Black men on CNN’s Black in America

25 Jul

Obviously, CNN did not read my criticism of the first “Black in America” episode because they kept that poet dude. But moving on…just like the installment on black women and family, this installment on black men had too much stuff crammed into it. Unemployment, prison, fatherhood, violence and all those other things could have easily been individual two-hour specials. I would have loved to watch the actual people, politicians (maybe), activists, social scientists and other scholars, tackle those issues substantively and really try to figure out what’s going on and how to move forward.

Three things that really stuck out to me:

1. That statistic about 60 percent of black male high school drop outs ending up in jail.

2. D.L. Hughley was a Blood back in the day. Fascinating.

3. That statistic about 60 percent of black children being raised in single parent homes.

This is very sobering stuff. Makes me even more determined to be a good example to my nieces, nephews, cousins and the kids in my neighborhood. It’s really not enough to watch something like this and then just shake our heads. Everything stays the same if we keep doing the same thing.

CNN has a page on its website that lists various organizations that we can join that address many of the issues brought up in the “Black in America” program. I applaud CNN for at least attempting to offer some concrete solutions, but I think the community resources page should have been prominently mentioned at the end of the program when it aired instead of just having a buried link on the “Black in America” main page.

It would have been great if “Black in America” had been a more comprehensive multi-DVD set that substantively addressed these issues. Can’t have it all though, I guess.


Posted by on July 25, 2008 in Uncategorized


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11 responses to “Black men on CNN’s Black in America

  1. Get Togetha

    July 25, 2008 at 9:33 am

    I love the title of you blog. Love is Dope indeed.

    I won’t wag the finger at Soledad because it can’t be easy making an to attempt to define/give meaning to/ document Black America. But I will say that I’m disappointed that the downside sum of our parts seems to be the core of her message.

    I want to see the best of us; the bloggers, women who make change, men who are spiritually strong, the do gooders, the philanthropists, happily married black women, not the overplayed and overdone expectations of the ghetto.

    I would even go as far as to say that this series is like a Video Safari for the culture of power.

  2. CW

    July 25, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Like many of the other comments, I too thought the poet took up time that could have been used to give more developement to the stories. Just as I would find myself getting into one of the stories it would then switch to something else. Several of the stories I wanted to hear more about were:

    1) The single woman raising 5 children- where was the dad and what was the reason he was not being more responsible for his kids, not only that why was she not making an attempt at holding him responsible for his parental responsibility..

    2) The single father raising 3 children- where was there mother and why was she not being held accountable to help with her kids. What was the situation leading up to this…drugs, incarceration…what? Where was she?

    3) The story of the black family where there were three children, the prosecutor, the aspiring musician, I can’t remember what the other son was doing but he had been arrested in the past for something and was trying to move on…..each one of these sons had more of a story to tell. They needed there own hour….I wanted to hear more about there individual situations, about growing up in there world, interracial marriage and bringing kids into this dynamic etc.

    I too agree that this could have been a week long event. I was somewhat disappointed.

  3. loveisdope

    July 25, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Thanks, Get Togetha! 🙂 I’m glad you stopped by, hope you come by again sometime.

    I agree that it is quite a task to try to put content under the title of “Black in America.” I’m glad O’Brien had all the negative things in there because we need to see that side of reality, but I do think there could have been a bit more balance and there most certainly could have been more substational discussion about solutions.

    Video Safari…interesting. I’m sure some folks looked at it that way. There are people who pay for “slum tours” in poor communites. At the same time though, I think some people genuinely found those two episodes to be enlightening. There are things in there that you and I know that we kind of take for granted that other folks know like the fact that sometimes unemployment is not about being lazy or wanting to live off “the system,” but out and out blatant racism. Some people do not understand that and because this country is still extremely segregated, those folks don’t even know anyone in their own lives who could offer an alternative viewpoint.

    Honestly though, I don’t know that stuffing everything you possibly can into two-hour segments is really doing the topic any justice.

