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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
soundoff (102 Responses)
  1. Larry

    Please don't lump me in with the 'rest of white America'. Many of us in 'white' America can encounter similar hurdles. I've had to relocate twice in my young career in order to advance. I'd even consider emigrating to europe if the right offer came along. I look at where the opportunities are and then plan. I don't expect to be like folks of the pre-1960s where they spent their entire lives in the same community.

    July 26, 2008 at 7:45 pm |
  2. DEBORAH ADAMS

    " Noose-sance"
    Why would anyone put up a noose?
    The only answer could be,ist to
    Show that ignorance is not bliss,
    But is still on the loose.

    The heads that need to go through
    That rope...
    Are those who live with hate not hope!
    Hope that one day...
    We could all be judged by
    Character,not color and
    Treated in the proper way.
    But we are continually
    Subjected to evil at every turn.
    The real nuisance is...
    Those who never learn!

    July 26, 2008 at 7:34 pm |
  3. Gary

    CNN will keep pushing ANY topic related to being 'Black in America' until their prefered Presidential candidate O-B-A-M-A gets elected.

    Hey, its not about race, or is it?

    July 26, 2008 at 7:31 pm |
  4. Michael

    Not to sound insensitive, but, are blacks the ONLY group in this country facing the brunt of society's ignorance? Hardly! What about sexism and homophobia?

    The latest round of Homophobic ads (Nike and Mars) and the re-emergence of anti-gay jokes circulating in the media and on TV ought to be getting some air time as well.

    I realize that we have a black candidate for president and that's a great thing. However, African Americans are NOT the only people in this country suffering under the tyranny of discrimination. How about a "gay in America" series?

    My partner was recently in th ehospital and the ER gave me grief and wouldn't allow me back with him even though we have all the "appropriate forms" filled out (Medical Power of Attorney). Why isn't CNN concerned with this pressing issue as well?

    July 26, 2008 at 7:30 pm |
  5. Carl Scharrer

    CNN isn't doing anyone any favors with this divisive and inaccurate perspective. I was raised in the slums of Baltimore, worked my way through college and have had to overcome affirmative action and diversity initiatives my entire career. On my first engineering job I was told, "We hired you even though you weren't black and weren't a woman. You are negative points." That was 27 years ago and it has only gotten worse. My daughters worked their way through college and had to overcome differential admission standards for law school and medical school which favored minorities. They earned their way as minorities got a free ride. It is a measure of Barak Obama’s courage that he began to address the truth of the Black American culture as a candidate. He will certainly have the courage to implement a solution as president. It is clear that the producers of CNN have none of his courage.

    July 26, 2008 at 7:28 pm |
  6. Quan'L

    There is certainly racism in America. There is also racism directed at Whites. When you see commercial directed at the Black community by Black businesses there is nary a White to be found. I'm offended by McDonald's commercials and other companies that are obviously directed at potential Black customers indicated by the racial make-up. Finding reasons not to succeed in this economy is easy. Competition is intense and those good jobs have gone to other cheap labor countries. Being older, even more experienced, is a real burden. The older, longer employed people are the first to go during lay-offs. To be Black is to potentially become a problem to fire later, so being racist up-front is more "economical" and more socially defensible. Don't want to be called racist if employment doesn't work out.

    July 26, 2008 at 7:25 pm |
  7. Gerri

    I am an African woman living in American and a professor of African American and African studies in one of the big ten universities. I grew up in a village in Africa where there was no electricity, no telephone, no running water, no television …. In the evenings, our biggest distraction was the radio. I went to school barefooted and remember all too well how I’d try to sit still in the evening so that my grandmother could extract the thorns that had pricked my feet on my way to and from school. In my late teenage, the year I was supposed to go to college, my father died in a car accident. So I began working as a typist and saved every coin I could. Five years later, I bought an air ticket to go to college in Europe as there were only two universities in my country and not enough places for all the students leaving high school. In Europe, I cleaned houses, baby-sat, ironed clothes … to pay for my studies. I worked my way to a Master’s degree in Europe. Then ten years ago, I got funding to do a PhD in one of the big ten universities in the US.

    When you have had the kind of trajectory that I have had—and trust me many Africans who make it abroad have lived lives that have been a thousand times harder than mine—it is very hard to understand how somebody can NOT make it in a country like this one where opportunities stare you in the face, knock on your door, chase you down the street even. This explains why Africans in America tend to be very critical of African Americans and “their woes.”

    It takes a lot of academic effort to understand the weight of history, the debilitating influence of the past, the legacy of familial dysfunction. About three years ago, I watched a documentary entitled “The Boys of Baraka” which follows four 12-year-old black boys from one of the most violent ghettos in Baltimore, Maryland. These boys had the same dreams that I had when I was twelve: to succeed in school and do something with their lives. But all their fathers were in prison or AWOL. My father was the most important person in my life. He imparted in me the virtue of hard work and the love for school—he had not be able to go beyond primary school due to circumstances beyond his control. He told me that I could do anything if I sent my heart to it and gave me an example to follow.

