This program was billed like this: In “Tom Brokaw Reports: Separate and Unequal,” Brokaw traveled to Jackson, Miss., for an in-depth report on race and poverty. Jackson struggles everyday with the issues of race and America.
Want to know what I learned from it? That the problems in the black community of Jackson, Mississippi (and by extension, the rest of the U.S.) are caused by:
- Youth who don't know how to succeed even when they have potential
- Too many fatherless families
- The unhealthy influence of the evil rap music
- So many teenage pregnancies (see 2nd bullet above)
- Lack of personal accountability
Now, I admit--I didn't have high hopes for a Tom Brokaw special on race and poverty, but I did expect that such a special would at least touch on the roots and causes of the whole, separate and unequal problem. But guess what, after an hour, all I got was the same old, tired pathological "analysis". Brokaw mentions that during integration, blacks were able to move into formerly all-white suburbs and attend formerly all-white schools, but that now, 50 years later, the suburbs and schools are all black. Does he give us one iota of explanation for this? NO! Instead of helping the viewer see how white flight, (oh no--our property values are going to go down, and oh no--our children are going to have to sit next to "them") resegregated everything, he spends all his time getting his subjects to tell us earnestly that it really comes down to personal responsibility. I was sickened.
Once again I was reminded of Tim Wise's statistic--that 80% of white America lives in communities where there are no people of color. It's no wonder that we have so far to go when programs like this not only do not give an accurate analysis of the causes of the problems, but basically give those white people every justification for the racial isolation they seek.
I'm thinking of writing to Tom Brokaw and suggesting that he watch "Ku Klux Klan: A Secret History", which does an excellent job of tracing the history of white supremacy and it's political, legal and extra-legal manifestations right up to the present day. Believe me, it has a lot more explanatory power than the nonsense put out in his "report".