Famous folksLetter

Dear Sheila Johnson, You Got Words for Oprah and OWN, Huh?

So y’all know I LOVE me some Oprah. I am a self-admitted STAN. Mother Oprah is IT and I heart she. Oprah’s my mentor in my head and I’ve been in the audience of her show twice. I was mad salty both times because I was praying it’d be the Favorite things one both times, since I went in November. But alas… *shakes fists*

I was minding my own business when this little gem came to my attention from The Root’s site.

It’s from an interview that the former co-owner of BET, Sheila Johnson, gave to NPR. She had a little bit to say about Oprah Winfrey’s new OWN channel:

“The only advice that I say, let’s open up your circle a little bit more. You know, we love the Dr. Phils. We love the Suze Ormans. Let’s open up. There are other people. And there’s also African-American experts out there that I think she should start bringing on her show that can reach even a wider audience.” And I think she really should do that and not be afraid to do it. There’s really a lot of great experts out there that really know the businesses at hand. And I’d like to see her open up her circle to do that.”

And THAT has earned her this week’s sternly-worded letter.

Dear Sheila Johnson,

Oh really? I mean, “hey girl!” Let me not be rude (before I get slightly rude) and say hey. But since I got that out the way. I gotta be real with you, Sheila J. I’ont even know where you get off saying all that you said about Oprah Winfrey’s Network.

Sheila Johnson

First of all, aren’t you part of the team that sold BET to Viacom? For a billion dollars, you handed over the reins to a channel that was supposed to be for us by us, and made it for us by them. Did you NOT give BET to the same people who own CBS? I believe you did. Now tell me… what right do you have to be shading Mother Oprah on HER channel?

Oh, OWN isn’t diverse enough for you? You don’t see enough people with melanin on there? Well we see PLENTY of melanin-blessed people on your channel, but it probably does more damage to our public perception than anything else since it is basically self-approved Blackface at times. And furthermore, diversity isn’t just about seeing variances in ethnicity and skin color, Sheila. Onliest people your former channel appeals to right now is people with a love of white tees. And tweety bird tattoos. And colored contacts with multicolored weaves. So diverse is not what it is.

Your channel had a show called “UnCut” and played a video where a credit card got swiped through someone’s crack. PLEASE know that you lack sold ground to talk about how someone else is running theirs.

Yes I understand that you’d like to see more Black faces on OWN. We’re awesome. We should be everywhere you wanna be (like MasterCard) BUT do we need to be the focus of her channel? Not necessarily. Someone who looks like ME now owns her OWN channel called OWN. THAT is powerful. Just cuz we’re not all ALL THROUGH it doesn’t mean it’s not for US, or it’s not diverse. I mean, Jay-Z was the first subject of her Master Class. Can she get SOME credit?

Besides, I thought Oprah was creating a channel to be GOOD entertainment. She never mentioned a need to entertain just Black folks.

People always tryna sit up there and act like Oprah s’posed to pay their child support and student loans because she’s Black. SHE’ONT KNOW YOUR LIFE! She owes none of us anything besides not shaming the community. Folks think cuz they ain’t got no pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of, Oprah’s s’posed to build them a kitchen. Oprah can’t turn your tap water into moscato and folks get a lil miffed by it. #WhyUMadDoe? Folks refuse to even give her credit for all the things she HAS done in the Black Community.

Iunno where I was going with that but you know I love me some Mother Oprah! I just had that rant in my spirit.

Anytwho, Sheila… don’t try to come for Oprah’s non-wig about her channel that just launched when the channel you created is now (and has been for a while) a 2-dimensional trashamockery of an outlet. Only thing BET got going for it right now is The Game (which I will be watching tonight).


P.S. Besides, you had Lil Duval on your channel, Sheila. You lose just for that. (-__-)

Anyways, what do you all think?

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  1. Bella
    January 11, 2011 at 8:37 am

    I agree fully! This was my same reaction when I read what she said. She thought centric was making up for all the damage they have done on BET? naw

  2. January 11, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Sheila Johnson is not even entitled to an opinion. Until BET stops being the epicenter for all things ratchet, anything she has to say about any other network doesn’t matter. She gets a hand wave in dismissal and a #anywaydoe.

  3. January 11, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Yeah, Sheila woulda done better to keep that little comment to herself given the track record of her own network.

    I’ll be honest: I want the best of both worlds–a network with entertaining and educational programming that reflects the genius and talent of people of color. BET has the people I want and OWN has the programming–arrgh!!

    But that’s just me being greedy. It really is a shame that so many people are being so critical of Oprah. What she’s accomplished and will continue to accomplish is outstanding. And inspiring for generations to come. End of discussion. Whether you love her or not, you can’t take that away from her.