    I am all for personal and societal responsibility and believe that change from within the African American community will be the most defining feature for the future of African Americans.
    Yet, what Africans who criticize African Americans fail to acknowledge is that those of us who succeed in this country inherit and benefit from the legacy of those African Americans who fought against the injustices of the system. For all my hard work and efforts, I could not get a decent job in Europe—where racism is even more prevalent.

    July 26, 2008 at 7:25 pm |
  8. Michelle

    To Robbin- I don't think its necessarily that the majority of "white america" doesn't believe that race is a factor (you would have to be pretty naive to think that there is not still subtle and not so subtle racism in America), however, the fact of the matter is unless someone throws a racial slur in your face, you never really know if someone is being racist. Sadly, there are tons of discriminations in America today. Age, race, beauty, weight, and gender are all different ways that you could be discriminated against in a job interview. Is it a sad reality of the world? Yes. Is it fair in the slightest? No. The problem is that it seems like a lot of people decided that it was their race that got them disqualified for the job. That might have been true but it really could have been something else. Someone could see you and decide you’re too old. It just seems like a lot of people forget about all the other discriminations in the world and primarily focus on race. As a white woman, I can tell you I have been qualified for jobs that I have not gotten. Was it because I was a woman? Was it because I was too young? These weren't questions I asked myself afterwards. I just figured I wasn't a right fit. Who knows? Maybe the interviewer was discriminating against me for some unknown reason. That’s the problem with subtle racism. You never really know. The world is not a kind place and people will discriminate for a plethora of reasons. Unless you know if and how they are discriminating, it's really hard to fight back. As a side note: In the case of your husband getting paid less than his white co-workers, that is a shame and I really hope he fought back in some way.

    July 26, 2008 at 7:24 pm |
  9. mike

    I am sick and tired of this whole Black in America, whites are tired of hearing the complaining and blacks dont realize that they are only be exploited by the media and allowing another generation of young urban youths to have a closet full of excuses when they hit a roadblock in life.

    Lets next week to a show called white in America and just take the last two weeks in the news and see how we have to now get used to the animal mentality of women in WNBA fighting on the court, the NBA and NFL now have to have a special section of people whose only job is to make sure the players dont flash gang signals and how the mayor of Detroit was recently charged with roughing up some investigators when they arrived at his office and how he berated the black investigator for working with whites. That is the real black in America and until its acknowledged that they are the racists then nothing will get better.

    July 26, 2008 at 7:20 pm |
  10. Eric Brummel

    It's nice that CNN wants to acknowledge the challenges that "black" people face in America.

    In fact they feel that it is appropriate to sponsor a program "Black in America".

    It is unfortunate that CNN sponsors reverse discrimination. I would like to the the meltdown from Revem, Jackson and Al Sharpton if we had a program called "White in America".

    Poor judgement guys.

    July 26, 2008 at 7:18 pm |
  11. Merit

    In a discussion with the editorial board of the Washington Times on Thursday, Rice called racism a 'birth defect' of America, and said that black Americans have loved the nation even when it didn't love us.
    The Times reported:
    'Black Americans were a founding population,' she said. 'Africans and Europeans came here and founded this country together – Europeans by choice and Africans in chains. That's not a very pretty reality of our founding.'

    'As a result, Miss Rice told editors and reporters at The Washington Times, 'descendants of slaves did not get much of a head start, and I think you continue to see some of the effects of that.'

    'That particular birth defect makes it hard for us to confront it, hard for us to talk about it, and hard for us to realize that it has continuing relevance for who we are today,' she said.
    Rice later said: ' America doesn't have an easy time dealing with race,' Miss Rice said, adding that members of her family have 'endured terrible humiliations. '

    'What I would like understood as a black American is that black Americans loved and had faith in this country even when this country didn't love and have faith in them – and that's our legacy,' she said.

    Wow, was all I could say to that.
    What was even more stunning was the relative lack of coverage on this issue. I was told CNN's 'The Situation Room' did a piece on her comments Friday. But when I surfed the Net to see follow-up stories in other papers, it has pretty much been ignored, except for some briefs.
    Why would the mainstream media be so dismissive of Rice's comments? Imagine if Rev. Al Sharpton or Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. said such a thing. Do you think they would have gotten ripped?
    The fact of the matter is that Rice was right on the money with her comments, and should be commended. She spoke honestly and openly about the issue, and deserves credit for speaking the truth.
    I just wish my colleagues in the media would do a better job at advancing the issue of race in America and our sordid history.
    We went bonkers about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but when Rice, the nation's chief diplomat, spoke truthfully, it barely made a ripple.

