“Black In America” Not Worth It


Well, I finally caught the CNN series “Black In America.” And I have to say I was very disappointed, even bothered by Soledad Obrien’s piece, particularly considering she is bi-cultural herself (that’s her on the left with her kids).

I just don’t think the series did anything to shed new light on the subject. All of the issues covered have been done before. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still glad they did it. It’s just that the promise of the program, especially with the way they publicized it, was so high. And maybe that’s my fault. I expected too much.

But beyond that expectation, the greatest problem I had was that it was so one-sided. I don’t think it really gave a fair or balanced since of what it is like to be “Black in America” as the tag for the series goes. All too often it focused on the view that the experiences of poverty, job troubles, housing, health care, etc., were totally unique to Blacks. And in almost all cases I kept saying to myself, but the problem or example they were giving impacted, and was felt by, others in almost the same way.

But of course, like in my last blog entry, the thing that bothered me the most were the times she covered what she called “inter-racial” relationships (and by the way her use of the word “race” over and over was particularly appalling to me, hammering the idea that we are totally distinct). Besides the part in the clip I referenced in my previous entry, much to my horror, I learned she had more negatives on these cross cultural unions. In one case, she focused on a young man, the product of a white father and black mother, and pretty much focused on his being not fully accepted in either world. And on another occasion she was talking to a father who had two sons in “inter-racial” relationships and she was quizzing him about that, insinuating a problem. She even said to him “many people will be angry about that,” as if that should factor in.

Soledad, what gives? Maybe she wanted to go a different direction with that stuff and the whole piece, but was pressured by her bosses, who knows. But at best the piece was a reminder of the work still to be done. At worst, though, the series could do more to make it look like Blacks are altogether different and set apart than any other ethnic group, which certainly doesn’t reflect my experiences as “Black in America.” We certainly have issues to be dealt with, but so do all groups, and I certainly think we have far more in common than pieces like this choose to indicate.

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