Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dear CNN

Dear CNN,

F*ck you!


Moya Bailey

j/k j/k! but no really. I mean seriously, what was up with Black in America?

I have to start even before the show with the months of hype, the screenings at movie theaters, the word poetry magnets with choice words like “struggle,” “pride,” and “Comcast,” the t-shirts, and then the countdown clock to airtime! CNN, don’t you think that’s all a bit absurd? So how many viewers did you get from this “unprecedented” event? How many more folks ended up watching this “CNNannigan” than would have without your hype men dispatched to the four corners of the earth?

When you begin with a black male spoken word artist to talk about “black women and the family” you are saying something about how you see “Black America.” Sunni Patterson, Staceyann Chin, Sarah Jones are all black women poets who could have offered something about black women, oh excuse me, “black women and the family” because apparently black women don’t warrant their own two hour special.

In a special called “black women and the family” I expected to see and hear from more black women. Soledad’s omniracial ass notwithstanding, the black women of “black women and the family” were in the last part of the segment. There was only one black woman was presented as an expert and that was Julianne Malveaux, who awkwardly tried to say that it’s not all bad for black women but there was no footage that was used to support her claim. What we saw, were black women failing to keep their kids motivated or in school, failing to keep a roof over their heads, failing to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS, failing to find and stay with black male husbands (because apparently there are no queer black women in America), failing at life in general.

My brilliant friend Alexis who coined the term “CNNannigan,” also watched and had this to say:

“Since this first segment seems to me to be all about the danger of the black deviant mother (from the slaveowner's mistress to the absent mother of the soon to be homeless kids, to the struggling mother (also being evicted) whose life difficulties are explained by her unfulfilled craving for a strong male figure, to the regretful woman in the interracial marriage to the woman who's nails are highlighted while her paralyzed son's words are subtitled as if they aren't English) and how to insert a patriarchal figure
(from the obnoxious Harvard guy playing test-score sugar daddy, to f*cking "marry your baby daddy day", to the generous doctor who swoops in to save young men from the mothers who have failed them) reinforced by the highlighted black male preacheresque figures stating how if you are raised by a woman you're going to have bad sex and kill everyone and die of salt saturation or whatever...”

I don’t pretend to know your intentions CNN but I’m wondering if you thought that someone (or groups of black women) would see this in the segment. Furthermore, do you care?

I’m at a loss as to how you can talk about black women and not talk about the sexism and misogyny that black women endure on a day to day basis. You’ve done stories on Sakia Gunn, not the Jersey Four but Megan Williams, not the attacks in Dunbar Village or the woman gang raped in her Philadelphia apartment, but covered the woman who died on the floor of an NYC ER while hospital staff looked on. Yet, these assaults on the humanity of black women are not part of the segment.

The systems that collude to demonize black womanhood remain obscured. Welfare reform, no living wage, the lack of affordable housing, gentrification, environmental racism (an important term you could of introduced when highlighting that a black woman can’t get a tomato in Harlem), inefficient public transportation, could all have been brought to the fore as opposed to the conclusion that black folks bring their hardships on themselves.

After watching this segment, I’m sure that this letter from a radical, single (and happy), queer, black woman may not be intelligible to you, as it was pretty clear from the segment that I don’t exist. But I’d like to send it anyway just so I know that I responded to my erasure by saying I’m (We are) still here.


Moya Bailey


lex said...

in reference to Jessica's question below...clearly black girls do get angry.

right on sista moya with the eloquence of rage.

you were truly born in june and you honor her struggle daily.

fierce love embracing you,

Hollambeeee said...

thank you for this, moya!



Dalelia said...

Moya! I didn't watch the docuseries. I had a premonition that I wouldn't be able to handle it. Thank you for so clearly voicing who you (we) are. How would CNN know? Thank you.

sum said...


Dalelia said...

How was Roland Fryer chosen to be the major voice of the piece supposedly on Black Women and the Family? I just started watching and I wish I hadn't...

faze said...

i love how possibly articulate you are moya. i believe you summed up all these arduous months of editing to show CNN that being black and woman and alive is still possible even without the traitorous help of CNN. i love you, already, this soon, for your bravery.

NaturallyAlise said...

After reading various blogs/reviews, including yours, of the series, I am glad that I did not watch it or get caught in the hype.... your view seems to be a prevailing opinion regarding the series....

dark lily said...

great post moya.

the second i heard that the title women and family, i knew it was going to be scary. i figured alot of irresponsible breeder implications and castrating black ladies ready to sell their children for to the latest crack house...or something...didnt watch it (dont have a television) but i do wonder what is the impact going to be of this series in feeding and recasting a bunch of myths about black folks.