6:56 p.m. CST —

Bellas and fellas, this is my first ever venture into the exciting world of liveblogging. I’m doing this because the folks behind CNN’s Black in America 2 reached out to me, and promised that they’d be looking out for our opinions. I know I’ve got some brilliant readers, so please – I welcome you to liveblog right along with me in the comments!

First thought — watching the Black in America 2 pre-show. Just witnessed DL Hughley’s tearful recollection of his mother, pointing at a rotten apple and telling him he was just like that apple. I was moved, even as I wondered how much this has to do with DL Hughley’s controversial statements about women that he’s made in the past. Hmmm.

7 p.m. — Black in America 2 has been pushed back for the President’s address. Great! That gives me time to cook dinner (sorry to be honest, but I can’t sit here starving!)

7:10 p.m. — Wow. Afrobella commenters SURE ain’t AOL BV commenters (who come from all corners of the web). I wrote about Michelle Obama’s short haircut today, and the comments are going crazy with hateration. Please feel free to add your respectful and intelligent perspective to add some balance there…

8 p.m. — of course it had to start right as I start eating dinner…but it begins bright and hopeful, with the story of Malaak Compton-Rock’s charity initiative

8:15 — OK, of course this program has already brought tears to my eyes. The scene of Jonathan holding the baby did me in. I think Malaak Compton-Rock is doing great work with this charity, taking kids from Brooklyn to South Africa

8:20 — waitaminute, is Soledad about to also do Latin in America? I swear I just saw a commercial for that. Will this be the beginning of a new world for CNN? Asian in America? Native American in America? White in America? I’d actually watch them all. But maybe Soledad might be spread too thin

8:35 — I’m loving these kids featured in the first segment here. I’d love to see a Seven-Up documentary kind of special, following their lives. Note to CNN — take this idea and run with it

8:40 – I love that these kids come home and have made a year-long commitment to give back to the community and raise funds.

8:41 – Sherrod Small! I love him (anyone else was a Best Week Ever fan? Anyone knew he was Chris Rock’s cousin?)

8:45 – I love the story of Jonathan. He’s reminding me very much of a kid I taught when I worked at the Writing Center at the University of Miami. Shy, shy, shy. But huge and tall and good at basketball. He needed a lot of extra attention, and I worked with him more than the flashy players who didn’t take anything seriously. I always wonder what happened to that kid…

8:47 – is it me? Or does Jeremy look like a young Larenz Tate? It’s those dimples. He’s a little cutie. But he needs to get it through his skull – not everyone is going to be a baller and make the NBA. You have to take school seriously while you’re in it.

8:50 — I am so happy for Latoya!!

8:57 – new segment about Capital Prep, a high school that’s extremely strict, where the kids are primed for college.

9 p.m. – the principal was kicked out of preschool for fighting and cussing. Wowza.

9:01 — showing this principal, who now drives a Benz and lives in a beautiful home, is inspiring. Glad CNN’s doing a slightly better job of showing balance. Black in America doesn’t have to be all about poverty and desperation, and I think they’ve possibly learned from the previous special’s reception. Baby steps

9:02 — aww, the principal’s name is Steve Perry! Don’t stop believing

9:08 — so sad and shameful that these kids’ parents can’t give their all to support their dreams.

9:10 — this is becoming an episode of Intervention, one parent’s a former crackhead, the other’s a verbally abusive alcoholic. God help these children =(

9:15 — In other news, just got and deleted a comment on Black Voices that literally used the n-word 10 times and ended with the phrase “white power.” Yes, this kind of thing is still alive and festering

9:20 – I love these stories, and I’m so happy for these kids… but having said that, I do wish that the show went beyond impoverished backgrounds and rising to the top. I’m not trying to be a hater, though. All of these kids in their caps and gowns are making me verklempt. Well played, CNN

9:30 — a story about well-to-do black America. This should be interesting

9:31 — LOL the kid says “I look like Carlton Banks.”

