Is Shaniqua living in a tenement in Brooklyn with five babies
by five different “men” watching? Is James, who stands on
a corner in Baltimore selling crack cocaine to his community
watching? T-Bone, a Blood from South Central and his boys
and rival Crips from cross-town, are they watching? Janice,
who dropped out of Somerville High School in Massachusetts,
will she be tuning in?
I doubt it. And here in lies the problem with shows like
“Black in America,” and books like “The Covenant with Black
America” they don’t reach the people who need to hear and
read it most. The people who need to change, probably won’t
be tuning in—which is why years after the Million Man March
and years after The Covenant with Black America and years
after Black in America, nothing will change.
These outlets just become masturbation. A bunch of talking
and pontificating and not a whole lot of what next. If you
noticed, I hadn’t added Bill Cosby’s “Come on People,” in
the mix with the above. Bill Cosby with all of his fame and
fortune doesn’t just pay lip service to his desire to change
lives. I have seen him show up to schools in Newark, NJ, with
no media or handlers and talk to the kids. I have seen him
perform at a club for free to help a black man open a club.
I have heard stories of Mr. Cosby giving his time when no
one is looking because it’s important to him. So when he writes
and says the things he’s saying, he’s also someone in the
trenches providing solutions. Whether you agree with him or
not, you have to applaud that.
A lot of these “pundits” or “experts” who have been featured
on “Black in America” make their living off of black poverty
and downtroddeness. It gives them a platform to be able to
travel the country and demand high speaking fees and folks
who don’t need to hear the message because they are taking
care of their kids and doing the right things pay to hear
a message of gloom and doom.
Black drop out rate is X, Black out-of-wedlock pregnancy
rate is Y. Blacks die at a rate z times higher than whites.
And on and on.
No. 1: Those statistics become a self-fulfilling
prophecy. If we continue to focus on it, that’s exactly where
your attentions will lead. Focusing on the negative has never
been a formula for success.
No. 2: If CNN has the highest rating in
its history and if Tavis Smiley was able to sell millions
of books it says that the vast majority of black folks are
NOT in the poor condition that they’re discussing. It says
we must care about community more than the statistics are
No. 3: In the wake of the first black man
running for president, a man who is not an anomaly and who
has redefined what it means to be black isn’t our time better
spent talking about what it means to be an American? I mean
the gas prices are striking us all—black and non-black. The
housing crisis is hitting us all—black and non-black. The
bank crisis is affecting us all. As do the wars and rumors
Who’s watching “Black in America” and what are they going
to do to make sure we have a better America for all of us?
Karen Hunter is a columnist for AOL Black Voices, and
the CEO of Karen Hunter Publishing. All correspondence should
go to firstname.lastname@example.org