Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Who is watching 'Black In America'"?



"Field, are you watching[or going to watch] that series on CNN, about being black in A-merry-ca?




If I had a dollar for every time I heard that question, I would be moving into Will Smith's zip code. And guess what? Half the people asking me are white. To them, I always say, "no I am not watching it, I already know what it's like to be black in A-merry-ca". Which always gets a nervous laugh. To the black folks, I always say, "yeah I am checking it out, and I will reserve judgement until I see the last segment."


But then I read an excellent article from Karen Hunter, and I found myself agreeing with her, and getting a little judgemental.

Even though I admire what Soledad and the folks at CNN are trying to do, for some reason I am not quite feeling what the ultimate effects of this series will be. White folks looking from a distance as if they are watching just another reality show. And black folks who care and are already trying to improve their lives and communities, watching to try and understand why our community is always coming up short.


Here is Ms.Hunter's article:


"Who is watching “Black in America” on CNN? I ask the question because it was raging inside of me as I listened to pundits and experts, educators and pastors, business professionals and actors—all attempting to make sense and give shape to what it means to be black in America.
I asked the very same question after Tavis Smiley produced the “The Covenant with Black America” a few years ago. That book sold millions of copies, and was the topic of quite a few talk shows.


And this CNN “special” will probably be one the highest rated shows on the network ever. But I again I ask who is watching?


Is Shaniqua living in a tenement in Brooklyn with five babies by five different “men” watching? Is James, who stands on a corner in Baltimore selling crack cocaine to his community watching? T-Bone, a Blood from South Central and his boys and rival Crips from cross-town, are they watching? Janice, who dropped out of Somerville High School in Massachusetts, will she be tuning in?



I doubt it. And here in lies the problem with shows like “Black in America,” and books like “The Covenant with Black America” they don’t reach the people who need to hear and read it most. The people who need to change, probably won’t be tuning in—which is why years after the Million Man March and years after The Covenant with Black America and years after Black in America, nothing will change. "


I think I agree with a lot of what she said. But are we shooting the messenger once again?
I am watching as I write this, and Soledad is talking about crack. This time it's a has-been actor from the Cosby show playing grown up black man. "If you don't want to go to jail, don't take crack. Gee, I wonder how many crack dealers are listening?



95 comments:

Anonymous said...

We love to put on a big symbolic show then go home and do the same stupid ass stuff we always did.
The million man march was the biggest gathering since the civil rights era...the fatherlessness went up after that.
The million mom march did nothing but allow the afrocentric to dress up in our african finery and have a day out...whatever it was supposed to do, it failed.
The march on Jena did nothing but make us look like fools, mobolizing for a bunch of thugs who damn well should be in jail. It was called "the new civil rights movement" give me a fucking break!
We came together for an abused sister in Durham, North Carolina. The sweet young thing was savaged by racist white animals that went to Duke. We came out of that humiliated.
Right here in our city there was a critical mass reached with all the killings, OH YES, there was to be an army of 10,000 black men comitted to taking our streets back. Last time I checked we were 9800 short. DISGRACEFUL!

NOPE FIELD, this show will go onto the scrap heap with the rest of the well meaning projects. Nothing will change. Not in my lifetime. The disease is just too far along.

Zimbel said...

Off-topic:

I think you'll like this, at least after the first segment or so.

Nas presents the foxobama ColorOfChange petition, then presents one of his pieces on the subject.

Diva said...

Great question!
I am an optimist by nature so I hope this story sows the seeds of change.... Change we can believe in.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, this post is point on and I hate to actually admit that I agree. I can't help but wonder if this show is just preaching to the choir. The folks who really need to see it (and we can name many of them) won't. It's actually pretty sad to me. Such a great opportunity, once again missed.

hennasplace said...

I think the point of the documentary is to show black people from all spectrums. It shows everything, but I think it would be better to watch the entire documentary before making a decision of the point. It is to inform. Of course there are things within the documentary that is nothing new for us, but there are a lot of black people who do not see the complexity within the black community. I think the question becomes are the people watching willing to more than just talk, but act as well.

Christopher said...

Soledad O'Brien?

Hmmm, I thought she is half Irish and half Puerto Rican?

She used to be on KRON in San Francisco and talked about her "mixed" background but she never mentioned she was African American.

Very odd.

Admiral Komack said...

I think the documentary was made with non-blacks as the target audience.

I was not impressed.

Blinders Off said...

We make the choice in our individual lives that make or break us. Although we are not responsible for others, I am hopeful each time I help a young person who wants the help to become a productive and independent adult. Knowledge is Power and we must continue to pass it on to those who actively seek it. Instead of talking the talk, we need more blacks to walk the talk.

Kai said...

The argument made by Ms. Hunter attaches more importance to a CNN special or Tavis Smiley's book, than they deserve. It is not as if the show or the book have the answer to the problems in the community. Further, Ms. Hunter's argument presupposes that what ails the black community can be fixed by information.

The information argument is a baby step away from arguing that ghetto culture is to blame for our condition. All of this ignores that what created ghettos in the first place where wide scale social, political and economic forces. Ghetto culture is more of a symptom than a problem, but over time it does become more problematic.

The kid selling crack probably needed 2 parents with stable jobs. The reason he probably didn't have that has more to do with the economic apartheid our people have endured than anything else.

Soledad or Tavis Smiley, though they mean well, will fail to accurately solve the problems because their politics do not allow them to correctly diagnose them.

They will never indite capitalism, the government, nor the masses of A-merry-cans who were complicit in the oppression and destruction of our people. They will never identify the large institutions which created the ghetto, created the drug & alcohol problems, etc.

The Kerner Commision a group of politically mainstream people said this 40 years ago "white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto." No one who is trying to keep a job on TV would dare say anything like that today.

Admiral Komack said...

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

María de la Soledad Teresa O'Brien[1] (born September 19, 1966 in St. James, New York) is a television journalist of Irish Australian and Afro-Cuban heritage. She is currently the host of CNN Special Investigations Unit on CNN.

Saint Lucian Dutch Canadian said...

I enjoyed the documentary. I thought it was very informative.

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hey there Field Negro!

I watched the CNN Bogus Report last night when it featured black women... and I watched it tonight when it featured black men...it was a CROCK both nights.

Bogus journalism.

Reinforcement of every stereotype that you can think of.

No examination of the impact of white supremacist patriarchal oppression and subjugation.... just examples of people who "should have made better choices in life".

{yawn}

The hilarious thing is...I have spoken to white people who felt it was just soooooo enlightening!!

{shaking my head}


Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa


P.S. I have an idea for you for a second blog! *giggles*

Kellybelle said...

Thank you Chris! It's only been recently that Soledad has identified herself as a woman of color. Back in the day, she ID'd more Irish than anything. Then in the mid '90s she admitted to Hispanic, and now she's leading the charge on Black issues at CNN. I'd say she's a Patio Negro, not Field Negro.

Bob said...

There are shelves of books at the library on Black History & the Black Experience & The Black Predicament. Next to them are shelves of books on Jewish History & the Jewish Experience, this neighborhood has a lot of Orthodox, too. In the same general area are books on the Hispanic experience, small but growing collection. I predict that the CNN series will have no effect at all on anything. Probably win a couple of Peabody Awards & be nominated for some of the Emmys they don't give out in Prime Time.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the damaged goods race,man i tell ya my head is gonna explode.every day of my life i must be reminded how dumb we are how we amaze the world with our faiures im only 43 & i swear we are walking dead people,roaming the streets of hell.this is true torment.thanks cnn.

Kat said...

I think the problems that African Americans face are largely economic and the disasteous situation that we are now in stems from the side effects of living in a "free" market economy. We need more people who are interested in learning about alternative economic systems such as democratic socialism like in Scandanavian countries.
CNN's documentary failed to go much more deeper in depth which is a shame since the show had potential to be great.

R.J. said...

I'm with Kat. It could have gone in greater detail.

I was also disappointed with some of the articles on CNN. To be more specific, the comments in those articles were authored by the dimmest and most ignorant in our society.

Some people will never get it. Maybe when they lose a promotion to someone with lighter skin that's less qualified or get "special attention" from the police, they'll get a glimpse of what it's like to be a person of color.

jp said...

