Yesha Callahan

CNN’s Black In America 2: The Black Family, A Dumb Criminal, Fried Chicken & Tyler Perry

Where do I begin. I’m going to try to make this succint as possible, and hopefully none of my thoughts will get lost in the process.

Last night’s installment of CNN’s Black In America 2 touched upon a few interesting issues. The first issue at hand was the ‘downfall’ of the black family. They threw around a few statistics in regards to divorce rates, children born out of wedlock and absentee fathers in the black family. We were also introduced to the Barnes Family, from the DC area, who were struggling in their 21 year marriage. Tina Barnes cited a lack of communication, and her husband, James Barnes, agreed with the fact that he wasn’t a good communicator. Hmmm, let me be sexist for a minute and say, well he’s a man, what do you expect? I also found it interesting that one of their biggest disagreements centered around their two daughters and dating. Tina wanted to be a little more relaxed with the rules and obviously didn’t mind that their daughters were dating, but James wasn’t having it. Do you blame him? Wow, who would have thunk that a black man didn’t want to see his daughters becoming a notch on some negroes belt? Kudos to James, obviously Tina was looking forward to the possibilities of becoming a grandmother than to keeping her marriage alive.  Tina & James sought out counseling from Nisa Muhammad, who also came from a failed marriage, and runs a marriage counseling practice called “Wedded Bliss”. In the end, the couple managed to save their marriage, at least for now, but here was an opportunity for CNN to discuss the black “middle class” that has been seemingly left out of the series.

The Barnes’ are from the Maryland area, living in the suburbs and raising their two daughters. On top of their two full-time jobs, they took on a part-time job delivering newspapers to better provide for their family. Which is what was putting stress on their marriage as well. The middle class area that the Barnes’ are from is suffering from layoffs, foreclosures and debt.  So as this family is struggling to provide for each other, their marriage is struggling in the process. I think a lot of the stress of their marriage, could possibly be linked to economics, but CNN didn’t touch on that either.

What would a show be without showing the ills of society without mentioning the black criminal?

Queue, the hip hop music and here comes Chris Shurn from Oakland, California. Hall’s being “Black In America” starts off with him being behind bars for a drug sentence, but upon his release he seeks help through Project Choice, a program in Oakland that is trying to keep recidivism rates low. In the State of California, there isn’t much help for an ex-convict once they’re released from jail. You’re basically assed out, because public assistance is not available to you, once you’ve been convicted of a crime. Also, try finding a job with a criminal record, that’s next to impossible. But here’s where Chris’ story was a bit different. He was able to find a job, making $10 an hour part-time, which is better than no job at all. Here’s where Chris’ story takes a turn though. Chris goes out & makes a baby. Chris goes out and quits his job because he’s not making enough. Brian is living with his girlfriend, who’s barely bringing in enough money to support the family. I’d rather call Chris, “Dumbass in America”. Eventually Chris finds another part-time job paying $12 an hour. But I knew where this story was going.

Queue, the nightly news about a robbery that took place. Yup, Chris, returned back to crime. I’m not going to point fingers and blame anyone but Chris. He made the choice to participate in the robbery and had to suffer the consequences of returning to jail.

But how could this have been prevented?

If I’m not mistaken, did I miss any discussion on possible preventive measures?  Sure there’s the Project Choice program, but they can only do but so much, when state/federal laws don’t aide in helping criminals rehabilitate.

I’m wondering how easy would it have been for CNN to say to Brian, “Hey, let us help you find a full-time job, since we’re following you around for weeks with a camera”.

There’s a saying, Don’t Talk About It, Be About It!

Fried chicken.

Quarter waters.

25 cent bag of potato chips.

Fried chicken.


Fried chicken.

