The plight of the black man in America is a diverse and complicated picture. A CNN special aired on July 25, 2008 and focused on the lives of two African American brothers in America. It was a reverting documentary. The documentary focused on the The Dyson brothers. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is a prominent Minister and an MSNBC host and Political Commentator and a Princeton Graduate. His brother is a convicted murderer sentenced to life in prison. The documentary focused on two brothers who traveled two separate paths each leading in divergent directions. One brother a life of good works, the other a less fortunate path. The question is this; even though the brothers are black did skin color play a role in one brother succeeding and the other ending up incarcerated? It was a divergent view of the contrast between lives of two different brothers from the same family.
Ironically, both brothers had it hard. Michael the Princeton graduate along with his brother was raised in poverty, but became a success. Edward, who Michael calls the less fortunate brother, joined the Marines and was later discharged. Edward then begins selling drugs on the streets. In 1989 a dying man’s last words were that Edward Dyson shot him. Edward was convicted and sent to jail for the rest of his life. Michael felt that this was tragically unfair and that his brother was innocent. When he looked back on Edward’s life Michael saw a pattern of hard luck that Edward was subjected to and everything was not directly traced to things he influenced, but rather a bias against Edward, due to his skin color. A hard issue to prove or to accept, but there is documentation that preferential treatment for some blacks among slaves owners occurred in the past, but continues to occur in some cases even today in hiring for jobs.
The documentary created a bombshell of an issue. Dyson the fair skinned of the two felt that he had more opportunities because of skin color. Michael Dyson feels this is the reason he had way more opportunities than his brother. This in itself has over many years created ions of debate in the black community. That skin color can be a detriment even within the African- American community. There’s not enough space to delve into this issue. The issue dates back to slavery when lighter or fair skinned slaves were given the choice assignments, butler, nannies, in the plantation home of the plantation owner. While darker skinned blacks were relegated to working in the fields and hard labor.
These were not the only issues that were touched on. In the African- American community the number of households headed by a Woman is well over 60% in America. Meaning the overwhelming majority of African American children are being raised with no father present. These issues were touched on in the documentary. Many people have their own hypothesis as to why this is so and the issues vary from difficulties in corporate settings to breaking the generational traps that has ultimately destroyed many black families. Families are beset with drug addition, social dysfunction and a host of ills that are common for lower class families.
The documentary served to illustrate our challenge as a society. Can we continue to deny the destructive cycle of absent fathers from emerging families? Our challenge is to continue to discuss these issues and talk about the crises that are destroying the black family. So we will undoubtedly continue to discuss causes, but come away with one truth, at some point a line must be drawn in the sand by black men and women to break the cycle of drugs, to break the cycle of being absent fathers, to break the cycle of unwed mothers with no father in sight, all these are generational behaviors and acts that cannot be supported or condoned. This destructive cycle must be eliminated. The very survival of the black family depends on it.