I’ve only spoken to maybe four or five black people in my entire life.
In the high school I attended back in Canada, there were only two black kids.
They were too cool to talk to me.
One time, I had a black supervisor for a summer job, and she was super nice.
Another time, I ended up sitting next to a black guy on a cross-country bus, but he probably thought I was a hick, which I was.
Finally, while working as a DJ on Kiss92, I got the chance to interview Pulitzer Prize-winning black author Isabel Wilkerson, who wrote a book about slavery.
Obviously, I was out of my depth.
Kiss92 also gave me the chance to meet actor Omar Epps, who was lovely.
What I’m trying to get at is that I don’t have much direct experience of black people.
Chances are, you probably don’t either. I mean, this is Singapore.
The really interesting thing is that even though few of us actually know any black people, they nonetheless play a hugely disproportionate role in our lives via pop culture.
Music, sports, movies, whatever — black people do dominate.
The BET (Black Entertainment Television) Awards were held in Los Angeles earlier this week, and the quality of the nominees and winners is amazing.
In fact, the winners of the BET Awards are the same people bagging all the other awards.
Best Female R&B/Pop Artist: Beyonce
Best Male R&B/Pop Artist: Pharrell Williams
Best Male Hip Hop Artist: Drake
Best Female Hip Hop Artist: Nicki Minaj
Best Movie Of The Year: 12 Years A Slave
Sportswoman Of The Year: Serena Williams
See what I mean?
The high calibre of the winners makes me wonder why there even needs to be a special awards show just for black people in the first place.
They can compete against white people just fine.
In fact, they’re kicking white people’s butts on a pretty regular basis and I’m thankful for the contributions they’ve made to my life and imagination.
Imagine a world without the genius of Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, or Kanye West.
Imagine what American music would sound like without black people.
It would be bloody polka music morning, noon and night.
This article was first published on JULY 2, 2014.
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