    July 26, 2008 at 7:18 pm |
  12. Pat

    I am a caucasian immigrant, my husband is black, my children are bi-racial..

    I firmly believe there often is such a discrimination.
    Often, but not always. I hope we all have enough common sense to see the difference.
    In addition I have to say I somethimes felt discriminated against because of my non-citizen status.
    On top of this I have been told in my face by some of our black 'friends' that they would hire only black ...and since I looked white 'it should be easy for me to find a job'. ( I got R-I-F ed multiple times)
    In the end I found myself at a job where I and my only black co-worker got treated like an outcast in a majority white american company.

    I guess I am confused and deeply saddened by ANY type of discrimination.
    I never had to declare my racial background before I came to this country and to this day I feel very uncompfortable doing so.
    When my children who are bi-racial started school I clearly marked 'otther', just to get the paperwork for review stating 'black'.
    Go figure.
    (Just for the record: white and black is not a race, it's a skintone.
    There are black caucasians.)

    I very much love living here, but I also think it's time America gets it's act together and gets past this!
    .......I for my part always thought we all belong to the HUMAN RACE..

    July 26, 2008 at 7:18 pm |
  13. Louis

    Yeah, I guess the many black politicians and state and local police chiefs around the country went through the same issues as you. Barrack Obama is receiving a lot of white votes to become the next president and you are complaining that this country is still full of racists. Quit making excuses on why you or your husband can't get pay raises or higher paying jobs. I am white and I have been turned down for jobs for no reason and I have been stopped by police many times just because I "looked" suspicious. But that's ok because I'm white. Right???

    July 26, 2008 at 7:16 pm |
  14. alex

    i am white and so is my brother and we have the same story about difficulty finding a job. it has nothing to do with your skin color. the economy is bad and we're all having trouble. views like yours worsen society and racism in america. please stop grouping individuals like this cnn, you should be ashamed of yourself.

    July 26, 2008 at 7:15 pm |
  15. Kay

    I totally agree with Robbin. I'm black, college educated and have a bachelors degree in design. It took me many years before I was able to get a job working at an architectural company as an interior designer. And I had to move to D.C. (a place with a large minority population) just to get a break. – My experience has been the same as hers – I'd send out a resume, get a phone interview, and then I'd get an invite to meet in person. But once I appeared in front of the hiring manager, suddenly the "job was no longer available" or the employer "really didn't need to hire anyone until 4 months from now". I've talked to white friends and aquaintences who (like hers) believe that race is no longer an issue. Meanwhile at work, I'm one of a few ethnic minorities. Recently, I witnessed a white coworker with no more than a high school diploma get promoted ahead of me even though this person has a tenuous hold on design basics. A year ago, another coworker commented that I must be an affirmative action hire. – It's amazing the attitudes I encounter in corporate america! I believe this stems from a long standing belief that blacks are lazy and this belief greatly affects the availability of jobs for us. It's like were born suspect! Plus there is a general disconect when it comes to the subject of race and work opportunities in America. Even though the vast majority of the people in my city are black no one at work thinks it's strange that 95+% of the professional workers in my company are white. I know black designers who are out of work, but I don't know any white ones who are. A big part of the problem is that there are white managers out there who perceive themselves as not prejudiced, yet that same manager may confide to a friend that he didn't hire a candidate because he doesn't like working with blacks. Sadly, this is the way things are in America. Through my experience, I've found the old adage to be true: if you're black you have to work twice as hard just to get ahead.

    July 26, 2008 at 7:08 pm |
  16. John

    As a Black man I hat to think that color may be part of the reason why I have not been able to gain employment. Much like Robbin, I have been told I have an impressive resume. I have had phone interviews, the face-to-face seems to cause problems. I have gotten feedback, and all say that I handled my self very well. but...

    I work in an active industry, completed an MBA while working full time, held and succeeded in senior level positions, an veteran, articulate, no record of any sort, and well groomed. 99% of the people and boards I have interviewed with have been white. That includes government agencies. So what is it?

    July 26, 2008 at 7:01 pm |
  17. Cindy

    Race is still very much a factor these days. I am Caucasian and raised in a Caucasian family but worked with Vietnamese youth for 10 years. It happened to them on a daily basis. I remember helping one youth who had been in Canada for close to 10 yrs by the time his final school year came around. He still spoke with an accent and he still struggled with some words but overall his english was excellent. He had his first english essay due and he came to me to help him proofread it and edit it. I corrected the grammar in a few spots, some spelling and changed the structure of one or two sentences. Overall, though, I didn't make very many changes. His teacher failed him stating that the essay was too good and couldn't have possibly been written by him. He came back to see me that afternoon so upset because he had worked so hard on the essay. I offered to call the teacher and explain that yes it was in fact his and that had she given him a chance she would realize he was an incredibly bright young man who had simply worked hard on his assignment. He refused to give me her name as he didn't want to cause any problems. I wish I had pursued it more but chose to respect his wishes.

