Archive for July 29th, 2008

July 29, 2008

Ode to CNN-Tell Me Something I Didn’t Know

by MullOverThis

CNN, you blew it. That is the nicest way I can encapsulate my sentiments against that farce of a special, “Black in America.” I was so disappointed in Part 1 that I could not muster up the strength to see Part 2, which by peer review, was worse than the first. Let me qualify my rant by saying I am far from the disgruntled Black American who is antagonistic against white media and looking for an opportunity to whine. What I am weary of is what my brilliant colleague referred to as potrayals of “black victimization”. In short, I was hoping CNN would take the needle off that victim record and show a side of Black America that whites have collectively yet to see or acknowledge.
       
When I saw the previews and internet video clips of the “special” (and I mean special here in a very tongue in cheek, short bus kind of way), I immediately thought finally, an accurate portrayal of blacks that Tyler Perry didn’t  write, would make its way into America’s living rooms. I had my fingers crossed that CNN would use the program as a means to display to white America that we are not all on welfare, having babies out of wedlock, getting shot over a game of skully, and basically broke, busted, and disgusted. I wanted to see blacks who achieved their goals of academic success, home ownership, united families, and upward mobility obtained without shaking, jumping, rapping, or disrobing. I wanted the motive for this greatness to be shown in light of rather than in spite of. Let me unpack this further. Which sounds better? Black success in light of an innate desire to realize our potential as productive citizens of these United States of America, a realization of our identity as a strong culture with much to offer the world, and a people who have every reason to love themselves OR black success in spite of the lengthy history of disenfranchisement at the hands of whites that led to impoverished neighborhoods, inequities in education, inner-city violence, and broken families? The former is an actualization of the philosophy of W.E.B DuBois who believed in order for a man (or in this case, a people) to take his place in the world–he must be himself.  Blacks have something to teach the world. DuBois believed in black potential, and it was not something to be conjured and nurtured only under harsh circumstances. It was something that blacks as human beings should have the proclivity to do. The latter is a further entrenchment of the idea that blacks are the perpetual victims of the residue left behind by white America’s domestic form of imperialism upon its own dark citizens, and therefore no matter what we overcome, our success is never independent of the variable of victimization.

So yes, I believe CNN only further embedded the stereotypes that have been floating around about blacks since European travelers and historians during antiquity and the medeival period chronicled the lives of Africans by telling wild tales of oversexed dark people who hop on one foot, dwell in caves, and communicated in screeches. This type of misinformation leads to a mythology that rationalizes and philosophicizes the supposed inferiority of a people. As far as I am concerned, the use of the word black in “Black in America” is not a reference to the people but rather the growing vacuum about what else it means to be black. Better luck next time.
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

Moderator’s Note:  This post is from a guest contributor, NIK. 

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