23 comments on “CNN’s Black in America; Day 1

  1. I watched a few portions of it before I started to get the theme. Like you, I started getting bored with it all. There was too much of a discussion on black victimization and not enough on black achievement. Outside of interviewing the business owning couple and T.D. Jakes, too much focus was placed on how bad blacks are doing without having them own up to how they got themselves in this place. Telling a story that involves more than just sob stories about sufferage adds another dimension of learning and information exchange to the discussion.

  2. …too much focus was placed on how bad blacks are doing without having them own up to how they got themselves in this place.

    You best believe that O’Brien and the rest of the crew at CNN won’t touch any dialogues about black pathology with a ten foot cast iron pole. For a point of reference: review the backlash Bill Cosby and Barack Obama received for their messages of personal responsibility.

  3. I think y’all are being too critical. The ultimate point of this segment was to show WHITE America what blacks already know. In that respect I tip my hat to CNN. You wouldn’t ever see anything like this aired on Fox News. People on that station would rather stay in the dark about the state of race in this country than to address it with real life people having candid discussions.

  4. I agree with Megan. The documentary is supposed to serve as an educational piece for White Americans who have historically pigeonholed Black people. The interviews and stories all serve to show the struggles and successes of Black people in this country. Just because a person may have grown up in impoverished conditions doesn’t mean they can’t still succeed with faith, family, and determination. I can’t wait for the next segment of this documentary!

  5. well, since i still don’t have cable (BIG SIGH!!!), i’ll just have to listen to the various viewpoints here.

    But the segment as a whole simply provided nothing more than an opportunity for people to air their grievances; without also exploring where accountability and responsibilities lie for all involved.

    even without watching CNN, i do think accountability and responsibilites for all involved begins first with each individual.

  6. Megan/Joanne: I concede to the point that it was and is important for black people to portrayed as separate and unique people; with only certain ties that bind (i.e. facing racism). But I also think that a critical component of race discussions is shaping the conversation to reach the people who MOST need to hear it. I’m sorry: but using the same revolving door panelists and citing the same melancholious statistics won’t do a thing to captivate the interest of knucklehead teenagers with five kids. But again, I wasn’t expecting that from CNN; especially when even folks in the so-called black intelligentsia haven’t completely grasped that idea yet.

  7. @ Sylvia: “even without watching CNN, i do think accountability and responsibilites for all involved begins first with each individual.

    I remember one part where Soledad was interviewing a lady who had four kids, and an abandoned ‘baby daddy’. During the interview, Soledad asked the lady why she didn’t stop having babies after the first one; which I thought was a good question. The lady essentially replied that she just made a stupid mistake. That was it. No follow up. No message for the folks in TV land. At that point, I lost sympathy. More importantly, I lost interest. If this woman indicated that she was in a stable relationship/job and then decided to have children; only to then fall on economic hard times, I would have been little more supportive. In the latter case, even being personally responsible is trumped by the unfortunate circumstances caused by socioeconomic conditions. But that wasn’t the case. I’m not trying to sound heartless, but this was no tale of victimization and had no place in the segment.

  8. Hey Andre! *Taking a now VERY RARE break from work*

    You had to listen to both the commentary AND the interview. The lady with 4 kids also stated that she never got married or stopped at one kid because she was depressed and the babies served as a way to receive love. She also said that she didn’t even know that she was depressed. The documentary served mutliple purposes:

    1. That just because there is a Black president running doesn’t mean that the state of Blacks is now wonderfully changed overnight

    2. That there are Blacks who are doing very well (I.E. The family who owned the construction company and the family who sent all 5 children to college)

    3. That most Black people are in the horrible predicament that they’re in due to ignorance (Ie the lady didn’t even know what depression was or why she was depressed; she just wanted to seek love)

    4. That there are a lot of successful Black women out there who are searching for suitable mates and can’t seem to find they’re Black “equal”

    Again, the purpose of this documentary was to enlighten the White race who sometimes look at the downfalls of the Black race and say “why don’t they just such-and-such!” and also to alert them that not all Blacks are what they see portrayed on television. 🙂

  9. The lady with 4 kids also stated that she never got married or stopped at one kid because she was depressed and the babies served as a way to receive love. She also said that she didn’t even know that she was depressed.

    I caught when she said it. But it wasn’t enough to garner my sympathy. It certainly wasn’t enough to explain to white America (if that was, in fact, the intention of this segment) why other teenagers are doing the same thing.

    Again, the purpose of this documentary was to enlighten the White race who sometimes look at the downfalls of the Black race and say “why don’t they just such-and-such!” and also to alert them that not all Blacks are what they see portrayed on television.

