CNN’s recent presentation of Black in America raised several issues confronting the African-American population. The documentary examined issues varying from single parent families, education, and interracial dating. The statics presented in the documentary did manage to detail some of the continued struggles faced by people of African decent in the United States. Soledad O’Brian relied primarily on Michael Eric Dyson and Roland Fryer to explore topics dealing with African-Americans. O’Brian’s reliance on these two individuals as the ultimate authority on issues facing black America, depreciate the value of the documentary. O’Brian could have ascertained a more varied viewpoint by interviewing a broader spectrum of individuals. It seemed as if both the opinions of Dyson and Fryer were the driving force behind the documentary.
The documentary focused too heavily on the victimization of the African-American individual. The story has been told for decades of the ill that has plagued the black community. While racism no doubt contributes to an extent to the issues facing African-Americans, there comes a time where the focus on these struggles need to be directed inwards. Black America should begin to examine with urgency their own actions as it relates to their current state of affairs in this country. America has come a far way in paving a better path for African-American compared to the 1960’s. I admit that there is still a long way to go. But perhaps we need to focus less on the issue of race relations and more on the plight of the poor. The struggles facing African-Americans, such as increased school drop out rates, poor living conditions, high prison incarcerations, and low college enrollment, is descriptive not only of the African-American, but of poor individuals nation wide. In many developing countries we see the same situation facing the extremely poor population.
It may be argued without a doubt that African-Americans form a larger pool of the economically deprived, and therefore we may be led back to the discussion of race. However, in the documentary one important statistic detailed the high rate of absentee fathers in African-American families. These single parent families almost always reveal declining conditions for the children involved. Children raised in single parent families are more likely to underperform in schools, and get involved in criminal activity. There is an absence of good male role models available to young men for them to emulate. I do believe that this situation contributes significantly to the plight of the African-American population in America.
To continually play the role of victimization ignores the issues of which only African-Americans have control. In the American collegiate environment we see annually the success rate of international students from around the world, many of which are of African decent. These individuals tend not to carry the baggage of racism, and a victimized mentality. Instead they conclude that they are just as capable as anyone else, and deserve the best. Until young African-Americans realize that their destiny is in their hands, they will always continue to face adversity. Playing the race card all the time, and being a victim does not yield success. Success comes from the realization of self-worth, and the determination and focus toward specific goals. Maybe if more people focused on the importance of building strong and solid nuclear families then the condition of the African-American will improve more greatly. Less emphasis needs to be placed on the degrees of victimization, and more on self-determination.
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