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July 23rd, 2008
04:30 PM ET

The black men we hear about, and the black men we know

Program Note: In the next installment of CNN's Black in America series, Soledad O'Brien examines the successes, struggles and complex issues faced by black men, women and families, 40 years after the death of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Watch encore presentation Saturday & Sunday, 8 p.m. ET


We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.

_____________________________________________________

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor

"In Session" Anchor
I woke one morning thinking about black men. I had dreamt about black men in the night, having been bombarded by images of them the day before.

At the airport, I’d read a long article about the fall television schedule, and then-NAACP President Kwesi Mfume’s calls for more black and brown faces on television.

On the plane, I’d read also about Lawrence Russell Brewer, a white man who had been on trial in Texas for the dragging death – a lynching really – of James Byrd Jr., a black man. (He has since been convicted of murder and sentenced to death).

That night, I turned on the television in my hotel room only to see Martin Lawrence, “steppin' and fetchin'” on Fox. So, I turned off the tube and curled up into bed with Toni Morrison’s nobel prize-winning The Bluest Eye, a book I’d enjoyed to that point. But this night I read a chapter about a black man raping his daughter. Another starkly hateful and negative image of the black man.

So I closed the book and went to sleep.

And I woke that next morning thinking of these black men – and those who hate them: white men who hate black men, black women who hate black men, black men who hate themselves.

That was 2004. It was a presidential election year. And so it is again, this year. But in 2008 there is something dramatically different: Barack Obama is in the race. Race notwithstanding.

I never thought my father would live to see a black man in the White House. I never thought I would see it in my own lifetime. But now, we may both live to see that day.

September will mark father’s 82nd birthday. Born in 1926, he has lived through the Great Depression, a world war, the assassinations of some of our greatest leaders, his heroes. He served in Korea. He has been married for nearly 50 years, and has been a father for 40. He is a good decent black man.

And I know so many other black men. None of them shuck and jive through their days. Where I work, there are many who put in long hard days producing television pieces, carrying heavy camera and sound equipment, and generally contributing to the business of broadcast journalism.

I just this morning visited a family where three generations - father, son and grandsons - live and work together, building strong families and businesses.

I even know my share of famous black men, having interviewed Danny Glover, Lenny Kravitz, and Don Cheadle among many others.

These are the black men I know.

Now, four years after that dream I had in that hotel room that night, I also have a son. His birthday falls five days before his grandfather’s. I can only hope that by the time he is my age – 35 years into the future – we will have come to know the full breadth of the black male experience. The good. The bad. And everything in between. Perhaps, all those years ago, even before he was born, i was dreaming of - and for - my son and the next generation of black men.

Read more Jami Floyd blogs on “In Session”


Filed under: Black in America • Jami Floyd
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. Tyone

    What a Double Standard

    Rev. Jackson made some comments, about Obama that was caught on camera .......And the white pundits, ran with it. They love to make it look like blacks, are against blacks . That is how they will spin it . Now just about two week ago Wesley Clark made comments about John McCain and it was treated . As a attack on a hero ! No one said that they would look into the allegation made by Clark . Rev. Jackson had criticize Obama for saying black men should be more responsible as fathers. The problem Jackson and I also had with Obama comments. Obama said black men and NOT some black men. I was offenden as a father of 4 with a grandfather that was marry to my grandmother for 55 year til her death. He also raise 4 children. Who are all marry now over 40 years. All to black men. I was marry and divorce and became a single father. I receive FATHER OF THE YEAR at my son school. I alway find it funny how the white pundits love to spin hate and divide in the black community. But said nothing about there white community. I have never heard white pundits mention white on white crime or child molesting in the white community both very high in numbers. High school drop out is high in the white community and getting higher each year. There is know mention by the white control media. The problem with this double standard is that whites get to listen to the news and walk away thinking that blacks are that bad bad people . And whites are the victim and the good people that have to put up with horrible non-whites!

    July 24, 2008 at 12:55 am |
  2. Rumaasha Maasha

    I think you point out something important when you say "the black men we hear about, and the black men we know". Here is a quick exercise to try with yourself or other folks, especially black youth – in the span of 10 mins, write down the names of the "most-famous" living black men you know and/or hear about. After you're done, of that list, mark those they consider role models for black men. Now take that list and cross out sports figures, entertainers, media personalities from that list. Now look at the list of folks you have left. Who's on that list and how many compared to the original list?
    Part two of the exercise – without the help of Google or other references and within 10 mins, list _living_ black men you know in EACH of the following profession – doctors, surgeons, lawyers, scientists, business leaders, engineers, architects, astronauts.

