Sheila Johnson is the Co-Owner and Co-Founder of BET and started the cable network with her husband Bob Johnson to be the Ebony magazine of television. Now she’s saying it’s not promoting the image she had for it to promote dialogue in Black America.
Here’s what she said to The Root about BET:
You were quoted recently saying you were ashamed of BET and don’t watch it. Talk about that.
SJ: BET was our first mission. We wanted to put the voice of black America on the screen. We were going to be the Ebony magazine of television. This network was going to promote dialogue in black America. I wanted news programming in there. I wanted to talk about the issues. I didn’t want the fluff pieces or just this superficial stuff. That’s where I was going with BET. It hasn’t gone as well as I wanted, to say the least. Back then, people didn’t really know me. I did that on purpose. I was trying to help the ex-husband. When that fell apart, I said I’m going to craft my own way. I’m going to start doing what I believe in.
And the videos?
SJ: BET is the biggest perpetrator. It doesn’t cost anything to put videos on. You don’t even have to think about it. It’s the easy way out. But you can see the damage that’s being done to the African-American community. We’ve got kids watching videos, day in and day out. They have no idea who they really are. They are thinking that they should go out and live like these people on the videos. I get ribbed on this, but I tell you, that is not the way the videos started out. I have been a very loud voice on this from day one.