Gov. Chris Christie isn’t the only one in trouble over some leaked emails. Executives over at BET will have some explaining to do, as TMZ and the Huffington Post have published emails that dispute their claims in a discrimination lawsuit filed against them by blogger B. Scott. The issue dates back to last summer, when on his blog, Scott alleged the following:
“BET reached out to me to be the Style Stage Correspondent for the 2013 BET Awards 106 and Park Pre-Show…
The powers that be for this show wanted ‘B. Scott’…but not really. From the beginning, I wanted to make this work. I even tried to secure Chris Brown’s stylist to help me in putting together an appropriate ensemble. Unfortunately BET couldn’t afford him and instead sent over their own stylists to work with me.
After a few weeks of sending over mood boards and going over approved looks, we decided on a few options. All of which were generally more masculine than what I would wear if I were able to decide on my own. Blazers, long sleeved dress shirts, black pants, loafers.
We didn’t know at the time that Los Angeles would be in the middle of a record heat wave, and the options we selected just weren’t weather appropriate. The day before the show I spoke with BET’s style team and we agreed that it was okay to have a more weather appropriate ensemble option.
Not only was it agreed upon among the stylists, I met with a producer of the show the night before and showed her the ensemble. She said it was acceptable and requested I send over a picture so that she could forward it to whomever she needed to. The picture of the complete outfit was sent over and everything was fine. At all points during this process, everything I was going to wear or considering wearing was both discussed and approved…
…After rushing to make it to the red carpet in time, I was escorted by several members of production down to the stage. Everybody I spoke with commented on how fabulous I looked. There was never any indication that there was an issue. There was no pushback. I was simply there to do my job.
After interviewing AJ Calloway for my first segment I was literally yanked backstage and told that my look from head to toe ‘wasn’t acceptable.’
They asked me to pull my hair back, they asked me to change my attire.”
BET issued an apology, chalking the incident up to “a series of unfortunate miscommunications from both parties.” But from the looks of these emails, it was anything but miscommunication, and more along the lines of blatant discrimination. ”I don’t want ‘looking like a woman B Scott.’ I want tempered B Scott,” said one executive. They even had a plan in place to spin any controversy that arose, where they would allege that Scott had been late for the live show and replaced.
B. Scott is gender non-conforming. BET knew that when they hired him. But what it seems they wanted was not B. Scott, gender non-conforming blogger who covers fashion, but B. Scott fans with eyeballs glued to the television. They wanted to capitalize off the name without having to deal with the actual person. Well, the person, and his supporters, don’t have to sit idly by as BET attempts to mute gender expressions they don’t want to embrace.
Scott has responded to the leaked email exchanges on his blog:
The leaked email exchange between BET/Viacom personnel is both shocking, and hurtful. While I’m disheartened by the blatant and intentional attempt to stifle my gender identity/expression way before the day of the event, I’m also thankful that the truth is starting to surface.
Mychal Denzel Smith is a Knobler Fellow at The Nation Institute.
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