Sunday, July 27, 2008

CNN's "Black In America" - My Thoughts...

This post will be "UNPOPULAR" but as I was told, I love controversy!! It is lengthy but read it anyway and leave your comments!!

If you are an African-American I am sure you either watched, know someone who watched, or know someone, who knows someone else who watched CNN’s "Black In America" series! This series is the buzz of the internet (outside of Obama’s World Tour and McCain’s attitude about said tour!) I've read plenty of blogs over the past few days and the over whelming vote seems to be that CNN missed the mark, are full, of crap, are spreading propaganda, didn’t show Black America in a good light or only spotlighted good stories about Light/fair skinned black people etc. They were also saying that the segments weren't targeting them, and it is unclear who was the targeted audience. Well frankly I think it could have been beneficial to ANY audience!

I think I may be the only black person in all of the blogosphere that actually found value in the broadcast and I actually enjoyed most of it.

I was not looking for any in-depth education on being black in America because I already live that life! I wasn't looking for answers to all the plights of the black people because I know that no one human being can do that. Only black people can solve the ills of black people! I was not looking to CNN to solve the problems of incarceration, homelessness, failing educational system, HIV, or Racism in America in these segments. I was not looking for CNN to give solutions to these issues, because frankly who is dumb enough to really believe that a television series can give us the answers to 100’s of years of problems??

I found value in the broadcast because children and teens are very visual so I watched some of the broadcast with my 14 year old and we had various in-depth discussions on the segments. It was great hearing the views on the different segments from the mind of a 14 year old Christian teen in today's hellish world. Hearing her views and opinions and then having her sit and listen to mine while we “together” discussed being Black in America was time well spent. We need to realize that our youth are going to inherit our current problems and they need to be able to dialogue about these issues.

On the internet the discussions of the brothers, one in prison and one a well known social advocate was largely criticized because the brother in jail was dark and the more affluent, famous brother was light skinned, however as the incarcerated brother said, he is where he is because of the choices he made. By the way, in the CNN segments all the good stories were not only about fair skinned people because the single father with the 2 kids that was about to become homeless was a light skinned man!

The discussions of educational incentives were the most interesting to me because it showed that someone was taking the steps of trying something different to reach today’s youth. Whether you agree with the methods or not is not the issue, the issue is that someone cares enough to try SOMETHING!

It was quite easy for me as a parent and a black mother to take from the broadcast what I could use and discard the rest, after all isn’t that how you live your life? You capitalize upon what is beneficial for you and yours and you disregard the rest.

CNN showed us what we should already know… that black people are tenacious, resilient, long suffering, strong willed, over comers, survivors, and trailblazers! We can do ALL THINGS or we can do NOTHING! But that choice is ultimately OURS! We are not entitled to anything, or owed anything. We are not the only race of people that were used and abused and forced into slavery, but unfortunately A LOT of us are still living with a “Slave Mentality”!

In my humble opinion, I think if black America wasn't looking for answers or a quick fix to all of our issues they may have found more value in the CNN broadcast...

I know home owners and renters, I have a best friend who is a Doctor, and another friend who does child care, I had family members who died from Aids and family who know more about the prison system than they do about life outside of the prison system, But I also have family members that are lawyers and teachers! I have a son who graduated High School and is now in college and I have a son who dropped out of High School, BUT then went back and got a GED, and is now an awesome father, and husband and a US Military personnel. Point is your life is what you make it whether you are Black, White, Indian, Mexican, Asian, dark skinned or fair skinned. Some may have to work harder at it but if you give up... well that's all on YOU!

OK! That’s the end of my rant…Back to life as usual…

23 People Saying Something!

HEALTH NUT WANNABEE MOM 27 July, 2008 15:26

I wish that I had seen the show on cnn but did not. I hold your opinion in high regard so understand to some degree what you are saying. I wish there were simpler solutions to so many tough issues. Good for you for sharing your voice no matter how controversial.

R.L.Scovens 27 July, 2008 16:52

I watched some of it and missed some of it. The part that I caught, I asked Mel to sit and watch with me. He's only 10. We watched the parts about absent fathers. He has one. He asked a few questions as it went along and I think he got some things from it.


Regina, I applaud you for sharing your opinion and making it stand for something positive.
There are some Black people, my people who will always choose to look on the dark side of any issue concerning race. Some of us have played the victim for so long that the only thing we know how to do is complain.

