Thursday, July 23, 2009
So essentially I was forced to take a break from my "Next Big Project" to talk for a few tics, about the Black in America 2 series that began last night on CNN, with host Soledad O'Brian. First off, is she black?? If not does anyone know what race she is? Just curious because of the title of the program. Ya know, semantics!
This highly anticipated sequel to it's controversial predecessor Black in America, attempted to take a more positive look at the trials and tribulations of being black in this country, an extreme contrast to the first installment, which was overwhelmingly filled with negative circumstances regarding black folks. The way I see it folks is that there are two ways to look at this. Either they don't realize that blacks are as diverse if not more diverse than the rest of the country or the point that I believe is closer to accuracy is that they really don't realize this! In the wake of an Obama Presidency, a racial incident at a Philadelphia swimming pool and the continued harrassment, brutality and sometimes murder of black men at the hands of racist, cowardice cops, (Skip Gates knows this all too well now) should let us know that our stories cannot be told in 4 hours of prime time television. It should also show that some form of racism can be blamed for much of the problems we face...Sorry to say to all those who hate when we blame the white man for our problems. I'm not blaming the white man, I'm blaming the institution of racism which still exists in America in a strong way, I don't care who the president is.
Take my own story for example. A black man, grew up in West Philadelphia, attended Philadelphia Public Schools and was surrounded by the best and the worst of our culture. Was hired by FOX TV at 17 and traveled to Africa and Italy at 18 as a documentary filmmaker. Attended Drexel University by 18 and was incarcerated by 21 in NYC and would not see the outside world for a year. Came home, went back to school and then went back to the Prison I had been released from 2 years prior....But not as an inmate, as a creative writing teacher. Published a book 2 years later. Happy ending? I guess in some ways it is. I tend not to give myself credit for things that should already be embedded in the fabric of our culture and psyche, such as not returning back to prison, after almost 10 years or choosing to be a part of the lives of my 2 children, weather I am with the mother or not. My book was not a best seller and I was not on Oprah. I'm still poor and need to find employment ASAP and yes, my criminal record effects my job search tremendously. So do I fit into a stereotype that can be profiled on CNN's Black in America...Probably so. But it would not fit the mold of many of our people, unless you dissect certain aspects of it to make it do so. Our paths our so different. We are as diverse as the sun and moon, yet as similar as the stars (which interestingly enough are also very diverse yet similar from our earthly view) and our stories are ever changing and are affected by many variables. Variables which we have no control over.
With that said, what I would like to see on what it means to be Black in America, is maybe a history or some sort of acknowledgment of how blacks have been exploited and systematically picked off like cotton in the fields, since Jim Crow. Get it?? Like cotton in the fields??
Let us discuss the history of the black man (and I mean black woman too) and how he has been the target of extinction, his whole life. Don't believe me? Look at the last 40 years. Look at the lynchings, look at the 70 and 80's with the infiltration of drugs into our communities. First the heroine boom of the 70's and as if that wasn't bad enough the crack epidemic of the 80's. The children of these addicts became the gangsters of the 90's and now their kids have completely ruined hip-hop! Let us also discuss this hip-hop culture and it's effect on the black mans perception and outlook on life. Those being raised on this music and this alone, tend to have a warped sense of beauty as it relates to black women, they also tend to try and find the quickest and easiest road to money and success. The proverbial path of least resistance. Anyone who's read my work is probably sick of me using this phrase...Sorry! Also, prison becomes more of a rites of passage, rather than a horrible punishment to a crime. My point is that these are the pitfalls that exists for blacks in this country and it's done very intentionally and very intelligently. Please people do not be so foolish to be believe for one minute that it is as easy as choosing not to commit a crime, or to just simply stay in school, when your dad is in jail and your mom is strung out on crack. Much of this can be related back to Willie Lynch!!! So that's my 2 cents...What do u think???
Posted by Leigh Owens at 3:06 PM