    July 26, 2008 at 7:00 pm |
  18. Peggy A. Webb

    Robbin's story is soooo true, and it is very sad. Some white people, and idiots like Larry Elder, want to believe that white people aren't like that, but they truly truly are.

    July 26, 2008 at 6:51 pm |
  19. Jason

    This is typically black whining. "I didn't get the job from the white interviewer because I'm black." I'm a white guy and there have been jobs that I didn't get maybe because I am a guy, maybe because I have black hair or just maybe there was someone who was more qualified. Racism is alive and well in America, but the majority of it comes from black americans who keep the cycle going just because they think if they don't get something it has to do with the colour of their skin.

    racist BLACKS IN AMERICA

    July 26, 2008 at 6:47 pm |
  20. Glenn

    Getting rebuffed after a job interview is something that happens to everyone – white, black, brown, purple, every color of the rainbow. I am as white as they come, and all through my 20's and 30's I was rejected during and after job interviews – and almost never told the reason. Career councelors estimate that it takes an average of eight interviews to receive one offer for a good, white-colar job – and that's assuming you're well qualified. It's the nature of the game for employers to interview many applicants for each position – that's just common sense. This simple fact dictates that most interviewees will be rejected. Of all the times this happend to me, no one ever cared. If I complained, I'd have been laughed off the stage.

    It's often said that we must open up a "dialogue" on race in America. But nearly always, the "dialogue" turns out to be a bucketful of propaganda where a "script" leading to a pre-determined outcome must be followed. If anyone does not want to pay lip service to the script, they are exluded from the "dialogue" (and likely branded as a racist as well).

    This so-called documentary is a nothing but a fraud. It's leftist agitprop intended to make people assamed of their culture – and make white people ashamed of their race. Don't fall for it.

    When will black people close the gaps in education, crime, and income? When they decide to finally and permanently abandon the role of victim. White leftists and black demigogues who exploit black people by brainwashing them into a lifetime of victimhood are the real villains in this story.

    July 26, 2008 at 6:39 pm |
  21. Matthew

    Is there any room for negative comments on these boards?

    These "Black in America" series of reports is really bringing out... how do I say it... those that are adept at gathering circumstantial evidence. What ever happened to adapt and overcome?

    My resume gets lots of hits too, and most of those hits do not result in employment. That's just a reality of life.

    July 26, 2008 at 6:38 pm |
  22. Jason

    I agree with Robbin even though im not a mixed race i am an educated black man who is working towards my degree as we speak. i have the same problem with employers once they see me because of my skin color. Some may disagree but i believe this to be true because of how friendly employers act on the phone and once you meet them they totally change. i have a common name for blacks and whites and i speak very well which makes it easy for employers to like me as a man on the phone looking for a job? my question is what is it gonna take for them to like me in person? seeing that i can't change my skin color....I am not Michael Jackson.................

    July 26, 2008 at 6:36 pm |
  23. Lisa King

    I am an African American woman who lives in a small town Altavista, Virginia and I see racism all the time here. I was raised in New Jersey and I just moved here about a year and a half ago. It is a huge difference bewteen north and south. For example white people here in Virginia hate the fact that Obama may be elected President. I hear comments all the time on my job about a black president. It is so sad that white people won't accept him for a educated man and overlook him being African American. I see it on my job how blacks are treated in the criminal justice system very unfairly if you can't pay for an attorney. If you are white and you have a paid attorney you get probation or totally free without jail time. Most black people can't afford a hired attorney so they have to settle for a court appointed attorney which they usually have to do time. I see it everyday on my job. Living in a small town white police officers target black people. I see how they look at you when you are driving, I am witness of it happening to me time after time. We still have a long way to go with racism in America. I thank CNN for this program, just maybe white people will wake up and look at us for who we are not by the color of our skin.

    July 26, 2008 at 6:34 pm |
  24. burke

    It is time to get on with everyones lives, in case you don't know blacks have been given housing, education, extra incentives for the past 48 years 1964 (Civil Rights Bill) There are many races who feel that as I do. I have black friends, Cuban, Indian, Orential etc. who have said the same as me and have worked hard and honestly.not sitting on there butts,that is why are prisons and jails are filled mostly with black.

    July 26, 2008 at 6:28 pm |
  25. T

    What is it with black people always looking at race as the reason they aren't hired or given a raise. The amount of education does not always mean more money. Job performance and other work related issues come into play. There's two sides to every story. What does a white person who has had had the same difficulty in finding work do? Blame it on the weather? Black people focus on race more than whites. White people are afraid to piss off black people because they can always play the race card. Times are changing (look at women in the workplace today). There will always be racist people (black and white) out there....the more successful professional black people in the workplace is the only way to really change things. And don't tell me black people aren't given a chance...because I just don't believe it. There needs to be a cultural change regarding education within the black community and its up to the black community to do it. Stop the whining. Get mad work hard and do something about it. Build the Network!