    Look at your second list and compare it to your original first list. Were any of these folks on the second list in original first list? You will thus see the problem with black men in America.
    Until the Afr-Am community embraces, encourages and promotes Afr-Am men who pursue those "hard fields" and rewards academic accomplishment, too many Afr-Am men will continue to be lured and trapped hopelessly in dead-end jobs, or in prison from trying to emulate the "get rich quick" lifestyle.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:52 am |
  3. Tyone

    This is a big problem in the white community .It has gone unchecked for many many year……….White on white crime………..and batter white wife …….murder girlfreinds and wifes……The need for white leadership is over do…….Instead of pointing out non-whites short coming……….It is time whites took care of the many many problem in there community……The bigest problem is the lack of punishment receive when it’s white on white . The justice system has turn a blind eye . Protecting white people from prison …. White are the biggest victim when it come to crime in America. They also get away with alot of criminal activity….This blind eye by mostly white judges and all white jury .. Hurts white Americans …….Because injustice to some is not justice in America. To many white women are dying at the hands of white men .. In the case Stacy Peterson he has become like Bin laden releasing video and speeches . And continue to be FREE! I know many will say SHUT Up Tyrone …… As a former correcton officer . I saw many many white child molestor let back in to the world only to attack and murder more white children. I sat in on a interview of the child molestor that murder little Megan…He stated that he was not ready for the street……….They let him out…..We now have Megan Law……….White leadership is so needed !

    July 24, 2008 at 12:50 am |
  4. Yoda

    Whether obama is president or not, nothing is going to change. The president position is a puppet position. This country needs poor people, victims, prisoners, minority casualties (Other than white), fallen soldiers, etc to survive and recycle itself. Do you really need Einstein to know that, it's common sense! Any other way wouldn't be civilized, It's Amerikkka!

    July 24, 2008 at 12:47 am |
  5. Tyone

    Violence is a White Man's Issue too!
    Violence is a white man's issue for many reasons. Gun violence, especially homicide, is a problem that mostly affects young men. Of all the homicides reported in the 18 to 24 age group in 2004, 86 percent of the victims were males. In 2004, the white population had a homicide victimization rate that was six times that of the black population, and males were almost four times more likely than females to be murdered. Also, a nationwide survey found male students more likely to have been involved in a physical fight than female students in the 12 months preceding the survey. The report of crime in the white community is very underreported. This is done to keep white believing that all problem of violence is in non -white community.
    Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death for all U.S. men. Suicide rates increase with age and are highest among White men who are 65 years and older. In 2003, the suicide rate for older White men was two to four times the rate for older men in other race/ethnicities groups. Older adults who are suicidal are more likely to be diagnosed with depression and suffering from physical illnesses, and be divorced or widowed. Suicide is also a problem for young men. In 2003 men 15-19 years of age were more than four times as likely to die from suicides as girls their same age. American Indian and Alaskan Natives have the highest suicide rate in this age group.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:47 am |
  6. Marcia E. Rowe

    I am a 53 yr. old black female. I have a BS in Microbiology and a MS. I have never been married, but I have been in sales in which I have made very good money, own my own home etc.

    I must compliment you on the program Black in America. I am impressed with the accurate portrayal of issues that affect blacks in America. Regarding, Black females dating other races, I am open to the potential opportunity. However, I think it is a shame that the perception is, and in some cases the reality, depending upon the part of the country we live, that Black females do not have the same choices in selecting or finding a mate, irrespective of race, as their white counter parts. White females/males can marry anyone in their socioeconomic group, but I question, how many white men of equal educational, socioeconomic level as black females are open to or would actively seek a black female as their mate. I believe that in some middle/upper class whites, it is important to their family/heritage to marry within their race of like socioeconomic group. We still have our predominately black and white sororities/fraternities, churches etc. We go to school together, and work together, but often times we go back to our respective neighborhoods and we loose the opportunity to learn about each other and share each others values.

    For example, in your program you showed a back female married to a white male. The reality is they have their problems and concerns of how to raise their children. Not to mention, blacks have to deal with the issue of our hair care especially for black female and those children of interracial marriages.

    I hope that we will progress to a society of color blindness, but we still have our cultures that can be very different as well. As a black female, I do not feel, I have the same choices as my white counter parts. I think my choices of potential mates is very limited.

    Thank you for allowing me to express my opinion.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:46 am |
  7. Tyone

    The white community have been blinded by skin color forever . They line up to worship white men as the Messiah. They are unable, or too stupid to see that “WHITE MAN” is playing them once again!
    Not only stupid whites but also stupid blacks have been falling for the white Messiah. We have vote WHITE and MALE for too long………….Whites should be very mad ……given the fact that this country has been pro-white and still they are getting no more respect then non-whites…………Some like in this blog are still stupid as the day is long…………They want to continue to vote stupid …….They pay just as high gas as non-whites……..600.000 to a million blacks and whites are losing there homes……..food price are just as high for whites as blacks. This must be very upseting to whites they have discrimination against non-whites. They have lied……… fixed jury been able to murder blacks in cold blood and UNARMED!. Whites have never under stood American value nor have they been taught by there parent. So what whites should be doing is thinking……….and looking at the condition of the country…Remember American history . It is a time for change . Whites have been taken for sucker …….they are treated like coward …stupid and racist ….but not by non -whites. The white pundits inform white on how to feel about others . Who white should fear and what whites should love. They know that whites…….HEAR IT! BELIEVE IT and REPEAT IT!. With no investigation on there own.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:45 am |
  8. Jason

    Pathetic. This is a pathetic attempt by CNN to stir up race and class war in an attempt to elect a liberal president. We're all Americans.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:40 am |
  9. Rick, Arizona

    First off we gotta quit using the term African-American we are Black. Black is the color from which all other colors or hues come. If a White man had heritage in Africa and that was his roots, he would be an African American!

