CNN's Black In America: What Happens When Popeye's Teaches Chickens History & Current Events

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Comedian Lily Tomlin once said that no matter how cynical you get, it's impossible to keep up. CNN's latest installment of “Black In America” with its focus on the “tragic mulatto” proves her right. CNN's version of history erases the actual origin of North America's “one drop rule.”

CNN's Black In America: What Happens When Popeye's Teaches Chickens History & Current Events

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Letting CNN explain to us what it means to be black in America is about as smart as chickens choosing Popeye's to teach their history. To nobody's surprise, the latest installment of CNN's “ Black in America” spoke more to white perceptions of blackness and black history than it did to actual black experiences. This episode's focus on what Zora Neale Hurston called “the tragic mulatto” revisits what's always been chiefly a white obsession, rather than any central fact of African American life, and offers a fake history of the origin of the so-called “one drop rule” which makes anybody with detectable African ancestry in the US considered black.

The one-drop rule's actual origins go back to the 1600s. The slave trade was carried on wind powered sailing ships coming mostly from West Africa and Angola. The shortest hop with the prevailing winds was to Brazil, where 40% of those surviving the Middle Passage landed. The West Indies were a short trip as well. Slaves were so plentiful and cheap from Brazil to St. Kitts to Jamaica and Haiti that masters found it economical to work them to death in 3 to 5 years and buy new ones, which they did for 3 centuries.

But the slave ports of North America were a much longer journey, and against the wind. So many slaves and crewmen perished that few slave ships even tried to make it directly here from Africa. Scholars estimate that only 4 or 5% of Africans taken from the continent made it to North America, and half those were dropped in the West Indies to recuperate and brought here later. Consequently slaves in North America were too expensive to be worked to death every few years; slavemasters in places like colonial Virginia needed a self-reproducing slave population. Unlike Brazilian and West Indian slavemasters who often gave privileges and sometimes freedom to the children they made upon slave women, North American slavemasters from the mid-1600s began enforcing a one-drop rule so they could profit from the sale of their own children whom they made upon enslaved African women.

Thus the one-drop rule, was a legal doctrine in the great North American tradition, to safeguard the ruling class's investments in enslaved human capital. Unlike the Caribbean, light-skinned descendants of Africans didn't necessarily get any special privileges here. Mistresses distressed at the sight of pickaninnies who looked like their husbands, brothers, fathers and overseers typically separated them from their mothers and sold them away.

There were many Haitians who took the wrong side in the revolution and the struggles immediately afterward, who fled to New Orleans. Most of them were light-skinned and brought their sense of entitlement with them. But their experience and their influence though significant, was and has been the exception for the black experience in the United States, not the rule.

By failing to mention, let alone examine the origin of the one-drop rule, CNN's programming on its effects and ramifications fails to pass any reasonable test for historical accuracy or relevance to life as it's lived by most of us in black America. But what can you expect when you rely on Popeye to teach chickens history and current events?

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)





"Letting CNN explain to us what it means to be black in America is about as smart as chickens choosing Popeye's to teach their history."

This is so true because people over at CNN should really be thrown in the DOC for putting food stamps on the table during talks for national (suicide) austerity cuts:

CNN's Romans and Costello take swipes at Cory Booker's "SNAP Challenge"

Some, like CNN's Carol Costello, questioned whether Booker's efforts to lift awareness of food insecurity was "helpful or a pointless exercise." (Of course, she's the same Carol Costello who thought Romney had a good point in his "47%" speech.) And CNN's Christine Romans jumped to defend the SNAP program, and implied that Booker is misrepresenting it. (See video.)

"It's not meant to be your only calorie intake source," Romans lectured. "Supplemental is the key. The government designs it so this is on top of what little money you might have, food pantries, soup kitchens. If you're gonna survive on it, then you have to, we have to discuss as a country, are we, are taxpayers, going to pay for every calorie somebody consumes. Are we going to completely support people. 46 million people are getting food stamps."

Well, that answer's simple, Christine: Yes, we are. If somebody doesn't have the "little money" or access to the dwindling number of food pantries and soup kitchens, then we, as fellow Americans, through our taxes, should support them. Every calorie. To keep them from starving. (Clearly, she doesn't have a clue what it's like for a child to bear the burden and stigma of eating dinner at a soup kitchen or taking some other form of mealtime charity.) 46 million people are obtaining food assistance - that's true. But according to Peter Edelman, a scholar specializing in the fields of poverty and government assistance programs (not to be confused with some elitist talking head on CNN), 6 million of them rely on food stamps as their only source of income.