    July 26, 2008 at 6:22 pm |
  26. larry

    Being black and over 50, I have seen extensive racism over the years, and believe it never goes away. Economic times are especially hard, because some need a scapegoat. I work at a company that promotes diversity, on one hand publicly they are thebest, on the other hand people of color, ie blacks, have a hard time cracking the upper echelon job titles. As long as the race issue does not come up all is great, but bring it up and there is a lot of denial and cover up as to what is really happening. Such diversity includes whites can tatoo any symbol and get away with it, but if I were to wear my hair different then there is a policy that comes into effect to restrict its use or promote an issue to remove it, or change it. I believe if the person is capable and qualified he/she should be given the chance on equal footing.

    July 26, 2008 at 6:20 pm |
  27. Carol

    I am a black and I completely identify with what commenter Robbin has said. I lost my job 11 months ago and have applied to over 300 jobs. I don't have an ethnic name, but I graduated from a black college and I sometimes think that may have something to do with the lack of calls. When I have received interest in my resume and return the company's call, they don't call me back even after a repeated attempt or two to contact them. That is when I am certain that my race (most likely identified by my voice and school) has something to do with why I am still looking for a job in the abundant IT field.

    July 26, 2008 at 6:18 pm |
  28. Duke

    I want to apologize to every non-white in America. I am sorry that some white people aren't very nice. They are not that nice to me either. I never get invited to the neighborhood "good ole boys" meetings. If I ever find out where the meetings are being held, I'll be sure to inform the news media so we all can stop the madness.

    July 26, 2008 at 5:59 pm |
  29. Steve

    I'm white, early 30's, male. I've been on many job interviews and had many instances where I was not hired or never even recieved feedback. I've been in several instances where I've recieved an icy reception, for whatever reason, and had since determined that I had no chance from the very start.

    I attribute that to qualifications, first impressions, and personality differences. I don't have a "they didn't hire me because I am XYZ race, sex, age, whatever" excuse to fall back on. An excuse is exactly what that is.

    Call me racist, call me what you will. But I'm really just an ordinary working guy. I think people should be treated equally, Now, I hear black people complaining about opportunities, jobs, equality, etc., like the author of this story, and I think "when will the excuses end?" It sounds like a cop-out to me, and probably to a lot of other ordinary, white, working people.

    I worked my tail off for what little I have; there aren't any "networks to help white suburban people find jobs", or government programs to help out less qualified white people get into a good school. So when I hear these complaints, they sound exactly like the empty excuses that they are....

    July 26, 2008 at 5:59 pm |
  30. Marc

    Give me a break. Without seeing these people's resumes there is no way to tell why they aren't hired. What they see as undercover racism might be as simple to explain as not being at prior jobs long enough or jumping around from job to job during a time period. In our society if you hold multiple jobs for less then 3-6 years each you're blackballed. They don't want to hear that you're trying to improve yourself and your life, or that some jobs are VERY anti employee.. All they want to hear is they have their wage slave (no matter what color or race you are) for the long haul. Employers have the right to do everything from making you sign papers saying you won't sue them even if the work environment is downright dangerous to saying they have a right to look into your personal life. And don't even get me started on possible employers calling prior employers asking them what your work was like etc when legally they can only ask if you worked there from date a to date b, and if you were fired. They all ask inappropriate questions to dig up the dirt before they hire you whether the former employer's facts are correct or not. It never comes down to asking you what really happened.. It doesn't matter what color you are or how you feel, or whether you think you're a special and unique little flower or not... What matters is you leave a job the employer (if you're a good employee) will feel jilted whether you did a good job or not. It has NOTHING to do with race, it has to do with large companies keeping their dead ended wage slaves (again no matter what race you are) and making sure you know if you leave you're screwed... Look at the statistics... EVERY time the economy is bad and the job market is tough people come out with racist this or racist that, through the news media. Then look at who supports the news media. It's big business and big companies who in our society have the right to make the laws because they finance the media and political candidates.... Quid pro quo..... It has nothing to do with race except for the media using race as a distraction from the REAL ISSUES in our society.

    July 26, 2008 at 5:54 pm |
  31. Dave

    Robbin – I know exactly what you mean. After I got my degree in information technology it took 3 years and dozens and dozens of inteviews before I finally got my first computer programming job. I'm a white male. I thought it was hard and had to fight until I found it. You think it's hard because your black. The race card is old. Quit using it and stop whinning.