    Black men are targeted. It is our time to rise and just like in the times of Jesus there was a conspiracy. Historically, mathematically, and factually speaking it is our time to rule. The powers that be (Rich Jews that own CNN and that control everything we do) are working very feverishly to stop it. Notice how Obama keeps takling being faced with questions about Isreal. That is just the cold hard facts.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:37 am |
  10. Tyone

    Discourtesy insulted disrespected, these are some of the feeling that I had looking at Blacks in America". Number one to tell the story of Blacks in America. And not tell that coming in two weeks . Whites in America or Hispanic in America etc.... Is a insult! THERE IS NO BLACK AMERICA!!! Blacks are not a science project nor are we from another planet. Blacks are American citizen with a special history of discrimination and disrespect! Slavery , Jim Crow , Segregation ,Discrimination, White police officers shooting of black police officers! Pure Hatred! Police Shooting of unarmed black men women and children rangeing from 5 years old to 92 years old. UNARM &SOMETIMES INNOCENT! Now when other races can say that they deal with the same. Then and only then can you compare races! Can blacks do better for thereself ? YES YES YES! But so could many others! The worse of all insults is the story of black people told over and over by white people! So I challenge Anderson Cooper & Soledad O'Brien to Whites in America or Hispanic in America etc.. Be fair & balance! Stop the one sided story of a group of Americans! Be honest tell the truth when you do a show on other races! There should not be another program on being Black in America until there is a show on being White in America!

    July 24, 2008 at 12:37 am |
  11. Pierce

    Also, there is a catastrophe looming in business/society.
    Tens of millions of unemployed teens are too into hip-hop, rap and death lyrics and partying to have much inclination to work. I see this every day when businesses go begging for workers and only immigrants will fill the need.

    So, this huge, unemployed, low-skilled undereducated work force will one day HAVE TO seek jobs and, guess what?
    They will be 10 years behind every one.
    Sad.
    Let's fix the problem, and I don't mean with money.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:35 am |
  12. Gary B

    I was born and raised in Baltimore. I come from a two parent household. I have 4 other successful sibling. I went to public and private school. My father was a policemen and my mother worked for the federal govt. My three sisters all have masters degrees. My brother has a high level position in the federal govt. I have a BS. I'm a CPA. I have been a President and COO of an Insurance brokerage firm. I was it's only African American employee.Today I work for myself as a consultant in the insurance industry, I've seen and experienced racism but none of that has ever stopped me from seeking success and the being the best. I have no children out of wedlock.I'm married to a wonderful black woman and I have 7 children . I have 3 boys and 4 girls. My 3 sons are all successful college graduates. My oldest daughter is in her 2nd year of college. Number 2 is a high school senior and the last two are in the 5th and 4th grades.I was raised to respect people and the law . I was raised to work hard and do your best and be the best. I have instilled the same values in my children. Success can breed success. The media needs to focus more on the positive images. Black in American is a start. Thanks CNN for your courage. Please show more positive images.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:21 am |
  13. David in Miami, Florida

    Soledad, I've read a lot of the blogs and many of them have already said much of my thoughts. However, I want to thank you for bringing the discussion to the forefront. I was born in the US VI and when my mother moved to the US it was totally different. I am in my middle 40's and have experienced several challenges to what I believe has everything to do with being black.

    So, thanks and keep up the good work. I believe that if we talk about it enough in time (the near future) change will come and a better understanding of the challenges of Black/African American is much different to White American and other ethnic groups.

    We have internal challenges within our communities and once we beat those odds, then we have what is called the real (or other) challenges of the world.....may you, your colleagues and family be blesses.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:18 am |
  14. Lee P.

