BET and WET
Posted by Jack Stephens on August 28, 2007
Rachels blogs about questions here students normally ask her on why is there a Black Entertainment Television and not a White Entertainment Television:
My first reaction to the BET question is to reject the premise of the question. I tell students that there are many channels that are White Entertainment Television–they are called NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, the Home and Garden Channel, TLC, etc. At this point, many of the students of color laugh (as do a few white students), but most of the white students have a look of puzzlement. Then someone usually says, but those channels have black people on them too. I respond by telling them that there are white people on BET. At this point, I also take the time to explain how most shows on the white oriented channels have predominantly white casts. It usually helps to give examples of shows like Friends, The Hills, and Everybody Loves Raymond, where all of the main characters are white. I also explain that there are very few predominantly black (Asian, Latino, or American Indian) shows. I often have students of color who explain how or why certain shows or networks don’t appeal to them, which helps drive home the point.
Many whites don’t notice whiteness, so this is a good opportunity to talk about how whiteness is often unmarked and invisible.