CNN’s “Black In America” special is tired, tedious, and out of date.

Black In America logo

It’s what you expect from CNN: negative, fear-based, dumbed-down sensationalism. It’s a boring, depressing, uninspiring drag.

CNN started out on the right foot — the program was originally supposed to be called “Race In America.” It could have been so useful and valuable with that title, content, and thrust. Instead it was useless and pointless and limp.

By taking this approach, CNN missed one of the biggest untapped opportunities of the new socio-political era that began when Senator Barack Obama — with his speech on race in Philadelphia — effectively declared that open, frank, honest discussion of race-related issues in American is not only O.K. but essential for our nation’s progress.

It was with the original idea as a premise that at least some of the subjects in the program agreed to participate in the first place. There was excitement about a possible breakthrough program, akin to the airing of “Roots” by ABC in 1977.

But the notion of addressing complexities and honest, forward-thinking discussion was apparently nixed and re-engineered and edited out once the project got back to Atlanta. That’s disappointing.

Ryan Kernan on CNNs Black In AmericaDr. Ryan Kernan of U.C.L.A. Was his Black Fives cage shirt
more representative than the content and thrust of CNN’s program?

I’d much rather see a documentary which stays focused on all the wonderful positive things that are working in African American culture today, wouldn’t you? Why? Because showing those examples is precisely the solution that’s required to solve some of the most difficult challenges that exist.

I’m not ignoring that some black people have real problems. Those problems must not be ignored. And I respect and honor everyone participating in this program. But, for CNN, there’s a difference between telling, and dwelling.

CNN does show some positive examples of what’s going on inside black culture today. But they outweighed these insights with negative statistics, pessimistic outlooks, and implications of doom.

And CNN did a terrible job of “proving” that race had anything to do with most of these problems. In fact, in almost every negative situation they presented, it was really poverty and lack of education that were the cause. The program ought to have been called “Poor and Uneducated in America.”

But in reality, poverty and lack of education are most often symptoms too, not just causes.

When they talk about why “middle class” people succeed, they miss the point that people in so-called middle class settings are more often exposed to certain ways of thinking, which are reinforced more frequently and more vigorously.

So, why not instead discuss ways to expose more people to this way of thinking, and its reinforcement?

Instead, we are the intended victims of a hoodwink, that these problems are biological, or racial, and therefore inescapable. And that somehow these problems represent “everyone” who is of African descent.

Thus, for me, the title of the program was wrong again. “Some Black People in America” also could have been more apt.

Getting back to this series, I recommend that you skip it. Use that time more wisely instead to continue focusing on the wonderfully positive things you yourself are doing. You’re not alone!

Remember, if you (yes, you) don’t really thrive in your own life, then how can you possibly help inspire someone else? So keep your focus. Don’t let programs like this get you down. You have your own thing to do. Thrive. Then turn that around and use your compassion and resources to help others, with yourself as an example.

If you do plan on watching this “documentary” then at least know what to expect and be prepared with an antidote (like, your remote).

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