    I find it amusing that CNN decides to do a "Black in America" show in an election year. Who would have thought it? lol. Wonder which candidate this CNN show might help get out the votes for? And yet, ever so often, I turn on CNN and find their anchors and reporters in a discussion about whether media is biased, or not. CNN may as well put up a sign saying "Vote Obama"! For those who wonder why blacks may may be questioned by police, or accused of doing something wrong more often than whites, I suggest you take a look at the statistics for crime in the US. A few years back, I saw an FBI statistic for violent crime in the US, and even back then blacks were committing 60% of all violent crime. That's violent crime now, and don't include all crimes. And blacks are only 10-13% of the total population. It's no wonder that the law, or anybody else, keeps an eye on black people. That don't mean there aren't some decent black people, which there are. I know some myself. But it explains why blacks may find themselves being checked out by the law. And also, as long as the MLK, slavery documentaries,and network shows about such, keep being aired 365 days a year, there will be no decrease in the amount of hate and animosity stirred up. Let it lay, and get on with life.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:13 am |
  15. Mike in San Antonio

    I've always wondered if it would be better for all of us if we got rid of that damn hyphen! My belief is when people all start caling themselves Americans of XXXXXX heritage instead of African- American, Mexican-American, Japanese-American, etc. it will be much better for this country. Also, one response to "dontletmebemisunderstood": As a white man there are MANY times that I ask myself "Can I travel to this area? What will happen if I go into this store? Did that person get the raise I deserved just because the company is feeling bad about what happened over a hundred years ago and needs to be PC?" We are all in the same boat and the more people have to keep reminding everyone else that "they" are different and "they" need special consideration, that boat will keep going in the same sad circles.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:08 am |
  16. beck ny

    my last comment was to say my son never had me i his ear telling him not to apply you are black and only whites are there in stead i always told him there is no difference and you be loved where ever you go and acceptted and he was . Now he is not a stupid kid he nows there are hateful people but he does not let them effect his life if he did that would be letting them win and me and my kids wont let that happen i am teaching my kids if you live a good life , honest and smile dont frown its only up hill. Ya he was pulled over and racial profile but when he was done with the cop they were laughing and he gave him no ticket , well becuase he did nothing wrong but still he had him laughing when him an his friends told me that i laughed too . he felt impowered

    July 23, 2008 at 11:59 pm |
  17. beck ny

    well put but like i said on the other log my children are black and are benefiting from there color in every way like going to a top five collage for engineering because he is black all paid for threw his phd and for his masters he will be going to Europe for studies for 6 months all school paid for he was taken with a 79 average from high school and to get in this school you needed 85a average they over looked the difference because they needed to meet a standard with the government . Now i think god he is black because i could never pay for this school many other things have happen if you are a good kind human with a good smile .
    My son was the first black to work at a gulf course , you know what the owner told me after 4 years of my sons teens for working there, i asked well my son was the first African American you ever had here he said HE WAS THE FIRST AND ONLY TO EVER APPLY , I thought all night about that all most blacks and all people need to do is just try things don't assume that because there are only whites or any other reason you should not go for it.

    July 23, 2008 at 11:50 pm |
  18. Kimberly

    I love my black men, my black people!!! I am very proud of what A LOT OF US HAVE BECOME...WITH WHAT WE HAVE ENDOURED & ARE STILL ENDOURING!!!!!

    Watching this piece made me sick, because it only shows how much some of us are still being discriminated against i.e. the father & his 2 children in Brooklyn. & HOW IN THE HELL DID BLACK WOMEN BECOME MOST INFECTED W/ HIV/AIDS, WHEN IT STARTED WITH GAY WHITE MEN & NEEDLE SHARING DRUG ADDICTS!!!!

    However, WE ARE STILL A POWERFUL GROUP OF PEOPLE!!! & NO MATTER WHAT OBSTACLES WE WILL HURDLE THEM AND CROSS THAT FINISH LINE!!!!

    UMI SAYS .....Mos Def

    July 23, 2008 at 11:30 pm |
  19. Dontletmebemisundastood

    The black community is not bitter. If you are black, you must be reminded of who you are on a daily basis. Can I travel to this area? What will happen if I go into this store? I have more skills and drive, why is that white woman getting this promotion? Your character does not ever transcend your race. There are disadvantages for some, there are opportunities for few. Reserved for whites and hispanics.

    We as African Americans do need to get our priorities straight. We know the Law is different for us. Yet, we continue to kill and cut down our own. We destroy our own communities with drugs and violence.
    Black women make it acceptable for there not to be a father in that child's life. Have four or five different baby daddy's, and complain about being a single parent. They run up behind a man and forget their children and wonder why the street has raised their children. Why their child is in prison or dead. All the while knowing their child is committing these crimes. Got their hand out for drug money, the new car or fur coat. Young men don't grow up respecting women and the young ladies don't know what it is to be a lady.

    We never try to raise each other up. I find this especially true with black women. They are never as supportive to one another. I can say this because I have never been as hurt by someone white, as I have by my own people. The problems in the African American communities are the faults of the mothers and the generations before them. The women make it acceptable to act the way they do. If you had more women respecting themselves, you would have better black communities. Its time for black women to start loving themselves.

    Black women do not want to help other black women. It begins with the women of the black community. If you carry yourself with no consideration for yourself and others, expect to be labeled as such. Each generation will pay the price. Everyday the black community grows worse and worse. There is no hope, for us.

