****This was supposed to be published on Thursday night and then…Hurricane Irene canceled this Sunday’s MLK Memorial Dedication so my viewpoint illustrated in this piece is semi-irrelevant at this time…BUT it’s still a darn good blog post. So enjoy and know that it was written a few days ago.****
Like any Monday morning, I started my day with a cup of coffee and a glance through my twitter feed. Yes, typical behavior of a social media savvy journalist who’s obsessed with trending topics and news headlines. But this Monday morning something caught my eye. It was a series of tweets from none other than fellow tweetaholic Roland Martin.
“Celebs what’s another red carpet? Is there a greater reward than to show appreciation for Civil Rights Movement? Pick #dedicatemlk over @mtv”
“To celebs attending @mtv video awards over @mlkmemorial, ask Harry Belafonte where you need to be on Sunday #dedicatemlk”
“Tweet your favorite celeb & tell ’em to be in DC Sunday for @mlkmemorial & skip the @mtv video awards! #dedicatemlk more important than MTV!”
“Celebs, MLK & others walked for your freedom. Skip walking the @mtv video awards red carpet Sunday & walk w/us in DC to #dedicatemlk RT”
These were the first of a series of tweets of this nature that made me stop and think: Were African American artists and celebrities really stuck in a “dilemma” for this Sunday?
And so, I contemplated the issue. For black celebrities, this weekend is a battle of the coasts – do you head to the East Coast to the MLK Memorial Dedication, a historic moment for all Americans but particularly African Americans, or do you head to the West Coast to the MTV Video Music Awards, an evening awards show that could help your career and presence in the industry. A dilemma…possibly, but it’s all about how you look at this potential “dilemma.”
As a late 80’s baby, I understand the need and want to attend the MTV VMA’s. This is the time and place for you to showcase your talents, enjoy the company and performances of fellow artists and,of course, feel and embrace the love and admiration from all your fans. BUT on the flip side, the dedication of the FIRST monument of a civilian and the FIRST monument of a Black American in the nation’s capitol is a pretty big deal as well.
So let’s weigh the options. Like many pop culture enthusiasts, I watch the VMA’s but my life doesn’t revolve around them and if I were in the entertainment business, the thought would still be the same. It shocks me that few minority entertainers remember and appreciate the history of Music Television.
When MTV was founded back in 1981, I’m pretty sure they harbored few intentions of including black artists in their spin rotations. And to my knowledge, it wasn’t until Michael Jackson’s Bille Jean that an African American artist started to get some major airtime on MTV. So yes, things have changed and there are more Black Americans on MTV and other mainstream media platforms but it still didn’t come without a struggle. A struggle that was similar to the one that Dr. King and other dreamers had to go through for people like me to have the America we live in today.
And this Sunday, it’s not the struggle that will be highlighted on the National Mall for thousands of Americans. It will be the commemoration of progress and acceptance – the progress of America and the growing acceptance we have for one another. This Sunday will also be a time for all American people, whether they’re bankers, teachers, students, writers, activists, celebrities, average Joes and Janes, anybody to come together and honor a man who was just like us, a regular guy who wanted change and didn’t stop until it happened.
Now as I look at the calendar and the approaching weekend, I wonder what African American celebrities will do. Because honestly, they’re the ones in the dilemma, right? I mean, let’s be real for a minute. This Sunday’s MLK Dedication Ceremony is important for all Americans but it really has a major impact on African American history and as a people, we should take pride in it. But at the same time, I understand that we have to hustle in all our businesses because we are still fighting the fight for equality in all aspects of life.
So here’s the compromise I propose to those celebrities and artists trying to flip a coin between the two events. It’s simple – go to BOTH. Yes, you heard me correctly: attend both events. For some reason, people seem to think they have to choose one or the other but you can really attend both events and show your support for both aspects of your life – the business side that needs to be at the VMA’s and the personal one that needs to see history in the making. And you can’t tell me it’s not possible, because with the dedication events in the morning and the VMA’s in the evening and the nice little three-hour time difference in between, there’s really no excuse. With private jets and ,of course, reserved seating wherever you go, I think some of our big- name artists and celebrities can afford to fly into Washington in the morning and then head to Los Angeles that afternoon. Now, will it be taxing on the body, will you be tired after the day is over? Probably, but you’ll feel good afterwards? I think so.
In this situation, it may pose a dilemma when doing what’s right for your career seems to be overshadowing your doing what’s right by participating in an otherwise historic occasion but it’s just all how you approach it. I know many stars will probably choose to attend one or the other, which is a little disappointing. But when it all comes down to it, it’s your Sunday night and you have to choose which acronym are you going to go with – MLK or VMA? I’m choosing both. So see you on Sunday morning on the National Mall and I’ll be tuning in later that night to the VMA’s.