Archive for July, 2008

Black Men Challenge CNN Data

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Black Men with tags , , , on July 29, 2008 by Gary Johnson

Reaction to CNN Presents “Black In America” featuring Soledad O’Brien has been critical. There is a small group of mostly black male digital media owners who have come together to restore truth and balance to the image of black men and their families. This blog is a founding member. Together we can tell our own story. You want to know what black men think and how we feel about the CNN Special? Read this blog and watch the two videos which are the brainchild of filmmaker Janks Morton, Director of the film “What Black Men Think.”

To read more reaction on the CNN “documentary,” click on the links below.

People Sound Off About The CNN Special “Black In America”

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Gary A. Johnson with tags , , , on July 23, 2008 by Gary Johnson

My Reaction To CNN Presents “Black in America” by Gary A. Johnson

Part II of CNN Presents Black in America focused on “The Black Man.” I hate to sound like a broken record, but this show fell short of my expectations. It was so negative that at one point I thought I was having a heart attack. If I was wearing a blood pressure cuff it would have blown off of my arm. Would it have been so bad to show one black male success story from start to finish?

Here is CNN’s official description of the show: “In Black in America: The Black Man, Soledad O’Brien evaluates the state of black men in America and explores the controversial topics of black men and fatherhood; disparities between blacks and whites in educational, career and financial achievement; and factors leading to the dramatic rates of black male incarceration. The documentary also examines the achievements of black men and the importance of the positive influences of black fathers.”

There are tens of thousands of black men who don’t have children out of wedlock. There are tens of thousands of black men who have children out of wedlock and take care of their children financially and are involved in their lives.

Some of CNN’s portrayal of black men included showing brothers married to white women, a marketing executive with mostly white friends and whose black friends say he’s not black enough, a lower-tiered rapper and a 32-year old high school graduate with some college finding a part-time job after months of searching.

The segment featuring the Reverend/Doctor/Professor Michael Eric Dyson started off well and ended with a negative showing his brother going back to jail cell to serve his life sentence. I know this is life for many folks in America. I can accept this. Let’s also show the other side. There are positive aspects of life for black men that were not shown. Let me repeat my earlier question:

Would it have been so bad for the show to have one segment featuring a black man without any negatives?

I’m assuming that CNN would argue that the segment featuring the brother who was an Assistant School Superintendent in Arkansas married to a Circuit Court judge was very positive. They had three sons. OK, let’s look at that segment through my lenses. They lived in a 6,000 sq. ft. home in a mostly white neighborhood. (I have no problem with that). One of the three sons was married to white woman, the other son had a white girlfriend and was involved in a shooting where he escaped jail time. When asked about the incident both the son and the father refused to discuss the matter. Again, that’s their choice. (I’m sure having a mother who is a judge and a brother who is a prosecutor didn’t hurt).

My main complaint has to do with the issue of balance in the coverage of the challenges facing black men. This show did not show the full range of black men in America and their families as they claimed in their promotional pieces that preceded the show. If they did, we would have seen more “positives” than “negatives.”

Having seen both shows, I saw a clear and consistent “common thread.” Every segment that started out with what appeared to be a “positive” story ended with a “negative” outcome.

Am I wrong on this?

The only segment that I could stomach was the segment with filmmaker Spike Lee who talked about the impact of the negative images of black men in Hollywood and his challenges of making films other than comedies that perpetuate negative stereotypes.

Let me state for the record that I applaud Soledad O’Brien for this effort. I believe that her intentions starting out were honorable, however, somewhere along the way either she and/or CNN got off track. This was not an accurate and full portrayal of life in Black America. It focused way too much on the negative aspects of black life for my tastes.

CNN Presents Black in America is the perfect argument for why we need strong black owned media outlets. Perhaps if there was a black owned media outlet with the capability and “reach” of a CNN a different story would have been told. It’s not good enough to have just the outlet. You have to have strong leadership willing to exercise courage to tell the whole truth. You need a company willing to resist the temptation to lean toward the negative and portray more of a balance of life in black America.

There was a time when we had such a media outlet, it was called BET. However, I don’t think the story would have been any different under the leadership of Bob Johnson. We need black owned media outlets willing to tell our story. Some will argue that Bob Johnson formed a film company to tell “our story. Yeah right. Let’s take a closer look at this argument.

