Livin' in a Zoo: CNN's Black in America II

AllHipHop Staff

Paul Scott "I'm kickin' cold facts so true Feels like I'm livin' in a zoo" Public Enemy Step Right up! In this cage we have the tame, "Negro-intellectualus." Notice his freshly pressed shirt and creased pants. Go ahead and pet him. He won't bite...However, watch out for this next animal, "Thug-ignoramus." Beware of his gold teeth and if he starts reaching for his waist band, call security, immediately!

On July 22 CNN will air Black America Part II, their second attempt to paint a pretty picture of black America for their audience. I don't know about y'all but I'm kinda tired of being poked, prodded and examined by TV network execs on a life long mission to find out what makes dudes like me tick.

No disrespect to Soledad O'Brien and the rest of the crew who produced the program but I don't think these types of shows are meant to enlighten black folks, especially the boyz in the hood.

As my lil homie Jae would say, " How many times are you gonna describe my kitchen to me when we're livin' in the same house?"

We all have members of our families that run the gamut from "Left out Lamont," who can't keep a steady job to Buford "lil Boo Boo" Jenkins who got his degree, became a stock broker and never looked back at the 'hood. So, we have our own "Black in America" reality series every family reunion complete with ribs and Marvin Gaye CD's. Shows like Black in America are definitely for the Caucasian persuasion as they have always been curious about black folks. Scholars like Dr. George GM James and William Leo Hansberry have said that the ancient Greeks were fascinated by the Egyptians and Ethiopians. The early explorers of Africa were also intrigued by the riches of the continent, so much so, that they stayed for hundreds of years. However, after the Trans Atlantic slave trade, Africans stopped being objects of adoration and became oddities. There are tales of Africans being held as exhibits in zoos in New York and during the early 1800's the voluptuous Saartjie Baartman aka "Hottentot Venus" was paraded around Europe so white men could gaze at her "donk." During the late 1960's, white America's curiosity about black folks became a matter of national security because of the various "riots" that were spreading like wildfires . In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson created the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders to find out why black folks were so angry. The Commission released what was known as the Kerner Report which pointed to the media as partial causes of the "riots." According to the report, "Important segments of the media failed to report adequately on the causes and consequences of civil disorders and on the underlying problems of race relations. They have not communicated to the majority of their audience-which is white-a sense of the degradation , misery and hopelessness of life in the ghetto." The report also complained that the media was guilty of giving " disproportionate amounts of time to emotional events and militant leaders." As far as solutions, one of the things that the report suggested was that the media needed to: "...publish newspapers and produce programs that recognize the existence and activities of Negroes as a group within the community and as a part of the larger community." So, the networks have followed this method of operation since then , only deviating, briefly ,during the LA Rebellion of 1992 because of their underestimation of the political potential of Hip Hop. It must be noted that these programs also try to convey the idea that cultural assimilation is the ultimate manifestation of black achievement and the benchmark as to whether one has "made it" or not. While many have quoted from WEB Dubois' , "The Souls of Black Folk," few have had the courage to pose the fundamental question that he raised in his essay "The Souls of White Folk," "But what on earth is whiteness that one should so desire it?" He goes on to say that "Europe has never produced and never will in our day bring forth a single soul who cannot be matched and over matched in every line of human endeavor by Asia and Africa." However, millions of Americans will spend hours this week watching CNN give complex answers to simple questions such as "why inner city black kids are killing each other" when black psychologist Dr. Bobby Wright gave us the answer over 25 years ago in his work "The Psychopathic Racial Personality" "Blacks kill Blacks because they have never been trained to kill Whites, therefore it is outside their experience." End of series. Just once, I would like to see a network do a six hour series on what produces the white male superiority complex in men like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Or who controls the economic system that keeps the hood in perpetual poverty ? But I guess the worn out topics of black pathologies and the salvation of assimilation are better for ratings. Oh, well. As Blue Magic once sang, "Let the side show begin...can't afford to pass it by...guaranteed to make you cry..." Paul Scott's blog is No Warning Shots

He can be reached at (919) 451-8283