IS CNN DOCUMENTARY OF BLACKS IN AMERICA TOO NEGATIVE?

August 6, 2008 at 11:56 pm 3 comments

CNN Black In America

CNN Black In America

While CNN’s special documentary on Black America left many viewers thinking the network had underutilized its many resources, it is important to recognize that, in some segments Soledad O’Brien did manage to positively highlight the institution of family, a cornerstone of the black community.

Although the documentary seemed to mainly focus on the negative aspects of the black family by gathering high divorce rates and out of wedlock birth statistics, O’Brien did show some of the positive side of the black family structure in America.

This highlight might not compare to the negative connotation of blacks in America if you are not accustomed to attending a family reunion or looking forward to seeing that crazy uncle who can never remember your name but can’t wait for you to tell him your latest achievement. But as a member of the Rand family, which was featured on the first night of “Black in America”, I can say that I do appreciate O’Brien’s brave delve into helping Americans of all backgrounds better understand what it means to value togetherness.

As for my family attending the family reunion, that occurs every other year, means much more than good food and fun. It involves learning your family history and meeting the matriarchs and patriarchs of your ancestry. Attending a family reunion and getting schooled by great uncles and aunts won’t ensure that any of us stay out of jail or not drop out of school. But what it does ensure is that when I do encounter that fork in the road or experience that shadow of a doubt I know that there is unit, a family that I can turn to for a reality check. For many black Americans like me this truth is self evident.

Now don’t get me wrong. Yes, it is discouraging to see that one of the world’s top news outlets can’t manage but to reiterate age old stereotypes. And…yes… I do consider it poor journalism to only investigate the rising cases of “baby daddy’s.” But it is necessary that, as members of a targeted community, we continue to strive to disprove the media’s statistics. And by choosing to challenge the documentary that was presented to viewers across the world we are doing just that.

It is important for us to understand that being Black in America is a relative concept and differs from person to person. To try and condense the black community into a homogenous glob will never produce an accurate portrayal of the triumphs that blacks have achieved or troubles that we encounter. As the black community loses another man to the jail system, it is important to remember that at that same time there is a black man walking across a stage and receiving a degree or saving a life in an operating room.

As we witness the nomination of America’s first Black presidential candidate we can choose to say “This is what it means to Black in America.” As we sit in the classrooms of one of the country’s most competitive universities, we can honestly say that “This is what it means to be Black in America.” As you read this article and you ponder over your own values you can say that ….”This….is what it means…to be BLACK…in America.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. pvdugas  |  August 9, 2008 at 6:54 am

    Okay, that was a nice and fair assessment but the special could have been so much better. Those of us who have those family reuinions and have that close knit family know that the story we saw was not an accurate protrayal, but one that we’ve seen over and over again.

    Contrary to the sterotypes and media – Blacks have evolved. Granted, we have a ways to go, but we need to take the trip together as a people. Amen!

  • 2. timetosaveourchildren  |  August 14, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    LET THEM KILL ONE ANOTHER
    by: David W. Johnson, Jr.

    Why should our enemies care if we rob and kill one another
    If we destroy one another, it saves them from having to do it
    African Americans, wakeup before this madness goes any farther
    Mothers, teach your daughters they have something more than a slit

    We must start to work together if our children are to have any future
    The younger generation these days sees no reason to get an education
    For too many African Americans children education is just conjecture
    If children are to have a future, adults must began building a foundation

    Brothers and Sisters, we are putting our children in graves and prisons
    Yes, our children are joining gangs and dropping out of schools is true
    Not children but adult’s neglect is burdening them with cruel afflictions
    Think about it adults, without proper guidance what are children to do

    If a son has been neglect by his father, chances are he will do the same
    If a daughter sees her mother sleeping with man after man, she follows
    Children form the opinion that having a mate in their lives is just a game
    For some, destruction of African Americans is an easy pill to swallow

    Senator Obama said, African American Men should step-up and be MEN
    Instead of getting upset with what he said, we best start paying full attention
    African American Women, start looking for Men on whom you can depend
    You need someone to help, not someone to cause you unnecessary tension

    A dead or imprison child is proof that, “you can do bad all by yourself”
    If children had, two Parents and more Mentors things would be different
    It is very difficult for a Mother or Father to raise a child by him or herself
    REAL Men just do not impregnate Women then become totally indifferent

    A lack of education, bullets and drugs are destroying African Americans
    Smarten up and becoming more responsible will help us go a lot farther
    If not, in a few years we will be off to prisons and graves by the caravans
    You remember this, our enemies are saying, “Let Them Kill One Another”

    Is This Future Black America… Or This…

  • 3. timetosaveourchildren  |  August 14, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    COLLEGES, NOT CEMETERIES ARE THE ANSWER
    by: David W. Johnson, Jr.

    Just where do we think killing one another will get us?
    Selling drugs, robbing banks and killing police officers
    Sure, lots of things happening to us is unfair and unjust
    Gangs, drugs, dropping out of schools, are not the answers

    Our children need adults in their lives if they are to change
    Get from in front of the Keno machines and off the bar stools
    Between adults and children, let us regain parental exchange
    Crime is filling our jails, cemeteries and emptying our schools

    Instead of running towards, adults seem to be running from
    From their responsibilities, children, work, anything positive
    Things adults are doing to help destroy our children is dumb
    About the things, negative, not positive children are inquisitive

    Do not misunderstand me; there are some really good adults
    Listening to the local News on Nov. 8th I was very impressed
    Former Maryland teacher, Erica McCullough getting results
    Thanks to her, needs of our young people are being addressed

    Adults and children, visit baltimorechild.com and read about her
    There are lots of Erica McCullough’s but our children need more
    Take my word for it, adults like Erica, young people really prefer
    For a child to step into a better life adults must first open the door

    Do we really think our children want to kill, be killed or go to prison?
    This writer knows first-hand that children prefer positive motivation
    Fearing being killed, in front of their homes children cannot have fun
    Adults are we going to offer children hope or watch their destruction

    The death rate of our children continues to increase on a daily bases
    Why, because neglect of our children by adults are growing like cancer
    Just look around, you can see the hurt and neglect on their young faces
    Adults, wise-up and realize, “Colleges, Not Cemeteries Are The Answer”

    Positive Things Come From Positive Minded Adults

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