Ex-BET President Robert "Bob" Johnson....Boo
Dear Mr. Johnson,
I am writing this letter as a young Black Woman to you in both concern and constructive chastisement (hopefully, it'll be taken that way, if not, can't do much about that but put the word out there).
Apparently, being a multi-billionaire for selling the Black Entertainment Television (BET) network to the Viacom folks (thanks for doing that by the way, while the channel has its programming issues, it is better than in the recent past), is not enough of a move for you in regards to keeping you busy, hence hitting the old U.S. Presidential campaign trial.
Now, to be honest, I'm personally not the craziest about ANYONE who is running for the U.S. Presidential Election this year in the major parties (since the various Independent Political parties and candidates tend to be ignored like a drunk loud uncle at the family reunion).
If you want to stick up for folks who you think have a good agenda to run the country, it's a free country (for now) - go for it. Chuck Norris a.k.a. Walker, Texas Ranger can endorse Republican candidate Mike Huckabee, so Mr. Johnson, stick up for who you want to.
However, I had to pay attention and write about this scenario you got yourself into this weekend because it pretty much is insane (in an already crazy and warped election cycle and realms of spin before the actual REAL election in November of 2008) and has made me (and from the looks of things, the Black Blogosphere - hell, some of the White Conservative Blogosphere) lose a great deal of respect for you and to some degree, some of the elders in the public Black Community and Civil Rights arenas.
You went on on a nationally televised political rally and talk smack about presidential candidate Barack Obama (the first Black candidate to win a primary in the entire history of the United States), pretty much calling him a fronter on any part of the Civil Rights movement AND a drug fiend:
Introducing Senator Clinton in Columbia, SC, Johnson seemed to reference Sen Obama’s past drug use while talking about the Clintons’ long experience in the civil rights movement. “As an African American, I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood that I won’t say what he was doing that he said it in his book,” he said.
Obama admitted using drugs in his 1995 autobiography “Dreams From My Father.” A top New Hampshire adviser to the Clinton campaign was fired last month when he brought up that drug use in an interview.
Johnson continued, “to say these two people would denigrate the accomplishments of civil rights marchers… and to expect us to now say we are attacking a black man? I mean, that kind of campaign behavior does not resonate with me, for a guy who says ‘I wanna be a reasonable, likeable, Sidney Portier ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’?’ I’m thinking to myself, ‘this ain’t a movie Sydney, this is real life!’”
Article and Video Interview Source
* sigh *
Really, while there can be a legitimate argument in regards to what Mr. Obama stands for period (which there should be for ANYONE who runs for political office), you going at the man like that states to me three things:
1. You Have A Lack of Basic Manners & Class
While this has been proven by the ways you made your big money with BET (with quality programming BET Uncut, the bad seasons of ComicView (pretty much after the first 6), 14 - 16 hours of music video shows, taking off the news programming and community based programming such as Teen Summit in the 1990s, etc.)
You have some former employees who weren't happy about your business changes and runnings, but I guess that was part of the way things run:
Confessions of a BET Producer
Add to My Profile | More Videos
But I digress, back to the U.S. Presidential Election.
The fact of the matter is simple with your comments...
YOU DID NOT NEED TO GO THERE.
Mr. Johnson, by age at least, you are a grown man and I'm sure in the business arena, you have a pretty sizable and solid vocabulary. If nothing else, you should know when to use certain words and phrases and when you should not.
A simple statement could have worked like, "Hey, I think Barack and this crew are talking a bit crazy about the entire Civil Rights comments from Hillary Clinton and her camp in New Hampshire. Regardless, Hillary Clinton from her record can make a great candidate and president."
Pretty easy, right? It would have sufficed pretty decent and made you not look like a belligerent old man fighting for attention and status.
I mean really, what in the hell is the matter of respect being key with human communication, whether you agree or disagree?
But hey, I'm just in my late 20s, that's just me and my level of knowledge and wisdom.
* shrugs *
2. You're Easily Used and Abused
After you made your statements, the Hillary Clinton campaign pretty much kicked you to the curb and you had to retract your statement.
“My comments today were referring to Barack Obama’s time spent as a community organizer, and nothing else. Any other suggestion is simply irresponsible and incorrect.
“When Hillary Clinton was in her twenties she worked to provide protections for abused and battered children and helped ensure that children with disabilities could attend public school.
