I’d like to thank you for the time and effort put into researching and producing CNN’s Black In America. After looking at the various segments, I can tell you spent much time with the interviewees getting to know their stories, understanding their issues and perhaps giving others ignorant of the plight of this segment of the population a sobering view of what it is like for some blacks in America.
However, as a Afro-Caribbean woman myself, I couldn’t help but feel slighted by the glaring fact that this documentary is clearly one-sided. I will admit to being excited and filled with all sorts of great expectations about what new information this documentary would bring. Sadly, it did nothing to bring to light any new information not already shared by AAs such as myself or my general peer group.
You see, many of us are educated, hold jobs, have not only a college degree, but multiple degrees and are married to men who aren’t running the streets and *gasp* play an integral role in the lives of their children! In fact, our husbands and partners are able to navigate the system moving smoothly from one position to another without the feeling that they are akin to a white man with a criminal record when looking for a job. We are also women who do not value having children out of wedlock as your documentary would like to have the rest of America believe, most of us do value the tradition of family and a two parent household when possible.
CNN’s Black In America lacked dimension in telling the stories of African Americans who do have stable marriages, value education as a core function of their legacy, work hard for what they want in life while teaching their children the value of living a life free of drugs and incarceration.
I can only imagine the questions and the stares I will get as one of few black women in my graduate class. Will I have to battle questions which the documentary left unanswered? You see, the questions left unanswered will be fielded by women such as myself who do not live such a reality. Imagine the questions by my white counterparts? The images displayed all around American households are not representative of our experience, it is representative of the experience a segment of the population. The documentary should have been titled Poor, With No Hope: Black In America.
Why aren’t hard working middle class families portrayed just as in depth as the high school drop outs? Where are the interviews with multiple AA couples who have been married for years or perhaps more than a generation and what that means for the younger AAs looking to them for guidance as they take the trip down the aisle? Your documentary gave black women little hope and/or options for happiness. They are left with the option of marrying a man of another race or growing old and alone with no partner to call her own. After all, they are less likely to get married because many of our men are in jail, high school drop outs or lack the ability to make a solid commitment. Yet, there’s the 55% of black women who are married and 50% of them who do stay married for the long haul.
Where are the interviews with that segment of the population? With the rise of the first viable AA presidential candidate, one would think this would be an important time to cast a positive image of Black America, not reinforce the plethora of negative stereotypes already out there which supports what we all already know. Even then, what answers do we have for the segment of our population that are downtrodden? I understand this is a plight of my people and we will have to figure this out some way, but in the mean time, a follow up documentary is needed. One that celebrates the triumphs of those who did not fall prey to drugs, welfare, absentee fathers or incarceration. One that discusses their struggles of shaking off the constant portrayals of blacks in America as poor, lacking education, drug infested and having a perennial presence in the revolving doors of of the criminal justice system.
Where is that story?
It’s time that large networks like CNN and journalists such as yourself take responsibility for the information disseminated in American households. If you’re going to tell our story, then make a sincere effort to tell all sides. Not the the side that makes for a salacious documentary which garners historical ratings; it is both irresponsible and frankly standard in America today. Because, being black in America means for most of us being bombarded with dismal statistics about our race leaving us with little hope for change or solutions for the problems we face today. The challenge for CNN would have been to take this time to celebrate the leaps and bounds we have made as a race in spite of the downtrodden stories.
Your documentary has been told by many a news network and sadly, it’s nothing new.
Ginger – Girls Just Wanna Have Funds