  4. Kay
    January 11, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Luv Bug,

    That high yellow heffa gets a big, girl bye & have a seat facing the corner, from me! BET is the motherload of all things wrong with Black America! If it aint ratchet, then it aint BET! I dont even allow BET to be played in my home, except for tonight, and I’m giving them one try with The Game..they fuck this up, and they will forever be on my shit list! *”scuse my language, but she drove me to it with this one here*

  5. lilbitoluck
    January 11, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Sheila needs to go sit down somewhere. Throughout Oprahs 25 years on TV she has done topics that every one can relate to. Just because there are no black experts on EVERY DAYM SHOW she puts out that doesnt mean that she isnt diverse. What Id rather see is how many black and latino women are BEHIND the scenes.How many black men and women(besides Reggie, her hair stylist of a million years)has she put on her payroll? I used to love BET back in the day. Now at times its like a stroll through the PJ’s

  6. MzBrownShugah
    January 11, 2011 at 9:13 am

    I agree that Ms. Sheila needs to sit all the way down in the corner —–> over there. Who is she to demand Oprah do anything? “Our” network (BET) is nothing but foolywang and tomfoolery at its best. How dare she say that Oprah needs some more color? Pshh…We all get mad when one of us makes it and doesn’t take the rest with them. The Underground Railroad has long dissipated. Be grateful that Momma O can represent the power,beauty,grace and intelligence that we (are supposed) to have. Let her inspire you to do better.

  7. January 11, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I would have to agree with you Luvie, Oprah is her OWN original brand and we keep making sideline critiques. she is not re-making BET, Oprah has a diverse following that from my understanding is not predominately black and she does a great job with maintaining both diversity and her personality.

    I’m not a stan, but I appreciate a hard working successful self made woman.

  8. Ladyfresh85
    January 11, 2011 at 10:39 am

    AMEN!!!!! Ms. Sheila J needs to keep that shit cute & keep it pushing. I ain’t even a stan for Oprah, hell I finally watched her show for the 1st time ever when she did that giveaway show. But I respect her hustle, nobody gave shit to her she got up off that cornbread eating ass, and did it herself! I wish ppl would just stop hating on her.

  9. January 11, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Beautifully written. Like, forreal… this is my favorite letter from you. Besides the absolute hilarity you threw in every few sentences this letter raises some valid points that could create a very intense debate. And I’m not being biased (even though I want Oprah to adopt me) but I really, really wish Shiela Johnson could read this letter. On a side note *I’m happy to know I wasn’t the only one watching UnCut* .

  10. paintgurl40
    January 11, 2011 at 11:18 am

    i’m kind of heated!!! don’t NOBODY talk about my Oprah! i’ll cut a ….LOL just kidding!

    Well said Luvvie!You’re my hero!!

    uh ms. johnson?—->this way dear…

  11. Stacy
    January 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Standing Ovation and *slow clap*. Couldnt agree with you more.

  12. January 11, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Sheila Johnson is doing the most but accomplishing the least. #SADDOWN

    Oprah is phenomenal and I love her. Eff the haters. If she has done nothing else, she has proven that a black woman that looks like she does, coming from where she came from can do BIG THINGS in America. That’s enough for me.

  13. Bridgette
    January 11, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Especially the comment
    “Someone who looks like ME now owns her OWN channel called OWN. THAT is powerful”


  14. January 11, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Sheila Johnson: Girl, saddown and shaddup. You are doing THEE MOSTEDS AND YOU ARE A HATER!! Did you not have the opprotunity to do the same thing that Oprah is doing with shows like Teen Summit, BET News (Jacque Reid AND Ed Gordon?!) and Video Soul?? What does BET offer now? *crickets*

    I sat and watched the first few hours of OWN and was impressed (Jay Z: Master Class?? YES!) and will be watching again. I’m only watching BET because of The Game. And like sista said up thread, if ya’ll mess THAT up, I will NOT be back. I will be on A and E and OWN. (Who else watched Hoarders last night?)

    • January 12, 2011 at 8:55 am

      wow. I’m doing the mostest. MOSTEDS = MOSTEST. Whooops..

  15. […] had Lil Duval on your channel, Sheila. You lose just for that. (-__-)Anyways, what do you all think? [ORIGINALLY POSTED HERE]Tagged as: BET, CBS, Oprah, OWN, Sheila Johnson, Viacom Article by […]

  16. Shelia
    January 12, 2011 at 8:21 am

    If she (Sheila) cared anything about black people and the type of programming catered to black people, she would look at BET and fix that mess first! BET had to ability to be something great for black people. But now? Naw, I’ll pass son. BET is garbage. Her and her husband sold out. Yes I said it. Sold out for a billion dollars. At least Oprah can be who she is and it be genuine. Its not about money. I’m a black woman whose inspired to see someone who looks like me have that much power. That tells me that its possible. Sheila Johnson, have your seat over there next to your husband..or is it ex-husband?!

