I think that our stories are just as universal as anybody else’s. It’s been a struggle to prove that true. That the stories of African Americans are universal, and therefore should not be ghetto-ized. [Spike Lee, CNN’s BiA celeb interviews]
I thought I was done. But I just had to include this quote from Spike Lee. Funny that his clip directly follows Soledad’s own, in which she says
I think we’re going to answer a lot of questions. But also, by answering some, raise a lot of hard questions. It’s not the definitive answer. It’s to really look at issues, and explore why things have turned out the way they’ve turned out for African Americans. And I hope some people feel a little uncomfortable about things that they see.
And I think people will recognize themselves in a lot of the stories we’ll tell. And I think people will see the joy of being in a big, connected family that’s struggled through a lot. And I think people will be taken through the sorrows of people who’ve lost young people to violence.
It’s gonna make people think. African Americans will get to see sort of where they’ve come from and also the opportunities that lie ahead. And that many people have achieved. I think all of America will get a good picture of what it’s like to be black in this country. For good and for bad. [Soledad O’brien]
Yep – that’s what she said. “Why things have turned out the way they’ve turned out for African Americans” [emphasis mine]. Why is that? I didn’t catch that part. Although I was uncomfortable with some of what I saw…I’m not sure that kind of uncomfortable is what she was going for.
Maybe my biggest issue is that I didn’t see myself in the stories she told. Perhaps the heart of it all is my own narcissism in wanting to be a part of the ‘Black in America’ story.
Maybe it’s the memory of wanting to be ‘black enough’ that got to me. The stereotype that I was fed that told me that if I didn’t speak with a vocabulary full of slang, if I didn’t wear certain clothes, if I didn’t listen to certain music – I wasn’t black. And now, this “good picture of what it’s like to be black in this country” has excluded my picture. I’d say it struck a nerve.
Most of all, I though the piece missed the mark in regards to Spike Lee’s comment in the beginning. The stories told were not necessarily universal stories [though there are indeed people of every race who can relate to being poor, or affected by violence, etc], but more like stereotypical stories. ‘Ghetto-ized’.