9:32 – “the stereotype for black Americans is poverty, victimization, and mediocrity.” Good for this woman for pointing that out — that’s pretty much been the formula of Black in America thus far

9:33 – They’re discussing the Tuxedo Ball. I know nothing of this world, I gotta admit. So I’m fascinated. I attended one event that could be construed as such. And I felt awkward there, despite being surrounded by people who looked like me.

9:40 — high powered, hard working black woman living the dream. Finally a reflection of self I believe many Afrobella readers can identify with

9:45 – Mia’s taking a risky step, quitting her job. I know, I’ve just so recently been there. It’s more than a little scary

9:46 – “you can never use race as an excuse, nor should you use it as an advantage.” — Well said, mother of the boot camp creator

9:54 – I got a little bored during this bootcamp story, not gonna lie. I’m glad they included it. But I would so not want to go to something like that. My mind lacks that business lean

9:55 — John Legend went to this business school? DAMN

9:57 — there’s something magical about seeing so many people who look like myself, my family, the people I grew up with — going out there to achieve and become movers and shakers in the business world. Will I watch this tomorrow? Yes.

10 p.m. — OK, show’s over, Anderson’s on. Am I glad I watched Black in America 2? Yes, I do honestly think there was more effort to show balance and range within their program. BIA2 focused on the two extremes of the black experience in this country, and I know many who’d like to see more of the in-between. But like I said earlier, baby steps. CNN’s Black in America 2 didn’t leave me filled with anger or righteous criticism, and I’ll admit going into this with those expectations.

That’s all I’ve got right now. But I’d love to hear from you. What did you think? Did I miss anything that struck you as particularly wonderful or terrible? What would you liked to have seen in Black in America 2? Will you watch the continuation tomorrow?

Edited at 8:35 Thursday 23 — so uh… I forgot to liveblog tonight’s continuation of Black in America 2. I just tuned in, and it’s all about fitness, nutrition, and educating kids. I will watch and review this, but not tonight. Right now it’s dinnertime for me! But please — if you’re watching, leave your comments below. I’d love to know what you’re thinking!

