If you’ve watched any MTV today, you’ve probably wondered why the picture is in black and white. Well, the network would like to assure you it’s not a problem with your TV or with the feed transmission. Instead, it’s a clever way to talk about race on Martin Luther King Jr day.

Starting at 9 AM this morning, MTV began airing a 12-hour block of programming designed to start the conversation. To do so, beyond the basic gimmick, they’ve enlisted the help of a host of famous politicians, musicians, actors, directors and more to share their takes.

Take, for example, Selma director Ava DuVernay’s next level viewpoint on whether or not people should see color…
"To be color blind is not a thing I think that one should boast about. See color and celebrate it. See our differences and celebrate it. When someone says to me 'I'm color blind, I don't see color', I'm thinking they're missing out..."

It’s incredible how far the United States has come in the last fifty years when it comes to race. Our willingness to understand and appreciate differences has increased tremendously. There is obviously still work left to be done, but it’s impossible to deny the forward progress. That being said, many people find it very difficult to actually sit down and talk about race. What is offensive and what isn’t offensive is completely different to all of us, and since many don’t want to risk offending others, they simply say nothing. That’s understandable, but it’s also not a long-term solution.

MTV has been widely criticized for a wide variety of reasons over the years, mostly due to airing reality programs with questionable taste and sexualizing almost everything possible and aiming it at a very young demographic. Those complaints more than hold water, but if you want to criticize that, it’s also important to keep in mind that MTV has been very willing to open up dialogues and have conversations about touchy issues like teenage pregnancy, homosexuality, religion and, yes, race. Young people need a forum to talk out their opinions, and while MTV won’t give them the most enlightening, in-depth viewpoints possible, actually discussing it is better than nothing.

In honor of Martin Luther King, here’s a look at the end of the good Dr.’s final speech



If you don’t feel like watching MTV in black and white today, head out to the theater and watch Oscar nominee Selma in full color, with a knock out performance by David Oyelowo. It’s worth your time, and it, better than any other movie, explains why Dr. King deserves to be honored.

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