    July 23, 2008 at 11:29 pm |
  20. Mike D

    Are you kidding about blacks in America. I'm going to start a show white in America. See our struggles. OHHHH wait I'm white, I don't have problems like Black people, BS. get over it. you need to earn respect to get respect. Obama is doing that pretty well. now others follow suit. Of course people judge, they judge race, disability's intellgence, EVERYTHING. We live in a prejudice world, and with a country with such a large array of races/cultures, that's what happens. All it takes are people to prove the person they are, and people will repect it and there would be no racism/prejudice between those people. Who cares what the "world " things about a certain culture, worry about what your neighbor thinks.

    July 23, 2008 at 11:25 pm |
  21. Vince

    Black women tend to set standards very high. Some of the young women at least. You can not expect life to always imitate art. Black women remembers a guy for what he has on, jewlery, or the car he has. It is hard enough out here to survive alone but, to try and provide for two is harder. Not impossible but hard. If a young black guy tries to take the road not taken (aka the long road) like education instead of crime he is viewed differently. He's not noticed until someone needs help with his/her homework. I consider myself a gentalman. But people and especially women take it for granted. If a guy holds the door at least say thank you. its not his job

    July 23, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  22. Thomas

    As you read through the opinions, everyone has a point here and there. However the fact is that every group that has come to this country under whatever circumstance has had to pay their dues. Whether your irish, italian, jew or black. Whether your hispanic or asian all have felt the wrath of another. Everyone but the blacks move on. Everyone has had doors slammed in their face, everyone has been turned down, but you move on, try harder and show that you have something to offer. School, a job and life are what you make it. If you don`t believe that hard work and perciverance pay off, then your doomed to a life of whining.

    July 23, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  23. Todd N.

    Today I waited at a bus stop in Seattle. During that 10 minutes, a younger black man was talking out loud to himself, as if to act "crazy" and scare people around him intentionally .

    Then he asks me if his bicycle is in my way, and if it is, I can move it. I say no, it's not in my way. He then tells me what a dumb mother-fuXXer I am for not moving his bike out of my way.

    Then I tell him he has a nice bike (which he did). He then proclaims that if I touch his bike, I am an even dumber mother-fuXXer and that his bike is getting on the bus with him - as if my intent is to steal it.

    This is the extent to which I have conversations with many black men these days. I find many of them to be angry, confused, and even senile. Why anyone is afraid of people this whacked is beyond me. I can run circles around people like that.

    July 23, 2008 at 10:31 pm |
  24. Robert Rice

    Fix the Black Family and you'll fix 90% of the problem. I would be either dead, in jail or a burden to society if it wasn't for my mother and father teaching, showing and setting a good example for me everyday. I did not grow up rich nor was I poor. We had the basics and every once in awhile we got a little more. We were taught early that you are responsible for you. I cut grass, raked leaves and shoveled snow and when I turned 16 got a part time job and have been working ever since. To this day at 41 years old, I call my parents weekly about my job or my life. They can be proud that they raised a law abiding, tax paying contributor to society.
    Fix the Black Family and you'll fix 90% of the problem. Or don't and continue to allow other people to live in nice neighborhoods, drive decent cars, have decent jobs, and raise good kids. Continue to be apart of the problem and not part of the solution.
    I'll let you all in on a little secret, whites don't want you to. They don't need more competition. Keep milking the government cow and the whites will continue to own it, run it and control it.

    July 23, 2008 at 10:31 pm |
  25. Jarvis Obarakpor

    Great job, Soledad. I'm very impressed with your work.

    July 23, 2008 at 10:29 pm |
  26. Vickie

    Why does everything have to be about black or white? Anytime anything happens to someone that is black they think it is because of their color. And now there is question if marriage is only for white people. This is just ridiculous. The black people have every right as anyone else, they have the same choices, etc. and they make the wrong decisions just as every other race. I personally refuse to call any black "African American" because either they are African or American. I have been to Africa and may be more African than many black people as they have never even gone there. Who is to say I didn't have relatives from there? Doesn't make me African.. If they want to be here and be Americans then "put your big girl panties on" and just be here and quit the complaining. The "being picked on" because you are black is an excuse for you doing wrong... If you act guilty you are treated guilty. The black have a chip on their shoulder and when they go places they are just looking for somoene to be racist against them so they are always defensive and ACTING GUILTY. So stop it and people won't be so quick to judge.

    July 23, 2008 at 10:26 pm |
  27. Michael, Pensacola, FL

    As a black man, I try to set an image for my nephews and young black men that I know which is so different from the clownish caricatures that they're exposed to every day in movies and media. While I'd love to take credit for it all, I just have to point to my father that's been with my mother my entire life. 71 years old, stresses education, hard work and keeping the family name respected in the community. I know there are other good black men out there like him and where they do well, others are learning to do the same.