Well damn, thanks CNN, you have proven that black kids in the ghetto loves them some fried chicken, which is why they’re fat asses and why black people have high obesity rates. Yes, heart disease & obesity plague the black community and being physically fit is something everyone should strive for. What I find interesting is the weight guidelines and charts you can easily find on the internet.  If I went by what those charts suggest, being that I’m 5’10, I should be about 135 lbs, mid-range would be 145, and OVERWEIGHT would be 176. So basically my size 10 is now considered overweight. I truly think there are tons of discrepancies  when it comes to judging what’s a healthy weight from thes charts that are basically catering to another demographic, then what is more adequate for people with different body frames. I’m sorry, but white peole and black people are built differently.

CNN’s Black in America 2 series ended on a very anti-climatic tone, with Emmit Tyler Perry’s story. Sure, I’ll give it to the man, who loves dressing like a woman, that he’s a savy business man, but, when was the last time Tyler Perry watched a Tyler Perry movie? Who would have thunk that bringing the chitlin circuit to the big screen would be so profitable.

And then the series just ends.

Anti-climatic and all.

I sat there for a minute wondering, “Uh, was that it?”.

So there you have it folks. All that you’ve ever wanted to know about being “Black In America” was ended by focusing on a man who’s made his career out of being a not-so-funny fat woman in drag.

  1. July 24, 2009 - Reply

    Who would have thunk that bringing the CHITLIN CIRCUIT to the big screen would be so profitable LMFAO wow… LOL
    This is the very reason why I refused to watch that foolery I knew it would upset me… thanks for the synopsis and review! Oh and I agree don't talk about it BE about it this isn't the time to be bystanders these issues impact America as a whole. Whether it is divorce rates, crime rates or obesity every demographic is being affected! Anywho… thanks for the post… heehehe “chitlin circuit” heheehe

  2. July 24, 2009 - Reply

    Girl, as you so poetically twittered last night, Black In America 2 went from The Flavor of Love to COPS to The Biggest Loser, to a Tyler Perry Roast. The only segment that I actually thought was well put together and well produced was the segment about the Triple Negative breast cancer. I was very let down by this special and if there is yet another sequel, I doubt will be watching again.

  3. July 24, 2009 - Reply

    “every demographic is being affected..”

    -that is definitely true! there's no point in pinpointing statistics and siting examples if you're not aiding in the solving of the problem.

  4. July 24, 2009 - Reply

    The segment on TNBC was definitely informative and I commend that doctor's efforts!

  5. July 24, 2009 - Reply

    […] divorce rates, children born out of wedlock and absentee fathers in the black family More here: CNN's Black In America 2: The Black Family, A Dumb Criminal, Fried … :a-bad-thing-, absentee-fathers, and-gifts, back-home, bad-thing-, barnes, divorce-rates, […]

  6. July 24, 2009 - Reply

    You know I'm gonna still say you missed the boat, right? Last night's show, as well as part 1 on Wednesday was about inspiring people to make a difference. The entire series chronicled people who are making a difference. More importantly, it highlighted the lack thereof, of people to make a difference. This is why we see the story of the young cat in Oakland turn out the way it did in my opinion. Again, I think folks missed the boat by not looking t the bigger picture in it's context and focused and nitpicked on the smallest things which actually does very little to affect change.

  7. July 24, 2009 - Reply

    Offering solutions, affect change. esp in Chris' case. The State of California is a prime example of why the recidivisim rate there is so high. Once a person is released from prison, what other alternatives are there? In person he was able to get an education, coming out of prison what chance did he have? He's not able to get a job more than a few hours a week b/c of his conviction, he's not able to apply for public assistance b/c of his conviction, the list goes on. I knew from the get-go when they showed his story how it was going to him, with him back in jail.

    Why not focus on WHY the state gov't doesn't aide in trying to keep them out of jail? Sure you have non-profits such as the one he was involved in, but they can't do it on their own. Until State laws change, the recidivisim rates will always increase.

    Expressing an opinion is not nitpicking. Different people, see things in different lights.

  8. July 24, 2009 - Reply

    Actually, the truth is they are not interested in keeping people out of
    prison. That's so obvious that there's no need to cover it. Instead, you
    highlight one of the many programs who are starved for funds to operate.
    Most of these programs are non-profits. My man Eddie Blue Eyes in NYC works
    for such a program — you may remember him from Y!360 & Multiply.

