“Last year, BET introduced a category into their annual awards show called “Best International Act: Africa.” I wasn’t that surprised. We’ve been heading down the road towards a mainstream acknowledgement of #InternationalBlack-ness for a while. I chalk it up to the purchasing power and cultural influence that African immigrants in America and England have been able to amass in recent years. Apparently in Houston, the city with America’s largest Nigerian population, they playD’Banj on the local Hip Hop station, and we all know how “Afrobeats” have taken over London. Since BET is based in Washington D.C., a city with the second largest African-born population in the U.S., their inclusion of a permanent Africa category only makes sense.
BET’s history of courting an international black audience began with the creation of BET International, a network aimed at the British market, and aired in Africa and the Middle East. When I was visiting London a few years ago, it felt a little strange to sit with my cousins and watch the music video show “106th and Park” with all its American cultural references, just as if we were in some U.S. city. But my cousins seemed to love it, and perhaps it helped them to feel connected to the real-time “cool” going on in The States, boosting their notions of participation in a global society……….”