July 26th, 2008
02:57 PM ET

Overcoming setbacks from color

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.

Michael Heard
CNN Producer

I had the fortunate opportunity to help produce the “Black Man” project for 'Black in America.' The pressure behind the scenes to illustrate the black experience was high. As you can imagine, everyone has their own opinion and everyone wanted to see this documentary succeed.

I introduced a character named Corey Mackie who has a difficult time finding employment. Despite his good qualifications, employers wouldn't hire him, nor would they give him a reason why. It’s a story often overlooked and difficult to illustrate, so a hidden camera was used to help give viewers insight.

I’ve personally experienced situations like Corey’s where I didn’t get feedback or the job.
I’ve never been called the “N” word, but I’ve often questioned subtle racism.

I also grew up in the projects of New York City and managed to finish college- that gave me connections to internships and other opportunities.

Corey’s setback, and many others like him, includes the absence of networks – Having family or friends who have gone to college before him and may be in hiring positions, or internships that lead to opportunities.

Thankfully Corey found an organization dedicated to helping residents in the inner city overcome this handicap. It’s called ERDA (East River Development Alliance).

I’m proud of CNN for their trailblazing programming on Black in America. And, I’m also enjoying the dialogue it is generating.

I look forward to being a part of much more.

Filed under: Behind The Scenes • Black in America