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August 9th, 2008
12:20 PM ET

Two Brothers, Two Paths: Shades of Race

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.

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Editor's Note: Michael Eric Dyson is a University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University, and author of 16 books, including the New York Times bestseller, "April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Death and How it Changed America."

Michael Eric Dyson
University Professor of Sociology, Georgetown University

As a black man who is also a professor, preacher, media commentator and author, I routinely write and talk about issues that affect the entire black community, from class warfare to the debate over hip hop. Although I write from as balanced and scholarly a perspective as possible, there’s no denying that often the subject hits home quite closely. Sometimes, it’s not merely academic.

For instance, I’ve written and spoken quite a bit about the prison industrial complex. I can’t deny that my brother Everett’s condition of being locked away for life, for a murder I believe he didn’t commit, fuels my determination to see black men treated more justly and to see the criminal justice system reformed. When I visit him, and see this intelligent and gentle soul corralled like an animal, it hurts. And I don’t view him, or other men who’ve made destructive choices in their lives, through rose tinted shades. I understand the harm and pain wreaked on their families and communities by black men who choose to live beyond the law. But I also understand that persistent racial discrimination often colors how we negatively perceive black men who make mistakes, while offering far more chances to white men who err.

FULL POST

August 9th, 2008
11:10 AM ET

AIDS: The Cavalry is not coming to save us

Program Note: In CNN’s Black in America, 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.

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Editor's Note:
This morning the Black AIDS Institute released a report entitled “Left Behind! Black America: A Neglected Priority in the Global AIDS Epidemic” The report praises U.S. efforts to address HIV worldwide, but criticizes what it terms a weaker response to the epidemic at home.

According to the report:

  • There are more black Americans living with HIV than the total HIV populations in seven of the 15 countries receiving PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief).
  • In areas such as Detroit, Washington D.C. and the Deep South, HIV rates among segments of the black community approach those of countries in Africa.
  • If black America were its own country, it would rank 16th in people living with HIV; 105th in life expectancy and 88th in infant mortality worldwide.
  • The U.S. response to its domestic epidemic is so weak that the country would fail to qualify for its own emergency AIDS relief program.

Pernessa Seele, who founded the group Balm in Gilead to disseminate accurate information about AIDS to black churches across the U.S, shares with us her view:

Pernessa Seele
Founder/CEO, The Balm In Gilead

I lift my hat off to CNN for its series on Black In America. Having grown up in the segregated South (Lincolnville, S.C.) and now at the age of 53 living in Richmond, Virginia, I can certainly speak of some of the changes and some of the “same ole thing” that black people encounter daily in these great United States. Health care is one of those areas that I must point to as the “same ole thing”, particularly the U.S. response to HIV/AIDS among African-Americans.

The response to AIDS in Black America has been awful. The average American (black and white) can only relate to the devastating AIDS epidemic in Africa, with no clue of the horrendous suffering Black Americans are enduring right here at home. America’s response to AIDS in Africa has been billions of dollars more than its response to its black citizens at home. FULL POST


Filed under: Black in America • Pernessa Seele
August 9th, 2008
10:41 AM ET

After Dr. King, it's still black and white

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.

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Reverend Al Sharpton
President, National Action Network

It was a brisk Saturday morning in November 2006, and I was en route to the weekly action rally at National Action Network in Harlem when my cell phone rang asking me to intervene at Jamaica Hospital in Queens where a young Black male had been killed by police. On the other end of the phone was Nicole Paultre, a 23-year-old woman who told me that her fiancé, Sean Bell had been shot and killed by the police early that morning.

I could not get anyone on the phone at the hospital where Sean and his friends were, (Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman, who were also shot). So I turned my car around and rode over to the hospital to obtain more information. That moment started what became the Sean Bell movement for justice, to put an end to police misconduct in communities of color.

FULL POST


Filed under: Black in America • Rev. Al Sharpton
August 9th, 2008
09:02 AM ET

Study: Black man and white felon – same chances for hire

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.

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Editor's Note: Devah Pager is Associate Professor of Sociology and Faculty Associate of the Office of Population Research at Princeton University.
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Devah Pager
Princeton University

Is racial discrimination a thing of the past?

Debates about the relevance of discrimination in today's society have been difficult to resolve, in part because of the challenges in identifying, measuring, and documenting its presence or absence in all but extreme cases. Discrimination is rarely something that can be observed explicitly.

To address these issues, I recently conducted a series of experiments investigating employment discrimination. In these experiments, which took place in Milwaukee and New York City, I hired young men to pose as job applicants, assigning them resumes with equal levels of education and experience, and sending them to apply for real entry-level job openings all over the city.

Team members also alternated presenting information about a fictitious criminal record (a drug felony), which they “fessed up to” on the application form. During nearly a year of fieldwork, teams of testers audited hundreds of employers, applying for a wide range of entry level jobs such as waiters, sales assistants, laborers, warehouse workers, couriers, and customer service representatives.