I really don't get the criticism leveled at CNN for this piece. We complain about the media not doing right by us as community, giving a skewed look at us. Well, CNN devoted 4 hours of time to give a look at all types of black folks. Give them credit.

Soledad won me over in 2005 with Katrina reporting and her speaking the truth when others were hiding, she came in to the house IMO then.

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

@ Kellybelle

um... don't you mean Sole is a sundeck negro? *LOL*

or a gazebo negro?

because really...

patios are just soooo... soooo... middle class....

remember what Lawrence Otis Graham said when he was asked if he considered himself "BOUGIE":

"oh heavens no, 'bougie' implies middle class and I've graduated from the middle class"

{chuckles}

Lisa

field negro said...

Okay Chris, you and kellybelle are scaring me with your Soledad expose. I mean I know she has a mixed heritage (hell we all do) but I never knew she played down her black side in the past. Hmmm, maybe the she IS a PN.

But seriously, I still can't figure out if I really liked the docimentary or not. I liked the fact that it showed that we are a complex people, and just like with any other race, you will find all different types of black folks. But I kept wondering; so where are the solutions?

I agree with bob, they will probably win a bunch of awards for the piece, and withing the context of what they were trying to do, they probably deserve it.

anon. 10:38PM, you make some good points, we do have to pick better battles, but make no mistake, there are plenty battles to fight.

I was one of the folks front and center with Jena, but there were other reasons for that from my perspective.I was familiar with racist DA's in Louisiiana, and from a legal standpoint the case was just terrible. As an officer of the court, I couldn't just let injustice like that go by without speaking out

Still, you are right, those boys were no angels, and there was a backlash after everything came out. But again, we can't always find Rosa Parks refusing to go to the back of the bus.

diva, are you an Obamaholic by any chance? :)

blackwomenblowthetrumpet, unless that blog has something to do with finding Lark Voorhies, I am not sure if I could handle another one :)

heartsandflowers said...

Lisa you are too funny.

Field now you know until they put out a Jewish, Muslim, Gay, Arab, Asian, et al AND have it produced by someone not in that group AND give it an air of authority and validity THEN we can say hmmm. They put out the same tired memes of Black inferiority on the regular, just to reinforce some stereotypes. I REFUSE to be indoctrinated by mediocrity.

JJ said...


No examination of the impact of white supremacist patriarchal oppression and subjugation.... just examples of people who "should have made better choices in life".


And there u have it.

Any mention of being "Black in America" that doesn't begin with, impact of white supremacist patriarchal oppression and subjugation, is pointless.

hennasplace said...

I thought was very interesting that the secret of colorism was brought up in the piece. It is something that the black community does not discuss. Michael Eric Dyson brought it up as a factor, and it is very real within the black and white community. I do not think that many black people are comfortable with the idea of bi-racial children. What is ironic is that some African-American believe those stereotypes, and it is the very thing that is killing us. HIV/AIDS is not discussed in black churches, and you could see how difficult for TD Jakes to talk about because reality is he is that involved with the going ons with his congregation. He has over 20,000 members and does not possibly know about needs of the people attending the church.

The documentary only scratches the surface. C. Joseph Phillips does not know what is talking about his information is very limited. He comes for a very western middle class America background. His parents were professional and lived in Denver, Co, so his view of he world is very different that of Dr. Fryer who grew up in Daytona Beach, FL where some his family members were drug dealers, but manages to get out attends college and becomes the youngest tenure professor at Harvard. Of course, I would listen to Dr. Fryer because perspective and experience are more expansive than that of Phillips.

In addition to the documentary, CNN has additional information on the website. No, the documentary does not offer many solutions, but isn't the point of documentary to inform us and perhaps come up with solutions. You cannot have not any solutions if we do not understand the problem.

Christopher said...

So Soledad is a quarter Black -- not even half, yet now she's marketing herself as a full on sistah.

I think I'm Blacker than Miss Soledad and I got there through osmosis.

Very curious that CNN, who is headquartered in Atlanta, GA, couldn't find themselves an African American man or woman to host the series?

Just saying.

Miranda said...

I watched on Wed night and had no intentions of ruining my Thur night. I thought it was horrible, and the same ole, same ole that I've seen/heard for the last 15 years or so either thru magazine articles, or talk shows. It was tripe. I'm still mad I watched Wed night when my gut instinct was that it would be the crap it was. I don't want to hear another person say one damn thing about Obama's father's day speech or even insinuate he speaks down to black people if they haven't written a letter to CNN over this "Black in America" special.

hennasplace said...

Chris, an African-American did host the show and her name is Soledad O'Brien as she culturally identifies herself as an African-American. I think it is part of the problem of not understanding the complexity of being Black in America. Most people identify Soledad by her skin color, but not culturally. She could pass for white and I certainly do not have a problem with it because it is her life, but she does not.

I think this whole thing about being quarter black or half white is racist to being with as we still work under the guide that if a person has a drop of black or white blood you must be black. The black community is diverse and believe also another point of the documentary. I personally do not care who host the show as long it good and examines all aspects of black people. I am black person and I had a white professor who taught African-American, and probably one of the best professors I had and he taught the subject well. He is also attorney for the Legal Aid Society, and understand the racial disparities in the criminal justice system. He ironically has a brother who is racist. I think we have a limited view about other people because we cannot see pass ourselves. I have a friend who was social worker and constantly ask myself how in the world did she ever become a social worker because view of the world is limited, and she is suppose to be an educated person and makes the most ignorant statements. She thinks that Spanish people are taking over the country. I shake my head

Anonymous said...

Quit making excuses for our young black men. They do the crime, they do the time. Keep oversight. Letting thugs run free is the raison d etre of the Bushies. Constantly encourage our youth to excell. Tax the rich so much that they put their kids through college to find work. Use those taxes to make our communities besser. Quit subsidizing suburban and rural 'lifestyles'. Let them pay their own freight. Check out Philly taxes and see how much of the money goes to the WhiteCounties of Pennsyltucky.

Mold

Kellybelle said...

Chris and Hennasplace:
Maybe it's wrong for me to judge Soledad based on how she responded to being called Black 20 yrs ago in college, but she definitely did NOT identify as Black back then. I wouldn't say she passed for white, but there was a kind of "Don't ask; don't tell" when it came to her ehtnicity. She may very well have evolved.

However, I think the fact that she was not raised to identify with the African American exeprience might be one of the reasons the documentary feels like it was created for White people. All this stuff is relatively new to her.

If she's discovered her Blackness and likes it, I love it.

innercityrose said...

I agree with many..I was not impressed by this show AT ALL. I live the black experience each and every day, I don't need anyone from CNN showing me what I already know. I can't tell you how many emails I received about tuning into this show. My thoughts were are these emails only being forwarded to blacks by other blacks?

I also agree with the poster who stated that this show just reinforced the ideas that some already have of us. Truly a disappointment. I don't feel that anyone of non color came away from watching and saying.."wow I didn't know that is what goes on everyday in America for black people". What they saw was what they already think in my opinion.

Christopher said...

Kellybelle and Hennsaplace,

I probably have no right or business weighing in on this for obvious reasons but you know how opinionated I am and I just have to say it.

I like Soledad O'Brien just fine. I liked her back when she was on KRON (the NBC affiliate) in San Francisco but I'm telling you, she wasn't Black. She was Black the way Dinah Shore was Black: you could kinda' see it if you strained a bit but she made a conscious decision not to embrace her ethnicity. Maybe she did it for career reasons and now that she's with CNN, she feels more comfortable in her skin which I think is great.

But I think it's a hoot that Soledad O'Brien is doing a segment on "Shopping While Black in America." I mean puhleeze. Do ya' think Miss Soledad is ever followed by security when she shops at Saks or even the Dollar General Store?

I kept thinking, why didn't CNN use the African American anchors they have? Women like Suzanne Malveaux, Lola Ogunnaike, or Fredricka Whitfield? You know Fredricka Whitfield knows what it's like to be followed by store security. But Soledad O'Brien? I don't think so.

Phil4Real said...

Has anyone seen the article about Scooter Pikes. First cousin to one of Jena 6, who was tasered to death. The guy was handcuffed on his stomach when the police told him to get up. When he couldn't reach his feet, they tasered him. Again and again, until he foamed at the mouth. Even then as he screamed in agony, they applied one final SHOCK that sent poor Scooter to see his father. They say the terrorist are in Iraq. I think they're right next door. I really would like to go down there and perform BLACK Justice on those krakkkers!

