Thursday, July 24, 2008

Half-Assed "Solutions" for Being Black in America

I don't know, guys, after watching parts and pieces of CNN's Black in America: What's Wrong With The Black Woman and Family last night, I was worried.

I mean, I'm single, educated, and a mother. I felt practically doomed.

But! CNN has the solution for the problem I didn't even know I was: marriage. Yep.

See, marrying would mean that I wouldn't be a single mom anymore. And, it would magically mean no more poverty for single moms! Never mind that

1) Many single moms (like me) have arrangements that work for us and our children. I am single because I'm not married, but I'm not raising my child alone.
2) We refuse to adequately address pay equity and the devaluation of women's work which contribute to the impoverishment of women and children.
3) We've stigmatized and rendered thoroughly inadequate any system of social provision.
4) Marrying a guy who does not work or who works in low-wage labor won't solve much of anything.
5) What about single moms who don't want to marry? Is that not a valid option when you're poor?
6) What about single moms who don't want a heterosexual marriage because they're lesbian or bisexual?

Marrying would also solve my over-educated-but-lonely dilemma. This time, I'd have to cast my net wider, consider interracial marriage. Actually, lots of black women already suggest that, especially on some blogs, but that's not a panacea, either. I am especially troubled by the emphasis on white men--not because of any problem I have with white men and black women dating and marrying, but because the focus of some women seems not to be questioning, challenging, erasing white men's privilege but securing for themselves and their children the benefits of it.

I swear on one blog I read a story, the moral of which was, see, marrying a white man can get your biracial children into private schools, etc, when other children of color can't. And I thought to myself, "Alice, how do we get out of this hole?" Much like marriage in general, marrying a non-black man won't fix everything, either.

I just felt like the special could've done more--if it was over a year in the making, especially--than re-hash what always gets hashed. There are many black women who have significantly different experiences and lives from those portrayed.

I'm much too afraid to watch the one on black men. I'm sure I'd want to crawl under something and die afterwards.

For an analysis from a different angle that doesn't have ME, ME, ME at the center, see Renee's post.


Kimberly said...

I'm with you on this. I was NOT impressed. Honestly, it almost felt like I was watching "National Geographic" - you know when they follow around a pride of lions for a year to see what they "do".

I wasn't necessarily offended, per se, but it didn't feel like it moved any agenda forward. It felt like they were giving folks a glimpse at Black life but not in any clear substantive way. They shined the light on facts but didn't discuss real solutions. And it felt like it was just what you put Elle "What's Wrong With Black America".

Don't get me started on their 3 minute take on what it's like to be bi-racial - something Ms. OBrien is herself.

I too am horrified to watch the one on Black men.

elle said...

You're not the only one with that National Geographic feeling. Commenters at Jack and Jill Politics call it the "Negro on Display" feeling.

RageyOne said...

Yikes! I watched and found it interesting, and disheartening at that same time. I think they showed too much negativity, and not enough positive things about the black community. All in all, I don't think it was balanced. Additionally, I would like to know what happened to some of those folks. I know it took about 18 months for them to put this together, so where is the after?

I'm watching the episode on the black male and it is not positive either.

Kimberly said...

I just don't feel it's representative. I haven't yet watched the men special. But what of the "Black Middle Class"? What of successful single mothers like Elle? What of those "educated, working black women" who marry a black man? I was just so underwhelmed.

In reality, there's no way you could cover Black America in 4 hours and it shows.

k8 said...

As happy as I am not having a television, I almost I wish I could see this so that I could complain about it too. I've seen complaints on blogs and on facebook about it.

Renee said...

Thanks for the lit link love. I sat down and watched the second part of the series but this time with much more realistic expectations. I still found that there was a lot of invisibility. I also resented that they kept pushing the idea that to be a "real man" black men needed to establish a "traditional" patriarchal family which as we know is disastrous for women. It is more than clear that this is a documentary for white people because it certainly didn't teach me anything.

Dr. Tracey Salisbury said...

I love your new design!!!! I have not seen one positive post on the this series when talking about the black women. I was not particularly kind to Soledad on my blog. Check it out.! I am going to do a major link of all the black women bloggers that have commented. I will be including yours.

elle said...

k8, it wasn't the worst thing ever, but damn.

Renee, welcome! Thanks for your insight and for stopping by. I definitely think it was for white people, a sort of get-to-know-the-Negro that other people have mentioned.

Prof Tracey, I read the Soledad post the same day you wrote it. I look forward to the link post.

Anonymous said...

I loved your analysis--I'll be linking to it on my blog. I was very disturbed by the show and the constant refrain of marriage as the only solution.

O Solo Mama

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