So I just concluded watching the second installment of CNN "special" report on what's its like to be Black in America and all I can say is good thing I don't own a gun because I'm about ready to shoot myself in the face. Who knew that being Black in America was so depressing, so bleak and so problematic? The only thing that was missing from this series was the theme from the television show, "Good Times" playing in the background.
For the record, I can tell you that Black folks doesn't particularly care for being prodded and picked at like some indigenous rare breed of animal found deep in the heart of the Amazon jungle. And personally, I not really sure I understand the rest of America's new found fascination with "understanding" Black folks (maybe it has something to do with Obama's chances of becoming the next president). Nevertheless, the previews for this special proclaimed that it would provide some insight to the Black experience no other series on television would have. I have to admit that prior to watching the series I did have some reservations this would be the case. But I sincerely hoped that CNN, a so-called liberal 24 hour news channel, and more importantly Soledad O'Brien, who is a woman of mixed heritage, would go beyond the exploitive nature of what seems to be commonplace on the nightly news.
But to no surprise, as a 30 year old Black women, who has lived in America ALL of her life, I saw no parts of me, my family, my friends nor my Black neighbors in this series. Instead I watched sound bites of bad punditry and the same parade of racial stereotypes we read about everyday in newspapers; The educated and successful Black woman who can't find a husband; the poor, uneducated single mom and the out-of-work baby's daddy; the drug addict turn preacher; the dangers of rap music; the teen on the road to prison; the upper class Black family, who just isn't convinced that racism still exist. Was this the best they could come up with?
What's even more disturbing is that all weekend, CNN had the nerve to pat itself on the back about how "revolutionary" and "groundbreaking" this so-called in-dept bullshit was. Finally, someone dared to turn the mirror on Black America and put "our issues" on Front Street. Groundbreaking? Not even close. Revolutionary? More like revolting. Why weren't the voices from the other side of the Black community, the Black America that I love and live in, reflected in this dialog? Their were no mention of growing popularity of Islam in our community; the continued need and success of HBCUs [that's Historically Black Colleges and Universities] and Black Greek letter fraternities and sororities; why Black folks celebrate Kwanzaa in addition to Christmas; the Black gay, lesbian and transgendered community; the cultural differences between American born Blacks and Blacks here from other countries [yes, there are differences]; The arts; the culture; even the food – all of these items we're never mentioned in the discussion.
No other races of people are expected to justify for White America their existence as much as Black folks have. Are we that much different than the rest of America? Do we not put wake up every morning, shower, eat and go to work just like everyone else? Have we not contributed anything to the progression of American society that warrants mentioning at all? If CNN was really interested in being "groundbreaking," maybe they should have cleared the air and answered some of the questions that Black folks have been asked by curious White folks at least five times in their lives. Questions such as "Why don't we wash our hair more than once a week?" or "Why do Black folks name their kids those funny names?" or "Can all Black people really dance?" or my favorite, "Did O.J. really do it?" Or maybe their lack of Black folks in their newsroom (yes, because I do count the heads of Negroes in the background behinds the anchors desk and I have yet to see one. You don't believe me, check for yourself) prohibited them from really knowing for sure where to begin on discovering what it is truly like to be "Black in America."
And what was up with that little Black dude in the old Boys-to-Men get up spouting bad poetry during the breaks, anyway? Any thoughts?