    BTW, went to your site. Beautiful design. 🙂

  4. loveisdope

    July 25, 2008 at 11:37 am

    CW- I totally agree. They spent a year working on this program, so I’m hoping maybe they’ll do a follow-up sometime soon and at least give updates on how everyone is doing now. There were a lot of gaping holes in the little mini-bios we got on those families.

  5. CW

    July 25, 2008 at 11:54 am

    loveisdope- Exactly. These stories need to be finished because it kind of gives an inaccurate depiction as to what really goes on.

    We need to know more.

  6. Charles

    July 25, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    The whole “Black in America” thing is a joke. A select portion of the black population plays the “woe is me” theme validating their own pathology. There are a whole lot of folks of different races having a tough time in America. I am disappointed in Soledad’s interviewing skills. The only sobering thing presented was the fact that some blacks in America are having a hard time. CNN did their job, they provided entertainment……nothing more than pure entertainment.

  7. Michael Lehning

    July 25, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    I agree with Charles, Soledad seems to be looking for some legitamate excuse for why blacks are where they are today, so many years after MLK’s death. If he were alive today, he would die from heartbreak knowing that his work and death were in vain. He’s not turning in his grave, he’s cavitating!
    I have been teaching for 30 years and never in that time, in many different school districts have a seen any sign that blacks haven’t been given the same opportunity as any other child. I have however, seen a huge difference in the amount of parent participation and support for their children.
    Katrina taught me that many (obvioulsy not all and hail those who aren’t) blacks are still waiting for the government to save them, tell them what to do, and how to do it.
    Everytime we say ‘black’, african-american or whatever, we already make the distinction. Equality can only come when these discriptions are gone. Period.

  8. loveisdope

    July 25, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Charles- I’m not sure I understand the last part of your comment. What part of the program was entertainment?

    Michael Lehning- I completely agree with you on the need for more parental participation. I think it’s critical for parents to know what’s going on in their children’s lives and encourage them to get or stay on a positive path. However, I am curious about your comment regarding the “same opportunities” for all kids. Have you never noticed a funding/resources difference between suburban (ie white) schools and inner-city (ie black) schools?

  9. M> Tarik Pratt

    July 26, 2008 at 2:09 am

    I thought the program was very enlightening and innovative. As an educator i am intricately aware of the numerous problems the show covered. Hopefully this will provide insight for middle class and wealthy blacks who have fooled themselves into believing that somehow the masses of blacks consciously chose to attend inferior schools aggressively persueing incarceceration over gainful employment???
    We have to ask how so-called “Black Mecca’s” like Atlanta can have so many HBCU’s, mega-churches, and Black urban professionals yet have the highest citywide % of Black children living in poverty???
    I also thought the series did an excellent job of highlighting the plight of black marriage(family). It was simple mathematics: no training/education + no gainful employment + children = no marriage. Plug in any race using this equation and you will get the same results.

    Although the series was depressing at times it dared to ask America to acknowledge current disfunctional state of in Black churches, masjids, schools, clinics, businesses, and familiys. Hopefully it wll inspire the next generation of Blacks to emprace the formidable task of re-building these inept, unconcious, and outdated social institutions. The school for pay program was a great example of reality based faith-(verb), creativity and leadership.

  10. wil

    July 26, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    Great to see the attempt at discussing race. I didn’t learn anything new. I grew up in a home with a hard working Father and a stay at home mother. I had 9 brothers and sisters. We never took a hand out from anyone. We were very poor. We worked hard to move ahead, regardless of the obvious racism. Why can’t we tell the story of people like us?.

  11. loveisdope

    July 28, 2008 at 8:08 am

    Tarik Pratt- Yeah, I think your “no marriage” equation is pretty accurate. Your comment about upwardly mobile blacks and high poverty rates is right on the money. Places like you mentioned that have a wealth of well-endowed churches, bright college kids and urban professionals should be on the cutting edge of poverty reduction.

    Wil- You should write to CNN!!!


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