    That's why I said some people missed thge boat. That segment wasn't about
    that kid. It was about the program more than anything. If anything, it
    showed specifically why and how circumstances can and do affect the decision
    making process of these cats fresh on the streets.

  9. July 24, 2009 - Reply

    Actually, the truth is they are not interested in keeping people out of
    prison. That's so obvious that there's no need to cover it. Instead, you
    highlight one of the many programs who are starved for funds to operate.
    Most of these programs are non-profits. My man Eddie Blue Eyes in NYC works
    for such a program — you may remember him from Y!360 & Multiply.

    That's why I said some people missed thge boat. That segment wasn't about
    that kid. It was about the program more than anything. If anything, it
    showed specifically why and how circumstances can and do affect the decision
    making process of these cats fresh on the streets.

  10. July 24, 2009 - Reply

    Well said! I like to sum up some of the issues that I thought were particularly “entertaining”. First of all the most tragic, the young gentleman who's life they decided to feature.
    1. poverty and lack of education another black child resorts to the streets and fast money
    2. this young man is on a rehabilitative path while encarcerated and is flourishing in academics
    3.upon release from prison, adequate provisions in workforce rehabilitaion…unavailable
    4. Ex- offenders with a C.O.R.I. in place insures major limitations in emlpoyment
    5. only substandard work available- over-worked and under-paid
    6. unable to make ends meet, being constantly surrounded by reminders of what they can not achieve in there current state, exhausted and depressed, desperation starts to kick in.
    7. Last resort – the lie of the ages = the quick money of the streets is only temporary just untill you get ahaead
    8. back to jail, this time that glimmer of hope is replaced by dispair…..another shattered hopeful.

    Now instead of the 'uneventful chronicles', CNN could have taken an active role in highlighting the main problems that contributed to his downward spiral by honestly asking these questions:
    1. If this man had access to higher learning thus making him an asset for any worthy employer, would he have ended up the same?
    2. If this man were not singled out in the work force and deemed “unhireable” to any position other than sub-standard to current living standards, would he have ended up the same?

    These are rhetorical questions. Further on in this program there is mention of a government and privately funded school that boasts the out come of children whose learning environment provided all that was lacking in the average school system some and home support systems. I do belive they said these childrens' academic levels fared sigificantly higher than other schools they were compared to. Let's hope that this idea spreads instead of being nothing more than another social experiment done soley for the entertainment of those funding it. There is plenty to be said about being Black in America…. it's high time these issues are approached with an attitude of repair and positive growth as opposed to entertainment and incomplete negative depictions as we have seen here.

    I'm not even going to say a word about the little girl with the “chicken addiction”……really? CNN, really? no comment …you already know.

  11. July 24, 2009 - Reply

    […] Original post:  CNN's Black In America 2: The Black Family, A Dumb Criminal, Fried … […]

  12. July 24, 2009 - Reply

    I thought the program was boring.

  13. July 25, 2009 - Reply


    I thought it was very stereotypical that in Harlem, all we eat is fried chicken. Granted there are a whole lot of “chicken places” in and around my area.

    I am referring to the segment about the girl who was 180 pounds at 11 years old. While I do applaud that she lost 25 pounds, the real issue is, where are her parents and why are they feeding her all this greasy food? If they really wanted to focus on us being obese and having health problems, they should have gone waaaay deeper than fried chicken! Also, I was a bit confused as to the barber shop segment. Black men don't go to the doctor as it is, so why would they listen to a barber to get themselves checked out? That's like my hairdresser telling me to get my fibroids checked out!

    The Tyler Perry segment, I was left confused as you were, I was like, “that's it?”