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Alicia says:
July 22, 2009, 9:07 pm
I can only hope that viewers understand the point and purpose Malik has. As an Elementary Assistant Principal I understand the value in trying to expose children to something beyond their daily experiences. Its a constant battle to get them to grasp the concept of life beyond what they see on BET/TV.
Tina says:
July 22, 2009, 9:15 pm
Not a bad start, I like the chronicling of the initiative. My friends son just came back from Africa as well doing something similar. He was amazed.
Queen Melmendi says:
July 22, 2009, 9:18 pm
These kids are so gonna make me cry. I ? Malaak Compton-Rock! Gorgeous and a big heart.
Queen Melmendi says:
July 22, 2009, 9:20 pm
Correction: I heart Malaak Compton-Rock!
Crystal says:
July 22, 2009, 9:36 pm
I am enjoying this first segment. I really hope those kids remember what they saw in Africa and take those positive changes back home.
Queen Melmendi says:
July 22, 2009, 9:41 pm
Yes indeed Bella, they are doing a Hispanic in America. I was hoping CNN would branch off and do specials such as this on every ethnicity and culture out there. The options are limitless, and I'll be watching everyone of the specials. Malaak has provided an opportunity for these kids to learn and experience major life lessons. I hope and pray that they take this knowledge and shoot for the stars and don't forget to pay it forward.
a.eye says:
July 22, 2009, 9:50 pm
Great start! Glad I decided to watch. Happy for the Rock family and their reaching out to these kids to help show them a part of the world most people dream of seeing. I hope that they do a follow up later after school resumes to see what these kids are up to and how they change/help others see what they can/should do with their lives.
Tina says:
July 22, 2009, 9:54 pm
while happy that Soledad covered this angle and this program it is still a very limited view of Blacks In America. Would we not tune in to this if the Blacks were successful parents, writers, authors, lawyers, policemen, etc. Yes Bushwick is a reality and it needs to be addressed but what about down the block in Bushwick where the single mom put her child in the ABC program and the child attends and thrives in Dalton (elite private school) and is doing service. That exists as well, part 2 could have shown another side. Not too interested in one sided depictions of other races either.
Andrea says:
July 22, 2009, 10:04 pm
So far the program is ok. I have to admit I am a little pessimistic because of the disappointment I felt from the previous editions of BIA. So I might be biased. But so far from what I see there is an angle in these programs that I just don't understand. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to take away from Malaak Compton-Rock's initiative. I think what she's doing is amazing and I do appreciate seeing how her efforts are helping our future generations. The issue that I have so far is that there is always this consistent underlying tone of Black Americans coming from poverty, living with government assistance, growing up in "disadvantaged households," lack of a father figure in the family, and someone being in prison or on drugs. I understand that this is true for many Black Americans, but true for many Americans period. I am always hoping that this kind of documentary would show that Black Americans come from many diverse backgrounds with very many different experiences. A lot of the ways we are represented in the media I, along with all of my Black American friends, can not relate to. I really really wish to see some range. Like many of my Black American friends, I grew up in the suburbs, and had what a lot might consider a "regular" childhood. I went to college and began pursuing my creative dreams and although it doesn't fit the typical mold we are so commonly put into, there were many challenges I experienced as a Black American woman. I never see programming related to this concept. I want to see stories of positivity and success that don't perpetuate the stereotypes that so heavily plague the media. I could write so much more but I want to get back to the program. P.S. I don't want to see Soledad covering Latin in America. Sorry Soledad.
Betty Blogger says:
July 22, 2009, 10:11 pm
But the elite African-Americans, the college educated, the wealthy, should be featured in this series. For us especially, it is our duty to serve our community, to take the knowledge that we've learned and bring it back to those who need the help. I don't see myself represented in this documentary. I'm a Brooklyn resident, but not a Brooklyn sufferer. I think that showing another side of Black America, the side no one sees, would serve to inspire the masses and call those "above" to action.
Andrea says:
July 22, 2009, 10:12 pm
Amen, Betty Blogger!
Big Em says:
July 22, 2009, 11:17 pm
Just looking at this last segment with MLT I have to say that i'm glad to see them showing light on programs especially for up and coming students who are trying to get their foot in the business world. I look at the brotha at Haverford College and his college was very much similar to mines except we had a light larger number of blacks, 5% of the total school's population. The problem that I would think most brothas and sistas see is that you cant touch every part of Black America in a two part series. At the same time you cant please everyone and we should be thankful that CNN has stepped up to even provide an insight into the Black Community more than TV One or even BET. If a news network can step and provide a decent representation of the black community why cant our leader black tv networks?? One thing I wished CNN would do is make this more so a weekly series showing different aspects of Black America in a way where there is a true representation. Let us gather different prospectives at CNN from other anchors like Don Lemon who can show.
Tea says:
July 22, 2009, 11:34 pm
