Yes, White People Have Won BET Awards


All the racists and their token black friends (cough Stacey Dash cough) keep telling us that we shouldn’t be upset about #OscarsSoWhite. They say that white people don’t get to win BET Awards and they’re not complaining about it. First of all, that is the definition of complaining. Second of all, it’s actually not true that white people haven’t won BET Awards. In fact, white people have a higher chance at winning a BET Award than black people have at winning an Oscar.

Just looking at the most recent BET Awards nominations, we can see that white people actually were better represented at the BET Awards than black people are being represented at the Oscars, which is a lot to say considering that the BET Awards’ sole purpose is to celebrate people of color.


Credit: Ola Betiku

Like the Oscars, the BET Awards winners are not voted on by the general public. Instead, nominations and winners are decided on by the BET Awards’ own nominating body comprised of about 500 people within the entertainment industry from music moguls to print media folks to bloggers. The main difference here, as it seems, is that the BET Awards’ voting body has no qualms with awarding the worthy, regardless of skin color.

So, in an effort to shut down the false arguments once and for all, I have compiled a database that notes every single white person who has ever been nominated for a BET Award, also noting how many have actually won.

In the award show’s short 14 year tenure, white people have actually won 7 times across roughly 12 categories. Let me clarify: an award show established to celebrate African Americans and other minorities in music, acting, sports, and other fields of entertainment, has nominated white people 47 times and actually awarded them 7 times in 14 years. Compare that to the 143 nominations and 32 wins black folk have received over the 87 years of the Academy awards, taking into account the list of awarding categories sits around 24.

Just performing some rough math (and assuming about five nominees in each category for both awards shows), this means white people have a 5% chance of being nominated for a BET Award and 1% chance of winning. Meanwhile, black people have a 1% chance of being nominated for an Academy Award and a .3% chance of winning. These calculations are generous since the Oscars can have up to ten nominations for some categories and they often give awards for non-film related categories like Humanitarian of the Year and other honorary awards.

This ends the conversation about white people not getting BET Awards. And, it only strengthens the concerns about the Oscars being so incredibly, conspicuously white. So, the next time you hear some uninformed, white supremacist language exclaiming that white people don’t get our stuff too, remind them that they actually do. This is a fundamental part of the problem. White people get all the awards. They even have a chance at ours.


Those summary statistics do enough work in showing the disparity between the awarding bodies, but for more insight, refer to the full list of nominees and winners below:



The following two tabs change content below.

Daren W. Jackson

Daren is one half of the Water Cooler Convos team. He's a writer, music connoisseur, and comic book geek who spends his free time working on his novel and other short stories.

7 Responses

  1. Angry says:

    So, I just have to point out something here. Nominations for BET/NAACP awards in all categories from 2001 to 2015 shows 47 total “white” nominations for all categories (I question Black Eyed Peas and 12 Years a Slave for “white” nominations when they have a token white person, but whatever). In the same time frame in the Academy Awards, in only 4 categories (Best Actor/Actress and Best Supporting Actor/Actress), there have been 41 total nominations for people of ethnicity. Now, let’s add all other categories and the nominations for people of ethnicity jumps an ADDITIONAL 93 people. So in the same time period (2001-2015), BET/NAACP awards have nominated a TOTAL of 47 “white” entertainers, with 7 winning, and the Academy Awards has nominated 134 people of ethnicity, with 33 winning those nominations.
    White people winning a BET/NAACP is roughly 15%
    Ethnic people winning an Academy Award is roughly 25%
    Huh, interesting statistics here. So, you say that “white” nominees have a higher chance of winning a BET/NAACP award than an ethnic person does of winning an Academy award? I wonder then, how is 15% higher than 25%?

  2. D Jackson says:

    The problem with your math is that you are only comparing number of nominations nominations to number of wins. To look at the true chances of winning, you’d have to look at the total number of possible nomination slots. It is pretty obvious that the Academy Awards have a much longer list of categories in comparison to the BET Awards, leading to a much higher base number of possible nomination/win slots.

    In a lot of ways, that is what makes the disparity that much more egregious. This shows that even though we should celebrate the 33 wins, minorities have far less access and presence within the film industry as a whole.