A better stance to take is the one you took; and that was to watch the broadcast with your child and use it as a means to begin dialoguing with the next generation, since they have the task of changing this world or complaining and leaving it like it is.

The purpose of the broadcast was not to solve the plight of the Black people in America. It was merely sharing information about what some of us have achieved, and how some of us are still stagnant.

I wish people would get it straight; only you can change you. When I lived in Rochester, almost every week there was a Black person killing a Black person. There are 52 weeks in a year, and Rochester is a small town, yet we were not able to get a handle on the Black on Black crime. Who do you suggest we blame for that? CNN could have capitalized on that, but they didn't. The hands on the triggers of the illegal guns were Black. One Black person showing no regard for the life of another Black person.

When will we stop pointing our fingers at CNN and everyone else, and begin to take responsibility for what we do. If a White cop shoots a Black person, there is an outcry for justice; but when a Black male kills another Black male we just go to the funeral and say nothing.

Something's wrong people!
CNN showed that some of us are making it, and some of us are still struggling. What will we do with the information?


Terrific write up, Regina! I have seen bits and pieces of it. I'll have to sit down and catch the reruns. What I have seen thus far is useful in my opinion and I applaud Soledad for her efforts.

jjbrock 27 July, 2008 20:03

Regina I watched both nights and
I found the education piece to be very troubling. Paying children to do well in school is not an appropriate incentive.

I understand what they were trying to do with that idea. It's important to be educated because you need knowledge to make it in the world.

Children are supposed to earn good marks in school. It's expectation every parent should have for their child whether.

The piece with Dyson and his brother I got it but, I don't believe that's the reason his brother is in prison its because of bad choices.

I think it was an OK documentary which I would grade a C- if I had a choice.


I watched all segments. I am glad CNN had the nerve to spotlight the issues we face daily because some folks think racism is dead. Institutional racism is alive and well, how else do you explain Jena, paying more for major puurchases, educational inequities, and racial profiling. Some people would like to think we are beyond those days. Not so... but we can not expect others to solve our problems or continue to "blame the white man" for our being non productive. Values have changed and not for the good. We need to get a reality check and hopefully this spotlighted our plight for us, forget everyone else.

ZACK 27 July, 2008 21:38

Ms. Regina, this was an amazing post! In fact, we have the same reactions to almost every segment of the special.

I ENJOYED THIS POST!!!! Preach on!

Momma Brock, I understand that you have qualms about children getting paid to learn. But here's how I look at it. Roland Fryer is a 31 year old black man who teaches economics at Harvard. With ALL that success, he still cares about our people. Can you fault him for trying? And c'mon now- if your teachers want to pay your for learning, would you turn them down?
No offense. Just a thought.

ZACK 27 July, 2008 21:39

*wanted instead of "want"
* you instead of "your"

SjP 27 July, 2008 21:51

Regina - Much obliged for your post. I've watched all of the episodes and frankly, I felt that it showed a pretty good snippet of what it is to be Black in America.

I've seen the blog headlines - and although I have not read any of them except yours. From the headlines it appeared that many folks felt that it was a sell-out and continued the sterotypes. I, nor my husband, felt that way while watching the episodes.

Based on your post, I guess I was relatively right with my assumptions of how many Black folk are reacting to the series. This makes me ask what exactly do we want? We talk about the fact that our experiences in America are different because we are Black. We talk about the problems Black women face as mothers, professionals, as women in general. We talk about the health issues and the lack of quality health care often afforded to African Americans. We talk about that no matter who you are, the level of education, or your professional accomplishments that you are often considered "less than" because you are Black. Did not this series at least touch on this?

Maybe I'm missing something, but to me the criticism that this series is getting is unwarranted. There were segments of the series in which I saw myself and my family. There were other segments in which I said "d*mn, I didn't know or realize that". There were other segments in which I just shook my head. But, through it all, I found myself proud to think and know that through it all we can, will, and do survive.

"OK! That's the end of my rant...Back to life as usual..." Same here. SjP


Ok.....what are you going to do??????,4012951.msg5149041.html#msg5149041

Sandra Carvalho 28 July, 2008 10:50

Hi Regina!Just wanna say that I loved your blog.Your baby girl is adorable.I'm not American, but I feel in my heart as I was and I'm married to an African so I kinda know what you mean.I really,REALLY hope Obama wins this elections.He's the man!
Take care.