    The documentary at least accomplishes one of these two things: it does show white America that Black people are not monolithic. I’ve been saying that for years. But now they have a chance to see it in living color. But what I don’t buy completely is that this documentary will effectively answer the “why don’t they just…” question. Frankly, I don’t think that even we have that answer yet. Perhaps that’s why I’m not sitting on the edge of my seat expecting this to be the groundbreaking exploration we need to uncover this complex issue of race.

  10. “But what I don’t buy completely is that this documentary will effectively answer the “why don’t they just…” question. Frankly, I don’t think that even we have that answer yet.”

    Great point.

    I think the answer to the “why don’t we just…” question lies in our successes in spite of. Yet, watching this documentary would have the primetime viewing world believing that we’re nothing but charity cases. Make no mistake about it, we have to do an amazing amount of fighting and struggling in this walk of life, and racism doesn’t do much to hlep us. But if CNN can only put us up as victims who don’t have any say in shaping our own lives, they’ve failed in accurately describing us.

  11. As is the case with most of your posts about race, I’m hesitant to comment in fear of being the uninformed white male. But when I read this post I was interested in seeing this for myself and forming an opinion. After watching the video I can honestly say that if it was CNN’s intention to show how hard it is to be black in America, mission unaccomplished. Most of the experiences I saw on here are not felt by black people alone. I’ve known people who have been evicted from their homes. I grew up in a poor neighborhood and went to a poor school. I grew up around “knucklehead” teens who had three, four, and five kids. I’ve seen it all. If it was up to CNN, I’d think that being black in America is just like being white in America.

    Obviously, there is the significant issue of white privilege and racism. But when issues that could have been avoided with better discretion and personal responsibility get put in the forefront of examining race, the argument falls flat. I was inspired by Dr. Fryer’s story of growing up in a poor neighborhood and never knowing about a place like Harvard. But now he’s a professor there. Those accomplishments — along with the family love and support that helped him get there — should be the focus of this discussion. If we want to be solution oriented, that’s the way to get the dialogue going.

  12. Dre, I’ve got a different take on this documentary. As a black woman, I was COMPLETELY offended by the misguided and incomplete portrayal of black women in a segment DESIGNED for black women! If it were left up to this so-called reporting, you’d think that every black woman was either littered with babies through wedlock, unable to find (or keep) a man if we’re too educated, unable to take care of our children or sustain our health. There were so many positive stories of achievement that could have been the focal point of this investigation. Yet all we saw was recycled mess from other incomplete analyses. What kind of voice could an educated, professional and MARRIED woman like me have when mess like this makes it on the MSM stage for the world to see?!

  13. OMG Cynthia! I was thinking the EXACT SAME THING when I was watching this. I couldn’t help but think that Soledad’s “investigative reporting” was seriously deficient. Outside of a few women who playing the role of victim and one ‘success story’ (who will likely be more remembered for her superficiality than anything), a collective female representation was missing here. Aside from Dr. Malveaux (who is falling off my list), Whoopi (who has NO social relevance today) and the editor of Essence magazine (which is about as bad as Jet or Ebony), who did Soledad bring to the plate who would truly speak to the success of black people? She must have missed the part of journalism that says that reporting can stay fresh if the subjects involved are also fresh. I was so excited when I saw the first trailer, thinking that somebody in the MSM finally had the nerves to think outside of the box and creatively address the ongoing problem of racism. But after suffering through this mess for two hours, it started becoming despicably clear that this program was just more of the same. To be honest, I think she intentionally went this route because it’s safer than going deeper and more to the heart of the matter.

    After this, I’m not so sure I’m going to waste my time with part 2.

  14. @ GA: “…if CNN can only put us up as victims who don’t have any say in shaping our own lives, they’ve failed in accurately describing us.

    Agreed, 100%

    @ J. Alex: “As is the case with most of your posts about race, I’m hesitant to comment in fear of being the uninformed white male.

    Brother, you know you’re always welcome to comment. In fact when issues of race surface, it’s often good to get the perspective of level headed and conscious white people. That said, fire away!

    …when issues that could have been avoided with better discretion and personal responsibility get put in the forefront of examining race, the argument falls flat.

    Bingo! This is why I’ve always maintained that we should vet the people who are put on display as representatives of the black experience. If I had any control of what this documentary aired, I would’ve NEVER put the real estate lady with the four kids in the spotlight. Never. Similar to how the NAACP didn’t consider Claudette Colvin reputable enough to be the face of the Civil Rights Movement (little known fact), I would have exercised more caution in selecting who I would use to represent black folks in America. Another missed opportunity by CNN.

    @ Cyn/Kenya: Hmmm. I never thought about it that way. Good observations.

  15. Spot on point review. The question I ask is from the 2 hours, did you see one positive story of triumph, success and uplift. Outside of the Rand’s 5 children graduating college/hs, it was mostly the same ole negative spin. And I contributed to this series! If you want to see an alternative to the MSM, rent or buy my film.

