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Dear BET,

I remember watching you growing up. You were probably my favorite channel.  What happened to you?

I used to watch Rap City every day, from 4:30 to 6:00. While I did get my fair share of  gangsta rap from Ice Cube and Kool G Rap, I also received positive influences from Queen Latifah, Poor Righteous Teachers and De La Soul. Chris Thomas, the Mayor, was a dope host and the videos were still good and represented the full diversity of Hip Hop culture.

Video Soul was real dope too. I remember getting all my latest soul and slow jam music from that show. Donnie Simpson was a dope host. To this day, I still live by the words “Shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you’ll still be among the stars”

I had crushes on Sherri Carter from Video Soul, and Madelyne Woods from Video LP, but my favorite host was Rachel from Caribbean Rhythms. All the female hosts BET had were sexy, but also classy and intelligent, unlike the video vixens, reality stars and female rappers who dominate BET today.

I remember watching Teen Summit every Saturday. It was a dope show that dealt with issues that affected young African Americans. I’d ask you to bring it back, but you’d probably pick Gucci Mane to host and tell teens how to sell crack.

Do you remember when you had actual journalism? Ed Gordon was as good a newscaster as I can remember. He managed to interview Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and Louis Farrakhan. Under Gordon, BET covered the LA riots, the fall of apartheid and the genocide in Rwanda.

Tavis Smiley also had a dope show that intelligently covered issues that dealt with the Black community. Too bad he got fired. Now BET news is what rapper got arrested or who’s dating who.

Hits From the Street was pretty funny. Why’d he get canceled? It’s not like his show required a budget beyond underwear and a camera.

Now it seems as if you are content pushing gangsta rap on children, showing reruns and making reality shows about entertainers who are drug addicts or have drug addicted family members. If 106th and Park’s demographic is 12-16, why are you pushing artists like Gucci Mane, Young Jeezy and Lil Weezy, rappers who rap about gang affiliations, drugs, guns and sex, onto them?

Please bring back the class, diversity and intelligence that BET had in the 90s. I know it wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot better than what is going on now. Because you are called BET, you are seen as a representative of Black people.

I know pushing gangsta rap on teenagers is a good way to make a quick buck but so is selling them cigarettes or liquor. Please bring back the funny, talented, intelligent creative people who helped build BET and get rid of all the coonery and that has hurt the images of Black people around the world.

Sincerely

Casey Gane-McCalla

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