This is the same Bob Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), who sold BET to Viacom, and became this nation’s first male black billionaire. You are correct. Johnson did form a film company called “Our Stories Films,” which debuted its first film on July 27, 2007, entitled Who’s Your Caddy?” starring actor/rapper Big Boi and Sherri Shepard. WTF?

Bob Johnson and Tracey Edmonds (the former Ms. Babyface) said they want to produce films that show black people in a positive light. So they give us Who’s Your Caddy? as their first film. (I stopped using the N-word. Where’s Jesse Jackson when you need him? Bob Johnson, talking down to black people, I’d like to …) “_________ Please!” Don’t start me cussing up in this camp.

This is Bob Johnson’s way of telling “our” story. Making a film that even Stevie Wonder could see that the characters in the film depict racially offensive stereotypes and the jokes are stupid and crass.

Folks, it is time for solutions. What are we going to do for ourselves to help break these cycles of violence, poverty and apathy?

A good friend of mine helped me calm down today and put this whole thing in perspective. He said to me, “Gary, the reason you’re upset is because you expected too much from CNN. CNN is a news organization that does not have the perspective to tell our story.” Thank you Janks Morton, you of all people should know “What Black Men Think.”

Am I being too hard or critical about the CNN series? What are your thoughts?

Gary Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In Blog. Gary is also the author of the new book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.”

Commentary: What Black Men Think

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Black Men with tags , , on July 16, 2008 by Gary Johnson

Do you want to know what some black men think? Do you want to get a sense of the logic that drives their behavior? Do you want to witness a series of “critical conversations” and dialogs minus the excuses? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions then continue to read this article. If you answered, “No,” simply return to what you were doing but just know that we think you’re a part of the problem.

Fear not, there are still a critical mass of people who are willing to get involved and commit to the process of implementing “strategic solutions” to solve some of the challenges that plague black men and spill over and affect our families and our community.

In the most provocative black film since “ROOTS,” filmmaker Janks Morton presents a searing examination of the role that myths, stereotypes and misperceptions have played in the decimation of modern era black relationships.

The film also explores how the symbiotic relationship between the government, the media and special interests groups perpetuates misinformation to further marginalize the role of black men in society.

Click here to visit the CNN web site to see clips from the award winning documentary What Black Men Think by Janks Morton.

Are there more black men in jail or in college? If your answer was jail, think again.

To purchase a copy of this thought-provoking call to action DVD click here to visit the official “What Black Men Think” web site. You can also learn more about this film on the WBMT page on Black Men In

This has been a mini-commentary by Gary A. Johnson. Gary is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In Blog. Gary is also the author of the new book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.”

Don’t Get Mad, Get Strategic: The Intrinsic Value of Commerce

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Black Men with tags on July 15, 2008 by Gary Johnson

This blog (along with others) has been promoting CNN Presents: Black in America. This two-night special is part two of three, two-hour documentaries anchored by CNN special correspondent Soledad O’Brien. (CNN’s examination of Black America is part of a four-month on-air and digital initiative).

This special reportedly takes a look into the lives of Black Americans by adding some new voices and perspectives to the discussion. This blog along with a core group of syndicated bloggers have deliberately and strategically come together to present alternative views to “get things done.”

Many of us complain about the negative images that bombard us from “black owned and black interest” media outlets in addition to the negative images promoted by the mass media. We bitch and we moan. How many of those who complain do anything of substance beyond complaining?

Well there may be a solution. Some bloggers and black media entrepreneurs are suggesting a new way of raising our collective voices to ensure that the we don’t get mad and stay mad. We must be “strategic!”

Many of us have been conditioned to react to what we won’t tolerate and we’ve forgotten how to support what we want. The most valuable commodity we posses is time, and what we do with our time is critical as it relates to this effort by Soledad O’Brien and her team at CNN.

To disprove the all too often myth by advertisers that Blacks inherently do not understand the intrinsic value of commerce and won’t support the positive and that our “I got the hook-up” mentality will not translate into bottom-line sales numbers), the “New Jack” bloggers and black media entrepreneurs propose the following:

1) Watch or TIVO or DVR the show.

2) Buy the product or service of the first advertiser on the first day of each show. THE NEXT DAY (as long as it isn’t TOYOTA, a little pricey), demonstrating what Bomani Armah has deemed a BUYCOTT.

Remember that whole Black Boycott thing a few months ago? What were the tangible and measurable results from that idiotic and 60’s throwback proposition?