  14. July 25, 2009 - Reply

    I'm SORRY TO SAY,,, I didn't see it!!!!! (WELL MAYBE NOT SO SORRY!!!) But I CONFESS!!!!<< I'm 1 of the BLACK MEN able to grasp the PLOT!!!!! Thanks to UR wonderful comments&commantaries!!!!! It's ashame that the masses can be so flooded with negativity that U become imune to it!!!!(THE 5-10-15 minute segments!!!)Sorry My BROTHER,,, but I must side with the LADIES on this one!!!(Based on the above c&c's!!!! My point being… taking it somewhere else 4 a moment…..THe PRESIDENT'S comment…(POLICE ACTED STUPIDLY!!!!) 1st)THEY DID!!!!(BUT THEY also acted NORMALLY!!!!)What's so IRONIC is the way they're always able to find a person of color(they don't deserve capital letters or to b called black in MY opinion!!!!)to justify thier actions as non-racial, not racial profiling or simply no racial bias at all!!!!Do they really think that WE ALL can b PACIFIED by these ASSHOLES!!!!! They're all O.K. with it until it happens to them!!!!!! That's when they just can't believe this could happen in AMERICA!!!!! That's right, including BILL COSBY!!!!! Am i suppose to accept that BULLSH___T explaination b'cause DR. HUCKSTABLE said it wasn't so???!!! Let him come to N.Y. where I live and throw on a hoodie because it's a chilly nite!!!!!!( BET his ass changes his stance then!!!!!!!!

  15. July 25, 2009 - Reply

    As a african from africa I see that in America the coulour of human being plays a vital role in society. What I have observed is that only the light skinned african americans are put in the main role of showing the progress blacks have achieved. I saw this in part one and it is still continueing in part two. What is wrong with the very dar dark skinned african americans? Are they second class african americans.
    And shame to those who are taking the sho to South Africa. They only shows the poor patr of South Africa,this show realy sucks and stinks. Why are the african americans still being used . Wake up and smell the CNN rot, if I can smell it you ought to smell it too.

  16. July 26, 2009 - Reply

    I really hate that you missed the * messages* in Tyler Perry movies. Instead you chose to focus on the way he dresses and ignor the lesson. Let me ask you this? I find that a lot of people who read the bible, go to Church, or even listen to Church music daily are the people who get the messages and LEAVE THE DRESS * that Madea wears* out. Do you do any of these things? I just wanna know.

  17. July 26, 2009 - Reply

    Really, don't feel bad that i'm not getting the 'messages' in these movies. I haven't missed out on anything that I haven't learned elsewhere. As far as those church goers who easily assertain the 'messages' in his movies. I find it pretty hypocritical of these church goers to find a man in drag to be a source of any type of 'lesson'/'message'. Would a church goer be appreciative of a member of their congregation that was a man, in drag? I highly doubt it.

  18. July 27, 2009 - Reply

    I liked the series overall but I never did like Tyler Perry or his movies/plays…..and then he had the nerve to get mad at that professor that was bashing him for playing that backwood country ass grandma that be packing….that's not how I remember my grandmother(s) lol. Perry gets mad at that but then doesn't understand why people got mad at him when he fired all his black writers when they wanted to joint a writers' union, get da fuk outta here!!

  19. July 28, 2009 - Reply

    I didn't watch this one, hadn't watched the 1st. I was told that this one was more inspiring and had a lot less stereotype and a lot more insight. Either way, like you stated…people see things differently. Dude was going back to jail one way or the other…society gives him no choice…but that program deserve further investigation as to how it CAN find funds to properly affect newly released prisoners.

    As for Tyler Perry…don't be so hard on him. I notice a lot of people have a lot of things to say about dude, but when Jerry Lewis and Bob Hope were funning in women's clothes it was cool and their movies are classics. Martin, Eddie and Tyler become “minstrels” of sorts for their take on comedy. I've heard so many say that “we” can't afford to be viewed in that light…whites can due to what they have/control…but, the truth is…that I'd rather watch a Tyler Perry movie with a message rather than one that glorifies crap.