The results of these studies were startling. FULL POST


Filed under: Black in America • Devah Pager
August 8th, 2008
12:57 PM ET

Listening To Black Men

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 the encore tonight, 10 p.m. ET


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

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Maryann Reid | Bio
Author, Founder Marry Your Baby Daddy Day

Last night, I heard the words “black men are intimidated by black women”. I cringed. Again, the same words, the same victim, and the same problem. When will black women stop blaming others for their single status or lack of a good quality man in their life?
FULL POST


Filed under: Black in America
August 4th, 2008
12:33 PM ET

We need black men

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/04/art.streetwalker.jpg]Randell McShepard
Chairman, Policy Bridge

As America wrestles with remaining competitive in an ever-changing, fast-paced global economy, one fact holds true. All Americans must be actively engaged in making and keeping the nation competitive. The challenging economic times that we currently face require “all hands on deck” to restore our nation’s economic vitality and prowess. Clearly, this “call to action” cannot and should not exclude any demographic group. Unfortunately, there is a demographic group that is slipping further away from opportunities to contribute to the nation’s economy. That group is African-American males, particularly in the 25-54 year old category.

As economists pontificate about the 5% unemployment rate being a clear sign of a looming recession, African-American males in many urban centers in America are unemployed at a minimum of twice that rate or higher. In Cleveland, Ohio, the unemployment rate among African-American men 25-54 years of age was 13% in 2006, according to the American Community Survey. In that same year, unemployment in Dayton for African-American males in the same age bracket was 26%, a rate higher than the national unemployment levels during the Great Depression. High rates of unemployment plague urban core cities in Ohio including Cleveland, Cincinnati and Youngstown, as well as cities in neighboring states such as Detroit, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia at equally devastating levels. FULL POST


Filed under: Black in America • Economy • Race in America • Unemployment
July 29th, 2008
12:15 PM ET

Black and beautiful – and HIV positive

Program Note: In CNN’s Black in America, 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.

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Saundra Young
Senior Medical Producer

Purcell was the first to be diagnosed. He was young, black (and beautiful) and gay. He thought he had his whole life ahead of him. He looked so scared when he told me "I have it, I have AIDS" and I was scared for him. That, it seemed, was just the beginning. Van, BG, Grayling, Glen. All young black men–friends of mine–whose lives were cut short by that deadly disease. None of them dreamed it would happen to them. After all it was supposed to be a gay white man's disease. That was twenty-five years ago. Who knew it would be a precursor of things to come? Today in America AIDS is a Black disease.

The Black AIDS Institute has just released a new report full of stunning and startling statistics on just how pervasive this disease has become in the Black community, and reveals shocking similarities between the AIDS epidemic among African Americans and some of the world's poorest countries. In Alabama, Blacks are 26 % of the population but make up 69% of all new HIV/AIDS cases. In Detroit, Michigan HIV infection rates are higher than Rwanda and Kenya–who has one of highest rates in the world. In Jackson, Mississippi, 84% of those living with AIDS are Black. In New York City the rate of infection among African Americans is higher than in Nigeria. And in Washington, DC, the nation's capital, more than 80% of HIV cases are among Blacks – that's one in 20 residents!

FULL POST


Filed under: Black in America
July 29th, 2008
08:20 AM ET

Black and married: No, marriage isn't just for white people

Program Note: In CNN’s Black in America, 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. We continue the discussion on the blog with insight and commentary related to the investigation.
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Editor's Note: Camille Wright Felton is a copy editor at CNN. After reading one of our articles, 'Black and single: Is marriage really for white people? 'Camille wrote a follow up response, from another perspective. She shares her view with us.

 

Camille Wright Felton
Copy editor, CNN.COM

I'm an African-American woman who's married to an African-American man.

Some people might consider me to be a rare find. I don't feel like an anomaly, but statistically, I am. According to U.S. Census records, I'm one of about 30% of black women who are married. My husband and I will be celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary in August. We live in a suburb of Atlanta, with our two kids and a dog, in a house with a picket fence.

Just the other day we were having a discussion about relationships with a group of married and single friends. Someone asked us if we had any advice to give. I really don't. I don't think I have any special secret. I certainly can't tell anyone how or where to find a husband. We were kids when we met in church, and we started dating years later when I was in college. We may have a solid marriage because we're following the examples we grew up with, just as people say single parents are emulating the example of their single parents. My husband's parents have been married for more than 40 years. My parents are no longer together, but they didn't split until I was grown and had a family. All of our siblings are married to African Americans.

FULL POST


Filed under: Black in America
July 29th, 2008
07:45 AM ET

Fixing the one parent problem

Program Note: In CNN’s Black in America, 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.

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Dr. Jeff Gardere, Ph.D
Psychologist, Citicare Family Health Service Clinic in Harlem

This very disturbing statistic was revealed on CNN's “Black in America” special: “60% of black children are growing up in one-parent households.” In many cases, the dads are not married to the moms and sometimes do not contribute financially for the care of their child.

This situation becomes even more tragic, when mom and dad are nothing more than teenagers. Though it is easy to blame these young men as being irresponsible and the young girls as being loose or foolish, there are difficult dynamics taking place. From my work counseling young people at Citcare, an inner-city clinic providing comprehensive medical, psychological and educational services, I have learned this first hand.

FULL POST


Filed under: Black in America
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.

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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
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