Filmmaker Byron Hurt’s Open letter to Debra Lee & BET



I wrote this letter and sent it to,,, and
Feel free to copy, paste, and customize this letter to adequately express your thoughts. If anyone has better ideas on where this letter should be sent, i.e. executives at Viacom (BET’s owner), please let me know. I am open to ideas and suggestions.
Be fearless, feel empowered, and raise your voice.

-Byron Hurt-
June 29, 2009

Dear Debra Lee,

Sunday night’s BET Awards show was a disgrace. It’s sad and unfortunate that your network, owned by Viacom, continues to crank out mediocrity and perpetuate negative stereotypes of black men, women, and children. Although you likely received high ratings for the awards show, there is no honor in reinforcing the status quo’s opinion of black people. Your tribute to Michael Jackson and the overall show had its great moments, however, BET failed to deliver a solid, quality show. Rather than “raising the bar” and presenting African-Americans as a creative, proud, dignified people, BET lowered the bar for the entire world to see. The BET Awards drew a huge audience to watch a tribute to Michael Jackson, but left millions of viewers feeling disappointed, embarrassed, and reduced to classic stereotypes.

During the most blatantly sexist performances of the night, the executives at BET failed to act and display intelligence, courage, and leadership. Show executives watched, approved, and applauded as artists Lil’ Wayne, Drake, and Cash Money brought young, under-aged girls onto the stage to dance and serve as window dressing while they performed “Every Girl,” a song that reduces girls and women to sex objects. In a culture where one out of four girls and women are either raped or sexually assaulted – and where manipulative men routinely traffic vulnerable women into the sex industry – it is not okay that BET allowed this to happen. BET owes its entire audience – particularly girls and women around the world – an apology for its failure to intervene. BET should also take immediate steps to ensure that this kind of sexist performance does not happen again. Sunday night’s show epitomizes why so many black people worldwide are fed up with BET and feel strongly that your network inaccurately represents black men and women.

Please take my letter and criticism as one that represents millions.

Byron Hurt


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Comedian Dave Arnold Rips the BET Awards



Here’s a humorous yet poignant take on the BET Awards by comedian Dave Arnold. I first saw this a couple of days ago on Facebook.. I’m glad he posted this on youtube so folks outside that net work can enjoy his take…

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Has Change Come?: Art, Hip-Hop, Sports, and Culture in the Age of Obama



Author Jeff Chang will moderate a panel this Friday July 3rd about change in arts, sports & Hip Hop in the age of Obama

Author Jeff Chang will moderate a panel this Friday July 3rd about change in arts, sports & Hip Hop in the age of Obama

July 3 :: 9:30am
PANEL :: Socialism 2009: w/Dave Zirin, Favianna Rodriguez & Davey D (San Francisco) NEW TIME!

Has Change Come?: Art, Hip-Hop, Sports, and Culture in the Age of Obama

Dave Zirin
Davey D
Favianna Rodriguez

The Women’s Building
3543 18th St.
San Francisco

Go here for more info.

July 7 :: 7:00pm
PANEL :: A New Deal For Arts (San Francisco)

In the 1930s, the “New Deal” Works Progress Administration created jobs for tens of thousands of artists and writers, including authors such as John Cheever, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, radio journalist Studs Terkel, and painters like Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Rockwell Kent. In the 1970s, the CETA program funded artist-organizers who helped create the Cultural Centers that now exist in San Francisco’s neighborhoods. Today a new movement is emerging to promote a 21st century New Deal for the arts.
Jobs for Artists! will feature a panel discussion on the rich legacy of federal jobs programs for artists and writers, and build support for a larger effort timed with the 75th anniversary of the WPA in 2010. Featuring New Deal historian Gray Brechin, cultural journalist Jeff Chang, and Arlene Goldbard, organizer of a May 2009 White House briefing on federal arts funding. With short readings and original performances by local poets honoring the great work of WPA-sponsored artists and writers.

This event is part of LaborFest, a month-long series of cultural events commemorating the 1934 San Francisco general strike.

Audre Lorde Room
Women’s Building
3543 18th Street, San Francisco.
Near 16th Street BART, MUNI lines 33, 26, 14, 49
Doors open 6:30 pm, program at 7 pm.
$5-10 donation requested, no one turned away.
Wheelchair accessible.
Call 415-710-0187 for more information.

Cosponsored by the CCSF Department of Labor and Community Studies Program and the Center for Political Education.

Gray Brechin is a Research Fellow for the Living New Deal Project of the Department of Geography at UC Berkeley, and the author of Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin.

Arlene Goldbard is a writer, speaker and consultant currently based in Berkeley. Information about her latest book, New Creative Community: The Art of Cultural Development and other writings is available at

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