That results oriented leadership — even as a young person — is the reason I am supporting Hillary Clinton.” Source
Which on a side note, by the way, it looks like they MADE YOU DO and was not done on your own accord - why did they have to release a statement and not you?!
If you're going to talk smack and believe it, be a man and stick up for yourself.
This retraction just makes you look like the stereotypical "white man's puppet" who does whatever the slave master tell you to do and uses you up until another resource comes though to fulfill a need.
Fellow Hillary Clinton endorsers, Magic Johnson, et al, I hope you all are paying attention to this thing that's going down.
3. Jealousy is a B**** And Will Always Be Used To Destroy - The Enemy Within Is Real
For real, the more I look at things Mr. Johnson, you are just a part of the movement of some of your contemporary Black elders and Civil Rights leaders in doing something that happens in every street corner every day - dry hating.
If Barack Obama is not that dude, just say so and be legitimate with saying why.
There have been plenty of stiff lips and frowns on TV from some of these characters when this man is being looked at positively or at least, maybe more fairly then some of you all ever have.
And while that is unfair...
DEAL WITH IT
What kills me is that some of the Black Conservatives like a Clarence Thomas, etc. who one assumes due to their allegience with what most look at as a political "darkside of the Force" would think would make some of the comments about Obama not being "Black enough", "unqualified" or crassly make sexual comparisons.
Nope. These comments have come from those who have more in common with Barack than they may want to admit and/or are upset that the status quo is going to have some sort of change with or without them in the forefront eventually.
Mr. Johnson, fact of the matter is, you and a lot of your generation are getting older. It's the cycle of life.
Torches in all fronts will need to be passed on to younger generations who recieved benefits from y'alls hard work so that positivity from said movements can continue.
This sometimes means that you folks won't get all of the attention via the television coverage, magazines, books, the Internet and so forth. Folks can't play king or queen-maker of being the token Black Person (and why do only Black People have this?!) that everyone can to go to get the "pulse" of Black America.
Isn't that the way it's supposed to be? Other cultures and ethnicities seem to do it, but why does the Black Community (in particular in the United States) want to shoot themselves in the foot in regards to this? More young people below the age of 35 than ever before in the past few election cycles have come out to vote, yet they still aren't taken seriously.
This split and jealously of the younger generations resources is not goig to help out anyone in the long term and y'all should know that, especially within our community.
Behaviors like this happen and then there are people wondering why Black Youth seem to be out of control and don't listen to their elders.
No one likes a blantant hypocrite and few respect someone who seems more immature then they are.
Those who we talk about who are long term historicial Black Civil Rights Successes - Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Fannie Lou Hamer, etc. - didn't do that by being content to stay in a "Safe Negro" neutral zone, which is what you and some of your contemporaires are doing.
Just to give a definition "Safe Negro" is any Black person who is expected to act a certain way on a consistent and therefore through that behavior, are easily controlled. It would only take a few things for this sort of character to get back in line to their masters and stay in their lane - especially the removal of getting any attention that is craved.
Who knows how you were threatened to retract your statements (less monetary opportunties, revelation of a scandal, not being in first class anymore, etc.) - they just knew that you would do so due to a lack of backbone and nerve. But if you didn't feel that you would get some approval from the Clinton camp (which as far as I'm concerned, did not produce "the first Black President" since Bill Clinton is white as hell), I doubt those comments would have been made.
Maybe you won't get cable TV talking head status being your own man - big deal. One should want to be respected on their own grounds then put in front of someone becuase you were begging like a sad puppy for table scraps.
Through the study of history, lots of Black Groups and Movements were weakened then destroyed due to internal jealousies and hatreds before any outside forces played a hand. No civiliation lasts long by trying to cripple it's youth and their growth mentally and spiritually and this jealously of the Black Elders to the powers of the Black Youth is utterly crazy and self-destructive.
This is happening again with just this basic scenario of the U.S. Presidential primaries and the remote chance that someone who at least thinks about maintaining basic Civil Rights for Black Americans and other People of Color can get into position to make change. Some of the powerful old Black Political Guard is doing a lot to try to damage the new (well, newer, guard of the folks 50 and below) a.k.a Barack in a pointless and time wasting exercise which at the end of the day, is only going to cause harm to everyone.
Mr. Johnson, please don't continue to be used as another tool along with others in destroying something elese with some decent potential, such as this Presidential race where the majority of Americans of any background wants SOME sort of change after the travesty that has been the G.W. Bush era.
Stand on your own square and move forward or continue stumbling and move back.
Either way, don't get in the young folks way.