Posted on July 2, 2024

Politics Took Center Stage at the BET Awards

Char Adams, NBC, July 2, 2024

From a phone call with Vice President Kamala Harris to quips about “Black jobs,” Sunday’s BET Awards, one of Black culture’s biggest stages, didn’t shy away from politics — and the volatile November election.

Harris appeared in a video chat with host Taraji P. Henson during the show and stressed the importance of voting in the election to protect voting rights, reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights and to combat gun violence.

“There is so much at stake in this moment. The majority of us believe in freedom and equality, but these extremists, as they say, ‘they not like us,’” Harris said, referring to Kendrick Lamar’s “Not Like Us.”

Henson then made a hip-hop reference of her own: “They out here tryna take away Pride, Plan B and Planned Parenthood but protecting pistols. If you ask me, they pushin’ the wrong Ps,” she said, nodding to Gunna, Young Thug and Future’s 2022 hit, “pushin P.”

That follows several months of political actions from hip-hop and R&B artists like Sexyy Red, Kehlani and Ot7 Quanny, while Donald Trump and Joe Biden use hip-hop and its artists to court young Black voters. Candidates have often worked with artists to appeal to voters, and Black musicians have long weighed in on politics. But now, with some Black voters shifting support from Biden to Trump, hip-hop’s potential influence on the election can’t be ignored, said Corey Miles, an associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at Tulane University.


A recent NBC News poll found that 2 in 3 Black voters ages 18 to 49 support Biden, along with a majority of Black voters 50 and over. One in 4 young Black voters, and just 6% of older Black voters, support Trump.

It’s no surprise, then, that politics made its way into the BET Awards. Comedian B. Simone poked fun at Trump’s recent “Black jobs” remark at the presidential debate, and rapper Vic Mensa joined influencers Lynae Vanee and Speedy Morman for a PSA encouraging people to vote. Later in the show, Henson urged viewers to vote and alluded to a law in Grants Pass, Oregon, recently upheld by the Supreme Court, that punishes homeless people for sleeping on public property. She also condemned Project 2025, a right-wing blueprint for a second Trump term that would increase presidential power over the federal government.