So I was on the airplane last weekend and, luckily enough, I was stuck in front of a tv for 5 hours. This was a unique situation in and of itself since I do not even have a tv in my room. Of course, none that is relevant, but it is how I happened upon CNN and the special, Black In America.

The title in and of itself was problematic to me, simply because you cannot set out, in a tv special, save an entire series, try to describe the position of Blacks in America. It is simply much too complicated and intrecut to give such a cursory glance. The surface level intrepretation given was even more disturbing for me because it was on CNN, and therefore most Americans will take it face value.

The introductions to all the sections were in spoken word, which rubbed me a little bit funny. I mean, the piece in its entirety, was trying to shed light on the disadvantaged position of Blacks in America, but seemed to present examples that were much too case specific and did not give a total picture. In the end, the view the show gave of Blacks in America was rather negative, either in jail, prone to be in jail, unable to get a job, fatherless or succeeding by “acting white” and being ostracized by the rest of the Black community. The statistics throw in were super biased, “among Whites higher grades means better social status and the opposite is true in black communities.” How did they come to that conclusion? I could name many white communities where being a square or a geek or a nerd is just as shamed upon as in Black communities. The sweeping generalities were somewhat hurtful. “Black male 12th graders read at the level of White 9th graders.” Where? How was this calculated? I understand the point and what is attempted to be brought to the surface but statements like these without specific context are dangerous.

The section on Black Film with Spike Lee noted that most Black films do not get mainstream sponsorship. They mentioned Pursuit of Happiness and Ray as exceptions. They presented the fact that Ray was sponsored by a conservative White man as a contradiction, though I would say that Ray is still only an entertainer and a junkie. His struggle to overcome is an inspiring store but I woudlnt say that it helps Black people out as a whole.

The truest portion of the show came with the story of Micheal Eric Dyson. They explained how him and his brother, the former lightskinned becoming a professor and the latter dark skinned one becoming a convicted murderer and felon. During the interview, Dyson talked about the incriminating effect of being dark skinned, which I saw as the first real breakthrough in the show. Most of the show just showed the negative aspects of the Black situation but never attempted to give any context as to why things were the way they were and how they could be changed. In the end, I felt as if Blacks were being pinpointed as the source of the problem much of the time.

The website for the special is


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