CNN is Tripping – Spike Lee is the TRUTH

After seeing the second installment of “Black in America” which dealt specifically with “The Black Man,” I realized what the real problem is with this documentary.  THE UNDERLYING ASSUMPTION IS THAT ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE POOR AND ARE CRIMINALS.  So, in addition to the producers not giving “context” for why some Black Americans are in the situations that they are in, they also chose to present our community as though the GHETTO is our only experience…as though we are a one dimensional community. They profiled only a slice of Black life.

In “The Black Man,” there were an exhorbitant number of orange jumpsuits and men in handcuffs, talk of drug abuse and absent fathers throughout.  All of this and no mention of racism or stereotypes…until Spike Lee gets on the mike.  How in the world could CNN portray Black men this way and not mention neither racism nor stereotypes?  I’m shocked that Spike’s calm rant even made it into the documentary, but I’m glad it did.  Unfortunately, that short rant didn’t erase the further damage to America’s image of the Black man that was done throughout…it was worse than the evening news.

I really didn’t like that the Black men that were doing well (the children of the Little Rock 9 man and the guy in corporate America) all said that they didn’t fit in with Black people and that they were ostracized by Black people because they were “smart.”  Not saying this has never happened…but trust me, there are Black men that are educated and successful with Black wives and Black friends.  There are Black people that are successful that socialize with Black people and are comfortable with being Black.  There are Black people who’s great grandparents went to college in the early 1900’s, grew up privileged, and didn’t have to escape the ghetto.  We didn’t see them tonight though.

I accept the Black experience fully, the success and the struggles…primarily because I am proud of my heritage and aware of what my people have been put through in this country.  I do, however, also acknowledge that most Black folks don’t live in the ghetto.  Most Black folks aren’t in jail.  Most successful Black folks are not sell outs.  CNN, next time you do a documentary on a minority group, give us a full spectrum of the experience from an unbiased angle, and give us context for why they are experiencing struggle.  You can’t wholly increase awareness without that.


6 Responses to “CNN is Tripping – Spike Lee is the TRUTH”

  1. I both enjoyed and was sadden by the program. I agree with Charles Barkley’s conclusion that racism will always exist and we still need to “handle our business”. I think CNN is correct in discussing the issues that have great impacts in our communities. Yes, it not everyone, but it’s enough of a problem that it’s impacting our community. Does it not concern you the level of black children living in poverty? Not completing school? These numbers are not fictional.

  2. noli sams Says:


    I totally agree with you. My only concern is that when you heavily promote a program entitled ‘Black in America’ and say that it will give a real look into the lives of Black people, you have to give all perspectives. If you don’t, you run the risk of having White America think that EVERY BLACK PERSON THEY KNOW is impoverished, had no father, and is uneducated.

  3. Correct….we were missing a lot of the explanations as to why these situations exist. Where was the missing mother of the single black man raising his three children….and where was the missing father of the single black woman who was raising five children, four of which were by the same man….was she holding him accountable at all? This was a brief synopsis of a lot of situations all of which needed further explanation. More time was needed to report on the many complex issues that were touched on.

  4. I agree largely with the author of this blog with respect to the CNN special. I appreciated the attempt but I felt that for all the hype surrounding it, it wasn’t that great. Maybe my expectations were too high but my biggest problem was that I felt there was no middle ground.

    I too was saddened by the portrayal of the successful black man and the claims of being ostracized by his own people. I come from a working class neighborhood that is riddled with crime. I have gone on to attend Temple University in Philadelphia and I am currently studying law. When I go home I am greeted by everyone from your corner dope dealer, the local business owners, to the garbage man with a pound and a hug. Their faces gleam with “you made it, keep doing it brother”.

    And when I go home I don’t throw my successes in their face, I talk to my people on whatever level they wish to speak on. That’s what was missing from the black man segment, our ability to be dynamic. The ability to do boardroom meetings, play ball with your college buddies and still be able to have a good conversation with the neighborhood drunkard. This is our reality, no television show will be the savior of black people and truly highlight that which is a most exhilarating experience.

    I liked the show but I didn’t see me. I didn’t see someone who was proud of their black heritage, in fact in love with it. Someone who knows that institutionalized racism exists, knows how serious it is, and looks at it in the face with the Soul of Malcolm, Douglas, Robeson and countless other brothers who have challenged the system.

    I hope you ladies continue to have stimulating dialogue, I will add you to my blogroll for I am inspired by the quality conversation over here, Peace and Blessings!

  5. anonyjw Says:

    Thanks for posting your thoughts. They were similar to mine, for the most part.

    There’s really not enough time to tell the story of the black experience… 2 hours certainly isn’t and wasn’t enough.

    I think they tried to address or tackle the most prominent stereotypes, but failed to delve deeply into some of the reasons why things are the way they are.

    I still give CNN props for taking on the subject and trying to do their best. I think the series helped raise awareness and sparked discussion amongst all of us, regardless of race and colour.

    It just takes a small spark to start a blaze. Soledad certainly did what she could. Lets take up the mantle from there.

  6. I agree with the author’s comments. As a Black-Latino woman, I did not “see” myself at all in this program. In the trailers, CNN and Soledad indicated that after veiwing the series, everyone would gain a greater understanding of what it means to be “Black in America.” Only, the series failed to show Black folks like me who are living drama-drug-jail-free with a normal, middle-class life. All of our stories are not Hollywood-ready. It was sensationalism, and only affirmed existing negative views of Black Americans. Through my own reflection (with no help from CNN), I see even more that we are a multifaceted beautiful people with diverse experiences, beliefs, values, and perspectives. To present us as a monolithic entity is inaccurate, unfair, and not progressive.

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