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-taser_witt-web-jul19,0,2201847.story

Befree1619 said...

Befree 1619 : CNN Black America is some bull. Black people don't NEED explain to white America about who we are and black people don’t need to explain who we are to ourselves. We have been here about as long as they have. When I saw D.L the dummy will be on it, I knew it was some bull.

I swear it's a damn struggle to be black and proud because everywhere you turn somebody black or white is getting on the national stage and talking about how messed we are. They need to do a CNN special on why whites are so damn narcissistic and need to oppress others. This entire CNN special will never mention the words white supremacy. They will say the ‘R’ word, (racism) but never attached it to the race of people committing it. Be sure before every social, political, economic ill our race with be mentioned quite directly…now when 'white' is mentioned it will only be in relation to how bad we are doing which is a f-up comparison in the first place.



Whites love to be feed a steady diet of the mythical portions of black pathology and too many blacks love to ingest it as well. The sad part is when they consume it makes them feel better, but we consume it makes us feel worst. Never the mind most of the 40 mil blacks are good law abiding, hardworking folks. Yes they will sprinkle in the “kid to beat the odds” stories, but the crux is this is a “ghetto safari to watch natives debase themselves”. Bless Soledad O’Brien's heart; I guess they had to find her something to do after being fired from American Morning.



I don't see any clear thinking black person would not wonder why they would do a special report on Blacks.



That’s make take, but I could be wrong.

false1 said...

No way I'm watching that bullshit. I've been studying black folk (in the classroom and in the wild) all my life. Doesn't mean I know everything, but I do know there is no way a network will ever present anything regarding black folks that challenges the prevailing attitudes.

This cannot and will not change the situation in black America one iota. There is alot more useful info to be found through alternative means. Blogs like this one for example.

By the way, I take issue with the idea that only members of our underclass need to change. We put the salvation of our race on the weakest segment of society. The same basic mistake that Cosby made. It's the black middle class and upper classes that have failed black America. The ones with resources, power and (hopefully) knowledge.

It's so damn tiring.

Dragon Horse said...

Soladad is half white Australian/black Cuban. Her mother is as dark as my mother. I am guessing Soladad grew up here, I know she has blond children who look pretty white...she is married to a white man. Depending on where she is she can pass for non-black...but no one would say she is white.

She has won awards with Hispanic and black groups in America.

http://www.cnn.com/CNN/anchors_reporters/obrien.soledad.html

"She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists."

"Also this year, the NAACP honored her with its President's Award in recognition of her humanitarian efforts and journalistic excellence, and she was also the recipient of the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay's 2007 Clara Barton Humanitarian Award. In April of this year, she receive the first annual "Soledad O'Brien Freedom's Voice Award" created in her honor by Community Voices at the Morehouse School of Medicine. The award, honoring mid-career professionals who serve as catalysts for social change within their fields, will be bestowed upon her for her accomplishments in her field together with her commitment to cover stories that others fail to pursue, and her willingness to be a voice for those in society who are unable to speak for themselves."


It seems she considers herself a black Latina, but she has never said that I don't think, in Latin America she would not be considered black.

Dragon Horse said...

Christopher:

Her kids will definately not be followed around a store as most of them look as white or more white than the average Italian in New York. :-)

http://www.aolcdn.com/aolnews_photos/0b/01/20050329173609990017

Muze said...

great post field.

i was thinking the very same thing as i was watching it last night.

the ones who need to watch, the ones who truly need the help and the knowledge, are not only not watching, but have no desire or interest whatsoever in doing so.

it's sad, the state we are living in.

i respect what cnn is trying to do, but they are really just preaching to the choir at this point.

Dragon Horse said...

More updated picture of Soledad's kids, can't find any of her husband but he is a WASP.

http://bp0.blogger.com/_l8xeX8k9lgo/SIV2-aCY4XI/AAAAAAAAEaU/GMe9NZWYuUM/s1600-h/soledad+and+family2.jpg

lincolnperry said...

Thank you Chris, and Kelly when did Soledad become black, and what did they do to her CNN to present this program. I noticed she got a little defensive on the colour priledge issue when Mike Dyson said that his brotha may have experience colour bias being dark skinned. My question is how many white folks watched this program and how many watched that care to make a difference in our lives?

hennasplace said...

Hi Chris:

I think if Soledad dressed down and went shopping, the store would probably follow around the store. Remember the scene from the movie "Pretty Woman" when the clerk refused to serve because of way she dressed? There is a mall in New Jersey called the Mall at Short Hills and I cannot stand that store because there is air of classism and racism, the belief that you are too poor or not white to afford anything in the store.

As for Lola Ogunnaike, she is an entertainment reporter which is a eupherism for gossip journalist, so she probably would not have been the right person to host the documentary. The other women have similar backgrounds to Soledad as well, and probably would have heard the same complaints about them not being black enough either. Chris it's more complex than you realize. I reallly do not see the problem with Soledad hosting and reporting the documentary, and quite honestly it's the least of my concerns. I am more concern with Suzanne Malveaux's distant cousin Julianne Malveaux said in the documentary is that America has failed to see Black Americans in their full humanity, and even a lot of Black Americans do not even see it. We are more than the Oprah, Will Smith, and Denzel Washingtons of the world. We have families, friends, work, do not commit crimes, etc, but the media either shows Rahim the drug dealer or Oprah by way not even most people white or black will ever get to her level. Oprah and Rahim are real, but not true for the minority of Black Americans.

Afrodite said...

I actually have problem with the show. Not only because they are preaching to the choir but because they are showing the same old stereotypical characters. A baby's daddy who didn't go to college. A shirtless poor black teenage boy who dropped out of school. WHat's with the continuous emphasis on "Educated and Successful" black woman everytime they introduced a sister? My problem is "Black in America" goes down a list of many of society's ills yet it does not delve deeper into "WHY" and "HOW". WHAT is the history. WHY are things like this in the black communities. "HOW do we change it" DOn't just show a bunch of white people stereotypical black men and women because they are well aware that such characters exist. What they aren't aware of is WHY. What they aren't aware of is that We are not all Baby's mamas and ex crack fiends. Why doesn't CNN show the young boy/girl who drops out of school because her mom is sick/strung out/in jail and he/she decides they need to get a job to take care of their siblings. Why doesn't CNN show the black child who is living a shelter and works yet still manages to graduate at the top of their class. Why not show some hardworking blacks who still suffer because of their environment and then go a step further and tell the truth anout why CRACK infested our communities and why young black men are victims of the prison industrial complex.


TOO MUCH TO ASK I GUESS

Anonymous said...

Nothing will change Field...NOTHING. Many here are bored with the tired old,"maybe its OUR fault we are in this situation". We need to find someone else to blame so we can keep doin what were doin and wait for someone else to bring us up.

WHO'S IT GONNA BE PEOPLE? WHITES? we hate them so fucking much but were content to wait for them to help po little negroes. Pride anyone?
THE GOVERNMENT? Hell, they cant do anything right and we put the burden on them to fix us? Come on now

Fact is it is our fault were here. This series puts all our dirty laundry (and its a TON of messy diapers people) for all to see. We are shown that those that try hard by the rules make it. Those who dont usually sit and whine.

And stuff this race & gender department double speak about subjugation (our subjugation comes from within us, not from without), partiarchy (sisters doin fine, college, work. brothas droppin the ball) and white privilege, Africans comin here doin well without whinin and cryin for handouts. Field is from Jamacia and the poor dude from Mali was doin great till some african american animal shot him for 12 fucking dollars. These black folk are comin here workin hard and our native brothas are doin wrong. The fault is theirs.

It feels better to point the finger at others but it helps nobody. Not Shaqueena with five kids with 5 men and one on the way. Definately doesnt help the kids bein raised by three generations of women. Doesnt help the young brothas makin the tough choice between being authentically black (therefore stupid, uneducated and criminal) and a sellout (valuing education, working hard). Doesnt help the millions of good people tryin to succeed in the hood dominated by violence. drugs, hgustlin and crime. Doesnt help the many kids tryin to do their homework in the chaos that is our public schools.
Helps nobody but the race and gender major tryin to come up with some brilliant theory that absolves blacks from the failure many of them have become.

