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I am a mommy, scribe, and middle-school English teacher. I am trying to cope with being separated from my beloved. DoUWantMore? email me: theprisonerswife@gmail.com

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Black In America

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 3:34 PM

The first half of CNN's documentary Black in America was extremely interesting. It touched on a myriad of issues, but (to me) offered few solutions. I am on the road and do not have my computer, so I wasn't able to blog during or after the show, but I just had a few thoughts...and I am open to hearing your suggestions on how we can begin changing some of these issues.

1. The HIV/AIDS rate among black women is ALARMING, and yet people aren't really talking about it. Thankfully, I am already aware of these issues, but what about my peers? And what about my students? I am a church-goer and yet my church has been silent on the issue. I am thinking that we, as Black women, need to take up arms over this because we are losing our sisters/mothers/aunts/daughters/grandmothers.

2. WOW at 70% of all Black households being headed by women. That's CRAZY! I am one of those 70% and it is not easy. If beloved were home, we'd certainly be raising our son together, but that is not our reality at the moment. How do we even begin changing this epidemic for black folks? Solid families are one of the keys to raising stable, successful kids. How can we expect our kids to compete if their home life is a disaster? I see it everyday in my students. Many are foster kids, and most live with their mother or another relative. They don't even concentrate on school because of all of the drama at home. What can be done about that?

3. Education: Roland Fryer is amazing (!!!). After seeing him the first time on the other Black in America Special, I am intrigued by his work and would love to talk with him. I am a believer in paying kids to do well in school. My parents gave me money for good grades, which in turn made me work harder and later led to an intrinsic love for education, so why not do the same for others (Shout out to Mayor Bloomberg for doing it in NYC)? Some question the idea of paying kids for doing well in school, but as adults, we want to be compensated for our achievement on the job. Since school is basically a child's job, and a means to an economic future, why not steep the fire by providing incentives? Middle-class kids get cars, clothes, and all kids of goodies as a reward, why can't lower-income children be rewarded just the same?

I am rushing, I know, but I am writing from a hotel business center. We are here visiting beloved and have had a WONDERFUL week. I am looking forward to watching part 2 of the documentary tonight, and hopefully stealing a few minutes while the munchkin is sleep to come and write & see what you guys are saying.

Parting questions: Do you think the documentaries did a good job of capturing "The Black Experience"? & what does it mean to you to be Black in America?


11 Response to 'Black In America'

  1. Anonymous Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/black-in-america.html?showComment=1217031900000#c5129365613568362325'> Friday, July 25, 2008 5:25:00 PM

    For 1 and 2: stop opening your legs for every man that tells you he likes you (they don't even have to tell you they love you any longer). The desperation is not a good look.


  2. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/black-in-america.html?showComment=1217050380000#c6296650603737167847'> Friday, July 25, 2008 10:33:00 PM

    anonymous: thank you for commenting. however, i think the issue is deeper than just telling girls to "stop opening their legs." that is a very simple answer for a complex problem. moreover, your comment absolves men of any responsibility and places the majority of the weight on women. women aren't getting pregnant or getting AIDS by way of masterbation. each party should share responsibility. but also, i think these two issues are merely symptoms of larger problems...the breakdown of the family. but that's just me. what do you think?


  3. CapCity Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/black-in-america.html?showComment=1217173920000#c1676001938282463755'> Sunday, July 27, 2008 8:52:00 AM

    Didn't see it - too busy LIVING BLACK in AMERICA;-). I've heard others comment on how depressing it was - so, i don't need more of THAT in my head.

    I don't agree with paying kids for school - too many of our kids already seek OUTSIDE approval & have no understanding of intrinsic values. What about doing things for your OWN sense of pride? My father refused to pay us for good grades - as my mother wanted to. & I'm glad they didn't - my eldest & I would've RAKED in the cash while the two middle sisters would've hated us EVEN MORE for reaping benefits they couldn't. Besides, what if your child has a learning disability - grades don't reflect intelligence as far as I'm concerned. Been teaching over 15 years now & some of my most intelligent students get the worse grades - while some kids are just GREAT at taking tests & diligent about getting work done... just my two cent;-)


  4. CapCity Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/black-in-america.html?showComment=1217174160000#c4484829209087032046'> Sunday, July 27, 2008 8:56:00 AM

    P.S. - working with kids of the rich -- they don't pay their kids for good grades - they pay their kids cuz they can... just an fyi (gramma was right when she said that All that glitters ain't gold;-) - don't believe the hype, Sis!


