As the debate surrounding Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith's Oscars boycott heated up this week, Fox News commentator Stacey Dash decided to weigh in with an #OscarsSoWhite solution of her own: Get rid of BET and Black History Month in the name of integration. Brace yourselves: Dash explained that African Americans held a "double standard."
"We have to make up our minds," Dash said in an interview with Fox & Friends' Steve Doocy on Wednesday. "Either we want to have segregation or integration. If we don’t want segregation, then we need to get rid of channels like BET, and the BET Awards, and the Image Awards, where you’re only awarded if you’re black." Dash then claimed that, "if it were the other way around, we would be up in arms."
Dash explained that she doesn't want to abolish BET for good, rather that all things should be equal. She then totally went for it, saying, "Just like there shouldn’t be a Black History Month. We're Americans, period. That’s it.”
Dash's response on Wednesday comes on the heels of many African American stars speaking out against the lack of diverse nominations at this year's Oscars, with stars like Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Lupita Nyong'o at the center of those qualms. Even George Clooney made public statements about how the Academy was "moving in the wrong direction" by ignoring films and performances made by and starring people of color, according to People Magazine.
BET execs responded quickly to Dash's comments today on social media, calling her out for her own double standard, since she had previously starred in one of the network's shows a few years earlier.
But Dash's argument goes beyond Twitter wars. Her solution totally ignored the problems that BET, the Image Awards, and even Black History month, attempt to address on a regular basis. Minorities, as well their part in U.S. history, are systematically ignored in popular American culture. African Americans, and all people of color, have long been relegated to the outskirts of pop culture. BET promotes cultural products made by and targeted at those audiences since mainstream media often ignores them.
That has been slowly changing. In fact, there were many Oscar-worthy films and performances that were also very popular with general audiences this year. But the Academy still only picked those featuring white people. That is what Clooney means when he says that they are "moving in the wrong direction." For every small step made in Hollywood (and on television) toward representing a variety of people and cultures on-screen, bypassing those works when it comes to awards season is three giant steps backwards.
Dash's idea of getting rid of the BET Awards and saying that we're all the same means ignoring the systemic racism that exists in America and its media. Until there is real diversity and representation in mainstream media, there will be a need for networks like BET. Pretending that it's not happening, as Dash seemed to suggest we do, is no way to ensure that Hollywood (or the country) makes a real effort to talk about racism and change the status quo.
Images: Valerie Macon/Getty Images; Giphy