Anonymous said...

Soledad took the great resposibility for showing black poverty in 'Merica. Such courage! Such out-of-the-box thinking! No sterotypes here, nosiree!

Wait, aren't there huge pockets of white poverty in the US? Isn't Appalachia another word that denotes poor, uneducated, futureless whites?

Ohh, it's only news when the Villagers discover it.

Mold

hennasplace said...

Afrodite:

Actually, the series did show examples of the very things you discussed in your post. In fact, there was a man who was once a crack addict, overcame his addiction and now is a preacher and counselor. If go onto the website, there are additional interviews and stories. Also, during the piece discussing paying students for doing well on tests, one little name Anthony and his family are going through some difficult times with finding housing and he still manages to do well in school. I watch both nights, and there are examples that run the gamet. Another example of a family raised six children and put all of them through college, and how they own their own business. There is a doctor in Baltimore who is doing more than just patching up black men by starting a program for them to complete their education and get off the streets. There is one woman in New York who started the Marry your baby's mama with providing couples with counseling to get them to the aisle.

Of course, I could have been watching a different program.

Natalie said...

I have the program on the DVR and will be watching it, primarily to confirm my suspicions that it is all about educating the whites. I tend to think that people thought, "huh, people keep talking about how they don't KNOW Obama, maybe if we teach them about Black people they will feel more comfortable voting for or not voting for him". I could be wrong but I bet you that if a Black man wasn't poised to lead the country we wouldn't be worried about Black In America.

Now I'm going to weigh in on having Soledad host the show. I don't know her history so I don't know if she has always seen herself as Black or if is a new thing. Chris wrote "She was Black the way Dinah Shore was Black: you could kinda' see it if you strained a bit but she made a conscious decision not to embrace her ethnicity". I ask, how do you know she made a conscious decision not to embrace her identity? I am Black, have identified as Black as long as I can remember and most of the people who meet me on the street don't know it. What kind of a fool would i be if I walked up to someone and said, "Hi, I'm Natalie, I'm Black and I embrace my identity"? That's the thing with identity, you don't have to run around and shout it all the time because you know who you are. Who is anyone else to tell you differently.

People assume I am Latina all the time. I'm not, not even one drop. If they make a comment to me that is obviously wrong about my ethnicity then of course I'll correct them and if they ask I'll educate them. If not, whatever.

Anonymous said...

i am tired of people using this as an excuse:

as per kai: 11:39
"They will never
indite capitalism, the government, nor the masses of A-merry-cans who were complicit in the oppression and destruction of our people. They will never identify the large institutions which created the ghetto, created the drug & alcohol problems, etc."

why is always someone else's fault? there are plenty of white folks addicted to various drugs, et al, yet no white person blames the government or black folks for their addiction.

when are people - black, white, hispanic, etc. - just going to take responsibility for their own actions? no one forced these people to do drugs.... are they more readily available in some communities? sure. but walk into any predominently white suburban high school and the drug dealers are there (and often white) - it's just as available there as anywhere else.

my point is this: take responsibility!!!! for your addiction, your kids, your house, family, neighborhood, community, city, state, country.... start pointing the finger at the person in the mirror and ask that person what he/she can do to better their life and the lives of those around them.

until that happens, the problems will continue...

Anonymous said...

Wow! We cant win for loosing. Soledad isnt black enough? Shes recently black? She didnt identify soon enough. And all of this as she finally convinced CNN to allow her to produce this piece about being Black in america. And the piece itself is "preaching to the choir"? A choir of middle class black folk who can afford to take the time to leave their thoughts on this website and write clever banter about how bored they are to be represented and who's not watching. I think we are missing the point. WE ARE THE CHOIR and obviously we need to be preached to because some of us are still waiting for CNN and the white folks of this country to finally right the wrongs of history and change the course of our lives in one fell swoop. I dont know if you know this but that day will never come - so instead of looking at this program as another failed attempt to enlighten the choir, perhaps we should look at this as a call to arms. Even if Shenequa watched this program she would still have that 6th baby by a different daddy because that is how she derives her worth. The only way to help her change that point of view is to make sure she has resources with which she can reassign her worth. And what about Lil' Pete who earned a college degree in San Quentin University - if you were an employer would you give that brotha a chance? EVOLUTION TAKES A LONG TIME. So instead of bighting at the attempts that are made to shed a little light on us black folks perhaps we should demand more and more until we can finally see ourselves the way we seem to want the rest of the world to see us. WE are complex and human; we are prone to success and failure; we are rich and poor; responsible and irresponsible. We are like everyone and no one else.
I say keep up the good work Soledad - it took you a while to come into the fold but at least you've finally arrived - and with gifts.

Anonymous said...

Soledad O'Brien looks "blacker" than Suzanne Malveaux.


Just sayin'.

rlm said...

Anonymous said...
Welcome to the damaged goods race,man i tell ya my head is gonna explode.every day of my life i must be reminded how dumb we are how we amaze the world with our faiures im only 43 & i swear we are walking dead people,roaming the streets of hell.this is true torment.thanks cnn.


Say it again, and slower. I turned it off mid way through the program both days.

It attempted to be balanced, but it was about our shortcomings, our failures, our ill health, our pathos.

And I don't agree with another poster that asked why is it all about "blaming."

The state of black America is a shared problem, and the reality is it won't be solved in our lifetime. We can begin the journey, but we won't see the promised land.

sigh.. said...

sometimes it so much easier to blame whiteys for all the thing that goes wrong. it makes one feel a little bit superior for pointing the fingers and said i told you so. taking responsibilities takes courage, which unfortunately you don't see plenty.

when a network decides to do a series, you bash it. when they don't, you question why not. its like dam they if they do, dam if they don't.

can't please black folks even if they tried.

ac said...

I thought it was ok. I recognized immediately that I wasn't the target audience. I already knew there was a black middle class and that there are "success" stories and "failures" within many families, etc, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah. I'm pretty sure from many of my dealings with white America that there is a large portion of that population who DIDN'T know all that. So, every little crumb of information helps, I suppose.

I was a bit unnerved by all the hate thrown at Soledad. Black Snob did an excellent piece on this July 23 called "When is Black "Black"? Pay particular attention to the comment by "Daughter" halfway down, she went to college with Soledad and Suzanne and knows about their struggles from way back.

-=Topper=- said...

Hello, my name is Dave and I am a cracker. But it is with this knowledge of being a white in a white world that I must then make the connections that there must be people then left out of this world.

That is easy enough. And I wonder if at anytime that this CNN report comes around to pointing the fickle finger of flaming oppressors at whites.

There is a subculture within the black community, the stereotypical crackhead, thug, hoodlum, this that the other. Not knowing that they were created by whites. All the years of being told you were a certain way, and final succumbing to it. White good, black bad.

I can't imagine it. But I can imagine what it would lead to.

I agree with those that say blame whites first and then we can get to the rest of it. I agree fully on that. Blacks can't rise up until white people let go of their notions. Whites need to see color. There are so many that state they don't see color but I don't buy that for a sec. Sometimes I feel that blacks act out violently because of the perceptions that white people have had for generations. They do because we expect it of them. But it's like I have said, "for black people to succeed in this country it is up to white people to let them."

It is a sickening thought, but accurate I think. But it really does start with the whites. Change, holy hell, blacks do not need to. The change has to fall on the oppressors. Obama can make the statement that blacks need to lift up and all that, but in that frame of mind he has to also tell whites to respect it and get out of the way for once. We get off too easy.

bean twn chick said...

Why always so negative? The documentary was to inform. Why do people only see the negative, no one saw the family of eight whose five children were in college? Reading the comments on CNN white people mostly dismiss racism and state we need to get over it this is who should have been watching the program but like many of you made up their minds before even watching. How do you know who watched, I went to college with a few Bloods and Crips, try to have some understanding of why someone may have five children from five different fathers, everyone is not strong, whereas one person might oversome diversity another may succomb to depression, damn it must be nice to look down on everyone. Many of your comments are no different that the white people telling us to get over it and it's all in our minds, Yeah must have been all made up, Sean Bell

Anonymous said...

