Saturday, August 02, 2008

I know I'm a little late, but ...

... I just watched CNN's "Black In America" series in its entirety and all I can say is, WOW! I think Soledad O'Brien can expect to get a Peabody out of this one, that was just a wonderful piece of journalism.
Now that the accolades are out of the way, lemme just say that the statistics for single, professional women in the "Women and Families" episode are down right depressing. I had no idea that getting an education would cut my chances of being a wife and mother in more than half.
I heard those stats when Tyra Banks did her show, but damn! Something about hearing Soledad say it made it more concrete. I mean, dang, did she have to just spring it on us like that? Gah! I kinda did want to wait on my "IBM" (ideal black man) to jump the broom and have a couple lil' cute brown babies.
I think that every little girl grows up with the fantasy of having the great job, with the house that has a white picket fence, an awesome husband with two kids and a dog. But that's what it is, a fantasy. How many folks are actually living that dream and loving it?
My favorite quote by my shero, Oprah Winfrey, is "you can have it all but not at the same time." I believe that. I believe that I will have the husband and kids, I will have the awesome career and I will have my dream house. I was never sure if I'd have it all at once. Now, I'm even less sure of it.
If that weren't bleak enough, when I watched the second half, I spent most of the two hours shaking my head at the statistics of black men who are incarcerated. While I know not all of them are innocent, I am certain that not all of them deserve to be there.
Everybody in prison swears they're innocent, I wonder how many of them are really. Given the number of folks who have been freed with the help of DNA evidence and modern technology, it sort of makes me think that a lot of them are innocent.
Something else I found interesting is the number of folks in prison on drug offenses. They're in there for use, possession or for selling mostly crack. That one drug is responsible for the destruction nearly two generations of black folks. The jacked up thing is folks get more prison time for possession of crack than they do for possession of cocaine.
Why is that important? Well, crack is a poor man's drug, while cocaine is for those folks in the upper echelon of society. I'm not saying that anyone should get off for committing drug crimes but I'll bet if some of these folks were offered help, i.e. rehab and/or job assistance, they would be able to get themselves on the right track.
All in all, watching the special actually motivated me. You guys know I'm working trying to get my my non-profit organization off the ground. It will be an after school program for kids ages 10 to 14 in my hometown of Fairmont, NC. I even have a name for it, Levi Leadership Academy.
It's all about equipping these kids with the skills they will need to become the wonderful leaders they are destined to be. There are a lot of minorities in my rural hometown and a lot of the adults have never attended a college class or even dreamed that they could.
My goal is to not only allow the kids to dream about going to college but to help them get there. I want to expose them to people who look like them who have gone to college and become successful by using their education. I'm not going to bore you guys with the details but the piece has really reinforced and re-motivated (is that a word?) me to get this thing up and running.
To update you all, I finished my plan. The only thing it's lacking now is a table of contents and a good proofreader. I'm so excited, I'm rejuvenated and I'm ready to work!
If you didn't catch the special, do yourself a favor. In my opinion, it lived up to the hype.


12kyle said...

i think cnn did a good job with giving us as much info as they could within a 2 hr period.

i was disappointed in the show about black men. some of the points were dead on but some were really redundant.

i still commend them for making an attempt to enlighten the masses. they accomplished that.

PCD (Pretty Circle Drawer) said...

hey smarty! i must say that i LOATHED this series. i felt it just perpetuated the usual stereotypes that seem to overshadow the black community. before it aired, i thought when they said "the black woman and family" that there would be a balance shown...a diverse pictorial of different black women and black families. instead, most of the ep was depressing and pointed toward the destitution, or doomed to loneliness theme that i personally feel is false. MOST black women are NOT in poor health, a babymama or on the heels of poverty, love outside the race and eviction.

what positive black woman with a black family figure was shown? besides that woman with 6 kids and the construction company that was left to her by a family member....and she barely said 4 sentences.

the one family that got a lot of airtime was that man about to be evicted with the kid who got paid for going to school. he should have been on the black man ep.

and i could not BELIEVE that mess about paying students to learn. i would NEVER let my child participate in such a program. in fact, i said i'd try to get my child placed in that class and NOT get paid...and watch to see her earn the same high grades as her peers. how did that really make us look? we need to pay our children to teach them to value FREE EDUCATION? and to appear as smart as other races...otherwise, most are doomed to dumbness? and that poor boy...felt a pressure he should never feel at his if he needed to help financially support his family?

this seemed like a long, drawn-out evening news segment. nothing new and certainly nothing inspiring.

I didn’t see myself or anyone I know in any part of this show. Where was the middle class, educated couple with 1-2 kids who worked hard and are living comfortably? I am educated and married. I choose to stay home with my child and we are fine. Where was this black woman or family? Where was the smarty jones character who is doing her thing educationally to uplift her community in the future and that is NOT portrayed to have to live a desolate life or find a white man? where was the 12kyle character? Where was the single mother who had a cooperative baby’s father who lived a successful life without multiple babydaddys? Where were the dr. ben carsons, the susan l. taylors, the hydeia broadbents, the iyanla vanzants, the g. garvins, the ruth simmons, the vivian stringers, and on and on and on…