    July 26, 2008 at 5:49 pm |
  32. Bill B

    Once again for the 200 year, since slavery, here we are still talking about racism in this country, white america will never admit that racism plays apart in everything that goes on in this country. All you have to do is turn your Tv on and you'll see racism everywhere, blacks, hispanic, immigrants, and anyone who doesn't look white are being made to look like criminals. As a african-american this document is nothing new to me, I've been going thru everything that was on this special, from the job to just riding down the street, going into stores, applying for a loan, trying to rent a car, just everything, its a pain in the you know what, yes some days I feel like losing it but I say if I do whites will just say, see just like a black person always starting something.

    July 26, 2008 at 5:49 pm |
  33. William

    This is a joke. The vast majority of whites also lack the "connections" to pave their way to a cushy job and/or successful career. They must do what I did – rely on their own efforts and abilities to achieve what they can. Far too many blacks continue to harbor the delusion that their failures are the fault of someone else (i.e. the "white man"). The fact is that for most all of them, their failures are due to either their lack of effort or simply their lack of ability. And this is of course compounded by their continual reliance on the crutch of imagined white oppression. CNN and the rest of the liberal mass media do blacks no favors by reinforcing the myth.

    July 26, 2008 at 5:48 pm |
  34. Janet Haynes, EdD

    People are not color blind. It is extremely painful to admit that in America, decades after the Civil Rights Movement that our country is not a land of equal opportunity. It is disheartening to those who live, serve, and honor this country and disingenious of those who pretend that a "Second America" does not exist for those marginalized by race and color.

    July 26, 2008 at 5:46 pm |
  35. Daniel

    I am not American and I dont live in America, I am black African and I live in the UK. I can relate to Robbin's story. I am educated to postgraduate level. I go through the process of submitting my CV for jobs and the following online or telephone interviews and everything is fine. But when I meet the employer in person, dressed formally for the occasion they suddenly change their minds despite my impressive persentation which they acknowledge. I experienced this with Barclays Commercial, Westwood Park, UK.

    Here in the UK, there are many ways employers not favorably disposed to blacks use to make up their minds, for example Aldi a German retailer trading in the UK asks for your photograph when you send your CV even though they are not involved with modelling. If you are black you are likely not to receive a favourable response. My friends and I have experimented with this.

    July 26, 2008 at 5:44 pm |
  36. Alexis

    At my current job when I was first hired you had to have a college degree as well as the position above it. A few months later the job description was re vamped and we all noticed you no longer needed a college degree. We went to Sr Mgt with our concerns and we were told it would be changed back to requring a degree. Before that happened not one but TWO white employees were promoted to Project Managers who you guessed it DID NOT have a college degree!!! My department is I would guess 90% black but as I have just explanied they made sure to take care of the 10% who are white. How many black project managers do you know without a degree not many im sure. At my last job I was told on more than one occasion my degree did not matter and this went for black people who had Master's degrees as well. We teach our kids education matters and I still believe this holds true but we also need to prepare them for corporate america as well.

    July 26, 2008 at 5:42 pm |
  37. Richard Matt Cross

    Robbin's post is typical of what's really wrong with black Americans. The problems she describes are the same problems everyone has. I'm an unemployed white male. I also get many hits on my resume, get occasional interviews that never go anywhere BUT I'm competing with many other people for the same jobs. Her husband made less then his counterparts and now has trouble finding work, but is that because he's black or is there a job performance problem that follows him around? It's way too easy to say "good things don't happen for me becuase I'm black", when in reality other factors as involved. Race may well be a factor, but certainly not the only – or even the most important – factor.

    July 26, 2008 at 5:38 pm |
  38. Regina

    I agree with your comments and can understand what you are saying. I am not biracial..I am African American. I don't like when I see the blogs of how white america and some black americans say that we need to let go of the past where slavery is concerned. That would be fine if white america can get past it. Grant it, the black on black crime need to stop..we are a powerful nation(blacks) and we hold the pocket book to the american wealth. Once we learn and understand that then we can make changes. No one really is stating this. Black Americans are the ones who are making all the companies rich. Blacks need to learn to band together and be one and not be like crabs in a barrel. We are a mighy people and we need to act like it in a posistive way. Stop shooting our brothers and sisters because it is only helping the white man to get rid of us. We don't need the KKK, we are doing it to ourselves. How stupid are we, when are we going to wake up and fight for what is ours and not look for handouts. We need to learn how to fight effectively not through destruction and violence but thruough peaceful demonstrations. Look at Jenna 6..we have the power to bring down any wall that is in our way. We have to have the fight like Martin Luther King Jr, Malcom X, etc had done. There is strength in numbers and we know that we have alot of numbers. People wake up, stop the violence, get educated at any expense, open more business and support one another. Black men need to learn how to be real men and not free loaders and my black sisters, stop being so quick to let a man between your legs, have pride in yourselves. I can go on and on about blacks in america but I want to give a chance for someone else to comment.

