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Archive for July, 2009

Dear BET, Why Do You Hate Us?

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on July 28, 2009

This is a letter written to Black Entertainment Television (BET) by a fifteen year old who wants to know why BET does not promote positive images of Black people, choosing only to exploit the negative, profit-making images. I did not edit the content, spelling or grammar of this letter.

Dear Debra Lee,

I’m Janita Patrick, a 15-year-old African-American female from Cincinnati. Recently, I watched the 2009 BET Awards and felt the strongest urge to reach out to the program. My family is of the typical middle-class variety; both parents and four brothers. See, I’m a junior in high school (got skipped), so naturally EVERYBODY in my age group watches BET. I’m used to seeing the sagging pants, tattoos, lack of emphasis on reading and respecting women that makes up your videos. People in my class live this out everyday, while teachers tell us that we’re acting just like the people in your shows.

In your shows. That struck me as odd, because I would think that with your show being the primary outlet for black entertainers and musicians, and considering the context of blacks in this country, there’s a social responsibility factor to consider. I would never blame BET alone for the way a great deal of my classmates act and talk and dress. Everybody makes their own choices. However, if anybody is aware the power of television on impressionable minds, it’s the people running the television operations. If you are not aware, then perhaps you shouldn’t be running the operations.

Guess who watches your network the most? Not those who are intelligent enough to discern foolishness from substance, but those who are barely teenagers, impressionable and believing. It’s awfully cruel to plant seeds of ignorance in fertile minds. You know it’s really bad when the co-founder of BET, Sheila Johnson, said that she “really doesn’t watch it” anymore.

I am constantly fighting against the images and messages put forth on your program. What made you think that it’s okay to bring my classmates on stage to dance behind Lil Wayne and Drake to a song talking about boffing “every girl in the world”? Why does reality train wrecks have to thrown in our faces? Are you aware of the achievement gap going in inner-city African-American communities? A report from America’s Promise Alliance, a non-profit group started by Colin Powell, recently stated that 47 percent of high school students in the nation’s top 50 cities don’t graduate. (Fifty-four percent of males of color in Ingham County graduated from high school, compared to 74 percent of white males). This isn’t because of BET per se, but I don’t see any episodes on your show doing anything to counteract this disturbing trend. In fact, your show is a part of this cycle of media depicting us at our worst.

My older brother told me something about profit being the number one goal for every business. I’m not sure I understand what that means, but I do know that your shows have to be entertaining enough to generate viewers, which is how you make your money. But surely our culture is rich enough to entertain without anything extra to “boost” ratings; why the over-the-top foolery? I listen to classmates talk about Baldwin Hills like it’s the Manhattan Project. It doesn’t take much effort to produce a throng of degenerative reality shows, nor does it take much to eliminate socially conscious shows off the air. MTV isn’t much better, but since when does two wrongs ever make a right? It’s one thing for white television shows to depict us in a particular way, but for black television shows to do it is baffling.

Why do you hate us?

All of the values that my parents seek to instill in me and my brothers seems to be contradicted by a more powerful force from the media, and your show is at the forefront. Your network is the only network that features rap videos and shows exclusively to children of my color. I know that you have no control over the music that the artists put out, but you do have influence as to how you air these videos. I’m sure if a stand was taken to use the talent in your organization to actually crank out thought-provoking entertaining shows and videos, then artists will follow suit. Being that they need you as much as you need them.

There was one awkward segment in the BET Awards when Jamie Foxx singled out three black doctors-turned-authors, but the introduction was so powerless that many of the viewers had no idea who they were. Had they been introduced as Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt and George Jenkins, three brothers who overcame major obstacles to become a success without the use of lyrics that berate women, the sell of substance that destroy communities or through raps about loose gunplay, then maybe my classmates would have come to school talking about more than Beyonce, T-Pain’s BIG ASS CHAIN and Soulja Boy Tell Em’s hopping out the bed.

