First Emily Gould, now Soledad O'Brien...
Soledad O'Brien confirmed another one of my biggest fears about being a Gen Y leader: That I won't fight for things when I can find something to fight against.
I watched her special "CNN Presents: Black in America" this weekend where she reportedly reported on what the African American experience is. After 2 nights of commentary I left wondering who the heck that was supposed to benefit. I honestly couldn't relate to the themes ("Being black can mean being a suspect") and stories.
Before I get the "you're obviously elitist" speech, I'm pretty sure I'm still black (last I checked) and I definitely was not alone in my thoughts. In fact the overwhelming response from those in my circle got me thinking maybe I need to create my own special: Blackish in America. [hat tip: Monnie!]
Everybody knows in today's competitive environment of mass-produced commodities, it's often the best packaging that wins. With a black presidential nominee, being black has a certain power that has never been this public. The media would be foolish not to exploit it. And they do! Seems like every 3 weeks some genius gets the idea to explore what BLACK is. Soledad is no different. But instead of using this amazing platform to do something constructive, this documentary almost served as an insurance policy for future black failures...
In The Peter Principle, the authors termed a concept called "the disruptive power of achievement". It basically states that there are times when doing everything you think is right and being good at your job can still result in an unfavorable outcome...Yeah she got national attention, yeah Anderson Cooper gave her kudos ("sup Andy!"), but at the same time, she promoted a discussion that completely deflated my sense of importance.
When you're a minority in any industry, your race is a huge part of your personal brand. So while everybody is working on how to build a personal brand, I deal with a personal brand that was built by people I've never even met. Now I have to deal with a personal brand that the media is trying to define for me. What the heck is so personal about that? Nonetheless, it's something that I can't change and consequently I take a lot of pride in it.
I absolutely agree that there are disadvantages within our community, but I don't understand why Soledad felt the need to present, glorify, and reiterate the obvious. I always imagined being a part of such a progressive movement where regard for the obvious would be minimal. I was reading another blog where the host argued that we should celebrate Soledad because she sacrificed her time from the limelight to create this special. They cited that it was unprecedented and monumental to have "us" on Primetime television. Those like myself who disagreed were deemed "haters".
They were right, I did hate it. But if you took all the opinions of the fans and all the opinions of the haters, somewhere in the middle you'd find what it's truly like to be "Black in America".
That's the real story, Soledad.