Regina 28 July, 2008 12:33

Hi All!
Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment on this touchy subject! I see that you guys also embrace CONTROVERSY as much as I do!!!
I think I replied to everyone via email.

I sent this response to SJP but it is also for Sandra C...
"Much obliged for the feedback! I thought the blogs that I read were just sad and unjustified. But then you know what I thought...
If Obama does become President "Black People" will hold him accountable for "ALL" of our black issues, they will expect him to undo 100's of years of issues in his 4 year term... and of course when he doesn't fix all of the ill's (which no one man can do) they will quickly abandon him.
I applaud CNN for taking the risk and even trying something this risky!
Sometimes black people make me crazy..."

Thank you all again for coming through!!

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T 28 July, 2008 12:56

My problem is that Our America aint black or white – it’s green besides I don’t listen to talking heads, folk here don’t get down like that I say work hard and don’t complain


I appreciate your thoughts!

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

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

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

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

Not sure if Ms. O'Brien was responsible for that change. But if so then this really says a lot about her, unfortunately in a negative way. I'm sure she got paid though.

Here's my post about it from this morning:

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

Best wishes!

Amy 28 July, 2008 13:59

i'm not familiar with the series so i don't about the controversy but i do know that i always enjoy your opinions. they are refreshing, intelligent and enlightened. i think you're smart and thoughtful - as in you put a lot of thought into your opinions. i also like that you don't always go with the status quo; something easily done in today's society. it's not easy having the unpopular opinion (something i'm very familiar with being LDS/mormon)but i think i've mentioned that before, lol. have a great day! 28 July, 2008 15:51

Hi! You should be writing for a newspaper or be on TV saying this! You did a wonderful job making things clear!! Love and hugs Grams 28 July, 2008 15:55
This comment has been removed by the author. 28 July, 2008 15:57

Hey Regina!

You know I slammed the two-segment "documentary" on my blog but I went into detail about why I formulated those opinions.

The documentary did not include any exposure to black lesbians or black gay men... it also did not show the black upper only presented the black middle class and the black lower class. Most of the segments featured people from the lower socioeconomic class... perpetuating the stereotype that MOST blacks are from that segment... what about the underclass...those who have lived in the streets for many, many years...

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

Tina 29 July, 2008 10:20

Hi Regina! I'm here with my bag o' opinions, but I'll keep it brief.

I didn't like the CNN special. To me all it did was reinforce the stereotypes of black people that non-black people have. I saw this special as an opportunity to educate non-blacks about what black people are really like and so much time was spent on finding people who fit the stereotypes and not enough time was spent on those who comprise the majority of black america and don't fit any of these stereotypes whatsoever.

This wasn't CNN taking a risk, this was CNN doing what the rest of the news stations do: showing black stereotypes under the guise of "analyzing black america." If you ask me, Henry Louis Gates does a better job at it with his documentaries on America Behind the Color Line.

ShAĆ© - ShAĆ© 29 July, 2008 15:20

I skim watched... meaning it was on while I cooked, cleaned, blogged ... whatever. I admit I was one that was not moved. I didn't expect it to solve the plight of all AA's but I expected it to be more informative to people who are not. *shrug* I guess I expect more of CNN, this series IMO belonged on BET because it seemed to serve as a filler. Maybe PBS would have done it some justice?

freetofly 29 July, 2008 22:05

Reg - great post. I don't dare to think I have anything to contribute to this discussion. Just want to say that I loved hearing your thoughts on it, and I often choose to handle things the same way, you know, take the good, leave the rest. And the dialouge with your child, well, that's priceless!


Believer 1964 31 July, 2008 18:43

I did miss the program, but appreciate your thoughts, opinions, and perspective on the issues. Girl, you always take the high road.

Thanks for keeping us informed!

SjP 03 August, 2008 21:59

I know exactly what you mean. I have been asking for weeks why is Obama being held to a higher standard than any other president or candidate for that matter. Just the other day, he was heckled and then shot a series of questions regarding what he intended to do for African Americans and why he had not spoken out against recent injustices. Now, this happened in Florida - but, there as been no mention of McCain being bombarded with similar questions when he spoke at the Urban League.

But back to CNN. If the entire series was Huxtable-like, we'd be screaming that ain't what its like to be Black in America. If it were Wire-like, we'd be screaming that ain't what its like to be Black in America. And tell me, how could a 6 hour series tell a story of a people that is over 400 years in the making!

Makes me crazy, too!

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