But they weren’t introduced like that. It seemed like a throwaway obligatory tribute to appease some irritated fans. It missed the mark. Big time. Ask Michelle Obama if she watches BET or encourages Sasha and Malia to do so. Ask President Obama. It’s a reason he is the leader of the free world, and it isn’t because of Buffoonery Exists Today.

You’d be surprised how smart young black children can be with the absence of Blacks Embarrassing Themselves. If your goal is to deter engaged, forward-thinking articulate black minds, then consider your goal fulfilled. It’s hard-pressed to think that your shows are working to promote cultural betterment. However, it’s quite easy to conclude that the destruction of black children through the glorification of immoral behavior and rushed production is by design. Poison is being swallowed by every viewer who adores your network, and the worse thing is, these viewers – my classmates – are not even aware what they’re swallowing.

There is nothing edifying for black women on your show. I don’t judge people who do throng to your programs though; I mean, if a jet crashes in right in front of me, I’ll watch it too. That’s why I don’t flip by your channel…I don’t even want to be sucked in.

I have aspirations of acquiring a law degree and possibly entering the public sphere, so I can counteract conditions in my community perpetuated by the images on your channel. So I should thank you, because in a weird sense, your shoddy programming is the wind behind my back. And it is my hope that I can accomplish my dreams despite BET’s pictorial messages, because Lord knows it won’t be because of them.

Sincerely,

Janita Patrick

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Posted in Advice, Media Analysis | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

How Will Your Appearance Save Your Brand?

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on July 26, 2009

Remember that opportunity to help Gen Y’ers I spoke of in Part Two of Why I Changed My Twitter Handle ? Well, here it is. I recently met Joshua Porter through a #blogchat hashchat, and we realized that we are both working towards helping our fellow generation of young people better themselves and their branding initiatives in the pursuit of a career. The following is a joint blog post on appearance, following trends, and maintaining professionalism in the corporate environment. Please support OBJourney by visiting their website. You can follow Joshua Porter on Twitter at @JoshuaEPorter.

Joshua: There are many unwritten rules in the professional world that interns and young professionals are not exposed to voluntarily, costing them their professional standing. To grow into an exceptional professional, trial and error is necessary; however, with the job market becoming more challenging it is always good to understand the unwritten rules early. One of the missions of this entrepreneurial reality journey is to expose the unwritten rules, and ultimately, create a tool that helps to clarify them; preparing young people for challenges that arise in corporate, political, travel, and social media related environments.  As mentioned Wednesday I had the wondrous opportunity of meeting Chanelle Schneider, and we have partnered to bring you one of the unwritten rules. It is, quite possibly, one of the hardest to grasp, and it regards your professional appearance!  How will your appearance save your business?

Chanelle: Understanding the rules early incentivizes upper-level management to see you in an increasingly professional manner. Yes. Your clothes matter. Your shoes matter. Just about everything relating to your outward appearance matters because it is a representation of you; and, by being in the company’s employ, you are representing them. Don’t let your jeans be too tight and your color’s too bright. Do show your style, though. Don’t wait until you’re established in your career to dress the part. Dress for success is not just a tired, overused and under-applied cliche. Well…actually it is. It may be a cliche, but it is true. Millennials are wont to apply the theory that advises against judging someone superficially, but fail to realize that stereotypes exist for a reason.

Joshua: Many young professionals may feel as though they will lose their identity when entering the corporate environment. While you may sacrifice jeans and T-shirts, your identity will be far from lost. At the end of it all, your style is yours and no one can take it from you.  This assumption is not 100% the fault of young professionals.  It is partially due to the fact that we’re not taught this in some schools.  For example, we’re taught to wear black and blue suits, but that is only the beginning. We’re not taught things like why it is important to be cautious of the colors we wear, or why it is never beneficial to wear anything that represents your party life. Leave it outside of the office!  With those stipulations picking at our brains, I believe young professionals should inject their style into a professional wardrobe appropriately. For those who assume you cannot be professionally trendy…the clothes don’t make the man/woman, likewise, they don’t make the trend…YOU DO! That being said, how you present yourself is the ultimate key!

