CNN's "Black in America"

What did you miss in the first installment of the cable program's high-profile series on race?

Published July 24, 2008 11:29PM (EDT)

CNN has been throwing serious ad time and media sizzle behind its "Black in America" series. If I had to watch the ads one more time -- Soledad O'Brien and that muscular theme music -- I was gonna personally track down "the best political team on television" and give them all wedgies. But last night, something crazy happened: The first episode finally aired!

I didn't rejoice long; the show, focused on black women and families, was pretty bleak. In fact, it might more accurately have been titled "Bad News for Blacks in America."

Some highlights: AIDS is the No. 1 killer of black women, 25-34, and among women recently diagnosed with HIV, a whopping two-thirds are black. If you're single and looking for a partner, ladies, get ready to face down more grim statistics: 45 percent of black women have never been married -- twice the percentage of white women. The black single woman is also the subject of a tie-in story on today's CNN, subtitled "Is Marriage Really for White People?" (Spoiler alert: Umm, no.)

The most appalling news, however, came from the portion on black children in public schools. "A black kid in America scores below any other developing country," one Harvard professor explained. "We might as well take them out of Brooklyn and put them in Turkey." Gah! The former English teacher in me weeps tears of frustration. By the way, the Harvard professor runs an experimental program in which he actually pays inner-city kids to go to school. I couldn't figure out what was more depressing: that such a program exists, or that for a second, even a die-hard idealist like me thought it sounded like a plan.

Tonight: Bad news for black men in America.

By Sarah Hepola

Sarah Hepola is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, "Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget."

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