How come no one remembers the positive stories that were highlighted and only the negative? How come no one acknowledges many of today's problems stem from crack, why do you not hate the government or Reagan as much as the vitriol showed toward your own people? The stories were interesting but most nonblacks probably didn't even watch. please go to cnn.com and read some of the comments made by whites before you go spewing your negativity because you sound just like them.

Anonymous said...

Fuck all white people,even the good ones

glory said...

dang, why does soledad have to catch hell for her ethnicity or how she identifies racially - the program wasn't about her personal life. and- "she's only a quarter": talk about splitting hairs. (and in fact, i think she's half - there are people in the caribbean whose racial heritage would qualify them as black here in the states, like soledad's mom. there are black cubans, black panamanians, etc. just like black canadians, black brits, black americans...)she has african ancestry and she identifies with it, nuff said about that. parsing out who is and who isn't authentically black enough is an old and useless exercise. particularly regarding this show, you could have put a journalist of any ethnicity on as a host and pulled it off if the production was good.

except i think the production was hit-or-miss. there were good moments and bad ones in the show. i think it did show a range of beliefs, political stances, social mores, and economic situations that black folks have. maybe not as much as i would have liked to see, though. thing is, for the most part, the topics were the same old topics the media always uses when talking about "how black folks are doing". it was as if they said, "let's cover everything that blacks disproportionally have a problem with and do a segment on it." instead of, "let's find out what it's like to live here and be black," like the title suggested the show would do. i think the difference between the two approaches would have kept lots of it from seeming like a fleshed-out black statistics tutorial. to me the program was mostly boring and didn't offer new perspectives. or maybe i'm living and reading about black life so much that i'm "reading on a higher grade level" on that topic than the documentary aimed to provide.

what i don't understand is analysis that says the program failed to offer solutions or change lives. with the possible exception of sesame street getting kids to think learning is fun, tv doesn't do that. a two hour documentary shouldn't be expected to do that. it was just supposed to be a snapshot, folks, not a blueprint for change.

i think you are right field, about the effect of the show: white folks watching a reality show about an existence they're glad they don't have to live, and black folks basically looking to see how f'ed up cnn was going to portray us, or hoping that it would be an indictment on how racism affects black people (as opposed to simply exploring how black folks are living).

i think in a better world what it would have done was allow people to see more of our humanity and diversity as opposed to merely our stereotypes and our pathology, and allow not just blacks but the whole country to take stock of where we are in our march towards progress and challenge us to face down the progress we have yet to achieve. there were moments in the show that achieved some of these things. but there were moments in the show that just rehashed the same ole litany we've been hearing for years.

LadyCracker said...

After carefully reading all of these comments, I am so confused about "black," African-Ethnicity, white and racism. I was really glad to see HennasPlace talk about colorism. Because some of this stuff can't be about "black" because the people are lighter. Some of this stuff can't be about African-Ethnicity because some of these people know nothing about Africa, African's or have the culture etc of African. Some of this stuff can't be about whites because they are kinda dark, and it can't be about racism because how do you tell half? which half? quarter? which quarter.

Colorism; the easily identified difference that European, United States cultures have used to confine some people to an economic class. The problems are really economic and argueing about "black" or other skin tones when the answers are economic and cultural doesn't help. See the different colored twins....

http://bodyodd.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/07/17/1205061.aspx?GT1=43001

These babies will have the same raising, but their color will give them different lives until we all become genuinely color blind. (A number of lessor colored say they are color blind because they havn't the insight or imagination to see how other people are really treated.)

Anonymous said...

Black America is even more messed up today than we were 30 years ago because when you know better, your supposed to do better. No one is going to solve our problems for us. Parents are not "raising" their sons or their daughters. They're leaving that to the t.v. , radio, video games, and the street. Lazy, selfish parents sit by and watch their children repeat the same mistakes that they made. I am a teacher and I can't even begin to tell you how messed up in the head the children are from all of the crap that they have to deal with from the craziness going on in their homes like 5 siblings from 5 different daddys. Children getting angry, and acting out in class because the daddy of their brother or sister comes to visit them but their father never comes around. Kids being sexually, and physically abused by "mommy's new boyfriend." Then when mommy gets pregnant from the new boyfriend she gets up and goes to work while boyfriend stays at home in her "Section 8" apartment sleeping all day. Where the hell are the mothers of these girls having unprotected sex and having kids out of wedlock by different fathers? By the time these girls realize that these men are only using them as "sperm" receptacles and using their section 8 apartments as a place for them to come and flop and live "rent free" they're usually already on baby #3. The bottom line is that we are not teaching our daughters or our sons ANYTHING except how to be PIMPS AND WHORES! WAKE UP BLACK AMERICA! White folks aint gonna solve our problems...and god help ya'll when they pull the section 8 rugs from under our feet

Kat said...

"Black America is even more messed up today than we were 30 years ago because when you know better, your supposed to do better."
************

I don't believe that.
How does one know "you're supposed to do better" when everyone has low expectations of you? How can a boy in the ghetto learn to be a man when he's never seen real man? How can a girl learn to respect herself and get educated when everyone around her becomes early single mothers. Even if more black children graduated from highschool, they are still not properly equipped for college. If a black ex-convict decides to turn himself around, the chances of him getting a job are next to nil. There are STILL obstacles that prevent us from getting our foot in the door even if black folks tried. Some might make it and live that middle class life but not everyone is going to be successful. There are plently, plently of black folks who are working very hard to support their families.

mellaneous said...

Hey Field I agree with what Kat and Kai said especially the part about, indicting the government and the system for creating many of the problems and then doing little to fix them.

Racism proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that capitalism doesn't work. I mean why is there a ghettoized Black America? In the richest country in the history of the world why is the government unable to educatate all of its children. I know that young man on the show did not go back to school but no one told us why he didn't return. Had it failed him already? Was he reading at a low level? Had he joined a gang and was making a little cash already? Or had he looked down the road and seen black men with college degrees struggling and said how will I fare better than them with a HS diploma?

Field its kind of crazy to think of the things that we accept as normal in this society. Like why isn't the gov't and well meaning folks up in arms about the stat that showed that a white person with a felony has a better chance of getting a job than a black person without one?

liberation then peace

RedLipstick said...

I put the episodes on DVR b/c I was watching multiple episodes of 48 Hours on A&E. Now that's a representation of what it's like to be a 16-25 y/o black male in inner city America--and it's not a good look to say the least.

And I can't discern any solutions.
The good intentioned social programs of the late 60s and early 70s turned out to be disastrous for the black community especially the black family.

In the 90s cracking down on welfare recipients and crime just put more black men in prison and left many single black women with children in more poverty--and the cycle just keeps keeping on.

Things takes time to build to a head, then implode, then we start all over again.

Changes will occur but it will take generations for the ills of today to dissipate.

Unfortunately something else will pop up--it's just the nature of human beings!

roger said...

"I really don't get the criticism leveled at CNN for this piece. We complain about the media not doing right by us as community, giving a skewed look at us. Well, CNN devoted 4 hours of time to give a look at all types of black folks. Give them credit."

No. I give them not one whit of credit for taking nearly each and every stereotype of African Americans, paying only superficial lipservice to "dispelling" them, and then twenty seconds later reifying those same stereotypes. They did not look at all types of black folks. Where were the black gays and lesbians? Where were black folk who grew up in single parent homes and WEREN'T freakin' statistics? When they had a single black father on, he was po'. They consistently twisted "blackness" (or, at least, the blackness they think constitutes our lives) to equate with poverty, criminality and degradation--and intelligence, success and the like were definitively NOT the norm, as "supported" by CNN's ignorant use of statistics.

The program itself proceed without any kind of narrative cohesion or central thesis (I mean, outside saying "Hey, Black folk are FUCKED UP!). Speaking to two or three Black men cannot in any meaningful way symbolize or represent the wide diversity of Black male experiences. Note they didn't speak substantively at all about black men dating--why? Well, the assumption that undergirded the nonsense that CNN produced was that Black men a) don't date, b) aren't into commitment, c)only want white women (when they aren't busy fucking over every Black woman they come across.