    July 23, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  28. Matthew

    What is it to be black? I don't think anyone who doesn't see out the eyes of a black man understands. Some believe the misconception of a black man between one being biracial or black as being out of the question. Leaders of the past being movers and shakers who have been biracial were disqualified from whites as being out of touch or radical. Obama although, being the exception in America to Americans from a disconnection to the advesary. The secret is what you know. Jesus says the truth shall set you free. The truth is dangerous. Because when you have it, you see no other way but Gods way. And all of this has to do with who you are. If it is biracial, what was the burdening root or cause to being. Being black it denotes a great historic past of royalty and dignity demised by what used to be socialism to imperialism.

    July 23, 2008 at 10:13 pm |
  29. Mike in NYC

    Larry posted:

    "Barack never new the experience of growing up disadvantaged; he was always encouraged by his mom to work as hard as he could."

    Are you implying that part of the “disadvantage” that many blacks experience is not having parents that encourage them? If you are, you're correct.

    DEBORAH ADAMS posted:

    "In response to the Pike incident and the Jena 6 incident. They both remind us of what it is like to be a black man in America!"

    The Jena case was a fraud from beginning to end. Read the article by Craig Franklin, a Jena journalist and resident, for a thorough dispelling of popular Jena myths.

    July 23, 2008 at 10:10 pm |
  30. Cynthia

    Manuel, I absolutely agree with you. Although I understand and I am sensitive to the struggles of the African American community throughout history I strongly believe it’s time to move on.
    Slavery existed in the United States that is a fact but it was abolished a long time ago, and it was not the only place in the world where slavery existed however the African American community in the United States is the only one that seems unable to move forward. Slavery existed in Europe and it included whites enslaving whites, so slavery was not just an atrocity committed against blacks.
    And social injustice continues to happen around the world but it is not limited to the African American community either.
    It is true some white people don’t like black people, but it is equally true that some black people don’t like white people. When the African American community continues to demonize whites (and frankly lately it seems everyone else in the world as well), it only serves to perpetuate the racial divide.
    And finally although I am sure Soledad O’Brian’s piece on Blacks in America will be interesting, I wonder if anyone in CNN will do a similar report on being Latino in America, or being Asian in America, Being Arab in America or being Catholic, Mormon, Muslim or Jewish in America. How about being a single woman in America trying to get equal pay as their male counterparts? I doubt it…

    July 23, 2008 at 10:04 pm |
  31. jbdavis

    STOP ABUSE OF WELFARE SYSTEM: As a 60-year old Black American, I have come to realize that the poverty, education, health, and other problems of Black Americans is caused by personal choices of unwed motherhood and the social welfare system.
    The solution for Black Americans problems can be reduced when we as women reduce the number of children we choose to have without strong fathers who can provide adequate income, better chance of a stable household, security, not to mention a positive male role model for the boys in the household.
    This solution should be your focus but this solution is one that most Black Americans don't want to face.

    July 23, 2008 at 9:58 pm |
  32. michele

    Rick, unfortunately you are what is wrong with "some" Black men in America. Is your mother Black? Do you have sisters who are Black? What about aunts, nieces, daughters? Your comments generalize every Black woman in the U.S. and I'm certain you do not know us all. Not every Black woman has a "funky attitude, no sense of humor, act childish, have very poor judgement in treating Black men, act stupid thinking...." and the rest of the rubbish you wrote. But then again, I am sure anything I have to say on this matter will more than likely been seen by you as another Black woman having a "funky attitude and no sense of humor". Thank God that there are Black men who understand that we are all individuals, and that the few do not define the many.

    July 23, 2008 at 9:58 pm |
  33. DAltman

    Wow...some of the comments here are very unnerving. I doubt the answer is finger pointing. Instead lets look at the problem the racial divide has yes caused amongst all individuals.
    I see some of our black men as endangered...I see the years of defeat and uneasiness on many of their faces. But I also see the strength, compassion and love many of our black men have for our black families. NO perhaps the situation was not always the best but how do we continue to build and grow our black men to reach the level of inner and outer success GOD has established for them. Black woman and man are going through the same perils, unfortunately we are FAILING to communicate these perils with each other.
    I need all of the strong black men in my neighborhood, in my classrooms, at the workplace and anywhere else I turn. No we all need our beautfiul strong black men to help us as partners reclaim and rebuild our children and sustain our parents.
    The videos and its rappers are giving our young men and women an allusion of poverty to riches causing our youths to turn their backs on education for the quick dollar. But this again goes back to the parents in the home. Our black families are suffering at alarming numbers and single moms and dads are left to handle situations which require the team-work and effort of both parents. This is all common sense the issue at hand is how do we get ourselves out of this mess together!!!

