CNN's "Black in America" is for whites in America. Because of all the racial stereotyping that still goes on in the world, white people need to know that our story includes sizable circles of affluence.
Kimberly Seals Allers: I'm a CNN junkie. My son can often be heard saying, "Mommy, CNN AGAIN!!" as it plays all day in the house. And I love Soledad O'Brien. As a journalist and a mom, I love what she stands for, and I was honored to interview her as one of the celebrity moms in my first book, The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy. Understandably, then, I was glued to my television last night for the premiere of "Black in America 2." To be honest, "Black in America 1" was not well-received by some Black folks. It featured too many prison shots, baby daddys, teenage mothers, and certainly wasn't considered by many to be a truly balanced view of the state of Black people in this country.
So I was happy to see this installment take a brighter, balanced, hopeful, and more upbeat tone about who we really are and what are our issues. But truthfully, there wasn't any new information in there for Black people. There was no "Aha!" moment. Black people know there are committed principals like Steve Perry of Hartford, Connecticut's Capital Prep Magnet School, or Harvard alum Ivan Hageman at the East Harlem School in New York City, who are teaching our children and leading them to success where our public schools fail them. It is not us who have given up on the power and promise of Black youth. I blogged about Malaak Compton Rock's phenomenal Journey for Change program in May. We know about the Tuxedo Ball, The Links, Jack and Jill, or any of the other high society, invite-only groups for affluent Black people. We know and love the story of Tyler Perry. And several years ago, when I was an editor at Essence, we wrote about Dr. Funmi Olopade, a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, who was at the forefront of identifying the high trend of triple negative breast cancer among African-American women and received the prestigious MacArthur "genius" grant in 2005 for her work in this area.
This is not to say that the program isn't well done, nicely produced, and extremely informative. But it's important information that white people need to know. CNN's "Black in America" is for whites in America. Because of all the racial stereotyping that still goes on in the world (just ask renowned scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who was recently arrested for "breaking in" to his own home), white people need to know that our story includes sizable circles of affluence. They need to know our story includes -- gasp! -- Black people saving ourselves from inadequate school systems and getting into college. After all, Hollywood movies ("Dangerous Minds," "Hardball," "Wildcats," "The Ron Clark Story," "Finding Forrester," "Take the Lead," "Freedom Writers," and a litany of other releases) would have you believe this is a white (usually a woman's) job, to sweep into the ghetto and save our children. White people need to know that our community has the intellectual prowess to study our deadly health epidemics and provide meaningful research that benefits the rest of the world.
I'll be watching Part 2 tonight to see Soledad's work. But more importantly, I hope all of the whites in America are tuning in.
|Kimberly Seals Allers is an award-winning business journalist and founder and editor-in-chief of MochaManual.com, a weekly online magazine for moms of color. She is the author of "The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy" and "The Mocha Manual to Turning Your Passion into Profit." Kimberly is a divorcing mother of two and lives on Long Island, NY.|