Ugh. Epic fail from CNN, and it cements my decision to boycott them.

the uppity negro said...

i'm just mildly depressed that there were two days worth of problems that CNN decided to display for the masses.

annnnnd why am I watchin AC 360, covering Black in America right now and they're interviewing a former drug dealer from B'more---nothing against him, I'm glad the guy made it, but are they going to balance it out with another black man who already was doing what he was supposed to do from jump--hell, they can interview me, a 23 year old black man entering his third year in a dual degree graduate program.

Alas, Roland Martin was right when he said on Campbell Brown's show "we still have a long way to go."

fijrt said...

It's Hopeless, Hopeless, Hopeless, Hopeless, Hopeless.

We all know it's Hopeless, Hopeless, Hopeless, Hopeless.

Even CNN knows it's Hopeless, Hopeless, Hopeless.

So why try; just give up and die.
It's Hopeless, Hopeless.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

Okay, so are they going to show what it's like to be white in America. You know show the trailer parks, and focus on the problems in their neighborhoods. I would love to see how their dealing with their drug problems, drugs do exist in their neighborhoods as well.

What about all those white girls who don't even know which one is the daddy out of all of those guys they slept with? You know like the ones they show on Maury--"Is so and so the father of your child?". For God sakes are Maury and Jerry Springer the only white people in America that are willing to show the white problems in America.

Or what about the ones where the sister is sleeping with her sister's man/husband, or mother's man or husband? Then there are the guys who are sleeping with their wife's sisters, or their daughters, which would add a little variety.

What about those white men in prisons, especially the white collar criminals, serial killers, child molesters, rapist, robbers, kidnappers, domestic terrorists, crooked polititicians to name a few.

I mean there are a lot of negative topics that they can focus in on and show concerning the white neighborhoods as well. After all, if we're going to air the dirty laundry we might as well air their as well. Fair exchange is not no robbery. I could name some more stuff, but I'll let it rest for now.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

Oh, heck, I forgot to add they could even do one segment on Bush's family, and that could be the grand finale. Trust me, the Bush family has some very colorful family members. Starting with his niece Noelle. The prescription forger and drug addict of the family. I get a real big laugh out how she was selling cocaine in the Rehabilitation joint. Or even those daughters of his, the junior forgers whose speciality is drivers license and prescription drugs as well. Well, they problem picked up the drug trait from their grandpappy the drug lord of those poppy fields over in Afghan.

Not to mention, Jed Bush's son who has a thing for having sex in trucks parked in shopping mall parking lots.

Whelp, you know what they say, when the head is sick, the whole body is sick. How's that for trickle down corrupt morals?

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

*probably* instead of problem in that sentence "they problem picked up the drug trait from their grandpappy the drug lord of those poppy fields over in Afghan."

Gregory Williams said...

To answer your title question, all the wrong people.

blackgirlinmaine said...

Like so many others have expressed, this special was a disappointment. It felt like Black folks 101 to help white people "understand" Black folks. As a sista, I have been Black 35 years and it said nothing I didn't already know.

That said, I think given the time restrictions, it would have been hard to do something more substantial in a 4 hour period.

All in all it was a disappointment; as for Soledad, I honestly didn't even know she was of African descent until this special. Over the years she just seemed racially ambiguous to me.

Heru said...

Yo Field,

Please pardon my hype - But If you get an opportunity, check out my series "The State of Africa America Remix" on my blog at http://uvbc.blogspot.com

I wrote this piece over two years ago. But with all the current media attention focused on black folks, I wanted to get my 1.3 cents in again on this issue. Some of the piece has been updated and reflects my current state of pissed-offness at our called black leaders and pimp pastors.

metricpenny said...

"... And here in lies the problem with shows like “Black in America,” and books like “The Covenant with Black America” they don’t reach the people who need to hear and read it most. The people who need to change, probably won’t be tuning in—which is why years after the Million Man March and years after The Covenant with Black America and years after Black in America, nothing will change. "

Field,

I don’t know about that statement by Ms. Hunter. Sounds like something a penthouse negro would say. It gives me deja vu. I believe that is what most white Americans say (and have said in the past) about colored Americans in general. And now she's saying it about our less fortunate people.

I do not think the CNN program did not reach the people who need to hear and read it most. It's just not enough to make them change. We all struggle with change. I know it has got to be harder when you're poor, uneducated and filled with hopelessness, whatever your race.

I don't have cable and did not watch. However, I encourage CNN to stop talking about the problems of being "Black In America" and donate the budget amount for this type of programming to organizations like the Harlem Children's Zone. That would prove more helpful to:

Shaniqua living in a tenement in Brooklyn with five babies by five different “men” ; James, who stands on a corner in Baltimore selling crack cocaine to his community; T-Bone, a Blood from South Central and his boys and rival Crips from cross-town; and, Janice who dropped out of Somerville High School in Massachusetts.

Anonymous said...

it's not called South Central anymore , it's called South LA, because if you look at a map of LA it's not south or central. Dang, I must be on drugs because in high school I knew many 16 year olds that had kids, even white, I know many a poor white family living in trailer homes,, many a non black father not taking care of his kids, many white teenagers having abortions (oh I guess that's okay at least they didn't follow Shaniqua's example, they were smarter, kill the kid)white people don't commit crimes, they are angelic. I must be trippin' when many a white male has told me of being pulled over by the police with an open container of alcohol and marijuana pipe and being let go. I must be trippin when I was in a car with a white male friend possessing marijuana and the cop just knew it was his black friend's dope even though the white boy kept telling the cop it was his because it was in HIS POCKET. I must be trippin' see the special on cocaine in Amerikka when on VIDEO they showed the police in Texas pulling over white druck drivers and letting them go. I'm on some shit, I know white people never commit crimes, they all take care of their kids by one father, they don't do drugs (Meth a myth)and they don't drop out of school, why are we acting more like them, how dare us take 10 million Europeans out of their native land force them to speak our language, have separate yet "equal" ,force them to have babies,watch, lynch them, damn why are they always complaining we need to be more like massa they are so perfect.

Anonymous said...

I meant drunk

west coast story said...

Oh for Christ's sake. A four-part special and the only thing some people can focus on is the same old is-s/he-black-enough BS about Soledad. "I didn't know she was black." "Well, how black is she?" "Well, she's a patio black." "I heard she never identified as being black." "Well, I heard she roasted a black person over an open hearth because they were going to tell her boss she had African heritage. Yes, that's what I heard."

You sound like bored children.

I detest this about black people, really. We just can't label somebody white racist fast enought but we give ourselves a whiplash to quibble over someone's racial pedigree in a heartbeat. The biggest lie in the whole documentary was the black woman married to a white man who said black people are more accepting of mixed raced children than whites. BULLSHIT. Just read the commentary here to prove my point.

As for the documentary, some of it was good, some of it was old news. The idea was to inform. There are a few black people who need to be able to put a face on what it means to be the working poor in this country. It isn't all Cosby Show or Crack Ally. There are shades of gray in between.

I don't remember it being only about poor people and hopelessness. I remember it being a study in contrasts. I sometimes joke that black people are not inclined to subletly but maybe it's not a joke.

As I said on another topic, a sliver of the black community is made up of whiners. Whining when we are ignored by MSM, whining over the airing of programming for Black History Month, whining over this, whining over that. You don't like O'Brien? Then don't watch and then you don't have to burden yourself with having an opinion. The crabs in the barrel couldn't get motivated fast enough.

There were some interesting issues raised in the special but I see none of them have been raised here leading me to wonder if the chief whiners here actually sat and watched all four hours.

Anonymous said...

not called South Central anymore , it's called South LA, because if you look at a map of LA it's not south or central. Dang, I must be on drugs because in high school I knew many 16 year olds that had kids, even white, I know many a poor white family living in trailer homes,, many a non black father not taking care of his kids, many white teenagers having abortions (oh I guess that's okay at least they didn't follow Shaniqua's example, they were smarter, kill the kid)white people don't commit crimes, they are angelic. I must be trippin' when many a white male has told me of being pulled over by the police with an open container of alcohol and marijuana pipe and being let go. I must be trippin when I was in a car with a white male friend possessing marijuana and the cop just knew it was his black friend's dope even though the white boy kept telling the cop it was his because it was in HIS POCKET. I must be trippin' see the special on cocaine in Amerikka when on VIDEO they showed the police in Texas pulling over white druck drivers and letting them go. I'm on some shit, I know white people never commit crimes, they all take care of their kids by one father, they don't do drugs (Meth a myth)and they don't drop out of school, why are we acting more like them, how dare us take 10 million Europeans out of their native land force them to speak our language, have separate yet "equal" ,force them to have babies,watch, lynch them, damn why are they always complaining we need to be more like massa they are so perfect.