    July 23, 2008 at 9:49 pm |
  34. Delaware Joe

    I don't get it. I live in a middle class racially mixed neighborhood outside of Dover, Delaware. We (for the most part) are all hard working decent and honest people. We all stand out in our front yards and chat about whatever and get along. The black neighbors have mostly come from New York and Philly looking for cheaper housing and the white neighbors are mostly from central Delaware home of Nascar and pumpkin' chunkin'. We get along so well and race never comes up. Then I get on CNN and read articles and blogs and everyone talks as if we are all so different and blacks this and whites that and blah, blah blah. In my mind we all want the same thing, to be happy. So everyone should quit their griping, moaning and finger pointing and just start talking like we are all on the same playing field...because we are. Life isn't a gimme for 99.99% of the people out there so quit making excuses and get on with it.

    July 23, 2008 at 9:40 pm |
  35. Chris

    What about being White in America? No one wants to talk about the less fortunate white folk in this country. What about the time I was told that I could not apply for financial aid because I was not black.

    July 23, 2008 at 9:24 pm |
  36. seah

    For the past 30 years, even in the schools the taug ht all people are equal.
    From Kindergarten on up. From Sesame Street to disney.

    The majority of the peopl e in this country, have adjusted, adapted and became accustom to and made it a way of life. That all are equal no matter what the color of anyones skin.

    There might be some areas that have not fully developed to it. Far less than the black people are admitting to now.

    It is more how the Black community looks at it. Their perception of it is. Most Black pastors and Black communitry leaders over the past 30 years continue to preach slavery and anti white sentiment. Establishing and attitulde and not letting the black community move forward.

    The black leaders and preachers, want everything handed to the black community. The lead the black people to believe they deserve to have everything handed to them. Which is one of the major problem areas.

    Their are as many poor white people as poor black people, The same for homeless, under educated, sick and with out health care.

    Today is 2008, People need to look at people in 2008. Not 1765, 1850 or other time in history. History is gone and past, No one can go back and change it. All we have is today and now. As soon as people Grow up and realize that, and Realize No one owes one group of people over another, for any reason. This is present day america, Deal with it, or move to a nation of your choice.

    The Government is not here to support anyone, They can assist and aide when really needed. Those wanting everything handed to them, Need to grow up and realize, They need to take responsiblity for thier own lives. Thier choices and descison will effect their lives.

    All Americans should be Americans. A citizen of the United States should be an American Citizen, Not a African-American, Jewish American, Cuban American, etc etc. Just American. those who feel they can not commit to America and only America Should leave.

    July 23, 2008 at 9:24 pm |
  37. razicudlo

    When madness rules, reason and common sense cease to exist.

    July 23, 2008 at 9:17 pm |
  38. George Shen

    In a bright sunny Tuesday afternoon, my 6 year old boy came back home very sad. I ask him why. He said, "My friends (5 white boys in pre-school) stop playing with me because they said I am a Chinese." My son was born and raised in the U.S. and only visited China once in his entire life. He may look Chinese but his value, language skill, cultural background have all been nothing but American. His school is in a very upper/middle class neighborhood in suburban Boston where most of kids are from very well-educated families. How these 6 year old boys know 1. he is Chinese 2. Chinese are all bad? And just because he looks chinese? More disturbing is why these parents feed their kids information like this to pass the racism and hatred to the next generation?

    As an Asian, I can feel black's pain. We are still far from a society where all races are equal.

    George S. (Boston)

    July 23, 2008 at 9:13 pm |
  39. Zachary Kraus

    I am so hopeful that all this new openess to talking about race, and powerful speeches on all things race will prepare the black community for some 'real talk'. Its over. There are no more secrets. We are your neighbors, your co-workers, your husbands..it needs to all come out..

    July 23, 2008 at 8:52 pm |
  40. rick

    There is nothing wrong with black men in the U.S. The problem is that black women do not want to submit. American values have corrupted what is normal for them. Jobs are given to them first then they become materialistic. They look down on their own black male children as well as their own potential mates. The black female mind in the U.S. is sick. They got a funky attitude, no sense of humor, act childish, have very poor judgement in treating black men, they act stupid thinking they're mature, and they stick their hand out before they put their legs up. This country needs a civil war in order to straighten everything out. I myself as a U.S. black male prefer latinas and brasileiras of African descent.

    July 23, 2008 at 8:37 pm |
  41. ChrisDawg

    I think MLK got it right, your character transcends your race. Some folks don't like others because of the way they look, and that's not going to change for some. The best way to make this bigotry go away as to act as God would want us to, to follow the golden rule and set our standards of conduct based on our own morality, irrespective of what others say or do.

    Eventually those who continue use hate and fear mongering, whether white or black, will become less and less relevant.

    July 23, 2008 at 8:21 pm |
  42. Manuel

    Wow! Everyone who is black all of a sudden must awakened and realized that they are black. Why is it all of sudden that we're being bombarded with black in America, the hardships of blacks, the injustices for all blacks, the disadvantages for blacks, the unfair injustices that blacks have endure, etc. etc. My gosh, all of a sudden we're even bringing up the injustices of the 60s, 50s, 40s, even slavery. Lets look in the mirror, let's get over the past and move forward. Let's look at injusteces for all man kind, for all us the fabric of America. Not blacks, not whites, not hispanics, Asians, etc. Lets look at the the disadvantages for all people. The unfairness for all of us hard working Americans. I'm beginning to think that the African American community is a bitter community, unwilling and unyielding to let go of the past and make us all pay now in the future for a great injustice committed in the past. Lord helps us if we are to continue to be a divided society, then we will end up bitter!

