Spotlight: "The Renaissance Minority Writers Movement" Petition

Happy hump day! I would like to welcome Shawn Richards to my blog today and he is here talking about the petition he started, "The Renaissance Minority Writers Movement". As a writer and lover of poetry, I quickly got behind this movement. Fifteen days ago, I signed the petition and here are some reasons why you should too...
Could you explain how the petition to BET came about?
[Shawn Richards:] The idea for [it] actually came about 10 years ago. Around that time I was just starting to get serious about writing. I remember watching the BET awards that year, and talking to a friend about what had happened on the show. We started joking about how there should be an award for black authors. We both ended up laughing it, but the idea stuck with me over time. Eventually, I decided to do something to make it happen.
Why is it important to you to see literature and poetry recognized in the BET awards?

[SR:] Because our kids need an alternative to what they are being conditioned by daily, by popular media. I'm specifically referring to BET, MTV. And don't get me started about VH1, BRAVO and reality shows. A change is never going to occur unless someone, somewhere, starts doing something consistently. So why not me? Why not now? I've had the privilege becoming a member a growing community of black writers over the last few years. We're writing novels in every genre. Blogs on every conceivable topic. Screenplays. Movie reviews. You name it, we do it all! In that time I've also discovered poetry, and learned of the existence of truly 'Rock-star-esq' poets. You can't tell me an award, from that platform, to highlight the best HIP-HOP artist, is MORE important than an award to highlight the best African-American author, or poet. So if Viacom and BET want to over-hype and sensationalize something, fine. I would gladly support the sensationalization of either of these.
How do you believe recognition in the BET awards would change black literature? How would it change the BET awards?

[SR:] It not about changing either. Regarding black literature, it's about exposure. We write books. We do numbers. We deserve to be recognized on this platform. And we are now officially asking to be included! For BET, I feel it would help restore some of the credibility lost in recent years. Particularly with the quality of the awards program. (I know I'm not the only person who has read the lackluster reviews of the BET Awards, the last several years. #NoShade #ijs) In addition, as it's spelled out in the nuts and bolts of The Renaissance Minority Writers Petition, it would also help influence more young minorities to read, because they think it's cool to do so. The same is true of poetry.
What do you hope this petition will accomplish and what do you hope to see come from it?

[SR:] The purpose of this petition is to highlight the literary achievements of minority writers. In multiple genres of literature and poetry. So if we could inspire people to read, write stories, and participate in the COOLNESS that is poetry, that would really be great. Just great. #TPSReports
Any last words for those reading this interview?
[SR:] Sure... Talk less, listen more. Question everything. Only accept answers that make sense to YOU. We shall overcome one day, was GREAT rhetoric. But never a real strategy. Nothing happens unless you get up off your rusty dusty and DO SOMETHING! And with that being said, please support The Renaissance Minority Writers Petition. #WORDADDICT
Go to to sign the petition, AND like us on Facebook. The link for that is can also be found on the site.
Thanks Shawn for an informed interview!