In the 21st century you demonstrate your power and influence through consorted economic acquisition.

Are you still with us?

This sends a message to CNN, the advertisers, the sponsors and the corporations that we watch, we buy and we support those things that reflect our ideals, hopes and struggles in this country.


Black Media Power Brokers-Coming To A Media Outlet Near You

Click here to preview the CNN television special “Black in America” (The Black Woman and Family) — June 23, 2007.

Click here to preview the CNN television special “Black In America” — (The Black Man) June24, 2007.

Thanks to Janks Morton and Bomani Armah for the thought spark.

Obama Vows To Press On With His “Personal Responsibility” Message

Posted in Barack Obama, Politics with tags , , on July 15, 2008 by Gary Johnson

Barack Obama speaking at the 2008 NAACP Convention urged blacks to take more responsibility for improving their lives, despite being criticized by some blacks for speaking out.

“Now, I know there’s some who’ve been saying I’ve been too tough, talking about responsibility,” Obama told the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization. “I’m here to report, I’m not going to stop talking about it.”

Jesse Jackson and others have criticized Obama for discussing the problem of absent fathers in many black families and urging black men to become more involved in their children’s lives. In his public speeches Obama often talks about his own experience being raised by a white single mother and his grandparents after his black Kenyan father left the family when he was two years old. Obama received a standing ovation from the NAACP crowd for his “personal responsibility” speech.

Some people who visit this blog feel that Obama does not fully appreciate the struggles of the older generation of civil rights leaders such as Jesse Jackson and that is what Jackson so crudely and clumsily was trying to say in his comments caught on the “hot mic.”

What do you think?

Black Media Outlets Hope To See an Increase in Advertising Revenue During Presidential Race

Posted in Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Politics on July 14, 2008 by Gary Johnson

TV Week has an article by Ira Teinowitz on their web site that explores the hopes of black media outlets that the Barack Obama campaign will spend more money with them. Tenowitz correctly points out that the Obama campaign has done relatively little spending with media and programming aimed at African Americans.

According to the article, an Obama spokesman said African American media has been “a high priority to the campaign, and will continue to be in the remaining months.” He said the campaign is not in a position to disclose its strategy for use of the media going forward.

Here’s what I say. Talk is cheap. I judge people (and organizations) by their behavior. So far Obama has not had to spend money with black media outlets. During the primary season, black radio appeared to be so happy to get an interview with Barack Obama that most of the outlets would give him FREE air time.

For the folks in charge of media in the Obama camp exploiting this relationship made smart business sense. Maybe they didn’t view it this way at the time, but FREE radio air time during a hotly contested political primary campaign is worth money. The money you saved can be devoted to further your lead or catching up to your opponent.

Think about all of the local and syndicated radio programs that gave Barack Obama FREE air time. How much money do you think his campaign saved? Advantage Obama!

Click below to read the TV Week article by Ira Teinowiz:

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Children Involved In Legal Battle Over Parent’s Estate

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Black Men with tags , , on July 13, 2008 by Gary Johnson

Commentary by Gary A. Johnson

Bernice King and Martin Luther King III filed a lawsuit Thursday in Fulton County Superior Court against Dexter King. Bernice and Martin allege that Dexter King took “substantial funds” out of their mother Coretta Scott King’s estate and “wrongfully appropriated” money from their father’s estate.

The lawsuit says that Dexter King, the administrator of his father’s estate, refused to provide information and documents concerning the operations. and that Martin Luther King Jr.’s estate’s assets are being misapplied or wasted.

Wow! I don’t know why I thought the King family would be different. This is sad.

Jock Smith, a lawyer due to represent Bernice and Martin, said the pair’s decision to sue their brother was not an easy one.

“This was very heartfelt on their part and very, very taxing on them to have to do this,” Mr Smith said. “They are not happy that they had to bring this action. All they’re asking for is … to be included in their daddy’s legacy.”

Speaking from his home in Malibu, California, Dexter added that he was “shocked” and “blindsided” by the lawsuit and claimed his siblings had given him no warning. “I think maybe it was a reckless attempt to express their grievances,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They are false claims and I will addressing that accordingly.”

If Dr. King and Mrs. King were alive I don’t think they would be happy with this situation and having it play out in public. Once again, money appears to be the divisive issue that serves as a wedge between family members.

What do you think?

Source: Various media outlets.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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