    July 23, 2008 at 8:12 pm |
  43. BobbyBrown

    "In response to the Pike incident and the Jena 6 incident.They both remind us of what it is like to be a black man in America!"

    Yeah, 6 black youths attack one white youth from behind and 10k+ black people march for their cause. Such a great example of the priorities of the black community.

    July 23, 2008 at 7:59 pm |
  44. BobbyBrown

    And how about those black men who hate white men? Oh, I forgot, why should you bother with such an unimportant crime problem. Let's only focus on white men hating black men, since that's all that matters. And people wonder why resentment is such a major factor today, lol.

    July 23, 2008 at 7:58 pm |
  45. Rick; Oregon

    Fundamental problem is early displacement from homelands.

    Current university transfer students from Africa to USA are quite competitive.

    Americans, black and white, must confront "contributory negligence" principle dispassionately.

    I sense dispassion as Barak Obama's strongest suit.

    July 23, 2008 at 7:56 pm |
  46. Peter J. Popp

    Isn't it time to stop all this racial profilling crap and get on with our lives as god intended us to do? The world is small place and biggotry has no place in it. It's time to lay down our hatred and plan for a future, because it looks mighty bleak without EVERONES help. You can't possibly believe your better than your neighbor because of the color of their skin , their religion, or social & economicle placement.
    GET OVER IT, AND START LIVING!
    Time is short...

    July 23, 2008 at 7:53 pm |
  47. DEBORAH ADAMS

    In response to the Pike incident and the Jena 6 incident.They both remind us of what it is like to be a black man in America!

    July 23, 2008 at 7:38 pm |
  48. NIna K

    Thank you, Jami, for this great piece. I, too, have known some wonderful black men; men like my father (b. 1925, d. 2004) and godfather and cousins who work hard and take care of their families, who hug their kids and encourage them to excel in school, who help their neighbors (black and white) and go to museums and follow world events. They are diverse, intelligent, and interesting people and they are nothing like the majority of black male characters we see on TV.

    I have really come to appreciate the recent spate of police procedurals (“Law and Order” in all its forms, “CSI,” “Without a Trace,” “Cold Case,” etc.) for their positive depictions of professional people of color. However, because of their large ensembles, the great casts of these shows rarely get to show us what their characters are like off the job. Since the end of "The Cosby Show," this tends to leave us with the unfortunate "House of Payne" and "Martin"-type characterizations that the previous poster mentioned.

    I also think that television, for all of its seeming liberalism, has not kept up with the times in terms of its depictions of racially and culturally diverse households. It is unusual to see racially mixed couples or families on TV unless their family composition is driving the plot (typically either a source of humor or a source of tension). Even commercials tend to shy away from interracial/ethnic families and couples. I'm constantly surprised by the commercials for eHarmony because they seem to suggest that the company's "Scientifically Proven Compatibility Matching System" only finds you partners who match your race or ethnicity. Maybe they make other matches, but those don't seem to be the success stories they are touting.

    Thank you for speaking out in support of more accurate depictions of people of color in our media-oriented culture. For many people in our country and around the world, television is their first and primary source of information about black America. It's time that the media conglomerates started showing the full range of American experiences and accurately depicting people of color in their programming.

    July 23, 2008 at 7:30 pm |
  49. Larry

    It would be hard for any african-american to follow the path of Barack Obama. Barack was raised by his white mother and her parents. Barack never new the experience of growing up disadvantaged; he was always encouraged by his mom to work as hard as he could. He went to the best schools.

    July 23, 2008 at 7:06 pm |
  50. Fay, CA

    And I know so many other black men. None of them shuck and jive through their days. Where I work, there are many who put in long hard days producing television pieces, carrying heavy camera and sound equipment, and generally contributing to the business of broadcast journalism.

    You almost would never know these men existed since the pervasive image of blacks tends to be of the "shuck and jive" sort. It is distressing to me that people like Tyler Perry with his television program and Martin Lawrence in movies, still insist on pushing these buffoonish images of black men instead of using whatever power they have to help present a more positive image of blacks–they should take into consideration the young African American kids who may watch these programs and movies and how those images can have a detrimental impact on them, but it is also a good thing that these same kids now have a strong role model in Barack Obama. I am still a little shell-shocked that he has been able to come as far as he has in this presidential campaign–it is something that I never believed could happen. No matter what the ulitmate outcome of his run for the White House will be, it will no doubt have a positive effect on blacks for a long time to come.

    July 23, 2008 at 6:05 pm |
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