    JM

  16. Dre,

    Honestly, I don’t know where to go with this. I also wasn’t expecting this to be the most insighful piece of reporting I’ve ever seen. But if nothing else, the documentary’s shortcomings have people reexamining and sharing their thoughts about the representation of the “black experience” in the media. In that light, Soledad O’Brien did her job. My main problem stems from something you said earlier. Black people are much to complex to be monolithically defined. From my perspective, it looks like O’Brien tried to show competing cultures within the black community by putting the more successful family vis a vis with a less fortunate group. I understand the intentions. But when the smoke cleared, the only thing CNN truly did was push the notion that black people need saving or – at the worst – some level of pity.

  17. BTW, my man doin’ the spoken word/rap thing in between segments was a bit over the top for me. He reminded me of the cat on the ESPN Classics doing those countdowns; but a little wacker.

  18. Did not catch nor hear about this show (I, too, have not had cable in quite a while). However, I know that had I heard, I probably would not have watched anyway. I suppose that I am too fed up with MSM as well as the so-called innovative news sources. One can’t hide one’s head in the sand, but, enter Andre and others of your ilk. From all of the comments, it sounds like something that would only serve to make an angry Black man even angrier. I empathize with those who have a problem finding a mate, but, at the same time, I find it hard to fathom. I see and know so many happy Black couples, both married and dating that seem to prove otherwise. Like you, I say, I’m a good Black man, single, and responsible, and I’ll add that I just don’t believe myself to be an exception to the rule. Having child after child after child is not what I would have had MY news show exhibit as “Black In America”. I don’t exactly knock them for showing the bad, but, it sounds as if that was the more prevalent aspect. Again, I didn’t watch, just chiming in from the comments before me. I just think that “we” are more than that.

    Is there no one out there who is capable of showing Blacks In America . . . as we truly are? Peace.

  19. @ WBMT: “…did you see one positive story of triumph, success and uplift.

    Fortunately for us, Round 2 of this segment redeemed black America (to an extent). When I have more time, I’ll blog on it. BTW, I’ve seen your video before and I thought your work was AMAZING! I don’t own a copy, but I recently found it on Amazon. I’ll definitely cop it soon. Thanks.

    @ Greeny: Back at cha: 🙂

    @ KC: “…if nothing else, the documentary’s shortcomings have people reexamining and sharing their thoughts about the representation of the “black experience” in the media.

    Agreed. Anything that can get the dialogue started is not all bad.

    @ Freedom: “I don’t exactly knock them for showing the bad, but, it sounds as if that was the more prevalent aspect. Again, I didn’t watch, just chiming in from the comments before me.

    I admit: I definitely don’t plan on doing my part in plugging this series. Frankly, I don’t think it was worth the time it took to produce it. Still, it might be worth your while to check it out and form your opinions based on what you’ve seen yourself. But given the likeness of our thinking, I suspect you’ll get as much out of the documentary as I did; which was close to nothing.

    Is there no one out there who is capable of showing Blacks In America…as we truly are?

    BET?

    *crickets chirping*

  20. Pingback: CNN’s Black in America; Day 2 « The Unmitigated Word

  21. I skipped it on purpose, because I hated the mere title.

    Then later I went back and checked it out just prove I was right, and because my cousin was in it. He’s the mixed brother from UCLA wearing the Harlem Rens cage shirt.

    Everyone I know is thinking the same thing, that this is terrible, awful journalism! What was CNN thinking?? Who do they think is out here watching?

    I know for a fact that the original title was “Race In America,” which would have been more useful content, but that it got re-engineered for ratings (fear, sensationalism, etc.) rather than to do any good.

    Not sure if Ms. O’Brien was responsible for that change. If so then this really says a lot about her, unfortunately in a negative way. (This doesn’t mean she’s unlovable though.) And, I’m sure she got paid.

    Here’s my post about it from this morning:

    Skip CNN’s Black In America; Keep Your Positive Focus Instead

    I appreciate your critical review. I’m not anti-CNN, I just think they missed a big opportunity. Maybe another network will seize the moment!

    Best wishes!

  22. What’s up Claude?

    I know for a fact that the original title was “Race In America,” which would have been more useful content, but that it got re-engineered for ratings (fear, sensationalism, etc.) rather than to do any good.

    I’m curious to know where your sources lie. How did you find this out?

    Here’s my post about it from this morning:

    Skip CNN’s Black In America; Keep Your Positive Focus Instead

    I appreciate your critical review. I’m not anti-CNN, I just think they missed a big opportunity. Maybe another network will seize the moment!

    I had a chance to peep out your review. Well written! I could not have put it better.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s