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The 2019 BET Awards premiered last night to celebrate the achievements of black icons in music, film, and sports. However what was meant to be a night to highlight all of black culture, turned away its devoted dark-skinned audience members.

In a post on Lipstick Alley, a journalist under the username “incogneato” revealed that numerous dark-skinned seat fillers were turned away from the award show. Seat fillers are just that. When celebrities leave their seats to present an award, perform or simply go to the bathroom, ordinary people are given the chance to momentarily take their seat, sit next to other celebrities and even be on camera. No prior experience is needed to be a seat filler. The only requirements are enthusiasm and the proper attire.

At the Los Angeles Convention Center, incogneato reports BET staff distinctly choose only light-skinned fans to be a part of the televised show. "We stood and watched as BET staff (BLACK WOMEN and men) handpicked every light skinned women out of the crowd and granted them seats on the bus indiscriminately."

When asked about the selection process, staff replied individuals were ‘chosen at random’. However their response directly contradicted their actions, as dark skinned fans were chosen secondary or not at all— regardless of their wait time or how well they were dressed.

"While many people stood in line for hours, when a lighter skinned or non-black woman stepped foot on the scene, they were immediately chosen and/or given tickets or wristbands for the event." 

For a network that was created to celebrate black culture in a sea of platforms that refuse to recognize us, incogneato’s report exposes a deeper truth. The truth being that the Award show at least, is simply an extension of Western standards that would rather capitalize on the black community as trendy and not for our actual value.

Black culture has always been strong in our ability to promote awareness and uplift one another with positive and globally recognized movements, such as #blackgirlmagic #blackexcellence #blackboyjoy and more. It is more than disappointing when these seemingly inclusive phrases are not followed through by an entertainment platform that is supposed to speak for us and embrace us. All of us.