Chanelle: Dressing professionally is not solely about wearing a solid color, earth tone suit. Your look should reflect a measure of your personal taste and style. Not only is it possible to remain trendy at work, it is necessary. While there are certain trends that are inappropriate, some can be incorporated into a professional wardrobe. Low-waisted jeans even on casual Friday are inappropriate, ladies. However, dark-wash, straight-leg trouser jeans with a clean, three-inch, closed-toe heel are fashionable and professional. Men, wearing the pants from your suit low on your hips is not a good look, either. Just because your shirt is tucked in does not mean it is professional. These details will add a distinguished quality to your wardrobe.

Joshua: Sitting a few inches from your face, and at the top left corner of your suit rests one of the best conversation starters.   The other day, at a networking event, someone noticed my lapel, inquired about it, and a relationship has been built.  It was this minor detail regarding my appearance that made all the difference.  Keeping your shoes shined, hair trimmed, and tie in line with your belt buckle are all examples of details people speak about and also use to determine why you’re a better selection for an internship or permanent job.

Chanelle: As a young professional it can be difficult to dress in a manner that suggests professionalism because professional clothes are expensive. If you are covering the costs of your wardrobe, you may be tempted to find a $5 shirt and a $20 pair of hip-hugging trousers to match your $10 ballet flats. Don’t do it. These clothes, while they may seem to be a good buy, will fall apart after repeated washings, causing your more money in the end. Invest in your wardrobe, and it will return the investment.

Joshua: President Obama dressed for the occasion (the election), the event (town halls and acceptance speech), and most importantly the POSITION (the Presidency). Young and emerging professionals and interns must enter the corporate environment with the same mentality. From the initial interview and throughout your career, there will be numerous hand shakes and networking opportunities where a first impression is essential and, quite possibly, the determining factor for the next opportunity (“How will your 1st impression lead to your second?”). When you’re surrounded by and supporting executives, in most instances, you can’t help but emulate them. In your reflection, dressing is important! Executives take it as a sign of determination, passion and preparation. They see a person who is preparing for their future!  Dressing for the position is important not only for others to notice you but for you to pay attention to yourself.  When you have the opportunity to visualize your goals and end state on a daily basis, make the most of it.

Chanelle: You may think, being judged based on your appearance is superficial, but it is a practice that will not disappear, nor should it in certain cases. Recognize the difference between an office party, a conference and an interview. Each occasion calls for different styles of dress.

Joshua: Never underestimate the importance of consistency. If you’re going to wear a tie, wear one all the time. This is the same for suits and most professional dresses. When people look at you, they should associate you with something about your appearance!
Joshua: Chanelle is officially an unwritten ruler!  Unwritten Ruler, n. – someone who defines, exposes and shares unwritten rules with their peers.

Thank you Chanelle! Follow her at @WriterChanelle, support her blog and continue this movement of bloggers helping bloggers for common causes!

Posted in Advice | 1 Comment »

Black In America 2 is Trending!!!

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on July 23, 2009

bia2The campaign is working. Check it out!!!!

bia2trendingAt 10: 41pm  It started trending again!

There can be no change without a conversation.

Posted in Advice | Leave a Comment »

Why I Changed My Twitter Handle – Part Two

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on July 20, 2009

“This changes the dynamics of the situation.”

After working my way through Twitter for a couple of months, steadily following people, gaining followers, and making multiple connections with people, I realized I was having to explain one thing in particular often: my Twitter username is not my real name. The first person I spoke with outside of Twitter referred to me as Tamarah, thinking, for good reason, that this was my name. I informed her of the truth, and we went on with the discussion. The second time I spoke with someone outside of Twitter was for a job inquiry. During the interview I had to explain the significance of my chosen name once again. Connecting with people that I met through Twitter on LinkedIn resulted in the same situation; but, it was one experience with a new connection that profoundly impacted my decision.

