Thursday, July 23, 2009

I have something to say.....

Like many, I watched Black in America 2 Part 1 last night on CNN. While watching, I logged on to Facebook to see if anyone had anything to say about it. During the BET awards debacle, Facebook provided more entertainment that anything Debra Lee and her henchmen could ever produce, so I thought there might be some interesting dialogue occurring during this documentary style program.

I was wrong.

For the most part, from what I saw from many of my “friends”, either they hated it, weren’t impressed or weren’t watching. I was kind of taken aback by some of the negative comments I saw posted. Are we watching the same channel??

Now, I will admit, I had reservations about watching the program, especially since I didn’t like the first installment which aired last summer. Not necessarily because of the topics presented (which were slightly skewed to the more depressing aspects of our lives), but mostly because it seemed thrown together shoddily in response to the groundswell of interest in Blacks in America because of the growing support and acceptance of a particular Illinois Senator who shocked the hell out of everyone in politics who thought he had a snowball’s chance in hell of becoming POTUS.

So last night after taking my mom to purchase her new TV (I’m soooo jealous by the way…ahahahaha), I begrudgingly sat down to watch CNN’s portrayal of Blacks in this country, hoping this wouldn’t be some thrown together foolishness. I never turned the channel. I was proud and inspired. The portrayal of Malaak Compton Rock’s foundation reminded me of everything I loved about teaching and everything I miss about it. It would be really easy for her to sit back and be a Hollywood wife, who writes checks and sits on boards while others do the labor intensive work and she’s hailed on the cover of some magazine as the “savior”. Later on in the program, the sub-story of the high school senior who got into college despite everything she had going against her made me shed a tear (or 10). I was so proud of her. Her accomplishments should be hailed as triumphant and not lumped as “unimpressive”.

One of the latter segments of the program was about the affluent sector of the black population. One comment on Facebook read “Yay! Uppity black folks”. I was disgusted. Primarily, because I loathe the word “uppity”. Its connotation is reflective of someone who has stepped out of line and needs to be brought back to reality. But in this case living the affluent “American Dream” is their reality. I don’t know if the commenter was actually celebrating this segment because they identified with this population or if they were being sarcastic and marginalizing a segment of “us”. I turned off the computer after that. I was done. By the way, what I loved most about this segment was the opposing views on the seemingly exclusionary tactics used by many affluent people of color. That topic could be a 2 hour documentary on its own.

While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I think many missed the mark on this program. Yes, in general, the ideas presented may be ideas, situations and circumstances that we, as black folks, are familiar with so in general, it may be “nothing new.” What's old to some may be "new" to others - who I really believe is the target for this series. I believe what is “new” is the fact that a major respected news station is making attempts to highlight the many facets of what it means to be Black in this country – something many of us are still holding our breaths for BET to do. What’s “new” is there is a program in which we are not shucking and jiving for the entire world to see – something we are waiting for BET to stop doing. What’s “new” is learning about these specific solution oriented programs, which win or lose are out there making a difference. What's new is being inspired by the images of ourselves we see on television instead of shaking our heads like "damn, they just had to be black." What's "new" is 2 hours of not completely positive or completely negative but realistic coverage of the lives of some black people in this country. Isn't that impressive??

We are not a monolithic people. Never have been, never will be. We cannot be easily shuffled into categories like a library filing system. Contrary to the images blasted on the station dedicated to “black entertainment” daily, we are just as diverse as every race in America with opposing views, various upbringings, and a sundry of value systems. Every story and every angle can’t be told but this time around, the effort is impressive. Well, at least to me it is.

I'll be watching Part 2 tonight. Without my computer companion.



leighandrea said...

I also logged on to facebook also to see comments last night as well and I didn't see any either. I think Black in America 2 was much better than the first installment. I also shed tears about the high school senior that got accepted into college. By the way I love the blog!!

rashad said...

I thought the feature stories were excellent that I resent it being presented under the "Black in America" umbrella(if that makes sense). I just think the series reaks of "hey look, black people ARE legit"...Still, that feature on kids in Flatbush was fantastic. i think i'm contradicting myself

MackDiva said...

I agree with your assessment of "BIA2." It was nice to see the positivity. Contrary to popular belief, we are able to do more than shuck, jive, have babies, commit crimes, etc., and it was nice to see it.

I was, however, a little disturbed by the affluent situation. Don't get me wrong -- I don't think they should apologize for their success. What disturbed me was that the networking opportunities that they were affording to their children need to be extended to those who aren't in their socio-economic stratus. I'm not really sure if I think they should be responsible for making sure that happens, but I think it exposed the differences between the haves and have-nots.

Overall, I thought it was good, and I'm glad that CNN revisited the topic.

Janelle said...

Leighandrea: welcome! and thanks for the blog love!

Rashad: I think people got caught up in the details of the story and lost the overall message of the story. The label is the marketing else are they going to get people to tune in??

MackDiva: Money is money honey. Whether they are black white hispanic asian, money will always look out for money.