3:20 PM


Anonymous said...
I meant drunk

3:23 PM


west coast story said...
Oh for Christ's sake. A four-part special and the only thing some people can focus on is the same old is-s/he-black-enough BS about Soledad. "I didn't know she was black." "Well, how black is she?" "Well, she's a patio black." "I heard she never identified as being black." "Well, I heard she roasted a black person over an open hearth because they were going to tell her boss she had African heritage. Yes, that's what I heard."

You sound like bored children.

I detest this about black people, really. We just can't label somebody white racist fast enought but we give ourselves a whiplash to quibble over someone's racial pedigree in a heartbeat. The biggest lie in the whole documentary was the black woman married to a white man who said black people are more accepting of mixed raced children than whites. BULLSHIT. Just read the commentary here to prove my point.

As for the documentary, some of it was good, some of it was old news. The idea was to inform. There are a few black people who need to be able to put a face on what it means to be the working poor in this country. It isn't all Cosby Show or Crack Ally. There are shades of gray in between.

I don't remember it being only about poor people and hopelessness. I remember it being a study in contrasts. I sometimes joke that black people are not inclined to subletly but maybe it's not a joke.

As I said on another topic, a sliver of the black community is made up of whiners. Whining when we are ignored by MSM, whining over the airing of programming for Black History Month, whining over this, whining over that. You don't like O'Brien? Then don't watch and then you don't have to burden yourself with having an opinion. The crabs in the barrel couldn't get motivated fast enough.

There were some interesting issues raised in the special but I see none of them have been raised here leading me to wonder if the chief whiners here actually sat and watched all four hours.

12:21 PM


[Photo]

"Field, are you watching[or going to watch] that series on CNN, about being black in A-merry-ca?




If I had a dollar for every time I heard that question, I would be moving into Will Smith's zip code. And guess what? Half the people asking me are white. To them, I always say, "no I am not watching it, I already know what it's like to be black in A-merry-ca". Which always gets a nervous laugh. To the black folks, I always say, "yeah I am checking it out, and I will reserve judgement until I see the last segment."


But then I read an excellent article from Karen Hunter, and I found myself agreeing with her, and getting a little judgemental.

Even though I admire what Soledad and the folks at CNN are trying to do, for some reason I am not quite feeling what the ultimate effects of this series will be. White folks looking from a distance as if they are watching just another reality show. And black folks who care and are already trying to improve their lives and communities, watching to try and understand why our community is always coming up short.


Here is Ms.Hunter's article:


"Who is watching “Black in America” on CNN? I ask the question because it was raging inside of me as I listened to pundits and experts, educators and pastors, business professionals and actors—all attempting to make sense and give shape to what it means to be black in America.
I asked the very same question after Tavis Smiley produced the “The Covenant with Black America” a few years ago. That book sold millions of copies, and was the topic of quite a few talk shows.

And this CNN “special” will probably be one the highest rated shows on the network ever. But I again I ask who is watching?

Is Shaniqua living in a tenement in Brooklyn with five babies by five different “men” watching? Is James, who stands on a corner in Baltimore selling crack cocaine to his community watching? T-Bone, a Blood from South Central and his boys and rival Crips from cross-town, are they watching? Janice, who dropped out of Somerville High School in Massachusetts, will she be tuning in?


I doubt it. And here in lies the problem with shows like “Black in America,” and books like “The Covenant with Black America” they don’t reach the people who need to hear and read it most. The people who need to change, probably won’t be tuning in—which is why years after the Million Man March and years after The Covenant with Black America and years after Black in America, nothing will change. "


I think I agree with a lot of what she said. But are we shooting the messenger once again? I am watching as I write this, and Soledad is talking about crack. This time it's a has-been actor from the Cosby show playing grown up black man. "If you don't want to go to jail, don't take crack. Gee, I wonder how many crack dealers are listening?


Read more here.
posted by field negro at 6:59 PM on Jul 24, 2008
THANK YOU FOR SAYING WHAT THE DEVIL OFTEN FORGETS TO TELL ABOUT HIS FUCKED UP PEOPLE

west coast story said...

I mean, when MLK talked about not judging people on the color of their skin but on the content of their character, was he only talking to white folks? And the rest of us were free to label and denigrate anyone who wasn't black-like-me? Seriously, what is up with this parochial, racist, crap?

ava said...

Soledad O'Brien?

Hmmm, I thought she is half Irish and half Puerto Rican?

She used to be on KRON in San Francisco and talked about her "mixed" background but she never mentioned she was African American.

Very odd.



Actually she is daughter of a black cuban woman and an irish man. Latinos are a mixture of African, Asian, and European. If you go to Puerto Rico and Cubs, you will see a large community of spsanish speaking people of African descent.

ava said...

I thought was very interesting that the secret of colorism was brought up in the piece....


Colorism is much more of a problem in the black community than the white community. They just hate "BLACK" people light and dark.

I am dark skinned, my sister is dark skinned and my brother and we are all successful..In fact the weatlthiest and most successful blacks are actually dark skinned. Oprah, Bob Johnson, etc.

People always talk about this light skinned priviledge but if they actually shut their traps and really paid attention, they would realize that the most successful doctors, lawyers, etc are dark.


She could pass for white and I certainly do not have a problem with it because it is her life, but she does not..



Not if you wet that hair...she would have an afro...puleeze


I kept thinking, why didn't CNN use the African American anchors they have? Women like Suzanne Malveaux, Lola Ogunnaike, or Fredricka Whitfield? You know Fredricka Whitfield knows what it's like to be followed by store security. But Soledad O'Brien? I don't think so....


I wouldnt be suprised if Lola has had handcuffs slapped on her



she receive the first annual "Soledad O'Brien Freedom's Voice Award" created in her honor by Community Voices at the Morehouse School of Medicine.

Blacks just seem to be so happy that she is somewhat acknowledging some ounce of blackness. Black people always want to claim someone. When she was talking to one of those young black guys on CNN. She was saying that "these are our people". Blacks especially black men are just filled with glee when a black woman who looks like that acknowledges some black blood.



I noticed she got a little defensive on the colour priledge issue when Mike Dyson said that his brotha may have experience colour bias being dark skinned.

If Michael Dyson was so priviledged from being lightskinned, his ass would not have had to go on welfare with his son. A lot of light skinned blacks will tell you that they have so many advantages but other than some people cuing over how "CUTE" they are, they really dont have it any better than a nice looking, dark, and polished person (in my opinion)or have it any better than anyone else. I am glad that she made that comment. It acually shut him up.

Dark Moon said...

I’ve never considered or saw O’Brien as black, part black may be black, etc. She reminds of those who can claim a small percentage of blood of any race or ethnicity as a nice little footnote in their family tree but not the main source of identity. Adam Clayton Powell, who could have easily passed, but was far more radical and committed. Their similarities in physiognomy is striking as is their disparate choice of racial identity.

OT: I agree about light skinned privilege. As someone that is somewhat Light, this supposed advantage did nothing for me in the real world. I was a n*gger just like other Blacks to Whites and others who didn’t like my race. I was rendered invisible because of my features and my color and I have endured a ransom share of racism. Perhaps if my features were keener and I didn’t have a big a*s afro before I switched to knotted up dreads, I may have gotten some play for being seen as slightly exotic or slightly ethnically ambiguous. It is about features, hair, and skin color which can allow you to skip and slide across racial lines and to walk over completely to the other side—if you choose to. Quincy’s daughters is a case in point. Unless she told you who her father is—no one would really know or put the finger on it (except maybe some black folks).

west coast story said...

Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. Y'all need to go on the couch seriously. Being black has made you straight up crazy.

west coast story said...

This is obviously bothering me a lot.

I seem to recall that Soledad O'Brien did very fine reporting on the Katrina aftermath (and Anderson Cooper). What you seem to be saying is that they shouldn't have done that reporting because they aren't black enough (or in Cooper's case, black at all). Or maybe you think it was discrimination that not more black reporters covered this story. Sort of damned if you do and damned if you don't.

