I’m White in America, and proud of it.

This past weekend, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien   followed her very successful 2008 report, “Black in America,” http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2008/black.in.america/ with a new mini series, “Black in America 2,” http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2009/black.in.america/.

I have to admit that, aside from a few minutes here and there, I didn’t watch either one. 

The first special aired, just coincidentally, in the midst of Barack Obama’s   campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. 

It was touted by CNN as an exploration of ”the varied experiences of black women and families and investigated the disturbing statistics of single parenthood, racial disparities between students and the devastating toll of HIV/AIDS.  O’Brien reported on the progress of black women in the workplace and the status of the black middle class.”

It’s difficult to critique something I haven’t seen but, based on that blurb alone, I’d have to say it must have focused on how blacks in America have largely caused their own problems. 

I did admire the subterfuge of the accent on black women, which diverted attention away from the idea that it was a free advertisement for the first black man to run for president.

CNN’s/Soledad’s sequel had a much different blurb:  ”This July, CNN continues its investigation of the most challenging issues facing African-Americans with ‘Black in America 2.’ Soledad O’Brien reports on people who are using ground-breaking solutions to transform the black experience.” 

Based on the touts, it seemed BIA1 emphasized black problems and BIA2 emphasized solutions, which is admirable.  It also seems that both specials served to divide rather than unite the races in America by showing their differences and dissimilarities rather than seeking racial unity.

I’m well aware that many if not most African-Americans feel, even in 2009, even after electing a black president, that they are still victimimized in our country whereas the reverse is much more true.  Harvard’s Professor Louis Gates is an excellent case in point, a man who has gained it all in America yet smells racism at every opportunity.

Suffice to say, in twenty-first century America, I believe any black in America who sees white racism lurking everywhere or who blames bigotry as the cause of his or her failures in life is delusional.  Continued harping on a dead issue only leads to more frustration and less self-application.  

I’ve never felt like a minority citizen of the United States of America although I am.  I imagine my forebears and fellow Irish Americans’ predecessors more than once felt that way as immigrants on the infamous nineteenth century coffin ships that carried the Irish to this country.

The lucky ones, that is.

Unlike black African slaves, the Irish had no intrinsic value to the shipmasters after paying their fare.  Thousands were buried at sea during the North Atlantic voyage after weeks of living like rats in the holds of ships, breathing fetid air, steeped in their own waste, eating spoiled food when there was food, and suffering from dysentary, typhus, and other diseases: http://www.historyplace.com/worldhistory/famine/coffin.htm

Nevertheless, some survived, only to die of neglect after arrival in the U.S. and Canada.  The remainder were subjected to further insult when confronting ”Irish Need Not Apply” signs at so-called reputable establishments.  

They shrugged off those and other slights and searched elsewhere for jobs.  They eventually found them, worked tirelessly and diligently, and some came to own the same establishments that had turned away their parents.

One Irish-American became president of these United States some 50 years ago, an Irish Catholic white man in America who became a symbol of those who had overcome decades of vile discrimination. 

Any reasonable, thinking person would believe it’s long overdue for blacks to suck it up, take responsibility for their lives, and stop blaming “whitey” for their failures.  Most nationalities in America struggled, scrimped, and saved to earn their place in this country.  Success was neither guaranteed nor handed to them.

I’m a proud White in America.  I hope that some day CNN runs a special on us.  I hope also that Soledad O’Brien some day acknowledges her other half and advises CNN she would next want to film a special titled, “White in America.”