For fans of hip-hop, R&B, pop and soul, last weekend in downtown Los Angeles was like a dream. BET laced L.A. Live with incredible music, celebrity meet & Greets, and a host of activities for both adults and children.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must first acknowledge that I did cover some of the weekend’s festivities for BET.com, but in between doing my job I found myself, as a fan, captivated by an amazing set up. And the best part, it was free.
The entertainment village of sponsored tents and music stages gave fans a seemingly limitless selection of activities, from celebrity meet & greets to star studded basketball games, and Q & A sessions with musicians like Brian McKnight and Raheem Devaughn.
The ‘Music Matters’ Stage included performances by some of the brightest young stars of today and tomorrow, like Marsha Ambrosius, Ab-Soul, Elijah Blake, RaVaughn, Bridget Kelly, PJ Morton, Austin Brown and many more, and again, FREE! As surprised as I was at the sheer amount of entertainment, something else shocked me even more; the scarcity of white people.
Sure, it’s “Black” Entertainment Television, but it’s no secret that black culture is a huge part of white America. 75% percent of hip hop albums are bought by white people. So what’s the hang-up?
By no means is this a damning accusation of racism, but it is a disappointing statement about the current state of subliminal racial ideologies, particularly in a city as diverse as Los Angeles.
It kind of brings back memories of the Eddie Murphy ‘SNL’ sketch, where Eddie Murphy goes undercover as a white person only to find that white people completely change when black people are not around.
That might be an exaggeration, but it did make me wonder: In 2013, what do white people associate with a mostly “black” event that keeps them away? Violence? It’s worth noting that in 3 days worth of activities, the police were bored out of their minds because the only time they had to work was when they were directing foot traffic. And as far as the music, it was pre-dominantly R&B, and no gangsta rap. The good thing is that with a 3-year deal in place, people will have more chances to enjoy everything the Experience has to offer.
BET, AEG and downtown LA put up what might be the city’s biggest music weekend of the year. The event was a success and everyone that went seemed to leave happy, but it lacked diversity, and not on the stage.