The Listener 2.0


(CNN) What’s so interesting about this blog is that initially I wanted to focus on music but it became a social issues blog because that’s what got more attention lol. I kept the title “The Listener” because I think it defines my personality. I’ve been listening to the sounds of the world for as long as I remember (about three years old) and that’s helped me become a better person.

But anyway, this post is about Black In America: Breakthrough or Bust?  I watched the much anticipated CNN documentary and I have to say that I was thoroughly satisfied with the program (I bet you thought I was going to be disappointed huh?) I felt like CNN did a good job of showing America what it was like to be in fact “black in America.” I felt as if people (and by that I mean white people…let’s just keep it real here) got the chance to get a first hand look at what we (black people) go through and maybe…just maybe…change their perspective of African-Americans in this country (a little optimistic I know). But some of you did NOT think the program did our race justice. Some of you thought the program was for black people and didn’t feel like you learned anything, some of you had preconceived notions about the program and never gave it a chance in the first place. Well to all of you I say…please pay close attention as I do my best to address each of the perspectives at hand.

Black In America. Is it a privilege or a punishment? What exactly does it mean? Who are we in this country…this world…this universe? Shit I don’t know….but I do know that the program mapped out what it’s like for us as Black people in this country. In the first part of the series, Soledad O’Brien documented black women. She touched on single black mothers, the professional black woman, and even interracial relationships. Now because I’m not a woman there is only so much I can say, however, I think she did a good job of shining light on the immensity of the black woman. Not every black woman is a big mama baby making machine, not every black woman is a professional, and not every black woman is a single mother, but O’Brien showed America examples of what it’s like to be each of those women in this country. Now maybe you may not agree with it because of what your experience has taught you…but that doesn’t count for everyone else (see the Tyler Perry epiphany I had).

Soledad O’Brien

Now let’s take the second part of the series which talked about being a black man in this country. O’Brien profiled two black men who went to the same grade school but walked on opposite sides of the track. One grew up to be a reformed criminal turned minister, and the other wound up as the superintendent of a school district. This hit home for me just a little bit, as I know people I with whom I attended grade school with who are spending the rest of their lives in prison right now while I’m eagerly awaiting graduation. What I liked about the male profile was the issues she gracefully touched on. She talked about black men having the toughest time getting a job (under and over-qualified…whuddup speedway), she talked about black men being considered sell outs because of their diction, residence, or grade point average, she even mentioned the black fathers. The ones who just don’t “take care of their kids” but are actual fathers to them, and the ones who consistently give excuses as to why they can’t see their children regularly. These are all issues that we as black men have to deal with at one point or another in our lives. O’Brien showed America the inner struggles of what being a black man is like in this country.

Here’s the kicker (PAY ATTENTION HERE). I found myself getting highly (and I mean highly, I had to talk to one of my closest friends to calm me down) upset about the reactions I received from this documentary. I saw facebook statuses that said things like “so and so is upset with Black In America” so and so is disappointed with Black In America” “watch black in America and join my group to get pissed”. This bothered me to no end…and here’s why.

We as Black people should really stop complaining about everything. Here we have a black woman who is interested in her race enough to publish our struggles and pains to the world in order to gain understanding, insight, and overall respect. See we get mad at white people for not understanding our culture yet we refuse to spell it out for them.

We are not critical of what needs to be criticized. We listen to rap music that talks about selling drugs to our people (trap or die niggahhhhhh), we wear t-shirts with Scarface on the front (sometimes I don’t think people even saw the end of that film), we watch movies like Friday (good movie but what did it do for us…nothing), and we watch shows like Flavor of Love and I love New York that do NOTHING for us but tear our culture down by the week and then we criticize a black woman for making a documentary about being black in this country?

I’m beginning to think that some of us just want something to talk about. We don’t really care about issues in Black America, we don’t read the books we post on our profiles or pay attention to news and current events, we just want to sound smart in a conversation for fear that someone may call us out on being stupid.

Some of you already had it in your mind that you didn’t want to hear what the documentary had to say. You already didn’t like it before you watched it. That’s what I like to call…prejudice (yea we all are guilty of it).

Contrary to popular belief…CNN’s Black In America was NOT JUST FOR BLACK PEOPLE!!! If you pay attention to the commercial, the first thing Soledad O’Brien said was “I think all of America will get a good glimpse of what it’s like to be black in this country.” That statement meant she wasn’t just talking about us. See it was lame to blacks because we already know what we go through in this country, that’s why it was so basic. But someone else was sitting at their TV going…”wow I didn’t know that.” Now whether they changed their views or not isn’t for me to measure but I do know that she touched on real life issues that (whether or not you agree) we all go through at one point or another.

What I’m trying to say is that we need to open our eyes and ears. I hate when we as a people condemn our own for trying to do something good yet we accept the bad like it’s supposed to be there and there’s nothing we can do. I love my people so much…I think that’s why I get so upset. Black people are like my family…they make me so mad…but don’t let someone outside of my race talk about them lol…it’s a wrap lol.


But seriously, I encourage everyone to take a second look at the documentary. Watch it for what it is instead of what you think it isn’t.


August 20, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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