  3. Angry says:

    Very well, then. How about we limit it down to just the four main categories. So, in the same time period, out of 41 Academy nominations for just Best Actor/Actress and Best Supporting Actor/Actress, there were 9 ethnic individuals that won.

    Ethnic people winning an Academy Award in only the 4 main categories:

    roughly 22%!

    So, again, the chances of a “white” winner at the BET/NAACP awards is still significantly lower than an ethnic person winning one of the four main categories at the Academy Awards.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I fully believe in total equality, both sexual and ethnic diversity. But there are no “White Entertainment Television” channels (and I am no country boy, so don’t even try to say CMT is the “whites only” channel!) Though, I think WET is a great acronym for a channel, I think the wrong kind of broadcasting would end up on such a channel.

    What really makes me angry is that there are even channels like “Black Entertainment Television”, or any segregated anything that is specific for an ethnicity, as that is a form of racism and segregation that was fought so hard to abolish, yet is being promoted from the other side now. The complaint that a person of ethnicity is not winning Academy Awards is disappointing as it comes down to who is doing the nominating: NOT THE PUBLIC! The people are nominated by their peers, which means making it a public issue is irresponsible as the public has no say whatsoever on the process. This is an internal issue that nobody in the public has control over. Also, if you want people of ethnicity to be nominated, then maybe they should take a hard look at the roles they choose. For example, anything “Medea” is not really Academy material, and playing a million roles in the same movie (aka: Eddie Murphy) is not going to go anywhere if the movie is horrible in the end.

    I really think that Will Smith, Jamie Fox, and especially Chiwetel Ejiofor are FANTASTIC actors, but it comes down to the role and the movie in many cases, and the nomination/voting is heavily dependent on their peers. Granted, the entire process is broken (“The Martian” for best comedy? REALLY?!?!), a more direct conversation with peers needs to take place to address the issue, because nobody else can fix it other than their peers.
    But, if people of ethnicity want to complain about the disparity, they also should check the numbers on their own specific awards and understand there is also a reverse disparity, yet I hear no complaints from those that are not of ethnicity… Just saying…

  4. D Jackson says:

    To cherry pick just 4 categories doesn’t really prove anything. I could just as easily pick a different 4 and say “See! No black winners”, but that wouldn’t prove anything either. That’s why I tried to be inclusive of all categories for each show.

    However, the larger point that I am illustrating with the numbers is that “mainstream” caters to whiteness, but BET, an outlet built with the sole purpose of servicing black people, still highlights and awards the efforts of whites. This disparity shows that those finding fault in BET for being “discriminatory” are patently false.

    I too wish that outlets like BET weren’t needed. But they are. They were born out of the fact that you’d be hard pressed to find entertainment that featured black faces or spoke to black people anywhere else. Minority award shows don’t complain about low levels of white nominations because the award shows aren’t for them. As problematic as a FWO (For Whites Only) tv channel or awards show would be, I also don’t think that minorities would be upset about not being included. However, it is a problem when we are not included in award shows (like the Academy Awards) when those are not supposed to service a specific demographic.

    And sadly, this continues to be a problem. Yes, the Academy nominates the candidates, but the Academy is overwhelmingly white. Yes, you listed a number of great actors, but how much more difficult is it for them to score an “award bait” role than their white peers? This is the real problem. I blame the public for demonizing outlets like BET. I blame the industry for perpetuating a white ideal. And for more metrics on this issue, view the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA Diversity in Hollywood report:

  5. Aaron Mic says:

    Interesting the way that this article starts out on the defensive; and even points the finger at one person in particular for reasons unknown…. “All the racists and their token black friends (cough Stacey Dash cough) keep telling us that we shouldn’t be upset about”.

  6. GAWZ says:

    Mixing statistics and semantics creates a complicated web. Since the advent of TV, the Oscars have been over publicized, we’ve been oversaturated with the “look at me” rich celebrities and most of us have a disdain for the event. Remember MTV 25 years ago when it was still worth watching?

  7. puckrogers2 says:

    Weak defense. really…. But to each his own…Fun to watch, great music but if you are looking for diversity vs tokens, best to change the channel….period.