The CNN special that gives an inside look into Black life is back for another year. Black in America 2 is a two-day in depth showcase of Black life helmed by CNN Correspondent Soledad O’Brien. Last year it featured the struggle of the Black woman and the Black family, divulging stories of single parenthood and HIV/AIDS statistics. Additionally, they featured the story of being a Black man in America and the racial disparities that come along with it before rounding out the program with the infamous Martin Luther King Assassination.
Now this year’s program is casting away the dark cloud presented last year and bringing to the forefront positive stories of education, volunteerism and a “rags to riches” story of a leader in Black Hollywood. CNN would be remissed if stories of struggle weren’t present, however this time around the acrid sting from last year’s program is not there.
A black couple is featured to show the strain of black marriage; a young woman is highlighted showing the difficulties of changing careers in this economy and at risk youth are shown striving to be nothing more than basketball stars like their role models.
What is explicitly obvious is that CNN listened to the criticism it received from last year’s program. In particular, columnist Askia Muhammad of Louis Farrakhan’s Final Call paper called it a “faulty portrait” that made the “American Nightmare,” appear now to be the “New American Dream.” Citing the criticism of Muhammad and a multitude of others, CNN switched gears to a softer program that dare I say, celebrates the accomplishments of Black America. This time around CNN utilized their endless hours of footage and extensive research to make an upbeat program filled with joy and hope that should have viewers enthralled and ready to fight “the good fight.”
At a pre-showing of Black In America 2 in Atlanta, Hip-Hop Wired talked to CNN Correspondent Fredericka Whitfield to get her opinion on her CNN colleagues’ series. The Howard University graduate excitedly told us that she hoped the series would “start a discussion” and the influence last year’s responses made this time around.
“It’s very encouraging for the network to be backing this kind of project just as it will be committed to Latino in America and then later on, gays and lesbians and transgender in America, and I think what’s very trail blazing about this for the network is that it’s unprecedented. No other network is doing this, we wanted to start a dialogue, we wanted to start a discussion about something, the elephant in the room that people don’t want to talk about.
It’s what people are afraid to talk about. We’re trying to break the ice in some circles to talk openly about race, to talk about experiences, to talk about disparities, inequities, to talk about the high points as well as the low points and that’s what this project set out to do. We’re seeing great reception from people all across America, they’re saying they like what they see with Black in America 2 and a lot of what we’re seeing in Black in America 2 is inspired by responses from last year’s.”
She then continued, adding that the she hopes people will be inspired to take action.
“I hope people are able to have some discussions whether it be in their household or in even in their offices about their life experiences. Hopefully what they see in this program, that’s going to inspire them to say- You know what? I had that experience, this is how I changed my life around. This is who touched me, this is who influenced me, and this is what I’m hoping to do about it.
CNN’s Black in America 2 will air on Wednesday July 22 at 9 p.m. and Thursday July 23 at 8 p.m.