. My mom would have snatched me up by my roots. Those little girls should be at home playing with dolls, not up there shaking what their momma gave them.

monay June 30, 2009, 8:04 PM

i just think that the bet awards where horrible. i mean lil wayne perfomances was the least of my worries about how horrible the award show was. This show was about paying respect to a legend and they totally did it all wrong and it was needless to say garbage.

ame i. June 30, 2009, 8:05 PM

I don’t think the fact that I am a white mother of 2 girls, 9 & 11, has much to do with the fact that I don’t consider Lil Wayne to be a viable artist. I didn’t care much for 2 Live Crew 20 years ago, either.
Perhaps the rapper chicks need to start spoutin’ off a so-called song about short d**ks & 2 minute bruthas again.

ame i. June 30, 2009, 8:16 PM

Shame on BET in general. I know plenty of black people who don’t consider the crap they air on that channel to be entertainment.
Now that I think of it, shame on the NAACP also. How can they sit back and not boycott this channel? BET sure as hell isn’t going to lead to the “Advancement of Colored People”. It only reinforces the stereotypes.

Erin June 30, 2009, 8:56 PM

Alright listen, a song is a song it’s entertainment. If you don’t like the music, don’t listen to it. As a parent you should be the one restricting what you let your children watch and hear. I think they were very wrong by having such young girls dancing but it’s over and done with so what are we gonna drag it on and on? now about it being a tribute show. Listen people, they had a whole show lined up for over a month and changed the show the whole show in less in 48hrs. For that short amount of time, i think they did a great job.

Amy June 30, 2009, 10:04 PM

Disgusting trash is what that song was…just pure trash. I would do everything in my power make sure my kids don’t hear that crap. I am a very tolerant, open minded person but I am not that way for the sake of being that way. Just because it’s just a song and it’s freedom of speech doesn’t make it ok. Ick.
Hmmm….. and people wonder why so many young girls have no respect for themselves???

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