    July 26, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  39. Ted

    Get over it. I'm tired of all the whining. Guess what, we all get discriminated against, we may be short, or fat, or not good looking, or have short hair or long hair, or white hair or no hair. It happens, it's life.

    Get beyond it, the truth will set you free.

    July 26, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
  40. constance

    thank u cnn for your effort to spread information on the subject of being black in america. your effort is commendable. next time nclude some real black people who have been ttruly treated black by blacks and whites and other races based upon the color of their skin almost entirely. im a baby boomer knew what it was like before and after so called integration. my opinion black people were able to make better strides toward education and training before integration. i am educated mostly self for truths sake. next time talk more about how people like sgt maj albert brunson were forced to become mindless individuals with absolutely no opinions he feels free to share in 2008! how sad it was to watch that interview!i would appreciate if u not interview any black people that pitiful in the future. you failed to emphasize a major factor in the deteriation of the entire american society. that problem is the dumping of drugs in low income neighborhoods to further disenfranchise an already almost hopeless way of life. adding insult to injury nothing is ever done about it. next time find some intelligent low income people who dont take drugs who try who look black who care who love america and the world and the planet and all creation. ask some whos suffering becase everyday is an uphill journey to survive jus because they are black.who learn to live and survive while maintaining their human dignity and dispite the plate the world dishes out to them can still LOVE. ask somebody black like me! im all around u open your eyes stop making me invisible. ask me. ill tell you the truth! then maybe we can make some real progress. enough of that im mixed mess! were all mixed! white people included!!! what about were all human and deserve to all be treated with respect!!! POVERTY IS NOT SYNOMOUS WITH IGNORANCE> i hope i live to see a time when black people will stop being so hopeless and afraid thank you very much..p.s. i was poor because i was a teacher.

    July 26, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  41. Gerri

    I am an African woman living in American and a professor of African American and African studies in one of the big ten universities. I grew up in a village in Africa where there was no electricity, no telephone, no running water, no television …. In the evenings, our biggest distraction was the radio. I went to school barefooted and remember all too well how I’d try to sit still in the evening so that my grandmother could extract the thorns that had pricked my feet on my way to and from school. In my late teenage, the year I was supposed to go to college, my father died in a car accident. So I began working as a typist and saved every coin I could. Five years later, I bought an air ticket to go to college in Europe as there were only two universities in my country and not enough places for all the students leaving high school. In Europe, I cleaned houses, baby-sat, ironed clothes … to pay for my studies. I worked my way to a Master’s degree in Europe. Then ten years ago, I got funding to do a PhD in one of the big ten universities in the US.

    When you have had the kind of trajectory that I have had—and trust me many Africans who make it abroad have lived lives that have been a thousand times harder than mine—it is very hard to understand how somebody can NOT make it in a country like this one where opportunities stare you in the face, knock on your door, chase you down the street even. This explains why Africans in America tend to be very critical of African Americans and “their woes.”

    It takes a lot of academic effort to understand the weight of history, the debilitating influence of the past, the legacy of familial dysfunction. About three years ago, I watched a documentary entitled “The Boys of Baraka” which follows four 12-year-old black boys from one of the most violent ghettos in Baltimore, Maryland. These boys had the same dreams that I had when I was twelve: to succeed in school and do something with their lives. But all their fathers were in prison or AWOL. My father was the most important person in my life. He imparted in me the virtue of hard work and the love for school—he had not be able to go beyond primary school due to circumstances beyond his control. He told me that I could do anything if I sent my heart to it and gave me an example to follow.

    I am all for personal and societal responsibility and believe that change from within the African American community will be the most defining feature for the future of African Americans. Yet, what Africans who criticize African Americans fail to acknowledge is that those of us who succeed in this country inherit and benefit from the legacy of those African Americans who fought against the injustices of the system. For all my hard work and efforts, I could not get a decent job in Europe—where racism is even more prevalent!

    July 26, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  42. jeffrey

    Robbin...

    I feel the same frustrations that you do. I feel sad at the comments I've been reading in regard to the "Black In America" project. It's amazing how many White people think they know what it's like to be born Black in this country, to grow up Black in this country, and to face racial discrimination as a way of life. As you say, they seem to see that race is no longer a factor. But, as long as attitudes like that exist, it will always be a factor.

    People can't see past their prejudice, so instead of knowing what they're talking about they pretend to know & believe in their own ignorance.

    Maybe we've come a little ways over the years, but we have so very, very far yet to go. I am encouraged that children of today will grow up seeing an African American as a legitimate candidate for the presidency & hopefully actually attaining that office. I think it will help them to look beyond the racism inherent in our society.

    Peace.

