Sunday, July 20, 2008

Professor Tracey's Review Of CNN's Black In America: Reclaiming The Dream

I just finished watching Soledad O'Brien's CNN special and I must say I was mightily disappointed. The show should have been renamed "reclaiming black men" instead of "reclaiming the dream." The entire special reminded me of the black church, a bunch of women in the audience being lectured to by a group of black men.

The black male panelists were diverse and came from multiple walks of life. I was really impressed with Hill Harper and Dr. Roland Fryer. I was bored with T.D. Jakes, who was preaching a bunch of baloney considering his track record on HIV/Aids and black women, Juanita Bynum's beat down, and his pandering to the GOP. I am tired of seeing Cornell West, who does too much fancy talking and offers absolutely no solutions. Tom Joyner looked and sounded confused. More time should have been dedicated to the new black male voices instead of the also-rans like West and Jakes, who have already had more than their fair share of screen time in the past.

This "special" completely misrepresented and disrespected black women in America. To say black women were given scant attention during this special is being kind. There was only three black female panelists in 90 minutes, with more than half the show featuring black men as the primary panelists and the lone woman, Bennett College President Julianne Malveaux barely getting a word in. Black women were not presented a social group, but a problem and issue to be resolved.

If you were watching this program and knew nothing at all about black women, the only thing you would have learned for sure about black women was that black women are extremely sexually active, popping out baby after baby with no husband, and catching HIV/Aids at an alarming rate. Thanks for that, Soldedad. I was completely horrified by the end of the show.

Dr. Julianne Malveaux was absolutely terrible, coming off as old school and out of touch. Sheryl Lee Ralph was effective, but her outreach is clearly limited. Chicago Urban League President and CEO Cheryle Jackson got a grand total of about 45 seconds of screen time, so I have no idea why she was even on. What burned me the most was the fact that while the male panelists were a diverse group, the black women panelists all represented the same age group, over 50 and did not represent anyone with a current presence or powerful influence with black women in large numbers.

After watching tonight's show, I cannot say that I am excited about O'Brien's upcoming focus on black women. She clearly is not going to cover new ground and clearly has no clue who is currently making an impact in the community of African American women. Considering that this program was partnered with Essence magazine, tell me that the editors of Essence are completely out of touch as well. They continue to promote and connect with folks they already know instead of broadening their base.

And on a final note, what in the hell was D.L. Hughley doing on the show? Clearly Soledad O'Brien didn't do her homework here. I wanted to vomit watching that jerk talking about "broken black men" after he agreed with Don Imus and further trashed the players from Rutgers.


Selena July 20, 2008 at 12:14 AM  

I have no words except TYPICAL.

lena July 20, 2008 at 12:46 AM  

In 100% Agreement with you, prof.tracey

Anonymous,  July 20, 2008 at 2:01 AM  

Folk gonna learn to stop getting their hopes up when dealing with CNN.

I like Soledad O'Brien, but she seems hopelessly overmatched when trying to overcome an eternity of distorted and ignored Black Imagery to present some kind of objective viewpoint of Black Folk.

It would be one thing if CNN (or whomever) went out and broadcast something that someone ELSE did attempting to address Black folk in America, but expecting CNN (the original random Cable News Network) to produce something other than what you usually recieve from them is like handing your crack head brother a twenty and expecting him to come back with a well balanced grocery list.

It is possible in theory, but in reality...what has he ever done to give you the impression that it is actually possible.

Anonymous,  July 20, 2008 at 6:52 AM  

excellent review...100% dead-on! I would like to repost with your permission. (and I was actually filmed for the upcoming segment on thursday)

Professor Tracey July 20, 2008 at 9:31 AM  

@Selena - Agreed!

@Lena - Back At You Sis!

@The Ink - Well said and point taken!

@WBMT - Feel free to cross post and I will be checking your blog and seeing you on thursday's show.

her mother July 20, 2008 at 3:14 PM  


Couldn't have said it better myself. What this also brings up for me is the lack of diversity across race, age, and gender, that's obviously not present in media. If there was more age and gender diversity, nevermind race, in decision making positions who sit at the editorial table, I think we'd be having a very different conversation.

Therefore, to be fair to Soledad, she alone can't overcome everything. She needs help, and it was probably like moving mountains to get them to even decide that this was a topic with value to begin with. Asking them to also understand Black people (women) and the issues important to us, is like asking McCain what's the difference between Shiites and Sunnis? He really doesn't care to know the difference; he's just satisfied knowing that he's not either, and that he will always be White.

@Prof. Tracey,

I'd like to repost to my blog too. Remember back when Brian Williams did something very similar late last year. When I blogged about that, I called it "You Got Issues," because that's exactly what it was. The entire series empahsized all that's wrong with Black women in the context of Black men. Based on what you've written, sounds like they just reproduced the same converation. SMH

Professor Tracey July 20, 2008 at 3:24 PM  

@Her Mother -

Feel free to cross post! I appreciate it!

her mother July 21, 2008 at 12:20 AM  

I don't know if you've decided to watch tonight or not. I did watch, thinking that it would be good material for blogging tonight and possibly I'd be surprised by the quality; needless to say I wasn't impressed at all. I did blog it on my site, and I certainly hope that it gets better; I just won't count on it.

Miss Pinky July 21, 2008 at 8:54 AM  

Bless you PT for the summary; it totally saves me from watching this drivel. I knew the outcome would be in the vein of BW suck, now let's help the "brothas." SMH

valerie ann July 21, 2008 at 4:56 PM  

Thanks for this post. Let me get this straight -

Only three black women were interviewed in the two days this program aired. i confess, i did not watch because i did not want to sit through a 'blame the black woman' session.

And CNN sits in a place easily accessible (accounting for traffic and parking) by any number of intelligent, active in community, insightful black women (johnnetta b cole, beverly guy sheftall, moya bailey, bahati kuumba, elaine brown, pearl cleage, de johnson...., - you see my point).

By the way, the sisters over 50 don't all sing the same song. It would be great to have heard from some of our really dynamic elders who are incredible but unknown - like mildred mcclain (ej activist) in savannah, ga -an amazing woman.

At least with this blog site credible info on black women can be found.

In Sisterhood

val ann

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