BET, George Foreman Grills and Dark & Lovely No Lye Relaxer have a commonality: They’re not as black as you think. For the confused, theBVX (which, like Aol.’s Black Voices is NOT black-owned) has compiled a shocking list of 10 things you thought were black owned but actually aren’t.
10. Black Entertainment Television
If black is in the name, it must be black owned, right? The network was founded by an African American, Robert Johnson, in the ’80s, but in 2003, BET was sold to Viacom, which also owns MTV and VH1. The sale made Johnson one of the first black billionaires. Ballin’!
9. Def Jam Records
The label, born out of a college dorm room and built on MCs like Run-DMC, Jay-Z and Kanye West, is commonly associated with its co-founder, Russell Simmons, who escaped a financial mishap by selling 50 percent of the label to Polygram in 1994. In 1999, Russell sold his stake in the business to Universal Musical Group for $100 million. No wonder the label’s more Rihanna than raps these days.
8. Marc Ecko
If you’re into urban wear, then you may already know that Marc Ecko is a thirtysomething New Jersey native who never tried to pass for black. Instead the man whose line was once considered “too white” or “too black” for some retailers has attracted multiethnic consumers by cleverly targeting urban markets. But where does the rhino fit?
7. Jimmy Jazz
The 20-year-old company, which has more than 120 stores throughout the United States, housing lines like Baby Phat, Rocawear and Coogi, was founded by James Kherzie. The young Brooklynite opened the store as an alternative outlet for hard-to-find urban brands. Despite hip-hop’s lyrical mentions of the brand, the name is based on the song ‘Jimmy Jazz‘ by punk rockers The Clash. London calling?
6. Essence Magazine
The publication that was once the second largest black publication hasn’t been black owned since the remaining minority stake in Essence Communications Inc. was sold to Time Inc. in 2005. The corporation originally purchased 49 percent of the popular African American publication in 2000, leaving the style bible in the hands of a man more partial to Brooks Brothers than Carol’s Daughter.The popular CW show, which is set to have second life on BET, was created by Mara Brock Akil, but one of the producers behind the black dramedy is Kelsey Grammer. Grammer is best known for his role on ‘Cheers’ as Frasier, and his production Grammnet was also responsible for the African American comedy ‘Girlfriends.’
5. ‘The Game’
4. The George Foreman GrillSay it isn’t so! The household staple bearing George Foreman’s name is not owned by the former heavyweight champion. The grill’s inventor, Michael Boem, sought out George because he was a burger freak known to consume the item before fights. The money behind the grill? Salton Inc., which was later acquired by Applica, and George sold the rights to the use of his name in 1999 for $127 million and stock options.
3. Church’s Chicken
No, we don’t think African Americans have a super-size love for chicken but we do know that Church’s is scattered across numerous urban neighborhoods occupied by minorities. The founder targeted areas where Kentucky Fried Chicken, at the time, would not locate. George Church started the no-frills chain in Texas before being acquired by a public company and then sold to a private equity firm. Chuuch!
2. T.V. OneThe network that has revived ‘A Different World” is not 1980s BET in the making. T.V. One is primarily a partnership between Radio One’s Cathy Hughes and the mammoth cable company Comcast Corporation. But we do love ‘Unsung,’ though.
1. SoftSheen Carson
If you’re thinking of hair care products, items by SoftSheen Carson probably come to mind. The 46-year-old Softsheen brand was acquired by L’Oreal in 1998 and merged with another minority brand, Carson Products. The company that helps many black women maintain their hair is actually owned by L’Oreal USA, which is owned by the parent Parisian company L’Oreal Group. We knew Kelly Rowland was just the face for Dark & Lovely.