  5. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/black-in-america.html?showComment=1217187960000#c7705095144033173410'> Sunday, July 27, 2008 12:46:00 PM

    u know my take
    dont dig talking heads
    i say
    work hard and dont complain


  6. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/black-in-america.html?showComment=1217205840000#c3780516432071158930'> Sunday, July 27, 2008 5:44:00 PM

    Cap: i think we will have to agree to disagree about offering incentives to kids. i think over time, the kids will work hard to get the incentives, but will also gain intrinsic motivation. i mean, hoping kids are motivated to learn just for the hell of it, doesn't work. i look at my students and no matter how enthusiastic i am about my content, or how much of a show i put on for them, many (mostly black boys) just aren't interested. they don't see how studying books and novels can help them in the real world. if they were offered an incentive (scholarships? cash at the end of the semester, something) then maybe that would at least GET them interested and open, and give them the opportunity to see the things that learning provides.


  7. CapCity Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/black-in-america.html?showComment=1217301360000#c5658676243356883310'> Monday, July 28, 2008 8:16:00 PM

    Sis, u're right, everybody's experience ain't mine - I can dig that. I'm not a Black Man, after all:-). Maybe the scholarship - if that's an incentive to continue learning ... but straight cash that gets blown on nothingness - would be a waste. I just continue to pray for this generation... tha's all I know how to do...


  8. Tamra Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/black-in-america.html?showComment=1217335980000#c1409050844806134467'> Tuesday, July 29, 2008 5:53:00 AM

    My comment'll have to be quick too. I'd said I wasn't going to, but I ended up watching a little myself and I had some thoughts from it too.

    One of those is, I, too, agree with offering kids incentives to stay in and do well in school. Heck, if it works, and it gets "at risk" kids excited, I'm all for it--I think we need to try *everything*--so many things haven't worked. I'm sure there are a myriad of kinks to be worked out of such an effort as Fryer mentioned, but, that comes with time. Band-aid fix for other issues? --To a certain extent yes. But, better to have kids doing well in and being excited about school while the other gunk is going on too. Heck, the achievement of the kids themselves might be catalysts for change at home...

    You responded on-point to the comment about our girls keeping their legs closed, but, I have to stand up and say, too, that the situation is SO much deeper than blocking access. Reducing it to "keeping their legs closed" is just--I don't even have a word for it. Lacking empathy for/understanding of a whole lot of things, maybe?

    There are a ton of issues at work in those situations--lack of self-esteem, messed up family lives, lack of positive role models, generational perpetuation of the same among family members--the list goes on. And, like you said, telling the girls to "keep their legs closed" seems to put the responsibility completely on them, which is not fair. As they say, it takes two to tango.

    I haven't finished watching all of the doc, but I thought it was pretty interesting too. --I initially thought it would be much more gimmicky than it was, and I was impressed to see that it was not. Some things about it annoyed me, but, hey--that's life. Funny thing is that I've heard a lot of front-end criticism from people who haven't even seen it.

    Glad you're having such a good week!


  9. Tamra Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/black-in-america.html?showComment=1217361600000#c4484423728782223705'> Tuesday, July 29, 2008 1:00:00 PM

    I have my thoughts on the church-related discussions (or lack thereof) about AIDS and I'll not go there at the moment.

    Instead, I thought about your post after I saw this this afternoon...

    (sorry, I'm too lazy to insert the hyperlink tags)


  10. Lovebabz Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/black-in-america.html?showComment=1217372760000#c5319379878841861249'> Tuesday, July 29, 2008 4:06:00 PM

    I didn't watch the series. I appreciate the effort I think. But it doesn't do anything toward solutions. Those of us who are well educated know what time it is. Those that aren't know what time it is. I ahve 4 children we adopted out of the foster-care system. It is a heinous system that ought to bring shame on us all. I have been affluent and had folks working in my home. I have been poor and scrambling. That is the experience of living in America. God, Bad, or indifferent.

    I applaud your care and concern about this issue. I sense you feel strongly about this. As an educator you see first hand what kids and their families are up against. It is at best daunting. (sigh)

    I remain hopeful and prayful!


  11. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/black-in-america.html?showComment=1217375100000#c7261694370371319093'> Tuesday, July 29, 2008 4:45:00 PM

    Tamra: yeah, it was a decent documentary, nothing earth-shattering, but it was nice to see an exploration of US, by an African-American journalist. i felt it was rushed, but i know tv has its constraints. thanks so much for the link. keep the resources coming, sis!

    lovebabz: welcome back from atl! i'm sure the foster care system is a mess. a large portion of my students are in foster care & some of their "parents" don't even give them the time of day. it's sad & they are angry. it's a struggle, and yet we can't afford to stop fighting.