    July 26, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  43. DeForest Mapp

    Who is the intended target market for "Black In America"? White Latino or Asian or other? The documentary is well put together, however it tells me nothing I don't already know. We are on the cusp of electing the first "African-American" president and it seems as its somehow becoming more acceptable to talk about the reasons why Black men have problems. There is a huge responsibility to profile a good and even cross section of African American men across the socio-economic playing field. I believe for the first time, African American men as a whole are beginning to lift their heads up... probably because of Barack Obama. So now lets profile exactly what a "Black" man looks like... or should look like. Hmm.

    I hope something good comes of these dialogues sparked by "Black in America". I'm sitting here doing my normal Saturday routine and CNN is on in the background showing some of the most moving photos of MLK I've ever seen. I felt a little bizarre I guess because I never see in depth stuff on MLK outside of the month of February.

    If this piece of media is indeed tied to the first African American president and all that it could mean, I sincerely hope that divisions African Americans have among ourselves begin to disappear (ie complexion, size, hair texture, facial features, etc). I would be extremely disappointed if this were something to only advance someone's career.

    A sensitive discussion you've begun.

    Sincerely,
    DeForest Mapp, MBA

    July 26, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  44. Liz, from MO

    No doubt America has made lots of progress in race relations but the battle is far from being won. America still has a lot more to do, especially in dealing with people's attitudes (on either side) and more so on subtle racism.

    July 26, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  45. Willie Freeman

    I think a good follow up "Special" would be to have hidden cameras on many more appliants as they go out to seek employments. Many good qualified people are looking for work but and are not given adequate feedback to enable them to make appropriate corrections. I think it would be interesting to see how often discrimination is happening and in which cities. Lastly, it would be great if local cities that have solutions to assisting more people pull themselves out of a rut would make their information available to you so you can advertise the "help" at the end of your "Special"..(Black in America)
    This is my suggestion. I studied and worked as an EO advisor while in the military. I am not seeking lots of heated feedback to this email but I am attempting to make a suggestion that may shed more hidden racism than many employers are willing to admit.

    July 26, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  46. Robbin

    I am of mixed race, black and white, and was raised by an all white family. I am 38 years old and my husband is African American. I have a college degree, my husband does not. I was recently layed off of work and am finding the same subtle racism as described above. My resume gets lots of hits. I do a phone interview, everything is great. The minute I meet the employer in person, dressed professionally, etc., all of a sudden they're not interested anymore. I "appear" more black then white (although I am mixed). My husband has lots of problems finding work. He worked for 18 years in manufacturing. During that time most of his white counterparts excelled (they were all at the same education level) He decided to leave the company, by then he was making about $14 per hr, most of his white counter parts were at $2 to $3 per hour more (I know, I worked in accounting for the same company). I said all that to say that it is so sad to me when try to talk to my "white" family, whom I love dearly, about these issues, and they take on the same attitude as the rest of white America. Something else must be wrong with us. They do not believe that race is a factor these days. I am almost without hope that America will ever be an equal opportunity land. If my own loved ones are so blind...

    July 26, 2008 at 5:02 pm |
  47. Jhon

    That last comment had a typo in it. What I ment is what about African american men that don't have college or less than a steller backround what could be done for them???

    July 26, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
  48. Chris

    Americans are sick and tired of this alleged "unseen racism" that's behind difficulties SOME blacks have in getting jobs. I work in corporate America and have seen firsthand many, many examples of where blacks just basically have to show up. I've been told point blank I didn't get a job because I'm white and "no one gets points for hiring a white guy." I've seen blacks given larger bonuses even though they didn't deserve them because all they had to do was complain and use the words "discriminatory environment". As an HR manager said – "It's cheaper to pay it than go to court." I've seen black managers pulls resumes out of a stack because the names are blatantly black.

    I've also seen many blacks earn respect and accomplishments on their own merits and serve as role models.

    This whining about unseen racism has gotten old and worn out.

    Perhaps the black commnunity should study carefully the words of Derrick Ashong a black musician and entrepreneur when he said "Can anyone honestly argue that blacks in America have not contributed mightily towards their own sovial, economic and cultural demise."

    TIME TO GET OVER IT AND EARN IT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE!

    (I fully recognize CNN is too biased to actually print this.)

    July 26, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  49. Vence

    It's funny how lately the media has directed the attention to black people. these kind of problems have been existed for so many year. My question is what about immigrants, disabled people or widowers?
    There are still many lower levels in this society never mentioned on the media. Maybe the Obama effect is getting the attention for black only.

    July 26, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
  50. Paul Walton

    I have stayed up many nights observing the Black Holocaust which CNN choose to view. I want to know where were the top music executives of America, top Prison Wardens, Police Chiefs, even the Military, top educational officials that regulate and have control of the
    Black Male And Female Family in America were not questioned? It is interesting why a bunch of Caucasian law makers was`t Interviewed.

    July 26, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
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