  20. August 1, 2009 - Reply

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  21. August 3, 2009 - Reply

    I’ am Man…
    I’m Proud, Black, Strong and Beautiful. Smart, Loyal and firm in my beliefs.
    I’m also misrepersented in my community based on what has happened in the past. You cannot define a nation of men based upon the miseducation of a few. Our examples of what man is are well documented and deeply rooted in our culture and history. Men like our father’s father who worked hard and endured many hardships just to be called a man.
    I’ am Man and will always be man. In my veins flows the blood of heroes men of courage and fortitude. Do not demoralize nor demishes the worth of man in his community. Help him to realize his worth and accomplishments and his role and objective.
    There are many men out there doing what needs to be done. Help those that you see to help those that are unseen. Our roles are the role of KINGS. Our role is PATHFINDER somehow it has been said that we’ve lost our way. Who are your examples of great men? Help your man be that example that you have of a great man.
    Each man will walk his own path and a great man will forge where no others will go to reach his goals.
    I’ am Man not a prefect man by any means but never the less it is my birth right passed down by heroes. I feel, I reason, I nurture and give and receive LOVE.
    I fight for my right to be called MAN like the men before me. I go unnoticed at times and my blood is spilled more often than not defending my right to be called MAN. Has anyone ever wondered what it is being MAN (Black) in America? Being a man in a community that does not see you has one. What if no one saw MOTHER or GOD what if? Than feel man.
    I must survive even at the cost of being misunderstood because the blame is on me but my right has been forged in steel. I must survive to tell the story of MAN our story has been tampered with and rewritten to make it seem like we are unforgiving, heartless and cruel to our families and community.
    What is a man worth? What is his worth and how much would you be willing to invest to see him reach his destiny and his goal.
    Man is at war and not with his family. The war is taking place in the hearts and minds of the people whom have been conditioned to think from a pre-recorded program to disenfranchise a whole nation of heroes! Cut off his supply line and he can no longer press the fight forward. Cut off the sympathy of the people and the war is lost. Use propaganda to lower morale and cause resentment in the ranks. MAN (Black) will not lose and he will not be called anything other than MAN!
    I’ am Man BLACK, PROUD and HONORABLE and the envy of nations. I have been here as long as the sun, moon and stars. I have been through trails that no other man would ever be willing to endure. No man equals my worth and my right to exist. You can not kill me off; you can not slander my name. You can not disown me in the face of my countrymen.

    I am Man ruler of all things the Servant of GOD and the creator of life. Through these veins flow all your hopes and prayers. GOD makes all things come to past.
    I’ am Man
    Past it on and get the word out!

    Unknown Soldier

  22. August 3, 2009 - Reply

    I found it a little ironic that you criticized CNN for “talking about it and not being about it” but all you are doing is criticizing prople who are making a difference. That's kind of hypocritical isn't it? Regardless of your feelings towards Tyler Perry's method of reaching people, the point is……you guessed it, he's making a difference. You should try it sometime. You don't have to dress like an old man to do it either…..

  23. August 4, 2009 - Reply

    Good point [fung'ke] about the church section, can't even respond to that one b/c you spoke it. But I actually think the plays when they were still underground were much funnier and much more real. I thought it was hilarious when I first found them because there was such truth coming from it. However, the fact that it is a man dressing up as woman kind of sucks. Sure, when it hit Hollywood it became more tomfoolery than anything, but when it was still just the plays, it was not only comic relief but it just felt good to watch. I dunno, I'm totally divided on the TP issue *hah* but as for CNN, damn. That show has SO much potential. So much. And then down the toilet it went. Girl, did you know they had a Muslim in America? And they're debuting the Latino in America? Father help us all.

  24. September 10, 2009 - Reply

    Just ran accross this. Great blog! Although Shurn's exact comment was that he was “way too tired” when he got home from work. What's this all about, anyways?

  25. September 10, 2009 - Reply

    Just ran accross this. Great blog! Although Shurn's exact comment was that he was “way too tired” when he got home from work. What's this all about, anyways?

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