Urban haps of a grrrl on a mission to be a better writer, a new music master-blaster and a wonderfully brilliant razor-packing, MAC LipGlass wearing feminista...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

African American Women: Where They Stand

On Monday, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams kicked off their series African American Women: Where They Stand, a five-part series exploring some of the issues facing African American women. Veteran reporter, Brian Williams opened the segment by introducing the critical issue of education and the large disparity in achievement between African-American men and women graduating from college. Knowing that I was not going to catch the first segment, I asked my friend and fellow writer Renee Cole to check it out and let me know what she thought. Below is her review:

Rehema Ellis, an African American NBC General News Correspondent began by featuring Mia Jackson, a 39-year old single mother from Maryland, who graduated from Stanford University and currently owns a successful marketing business.

A Black woman that graduated from one of the top schools in the U.S. and owns a successful business is hardly stereotypical, but when Ellis comments that Jackson "likes being in charge," and then adds, "it is the reason she left the corporate world,” one can’t help but wonder if she is suggesting that that is the same reason Ms. Jackson is single. And therein lies the stereotype: Black women want to run stuff. They like to be in charge and society (read white people) can’t deal with an assertive Black woman.

The report continued by highlighting the huge disparity between Black women and Black men as being 'rooted in education.' Ellis stated 64% of college graduates are women outnumbering men at college campuses 7:1. She mentions the reasons for the disparities are complicated alluding to the fact that there are other implications regarding the social status of African American men. She goes on to say, "Some people blame schools that often give up on African American males at the elementary level."

After a short portion of the video for the rap song, In Da Club by 50-Cent plays in the background, Ellis says, "In a society that celebrates bad boy images Black males get the idea that dropping out of school is better than staying in."

Without going into too many details the subliminal message here is young Black men are too busy getting caught up thinking that living a thug life and surviving long enough to rap about it can lead to success faster and easier than attending school and graduating.

The segment was short-- about 2 minutes in length, but unlike other mainstream features about African Americans, I feel it was fair, balanced and consistent. Ellis presented the reality that Black women like Mia Jackson are using education to make great economic strides controlling their own destiny and yes, in charge! Ms. Jackson hopes that her daughter, a sophomore at Stanford, continues to promote the advancement of African American women.

The point is Black women are using education to make power moves, do the damn thing and make it happen. You can believe Black women stand high and mighty when it comes to education and economic achievement, but Black women often stand alone. If Black women are excelling while Black men are lagging behind, falling prey to social injustices and a pervasive subculture called hip hop, what will be the overall impact on African Americans? That is something that should be addressed, but in all fairness to Ms. Ellis, the segment was about Black women.

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