No More Essays About CNN’s ‘Black In America’

In response to the numerous essays and articles circulating about the lack of depth and insight of CNN’s recent series ‘Black in America‘ I will say this again and again. I grow tired of these types of articles as well meaning and insightful as they are…If we don’t like what CNN did, in the age […]

In response to the numerous essays and articles circulating about the lack of depth and insight of CNN’s recent series ‘Black in America‘ I will say this again and again. I grow tired of these types of articles as well meaning and insightful as they are…If we don’t like what CNN did, in the age of You Tube, camcorders, reality shows and independent film festivals in every city-DO YOUR OWN.. It doesn’t have to be a big production. Hell, forget Black in America, kick off your own series called Black in your hometown” or Black in your neighborhood.” Do a series called Black in Oakland, Black in Detroit.. Black in Compton or whatever. After you put this together, you can gather everyone to a local church and show a short film highlighting the heroes and sheroes from your town. Highlight the people, places and perspectives CNN overlooked. Get your own host, your own guests, break down your own analysis. There are all sorts of shining examples of this.We can start with local d-boys and gangstas who woke up and got tired of not seeing CNN or the local news give a fair shot to their ilk. They got tired of local media not showing gangstas in their way that they felt was just…so what did they do? They started making their own damn DVDs. Go to any barbershop in ‘any hood’ throughout the US and you can get all sorts of upfront and close DVDs detailing the exploits of local cats from the hood and their underground world…Can we say Smack DVDs? Can we say Stop Snitching DVDs? Can we say Real Gangsters DVD? The list is long.We can sit here and pass judgement and moan and groan about their content or lack thereof all day, but one thing I will say, is that those young brothers walking around with gold teeth and sagging pants found a way to communicate to the rest of the world their points of view. And like it or not they been successful. Don’t believe me? Ask why BET, The History Channel and National Geographic all have shows focusing on gangs and gang life? Why do you think shows like American Gangster are so popular? Don’t get it twisted, these corporations saw the success young cats from the hood were having with the sale of those dvds and decided to tap into that market. You better ask somebody and take a cue.Now considering that CNN was most likely hitting the Black middle class with their recent series, that means we are talking about church goers, the civil rights crowd, the young urban professional class, Bill Cosby fans etc. Many of these folks have money and resources.

Instead of complaining, why don’t we have people pooling resources to do their own “Black in America” series? Instead of putting on another expensive Jack and Jill type awards dinner where everyone dresses to the nines, why not take that money and pay some young film students to make us look good by putting together a film or series about us? Why not pay them to at least do some editing for us? What’s the hold up? What example are we setting for the rest of the world that in 2008 we are still complaining about CNN and not doing our own series? Can’t somebody do a series and interview people like Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Minister Farrakhan along with their local pastor and do a series called “Black in the American Church?” can we have all these people on the same show without the over the top, distracting, racist analysis of a Fox News? Can’t somebody hit up entrepreneurs like Earl Graves, Dick Parsons, along with local businessmen and women and do a series called Blacks in the Business World? The possibilities are endless. I say no more essays and more direct action..And finally for those who think I’m just writing, think again. I’m already doing my own series.. I went out and brought my first camera a few months ago, way before CNN announced their series. I started documenting my own stories.I along with many others were following on the heels of activists like Malik Raheem who felt like the real story of New Orleans and the Katrina disaster wasn’t being told, so he and folks from his Common Groundorganization, got some cameras and documented the 200 plus viligante killings that took place in the aftermath.The name of the film whicjh they gave away for free was called Welcome to New Orleans” That was our CNN.We are following in the footsteps small films like Audio Rebellion put together by Fred Hampton Jr, Minister of Information JR and their POCC organization that focused on revolutionaries in our community.They showed what happens when the community gets upset with elected officials and documented Congressman Bobby Rush being confronted by Chicago’s southside residents. They are now working on parts two and three.We are following the efforts put together by those on the Luv 4 Self network and filmmaker Opio Oskoni who were annoyed with rap star Flava Flav and what they saw as his ‘bafoonish’ TV show and decided to do a show film called Turn Off Channel Zero to counter the negative images. It was well recieved and shown all over the country.Professor Griff from Public Enemy was the main feature.We are following the lead of Hip Hop pioneer Popmaster Fabel who was tired of Hip-Hop’s history incorrectly being told so he went out, got a camera and started documented all sorts of early history around the gangs that proceeded Hip Hop.Five years later he has finished up this incredible film called Apache Line from Gangs to Hip Hop.”Many of us are following the lead of then up and coming film makers like Byron Hurt who got tired of misogyny in Hip Hop and decided to do his own film addressing the issue called “Beyond Beats and Rhymes.”We are following the lead of people like Raquel Cepeda who was upset with brothers wearing diamonds purchased from that sleaze bags like Jacob the Jeweler, so she got together with some rap artists, boarded a plane to Sierra Leone and did her own film “Bling: A Planet Rock.”How about a Letter to the President that documented the intersection between Hip-Hop and politics put together by film makers QD3 and Thomas Gibson? I can go on and on citing examples.Hell, I can take it way back and bring up Public Enemy‘s PETV series before there was a such thing as DVDs. Here they had people like Sista Souljah delivering news and views for Black people. Or even better, let’s take this back to the days following the LA Uprisings after the Rodney King beatings in 1992 and the film “Straight from the Streets” put together by Keith O’Derek. That was our CNN where he documented the historic gang truces that took place.Time for us to step it up and do our own thing and stop expecting CNN, Fox News and anyone else who routinely exploits us to suddenly do right by us. Like I said before, why worry about CNN…