BET co-founder Bob Johnson is basking in the glow of his daughter’s nuptials. Paige Johnson, daughter of Bob and his wife Sheila, wed Dudley Payne III in the Bahamas May 4. Bob, who’s considered the first Black American billionaire, was thrilled to walk his daughter down the aisle and welcome his son-in-law into their wealthy clan.
Johnson told the Washington Post Payne is the perfect man for his daughter.
“He’s a true gentleman,” Johnson said, citing Payne’s decision to request his permission before proposing to Paige. Though this is problematic within itself since it places a man’s approval above the will of a woman, Johnson is being bombarded with criticism for seeking more for his daughter than he does for the women of color viewing the network he founded.
Christelyn Karazin, founder of Beyond Black and White, sees Johnson’s paradoxical perspective as ironic. She writes:
This is the ultimate irony. Bob Johnson, co-founder of BET, a vehicle that has single-handedly tarnished the name of black American women all over the world, wants a “gentleman” for his daughter. Funny, because he’s made his fortune convincing black women that thugs, drug dealers, and gold teeth should be the standard of sexiness and allure for us mere-mortal regular black chicks.
Though I disagree with Karazin’s premise that BET’s peddling of specific depictions of Blackness impact our ability to decipher reality from fictional imagery, she raises an excellent point.
I’ve said this before on other issues but it bears repeating like a broken record on a Victrola: Be careful of those who advocate a lifestyle on others that they would never desire for themselves. Do you think Jay-Z is going to want his precious little Blue Ivy gallivanting with the progeny of his homeboys? Doubt it.
The perpetuation of an image should have no bearing on how we choose to operate in our lives. Class privilege makes a difference in how imagery impacts our lives. Johnson and his wife are billionaires and their daughter is a champion equestrian, so what she was exposed to is much different than the average Black girl. However, all Black girls deserve the best, no matter our background.
Karazin alludes to this with her closing graf.
I just wish that every little black girl was cherished and protected and married off to a “perfect guy for her,” not just the daughters of rich men who are responsible for advocating a lifestyle that grants the exact opposite to “ordinary” black girls.
Chime in Clutchettes. Does Bob Johnson have a responsibility to promote positive images for all Black women?