The black man episode was just a mess! When do we ever see an image of a black man not marred by hip-hop, the jail or court system OR the inter-racial struggles they suffer from other blacks because of the success he may have? The one family with the 3 sons was ridiculous to me. Why do we always have to see that if we are successful, we are ridiculed by our own community? This may be an exception, but it is certainly NOT the rule. And the sons just happened to all date white because the blacks rejected them for being articulate…this is soooooooooooo stereotypical. My family is full of cultured, successful, educated and well-put-together BLACK PEOPLE! There are lawyers, teachers, entrepreneurs, doctors, entertainers, real estate developers, students and the list goes on and on….and we network with the same type of folks who do not look down upon us, yet uplift us to continue to strive for excellence. And as far as my memory can recollect, no one in the past 2 generations has married outside of our race.
What I am looking forward to is White in America series….which will probably never happen. But I also was really trying to understand what the point of this series was. Is it because a black man is perhaps on the brink of leading America and perhaps there seems to be an interest into the black “world”? just throwing ideas out there…but even if that’s the case…the obamas weren’t reflected in there either. Two ivy-league educated successful black people with 2 beautiful black daughters living an affluent, comfortable and accomplished life.

I’m glad you shared your thoughts on this smarty!
(sorry i wrote a thesis on your blog :-P)

Eb the Celeb said...

i think the storyline was good but I'm just tired of hearing about the issues that were brought up... we need an open forum to change all the messed up things that are going on in the African American community and not keep reinforcing to the world what our faults are as a race.

We know AIDS is alive and well, we know men arent in the home, we know they are flooding the jails, we know that more than ever black women are dating outside their race... but when are we going to find the root of these problems and work on changing them. I know the paying students in school was one issue for change and the program they had in the hospital for the men that get shot... but as a whole... what can be done... and not the little things in small communities... it has to be a universal effort... so what are those first steps

Smarty Jones said...

Lemme just say that I am loving the dialogue here.
I understand you guys frustrations and I know that a lot of it seems redundant but keep in mind that CNN had the eyes and ears of a lot of "non-colored" folks who have absolutely no idea about the conditions discussed in those episodes.
Kyle, I share your disappointment in that episode. I think there was a different way to spin the whole prison thing.
The man they spent most of their time talking to in Arkansas didn't act at all like he was remorseful about what he'd done. The funny thing about that whole segment was Soledad gave him one of those, "N-word, please" looks during the sit down interview.
Ladies and Gentlemen, PCD is officially back!!! LoL.
I understand your frustrations. You wanted to see more black folks who resembled you and whose stories paralleled yours. That makes sense, I'm not knocking that. Let me offer you a different perspective though.
My cousin and I were talking about how you are surrounded by people who tend to be like you. People are very cliquish, even as adults.
For example, when you look around at the people you speak to on a regular basis, most of, if not all of them are probably at an economic level that meets or exceeds yours. Most, if not all, are college grads and in some cases have advanced degrees.
It is very easy to get caught up in your own life, affairs and clique that you often don't see or even care how others are living.
It's not wrong, it's not exactly right. It is what it is.
It was great for me because I could identify with living in the projects, not having a whole lot of money and even having to receive public assistance.
A lot of folks get out but a lot of them don't. They pass it along to the next generation who passes it to the next and before you know it, the whole damn family is stuck in a cycle.
I have seen both sides of this thing, the lower and middle class. I think the whole point of the first episode was to show that black women and black families go through the same things as other families, it's all universal.
The whole paying kids to learn, I see your point, but I see his too. A lot of kids in lower income neighborhoods do not value education, they value money and material things. The money is the motivation. Honestly, I don't see much difference in that and a scholarship. When kids get scholarships, aren't they being paid to learn?
Eb, you may be tired of hearing about the issues, but we keep hearing about them because nobody's is doing anything about it.
There are a few grassroots organizations trying to make changes but they can't do it alone. They need help and people need to be motivated to help out with these causes.
I think overall, everyone expected more of Soledad because she is black and they felt like she could tell the story in a different way.
I think the main thing to keep in mind is the fact that she allowed the people she interviewed and the statistics to tell the story.
Whether you agree with the content or not, can we agree that the series was done well?
She could have gone to NYC, LA, Chicago or Raleigh for that matter and the series would have been totally different.
The stories about being black in America are as diverse as black people. I think a better idea would have been to do a 10 to 15 minute segment once a week for the year and a bigger project at the end of the year, but that's just me.

PCD (Pretty Circle Drawer) said...

ok may have received public assistance...but where are you now? what have you accomplished and what do you strive to continue to do? and i'll go on and assume that you will not live the majority of your life in the projects or on public assistance. you my dear, are a go-getter. they could have shown a struggling person or family that didn't have the stereotypical depressing outcome. i didn't grow up with a lot of money. neither did my hubby. but we chose the life we wanted. (thank God my hubby doesn't read these blogs) because if you saw his immediate fam, you'd never believe he came from amongst that. simply put, life is about choices. sometimes we make good ones, sometimes bad. eric michael dyson and his brother summed it up best. they came from the same...but made different choices. and they couldn't be more opposite. i wasn't necessarily expecting to see 25 cosby families featured, but i did expect to see a broader mix. (i.e. when they showed the absentee black father to the 14 month old, DANG! why did the mother have to be pregnant with twins by another man already? typical oversexed, headed-nowhere, probably gov-assisted babymama...they could have at least also shown the baby mother with perhaps maybe one kid, somewhat-educated, leading a "normal" life. no drama, no poverty, no health issues, just doing her thing...AGAINST the odds.)

Smarty Jones said...

OK, PCD, you're right. I'm just saying, a lot of stuff continues because folks don't break the cycle. We often do what we are taught.
Some folks aren't strong enough to make those decisions that could isolate them. I did, but I'm only one person.
I think we can agree to disagree.