DBW here with a post just in time for the BET Awards! You know I love the BET Awards.
Remember when Will and Jada hosted? Oh man.
It’s my favorite time of year. For DBW, it’s the equivalent of The (All the Black Last names) Black Family Reunion that is so full of foolywang if it doesn’t make you wince at least once, it’s not doing it’s job correctly.
Soula Boy crying during the Whitney Houston tribute made DBW wince so hard my head hurt.
I love Family Reunions. My family has one every single year…mostly as a reason to travel someplace far from our familial origin. I’ve never attended a white reunion but I know a few things about BF reunions and I can tell you: foolywang is the name of the game. EVEN when going for respectable, there’s always a fight about the t-shirts (cause you know we wear t-shirts),
Two very common t-shirt designs: The damned tree or the grandparents when they were young. Sometimes, they’ll frame the text around an outline of the state where the reunion is happening.
There’s fights about the barbecue spot, about who was at the banquet too drunk to take a picture, or about why Auntie Such and Such is mean mugging you (where inevitably your mama will ask you, “did you speak? You did speak right?” And by “speak,” DBW means, “did you say hello”).
Family reunions, in a sense, thrive on some sense of ignominy. Everybody loves Jesus for a few days and show it very publicly even though they probably don’t actually think about Jesus before they arrive or after they leave. Then there’s the family group circle where somebody’s gonna cry while honoring those who have gone on before while holding hands and swaying to The O’Jays “Family Reunion.” Sister Sledge’s “We are Family” is far too far for this event.
And just let me digress for a sentence and say that while I love the melody and sentiment of that song I have heard it so many times that I want to shake the hell out of Eddie Levert for making that song knowing full damn well that Black folk were going to sing it til Jesus comes back.
Don’t believe me? Do a Youtube search for Family Reunion O’Jays. You will find as many powerpoint videos of family reunions with this song as the background as you will versions of just the damn song.
Anyway, back to the main thought.
There’s the “talent” shows where talent is in quotes because regardless of if the individual (usually the children) are actually good at what they do or not, you’re forced to sit there and endure the performances that never end and the best part: You sit there chanting things to the children to get them to carry on: “Take your time.” “That’s alright!” “Go (random child’s name) go!”
DBW ain’t shamed to admit she did the talent segment of her family reunion once. It was 1986. It was July. Somehow DBW’s family was on a boat (this memory is fuzzy as I was young but I feel like we were on a boat). Talent show was gearing up. I look at my cousin and we had just heard Al B. Sure’s “Night and Day” in the car ride over to the “boat” (hell it may not have been a boat. I dunno.). I loved both Al B. Sure and “Night and Day” and thought to myself, “This would be a great idea to sing in front my family.” So we did. But at some point as you’re singing into a mic acapella, you realize: You don’t really know any of the words save the chorus and the groan-y noises Al does in-between.
SHAME. And that was the last time DBW participated in anybody’s talent show. (Well there was that one time DBW’s mother insisted we offer songs to Jesus on his birthday one year but I will save that story for another time. There’s really only so much familial shame DBW will share in ONE post.)
Anyway, take all those feelings and events and mix it with some measure of celebrity and you’ve got the BET Awards. I’ve mentioned it before here (scroll down past the Glee diatribe to get to it) but really, what better place to see foolery, ignominy, redemption and GOSPEL all at once? I mean, seriously: P. Diddy appearing in a cloud of smoke followed not too long after by Donnie McClurkin and Yolanda Adams (I don’t know why they always bring Adams out. I. don’t. know.) singing about Jesus and tryin not to get too happy (For folks unfamiliar: “Happy” means to get so excited by them being “Filled with the Holy Ghost” that they dance real fast and shout real loud). DBW loves the dissonance. It’s like the best comfort food. And after the week BF have had, we need all the comfort food we can get.
And don’t talk to me about “it makes us look bad.” Look, if it’s not your thing it ain’t your thing but regardless of what we do, we will look bad. REGARDLESS of what we do we’ll still be called names and made to feel discredited and demoralized in a witness box while family of the individuals responsible for trying to make her feel bad celebrate with g-d ice cream cones. and not worthy to do something as simple as vote so, please don’t talk to me about “positive” representations. They don’t work to fix systemic issues of identity either.
Anyway: DBW looks forward to seeing Chris Tucker raised from the dead.
I loved him in his Def Comedy Jam days. I don’t really know what to expect from him now. It’s been a lonnnng time since those days. And he’s made a lot of money since those days.
What we gon talk about now, Chris? What we gon talk about now?!
Oh and before I get out of here, my favorite moment from last year’s Award. Maze featuring Frankie Beverly’s performance:
Poor Frankie. His voice was not great that night but the man is allowed a not-great day after 40 years on the road.
Here’s better days Frankie:
So, we’ll see what happens tonight and I’m sure I’ll have commentary on what parts of the Family Reunion made DBW wince and what parts brought absolute joy.