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BET Presents a One-Hour Special on Empowerment, Accountability, and Police Brutality

Police carAs the world finally begins to open its eyes to the unsettling frequency of police misconduct against marginalized groups, some people are using the media to advocate for change.

A one-hour special called “5 Things You Can Do to Change S***” will be airing on BET Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET and on CENTRIC Thursday at 11 p.m. ET. The program will examine the ways in which people can leverage social media, community resources, social justice organizations, and voting to peacefully and effectively combat systemic violence.

Since social media sites and blogs are able to reach eight out of every 10 U.S. Internet users, BET News correspondent Marc Lamont Hill – who will also be hosting the special – believes that utilizing these tools are imperative to spreading the message.

Last month, BET and MTV hosted a televised “town hall” meeting all about police brutality. Hill, the author of “Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond,” told USA Today that the televised discussion was only the first step. He said, “too often, television networks leave the conversation there. The easy part is to talk about what’s frustrating people … but we wanted to help solve the problem, to come up with something that was concrete, actionable and manageable.”

This upcoming special, he said, would do just that.

Hill is not suggesting that it is the responsibility of black people to prevent systemic violence. In fact, victim blaming is far from the program’s scope. When asked about the message of “5 Things,” Hill responded, “Throughout the program, we reiterate that it’s not on black people to stop police brutality.”

He went on to explain that it’s not about taking action to prevent another party’s unethical behavior, but rather, it’s about empowering the vulnerable and holding the police accountable.

He cites methods of empowerment such as voting and setting up a community-controlled review board. He insists that policies and attitudes must both change in a fundamental way, that conflict resolution strategies must be put into place. Finally, he states that there needs to be a change in the accessibility of jobs, education, housing, and healthcare.

“There’s never been a moment in history where citizen-controlled government, economic sanctions and voting have, combined with the tools of communication, you know, social media, failed,” said Hill. “We’re committed to using multiple platforms to address this problem and we believe that these strategies will help us get to where we want to be, which is a world that’s safer, more democratic and more just for everybody.”