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Black American Interview

July 21, 2009

Interview with Audience Member after Black in America 2 preview


After the viewing, I was curious to see what the viewers thought of the screening. While leaving, I ran into a group of college gentleman who are a part of the Institute for Responsible Citizenship

While being in a room full of high achieving young men on the verge of success, I became inspired to do my own CNN Black in America investigation. So, the journey began with Eric Charity.

Eric Charity is a rising senior at Pennsylvania State University who was selected to be a part of the Institute in 2008. He tells The Hilltop his thoughts of the screening and his feelings towards some of the current issues facing black America. The interview is as follows:

Q) After viewing the screening of CNN Black in America 2, what were your immediate thoughts?

A) After the preview, I was very excited. I felt that the stories presented show Black-Americans in a more positive light and gave more solutions to the problems that many of us face today. From what I saw, I have a feeling that the show will not simply highlight Black issues, as I think the first Black in America did, but will offer guidance and ways of dealing with these problems that plague the African-American community.

Q) What is the contrast between CNN Black in America 2 and CNN Black in America 1?

A) I think the strongest contrast between the two is that the first Black in America merely showed problems, but offered no solutions or counters to the problems. Furthermore, I thought that the second Black in America was done in a more professional manner. It did not have the “stereotypical Black intellectual” telling the audience what was to come next, as the first Black in America had. I think that this second feature was far more compelling and pertinent not to the Black community but to those outside the Black community. I think an understanding will come out of this second feature.

Q) Throughout history, it is evident that black people have not only been physically enslaved, but mentally as well. Often times black people were told that they would never amount to anything, despite their intellectual potential, the color of their skin would become their biggest flaw. Do you believe that black people are still psychologically enslaved? Why?

A) I personally feel that anyone can be psychologically enslaved. I think that in order to be enslaved psychologically one must submit to this enslavement. Therefore, yes it is possible that Black people are enslaved, but only if we allow ourselves to become enslaved. President Obama has changed the entire dynamic of the US and has truly shown the world that no matter your color, anyone can be anything in this world.

The fact of the matter is that we need to reach our children in grade school, not high schoo,l if we are to instill this reality in them. High School is too late, and many times the students are already shaped and molded into the person they will be for life. I think that psychological enslavement is a term that is a cop out for those who don’t work hard.

Q) One of the topics highlighted in the screening was the decreasing marriage rates in the black community. Why do you feel this is the case? What do you believe can be done to fix it?

A) The marriage rate is an extreme issue in the US for African-Americans. I really do not know the underlying reason for this phenomenon in the black community. Many will argue it is due to the rise of gang life and hip-hop music, but I think this phenomenon had to have started sometime before these events arose. What must be done is to teach our youth the value of family life and family bonds again. We need to get our youth, in particular young black boys, into programs such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters to give them a mentor and someone they can look up to. You can never know how to live in a family life if you have no idea what it looks like. These programs help to create a model for adulthood and family life. We should not study the past, what has occurred has already happened, we must now work to fix this problem.

Q) The principle of the Capitol Prep School in Hartford Conn. was featured in CNN Black in America 2. It is a known fact that every student that attends the Capitol Prep School, go on to enroll in college. This news, however, is very unlikely in many predominantly black high schools. As a black male in college, in pursuit of success, how does it make you feel to know that so many of your black male peers are in jail?

A) It is disheartening to know that many of my peers are incarcerated. Capitol Prep is a suburb example of what we need. There is a lack of black educators that have the ability to influence our youth. Many of those who are incarcerated come from poor backgrounds, single parent households and lack someone in their life pushing them to succeed. There are an abundance of HBCUs that were set up to educate, when we couldn’t get into predominantly white institutions. Maybe there should be a movement to set up a number of high schools run the same way that can be set up in inner cities across the country. That would benefit those in poverty and instill values such as discipline, handwork, and proper etiquette. These are the values that make successful people not what you learn in a class. Once these values are developed, everything else will follow.

Q) John Rice, brother of Susan Rice, claims that his up bringing and two parent household had great influence on his success? Did you grow up with both parents in your household? If so, how has having both parents influenced you? If not, how vital do you feel having both parents in the household is?

A) I was fortunate enough to grow up in a two-parent household; however, I have also experienced living in a single parent household when my mother left after I graduated from high school. Being that I have experienced both, I can say that there is truly a difference. I can say that trust is an issue for myself. I had already developed the values of handwork and discipline, but it affected me where I saw myself not trusting a number of individuals particularly women because my mother had left. If your mother leaves then all women will leave was the thinking in my mind. I can see this as a problem with people who lack fathers as well. It is a very hard life to have one parent. That parent has to work harder to make sure everything works and runs smoothly. You are entirely dependent on that one person, who can be extremely pressure filled for that parent and cause tension in the household. Having both parents in a household is very vital and necessary. You learn both sides of the social spectrum and learn things from your mother you can’t learn from a father and vice versa. Without this experience it is hard to adapt and forces those in single family households to work extra hard to learn both ways.

-Victoria Fortune, Contributing Writer

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