I suppose the reverse is also true. That reporting opportunities for black people should be limited to covering only black isues because they are not sufficiently knowledgeable about what it is to be non black. In fact, everyone should cover their own. It's so much more "tidy" that way. I can see where if white folks took this position some of you would be inclined to agree. Apparently.

I would be claustrophobic to live in such a small world. Pre-judging is something that I find really intolerable since I've been on the receiving end of pre-judgement most of my life because I'm black and a woman.

We all have our baggage that comes from being black in these here United States, I know I do. But the whole pre-judging thing really rings my bell. It gets at the very heart of why people who are different from one another cannot get along. We fight wars over this shite. People die over this stupidity.

It's incredible that of all the issues raised in this CNN special, some of you all can only talk about O'Brien's heritage. Forget about the scourge of HIV/AIDS, paying students to go to school, working moms with two jobs and still can't make ends meet, the absence of fathers, how more professional women are forgoing marriage, etc. Instead what we have is a focus on O'Brien.

All this time I thought the black community was in a crisis then I come here and find out that if the wrong person says so, it doesn't count.

girl6 said...

First: @topper--Word.

Second: Fuck Soledad. Double fuck Tavis. And CNN can go fuck itself.

This is a bunch of condescending bullshit. Trot out some "examples" of black folks and let them talk about their experience. Fuck that. Unless they expose the continued, entrenched, institutionalized racism in America, no one gets anywhere.

I'm one of those successful, educated black women. I own my home. I've got good credit. I aint got no baby daddy. And I didn't "overcome" some unfortunate childhood or addiction. I'm solidly middle class in my values.

But I'm a nigger when I walk in the door. Barak Obama may be elected president (yeah, right) but he's a nigger, too. That's what we need to talk about.

We need to talk about red-lined neighborhoods, and rejected bank loans, and the fact that they will turn the world upside down looking for one blond white girl while some dirty, jug-eared, cross-eyed, inbred, white trash, meth head can walk into Neiman's wearing a trench coat in July and not get a second look from the security guard. We need to talk about inequities in the quality of health care. And when I say health care, I mean that doctors in the emergency rooms don't work as hard to save the lives of people of color.

And I don't want to hear a bunch of bullshit about personal responsibility when I know the cops won't come find my black ass if I go missing.

The saddest thing is that black folks buy into that shit.

*sigh*

It is the death of a thousand cuts...

west coast story said...

Oh poor professional you. If you must, you can be the nigger in this scenario because it certainly isn't going to be me.

I'm a professional black woman in the workforce for over 40 years. My house is nearly paid for. My car has been paid for. I have a nice little portfolio. I have a solid middle class background. Waiting for the trumpets to sound. What, no trumpets? I've done everything from flipping burgers to funding multi billion dollar capital programs. And when I'm done with my long work day, I'm in working meetings with policy makers and/or neighborhood activists to work on making things incrementally better in the city. The pace is glacial because for some reason, the people who bitch about how awful things are in the community have an aversion to the hard work required to make things better. Or maybe they just want someone to make THEIR life better. Like improved cell phone coverage.

I want to see someone do a television special about black people who whine and cry about how awful it is to be black and DO NOTHING to make institutional change.

Maybe girl6 works like dog on education/HIV/AIDS/homelessness/job re-entry/housing/etc. and is frustrated with how long it takes to make change. If so, my apologies for assuming otherwise.

All I know is that if black people ever shut our collective mouths and flexed our considerable economic muscle, we could probably get anything we want. But whining is easier.

I actually like being black. It is not a huge albatross around my neck. I've had my share of very negative experiences, and still have one occasionally, but it doesn't mean I'm somebody's nigger. Shame on you if you think it does. Nobody gets to define me but me. Period.

girl6 said...

Apology accepted, West Coast Story. How did you know what I do for a living? And I live on Wood St. in West Oakland, CA in a neighborhood called the Lower Bottoms, four houses down from where Ron Dellums grew up. I try to put my money where my mouth is. I haven't seen much of Ron, though.

You should drop by and have some tea. We could talk to the kids that hang out on the corner and ask them why their test scores get worse the longer they remain in Oakland Unified School District. Or we could talk to Mrs. Luckett who lives across the street. She's 99 yrs old and remembers when four white men showed up at the house around the corner where Felix Mitchell lived before he moved out of his mamma's house to the Flatlands. Soon after that, she watched crack burn down her neighborhood and three generations of her family because just jailing the members of the Black Panthers wasn't enough.

But I digress.

Check out the documentary "Unnatural Causes" on PBS. Pay special attention to the segment on low birth weights in African American babies. It will break your heart. And inform your opinion about personal responsibility. And read some Tim Wise.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

girl6:

Do you know that church over in your neighborhood called "Center Street Baptist Church on Center Street?"

west coast story said...

gril6: Then you know about how your neighbor Deborah Edgerly has plunged the city into a budgetary black hole and how the fight about who's pet program will or will not be cut, like we are not in the middle of a major local and state economic meltdown, looms on the horizon. You also know how your district saw fit to reelect your incompetent city council represetative, Nancy Nadel. (Not to mention how my neighbors reelected my sleazy, rep, Ignacio De La Fuente, who I hope goes to jail along with his good friend Don Perata.) Perhaps you were one of the ones who thought Jerry Brown was going to be the great white hope when he hung out at corner bars in West Oakland as he was deciding his future in local politics. This was back in his We The People days when he showed up at public meetings in his black jeans looking all streetwise. Or maybe you were not. My support for Dellums literally came at the 11th hour because the thought of money grubbing IDLF running this city into the ground with Perata holding the puppet strings made me physically sick. The thought of a doofus like Nadel running Oakland make me sicker.

I have helped clean up a few hot spots in my neighborhood and am neck deep in cleaning up another one right now. I have been working hard to get people to engage in community policing instead of waiting for city government to save them. Community policing in the broadest sense of the concept to include resolving neighborhood issues whether crime related or not. I am a pain in many people's backside but people respect me and I have a way of getting things done. I'm all about personal responsibility and it starts at home, then out on the sidewalk, and then down the block, etc. I beleive that people who live in the flatlands are entitled to a good quality of life and people in the hills who don't know what they are talking about should be quiet. That includes my many friends and relatives. Oh, and I blame every last one of us for allowing our school district to go in the toilet and playing politics with the education of children and selling off their futures. Okaland's drop rate is 37% (although two months ago I read it was 47%).

But I digress....

I finally broke down and called someone near and dear to me and who is a few time zones away. It was late but we had a nice chat aboout black folks and the media. This black woman has worked in television for at least 30 years and for the past 15 or so, at the executive level. She knows Soledad O'Brien professionally and personally. In her words Soledad "...is good people." Soledad has baby sat her children. The first question this woman asked when informed of the bitchy commentary about O'Brien was "But what did they have to say about the reporting." I told her not much, except everything was bad. I said I questioned if people had actually watched the series since very few people raised any of the issues brought out in the series for discussion. We talked about the level of bigotry that exists in the black community and I opined how I would have expected younger people to have more open minds. She agreed that if someone named Soledad O'Brien cannot cover issues affecting black people, then someone named DeShawn Washington can only cover issues affecting black people.

I'm done.

girl6 said...

Granny-- There's tiny, 100yr old churches on every corner in the Bottoms. I'm sure that church is there.

girl6 said...

West coast-- ...gurl aint that some mess with Edgerly? Hopefully, she's the last of Elihu(sp) Harris's party people who got paid while Oakland slid down the drain.

Take a look at what we're doing at the Health Dept.:

http://www.acphd.org/healthequity/index.htm

west coast story said...

I've heard about the CCNI. I wish we had something like it in the Fruitvale. You know, there is a move to refocus NCPCs as neighborhood councils to deal with a range of issues, not just crime. This could be a good linkage between the councils and the work you are doing. The trick is to reach at risk families before they are in full blown crisis. It's even trickier if you are dealing with working families who are not poor but need to know about resources for help. Right now, the NCPCs deal with the fallout from families in crisis. A lot of basically good people who are in deep denial about their kids.

Keep up the good work. And good luck. We are all going to need it to get through this budget mess. And yes, Deborah is a piece of work. Glad she's gone.

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