Thursday, April 10, 2008

Black In America

I know what it's like, the majority of you do as well, OK, all of ya'll, but for whatever reason, CNN has decided to "explore" it and create an entire series that will air in July.
Since this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Martin L. King Jr., assassination, CNN opted to do a special report that goes into detail about the events that led up to King's death. Producers and one of my favorite folks on the network, Soledad O'Brien, went back to Memphis and spent some time walking through what is now the National Civil Rights Museum. It used to be the Lorraine Motel and the building where the shot was fired that killed King.
She spent time talking to people who were present that day to get their personal accounts of what happened. Those folks interviewed include Jesse Jackson, Billy Kyles, several police officers and Jerry Ray, the brother of James Earl Ray, the man who served time for King's murder.
It was kind of strange to watch because I have been to that museum and it felt just as eerie to watch it on TV as it did to walk through there. For those of you who haven't been, please go. If you have been anywhere near Memphis, shame on you, that should have been your first stop.
Anyway, this documentary is the first of this series and I'm not sure how to feel about it yet. Since Barack Obama and his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright have made news, there's national talk about race more now than there has been since the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement.
For the longest time, black folks having been saying that white folks just don't understand, or they don't care about us anyway. I'm not saying I disagree with that, but let's be honest, we don't care about them either until it starts to affect our bottom line.
I think CNN is opening up a can o' worms with this one. Eventually, they're going to have to do something about being Hispanic in America or being Asian in America or Middle Eastern or Native American. I'm not saying that I don't think they should do it, I am saying that they need to be fair.
Anybody who's not white has gotten an unfair deal in America and we all need to know about it. I applaud CNN's effort but I have a hard believing that they'll be able to capture the true essence of what it is to be black over one week.
If I had to guess, I would say that there won't be much diversity in the people they talk to and that sucks because black folks are as diverse as the rest of the world. I shouldn't assume, but I've been working in mainstream media for five years and that is long enough to know that the gatekeepers who matter can not make heads or tails of people who don't look like them.
In mainstream media, all minorities must fit into their respective boxes so that they can be properly glazed over and categorized for their comfort. It's hard to take but to quote one of the best bands of all time, Earth, Wind & Fire, "that's the way of the world."
What I really hope is that this series will start to break through some of these stereotypes and negative connotations of black people that the rest of America has. The primary goal for any sort of groundbreaking series like this is to incite some sort of change. While I'm not so naive that I believe that everyone who sees this will change their minds about how they feel about black people for the better, I do hope that this will at least make people think twice about where their negative feelings are coming from.
What do ya'll think? Do you have high hopes for the series?

1 comment:

TravelDiva said...

I think it's a nice idea but I definitely think being Black in America is not something you can really tell someone about. It is what it is. I am glad they are opening up a dialogue--that's something.