  17. January 12, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Hi Luvee,
    Good to see ya again. I have to respectfully disageree with your critiques. This is not the first or last time Oprah Winfrey has been told she needs to open up her circle so it’s unfair for you to defend her on that just cause Sheila Johnson said it this time. Outside of Rozanda and Iyala Vanzant who has Oprah Winfrey had in her circle that is NOT directly appealing to White, Middle class Housewives and Professionals? I’ll wait!

    And before Shelia gave up BET to Viacom for a Billion dollars she created Video Soul, Our Voices, Teen Summit, Conversation with Ed Gordon and a whole host of great viable programs before they gave into unfettered capitalism and played Bootie videos all day. BTW the model did have a say in her ass being used as a cash machine in the video. She did it!

    Lastly I now detest Oprah because she brought disgraced LAPD Detective Mark Fuhrman on to talk about the OJ trail without any real counters and critics who would have disputed and disproven alot of what he said.

  18. Elle
    January 12, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    WHERE is your post on why you hate Lil’ Duval? I need it so I can spread the good word.

    • January 12, 2011 at 1:44 pm

      I haven’t forgotten! It’s coming, I promise!

  19. January 12, 2011 at 7:01 pm


    This sista OWNS her network with QUALITY programming for the masses.

    Anyone who was affiliated with BET over the past several years cant say a DAMN thing with the madness that they called programming which is the MAIN reason that I stopped watching.

    Love this!

  20. Tiffane
    August 29, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    And furthermore, Johnson can’t say anything about Oprah’s HR, programming or business practices. While Oprah took her employees on vacations and paid them handsomely, back in the day, BET employees had to run to the bank to deposit their checks and later had to cash their checks to make sure they got paid. And I don’t mean the early, early days. One of BET’s top employees sued them (stank wrongful termination?)and past employees were celebtrating the final settlement. People around the WORLD know who O is and are clamoring for her programs; Johnson and Johnson are known around the way. SURELY SJ’s comments were not supposed to be published and distributed!!

  21. Ambar
    September 27, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Every time I watch BET I get annoyed because I feel like the majority of what is aired is every stereotype ever thought of for black people. Especially those ridiculous movies which either involves gangs or someone ends up getting shot. Then you hear some people commenting on BET about getting the Black community to bring themselves up. Umm how can that happen when Baby Boy is on repeat on that channel? Don’t talk about improving a damn thing if you cannot improve yourself.

  22. Monica White
    June 14, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    But what a bunch of uneducated HATERS we have out there!!!

    First of all, Sheila C. Johnson merely made a remark about how SHE FELT Oprah’s OWN Network could be improved. It was merely Sheila Johnson’s OPINION and nothing more.

    Secondly, I actually feel that she had some validity in her opinion. I, too, get a little tired of seeing Dr. Phil and the others all the time on OWN.

    And thirdly, why are you all bringing up BET, that Sheila Johnson USED to co-own with her then husband, Robert Johnson?

    NEWS FLASH: Sheila Johnson SOLD BET, (GOT RID OF IT) because she felt that its negative and poor choices in programming was becoming too degrading to OUR people, particularly OUR young females.
    She got AWAY from it, because of all the negativity that BET portrays. In fact, she was actually fired by her then co-owner husband, because they couldn’t agree on the programming issues.

    So many, obviously uneducated haters, have even addressed this thread from that sickening slant of the “light skin-vs-dark skin” angle. What is THAT all about???

    Have we STILL not come to realize that WE come in so many different shades and hues??? From ebony to ivory??? IT”S ALL GOOOOOOOOOD!!!!!

    Is this not 2013, where people are to be judged by the content of their CHARACTER and praised and accepted for their many talents and merits???

    So often it’s not the Whites who were originally responsible for creating this STUPIDITY of all evil division among our people.


    READ and RESEARCH the lives of both these very talented, admirable, powerful and EDUCATED African-American females. Before you go spewing off like some uneducated female!

  23. Shakira
    November 17, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Luvvie, when you said that BET appeals only to folks with white tees, tweety bird tattoos, and colored contacts, I got the jolt of life that I needed! I mean this is the same network that had “Hell Date”, but you wanna shade Oprah??!!? This is why Sheila can’t have nice things.

  24. Melody9@gmail.com
    December 29, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Shelia and Bob Johnson sold BET to CBS a decade ago! Shelia, later disassociated herself with BET because she didn’t like the negative programming. Shelia, Cathy Hughes and now Oprah are the only black female “media moguls”….while Shelia is certainly entitled to her opinion, it’s a shame that she didn’t mentor Oprah privately.