DVD Review by Kam Williams
Headline: CNN Wastes No time in Releasing Over-Hyped Special on DVD
Just a month after its over-hyped special aired on TV, CNN is already releasing “Black in America” on DVD. Hosted by Soledad O’Brien, the disappointing series originally aired in two parts, the first entitled “The Black Woman and Family,” the second, “The Black Man.”
Unfortunately, each half was less a cohesive study of its subjects than a string of loosely-connected segments each introduced by lame raps by a brother in a cap. Serving up everything but the kitchen sink, it opens with the reunion of an African-American family named Rand that can trace its roots back to a white man who in the 19th Century had seven kids with his white wife and another six with his black mistress.
This storyline builds up to a first-time meeting of the black and white sides of the Rands. What a so called “white patriarch” has to do with “The Black Woman” is beyond me.
After that weird start, the slapdash investigation turns to the question of education. Here, we’re informed that half of all black kids don’t graduate from high school. What else is new? Nothing about this supposedly landmark series struck me as particularly innovative.
My biggest overall problem had to do with the program’s periodic factual inaccuracies, such as when Soledad refers to the riot which erupted in L.A. after the Rodney King decision as the most deadly U.S. riot in 100 years. She conveniently ignores other more bloody incidents like the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 when over 300 blacks were slaughtered by white militiamen. What’s up with that?
Such infuriating mistakes which I was well aware of left me wondering how accurate CNN was when citing statistics I was unfamiliar with, especially since so much anecdotal evidence about rap music, AIDS, skin color, mixed-marriages etcetera sounded awfully subjective.
Fair (1 star)
Running time: 160 minutes