I didn’t mean to offend her, but, apparently, I did. My reasoning for having a username different from my own name is two-fold. I chose the pseudonym because Tamarah is a name given to me by a family member. Tamar translated can mean palm tree or lotus flower. These both have special significance to me. The lotus flower, especially, reflects the process of my personal growth. I also use it as the image on the web version of my profile page for @TamarahLand, which I designed myself. Tamarah Land signifies lotus flower land or, taking poetic license, land of the lotus flower. Every time I see the name it reminds me of where I have been and helps me to continue forward. Having had such frequent experiences with explaining my name, I thought that we would continue on with the original conversation. Uhhh…no. I was wrong. I will never know what would have transpired differently, but this experience made me realize the potential to lose out on career building opportunities; and, that alone was reason enough to run…quick, fast, and in a hurry in a different direction. I love being creative and poetic, but let’s be real. It’s a username on Twitter. There are better things to be obstinate about. I don’t want anyone to feel as though they have not been interacting with the real me ever. My second reason for the pseudonym was control over my own identity in a world where people research first and ask questions, possibly, never. There will be more to come on that topic in a forthcoming post.

I made a new account for a few different reasons, and I’m already pleased with this decision. I have finally been able to get back into hashchats. The #blogchat on Sunday July 19, 2009 was excellent and resulted in heaps of new connections; and, one that may result in an exciting new endeavor to help the Gen-Y’ers out there. This would not have been possible with my previous account because no one using any searching tool to follow #blogchat would have seen my tweets, which is also the reason why I didn’t just change my display name. Also, I no longer have to explain the meaning of my name, who I really am, and why I chose the name. This was confusing to people upon first introduction. Lastly, now that I am making significant connections, I want people to be fully confident that they are interacting with me – the real me.

Thanks for reading!

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Posted in RandomThoughtOftheDay | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Why I Changed My Twitter Handle – Part One

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on July 19, 2009

This post discusses the multiple reasons why I decided to change my Twitter user name from @TamarahLand to @WriterChanelle. You can decide for yourself whether or not to change your screen name. This is not a post detailing the reasons why I changed and…hey! …you should too. None of that will be happening in this post. Lol.

My account became un-searchable

One of the best features on Twitter is the Find People function. Find People allows users to enter keywords or user names to find people that they would like to connect with on Twitter. Since many people do not have protected accounts, it is easy to use this feature to begin following someone in hopes of networking with them in the future. This is where Facebook and Twitter diverge in terms of their usefulness.

On Facebook it feels like eavesdropping to see a conversation between someone who is your friend and someone who is not. If you continue reading that conversation and decide to “friend” the unknown person, they may take offense to it claiming, “I don’t know you. Why are you trying to friend me?” This behavior is, however, encouraged on Twitter with the hashtag: #FollowFriday being just one of the myriad ways users suggest other users to follow. This is the way Twitter becomes useful and extremely convenient for young people, especially.

If you can’t be found, though, Twitter loses some of its value. The #FollowFriday hashtag is one among multiple of tags used to simplify the process of finding new people to follow. Many hashchats take place on Twitter, allowing users to hop into a discussion on certain industries. When I started using Twitter, I discovered #blogchat, #writechat and #editorchat. From participating in these chats, I was able to ask questions, answer questions, and develop connections with professionals in these industries. When I jumped in to participate in a chat one night and discovered that I was not seeing my tweets come up in my search column on TweetDeck, I attributed it to a bug in the system. I filed a complaint with TweetDeck. I searched for other users on Twitter who might have had similar problems; and, I found this forum http://getsatisfaction.com/twitter/topics/why_am_i_not_coming_up_in_people_search listing multiple users who were having the same problem. Realizing I was not alone, I began tweeting both @TweetDeck and @Twitter, hoping they would see my tweets and issue some sort of solution. Soon other people I was following began to have the same problem. I re-tweeted their tweets to @Twitter, hoping that they would see more people having this problem and do something to fix it. No luck. Knowing that a hashtag campaign similar to that of the #fixreplies issue would be useless (because the people with this problem can’t be found unless they’re being re-tweeted by people who *can* be found through search), I waited to see if it would get fixed.

In the meantime, other issues arose that gave me reason to think about changing my @ name. Part Two: I Didn’t Mean To Offend You…coming soon.

UPDATE: Part Two is up now.

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