Family Reunion by Laverne Ross

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I know I am a bit late with this but feel that it is relevant to write about since the upcoming documentary on Blacks in America premeires this week.
I caught bits and pieces of CNN'S documentary "Reclaiming the Dream" last week and I was left feeling dissapointed. I felt that there should have been more focused on Black women, especially in regards to the panelists. I like Soledad O'Brien but she could have done better on this. I hope that the Documentary showing this Wednesday and Thursday will be better. I really do.

Anyway Professor Tracey over at Aunt Jemima's Revenge had her say on the subject and as always she got straight to the point. She makes her case about the documentaries failing better than I can:

"I just finished watching Soledad O'Brien's CNN special and I must say I was mightily disappointed. The show should have been renamed "reclaiming black men" instead of "reclaiming the dream." The entire special reminded me of the black church, a bunch of women in the audience being lectured to by a group of black men.

The black male panelists were diverse and came from multiple walks of life. I was really impressed with Hill Harper and Dr. Roland Fryer. I was bored with T.D. Jakes, who was preaching a bunch of baloney considering his track record on HIV/Aids and black women, Juanita Bynum's beat down, and his pandering to the GOP. I am tired of seeing Cornell West, who does too much fancy talking and offers absolutely no solutions. Tom Joyner looked and sounded confused. More time should have been dedicated to the new black male voices instead of the also-rans like West and Jakes, who have already had more than their fair share of screen time in the past.

This "special" completely misrepresented and disrespected black women in America. To say black women were given scant attention during this special is being kind. There was only three black female panelists in 90 minutes, with more than half the show featuring black men as the primary panelists and the lone woman, Bennett College President Julianne Malveaux barely getting a word in. Black women were not presented a social group, but a problem and issue to be resolved.

If you were watching this program and knew nothing at all about black women, the only thing you would have learned for sure about black women was that black women are extremely sexually active, popping out baby after baby with no husband, and catching HIV/Aids at an alarming rate. Thanks for that, Soldedad. I was completely horrified by the end of the show.

Dr. Julianne Malveaux was absolutely terrible, coming off as old school and out of touch. Sheryl Lee Ralph was effective, but her outreach is clearly limited. Chicago Urban League President and CEO Cheryle Jackson got a grand total of about 45 seconds of screen time, so I have no idea why she was even on. What burned me the most was the fact that while the male panelists were a diverse group, the black women panelists all represented the same age group, over 50 and did not represent anyone with a current presence or powerful influence with black women in large numbers.

After watching tonight's show, I cannot say that I am excited about O'Brien's upcoming focus on black women. She clearly is not going to cover new ground and clearly has no clue who is currently making an impact in the community of African American women. Considering that this program was partnered with Essence magazine, tell me that the editors of Essence are completely out of touch as well. They continue to promote and connect with folks they already know instead of broadening their base.

And on a final note, what in the hell was D.L. Hughley doing on the show? Clearly Soledad O'Brien didn't do her homework here. I wanted to vomit watching that jerk talking about "broken black men" after he agreed with Don Imus and further trashed the players from Rutgers."

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