Hope CNN is reading. I think the problem with Black in America (BIA) is that Blacks' stories are as varied as Whites, just disproportionately so. There are Black tragedies, Black elites, Black immigrants, Black children of immigrants, Black Latinos, Black farmers, Black poor, Black rich, Black wealthy, Black middle class, Blacks in interracial relationships, Blacks who are products of interracial relationships, Blacks who have experienced both poverty and affluence... I could go on and on. Just like "Black Entertainment Television" calling something Black are purporting to represent all Blacks with only small segment of Blacks is just going to leave most people unfulfilled. I guess I just don't understand the purpose of it. BIA is like snow to me, what's the point? Unlike rain or sunshine, it doesn't serve a purpose. It's sort of just there and I have to deal with it, such is BIA. The delivery was well done and the stories seemed true and genuine, but I don't feel like my life was changed or my mind opened by watching it. I wish my feelings weren't so pessimistic, but that's how I feel.
Ericka says:
July 22, 2009, 11:39 pm
1. I think that once again, it really does not capture the essence of everyday life of being black in america, and to be quite honest, i don't think the experience could EVER be summed up TRUTHFULLY in a 2 part documentary. 2. In regards to mrs. Rock..while I understand her concept, and yes it was lovely, I think that the kids did not need to go on an abroad trip well across the waters to see how it could be worse. They needed more of the concept that the principal of the Capital Prep school had...ESPECIALLY the boys. I think in addition to their trip, taking them to meet prominent figures that are in THEIR careers of interest right here in america would have had more of a long term effect...I know it did for me, as my parents supported me with meeting prominent black architects/interior designers. 3. Going from one extreme to the other was a bit aggravating to me..i mean i cannot relate to either side of being black by the way they showed it, but i guess you can't please them all heh.:) I have to be totally honest, I watched this series for the mere point of entertainment and sarcastic rhetoric. i did not expect to learn anything..although if we all paid attention, we now all know that chris rocks movie good hair is coming to theaters soon(which even though i did not want to think so, i thought it ironic that they "chose" chris rocks wife as a feature..i'm just sayin..lol), and even that i already knew about. 4. so needless to say, i learned nothing innovative and new about being black in America, nor did i expect to...but i am sure when i wake up tomorrow, i will learn A LOT within my OWN "black life" experiences! LOL
Ericka says:
July 22, 2009, 11:45 pm
ps..and can we get a wider array of black folk to represent black folk in addition to Soledad(poor thing, she is repping blacks, latinos, asians, ethiopians, indians...all the majorities..lol). I wouldn't mind seeing Louis Gates be a host of being Black In America!
MaiTai says:
July 23, 2009, 10:48 am
I notice a lot of people saying they didn't expect to learn anything new or were disappointed that they didn't learn anything new. I think people have to realize this series was most likely not for black folks. It was for others who are ignorant, or maybe lack knowledge of black people and have one set idea about them. Its funny because I recall during my college life, many discussions relating to race were always frequented by the folks who experience it on a daily basis, and "others" were frequently MIA. I was actually quite pleased with this one, as the last one had a negative tone to it and really didn't highlight many positive issues. While I agree that talking about black life can't just be whittled down to 4 hours every year, I never thought there would be any special like this on CNN at all. I hope they will continue and make improvements along the way. Rome wasn't built in a day so I'll give them a chance. :)
DC Neighborhood Style Examiner says:
July 23, 2009, 11:42 am
It was such a great and encouraging show! I cant wait till tonight!
Shuggie says:
July 23, 2009, 12:39 pm
I was exposed to the MLT program a couple of years ago by a girl who used to work at my Wall Street firm and invited me to an info session they had at GS. I thought it was a great program and I really wished I had known about it sooner in my own career (I'm married now and I don't think I'm willing to get on the MBA pursuit track anymore, although earlier I was). I believe it's mission of increasing black representation in the C-office ranks will come to fruition. The girl I mentioned above successfully used the MLT program to get into Harvard Business School, so I know it works. I know she and the others in the program will be names we'll be hearing of in the future. I was really happy to see attention brought to it and was tickled to know that the founder is a brother of one of Obama's choices, Susan Rice (I'm fascinated by the "Six Degrees" thing). I enjoyed the info on the "Tuxedo Ball" and wish CNN will expand the topic of elite/wealthy blacks (not new money/athlete & entertainer types-that's so overdone-but the "by the bootstraps" old money types that we don't hear enough of) - I read "Our Kind of People" and it reminded me so much of that. On a sidenote, I was pleased to know that "Good Hair" is coming to theaters - I wish sooner than Oct. I don't mean to put another spin on this, but I could have sworn I heard a number of months ago that the Rocks were separating - does anyone know if that's still true?
cgrimes says:
July 25, 2009, 11:48 pm
I would like to get more information on the Black Tuxedo Ball. I have two intelligent sons that are definitely in line for this time of social status. Please email me some contact information for this program.
Billie says:
July 27, 2009, 3:43 am
Seriously, folks. How many times is CNN going to show this nonsense? Do you people have to be reminded, continuously, that you have hard lives?
Jimmy says:
August 1, 2009, 12:51 pm
It amazes me that people don't see the hidden agenda behind stuff like this! IMO this is an attemp to keep racism alive, and there are a lot of politicians love that!


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