Piers Morgan Tonight: Cory Booker challenges his [Piers Morgan's] SNAP challenge criticism

Didn't CNN Waffle On Reporting that @ the RNC CNN's Own Black-

Camera-Woman was assaulted & racial verbally insulted by 2 RNC delegates this yr. It took sites like BAR, Seeing-Black, Counter-Punch, DN!, Raw Story, etc- to actually tell the full story that this was a racially motivated assault at this year's RNC where RawMoney was official picked as the Repugs' POTUS candidate. And even though CNN on one hand did a credible job on reporting the tragedy of NYC's Glenda Moore loosing her 2 sons in Hurricane Sandy, because a white guy literally shut the door in her face, CNN 'conveniently' failed to mention that Mrs Moore is a Black-woman.

These 2 incidents are proof that CNN & most lame-stream [= white] media will NOT honestly & completely tell Black history.

Closely related to this topic is all the Holly-weird hype / oscar buzz that so-called 'liberal' icon Steve Speilberg's 'Lincoln' is getting. How in the age of Obama can Speilberg make a major movie about the fight to end slavery- yet fail to depict any significant Black presence in his so-called 'epic' movie [IE: NOT Fredrick Douglass, nor Harriett Tubman, nor Sojourner Truth, nor Martin Delany, nor Robert Smalls, etc]??!!

This is a clear indication why we can NOT & must NOT rely on lame-stream [white] sources to accurately tell our history- NOT Even fairly recent & easily verifiable history, let alone our ancient history before the era(s) of the rise of Euro-American World Hedgemony. 

Watching and reading Mainstream News Sources make you DUMB!!

Direct TV has been down at the fitness center I attend, so for the past a couple weeks there's a constant diet of Faux News.   That stuff actually erodes your brain cells.  I can feel them atrophy after every 30 minutes of cardio:  interesting uxtaposition-- muscle workout vs. brain atrophy.

Not only is the point about Speilberg's Lincoln on point but I'm tired of white folks not bothering to use a single Black intellectual or professor to weigh in on matters affecting Black Folks.  They'd rather use a John Legend or some other Black Minstrel or "famous" person than the hundreds of years of combined wisdom of Black Professors Emeritus. 

What does that tell you?  That White Perceptions matter more than Black Experiences.  Hell, even ol Skip Gates don't get much love these days.

Memo: Blacks ain't entitled to opinions about race

especially when they contradict the White Narrative.

The latest dust-up in the sports world has political correct police all a twitter:

Rob Parker Suspended: ESPN Suspends Commentator Over Controversial RG3 Comments


"For me, you don't ever want to be defined by the color of your skin,'' Griffin said at the end of Wednesday's post-practice news conference in reference to a question about Martin Luther King, Jr. "You want to be defined by your work ethic, the person that you are, your character, your personality. That's what I've tried to go out and do.

"I am an African-American in America. That will never change. But I don't have to be defined by that.''

The league's highest-rated passer, who has led the 7-6 Redskins into postseason contention with 10 of his 18 touchdowns thrown during a four-game win streak, said he is aware of why so many black Redskins fans take reflected pride in his success.

"I am aware how much race is relevant to them,'' RGIII said. "I don't ignore it. I try not to be defined by it. But I understand different persectives and how people view different things. I understand that they're excited that their quarterback is an African-American. I play with a lot of pride, a lot of character, a lot of heart. I understand that. I appreciate them for being fans and not just fans because they're African-Americans.''

"Is he a brother or is he a cornball brother?" Parker said on "First Take." When asked to elaborate, Parker continued. "Well, he’s black, he kind of does his thing. But he’s not really down with the cause, he’s not one of us. He’s kind of black. But he’s not really the guy you’d really want to hang out with because he’s off to do something else."

While his comments sparked outrage on social media platforms, Parker took to Twitter and called some of his critics "uneducated" and "silly."

When it turned out that ESPN was one of those critics, Parker stopped tweeting .

EC: The Right Wing media can say racially charged things, literally EVERY DAY if not every week, they never get "suspended" or reprimanded. I get where RG3 is coming from but, Ni#$a Puhleez in this day in age in American ,where the gloves are increasingly coming off and White folks feel completely unihibited to say what they really think, and objectively using Obama as exhibit A whether you like Obama or not, you have to be a damn fool not to believe you are not defined by your Blackness.

So I understand where Parker was coming from even if he said in inelegantly. You have to be a chump and a coward to say what RG3 said. He could said, "You know I wish we were not defined by race, but it's hard to say that mindset doesn't linger when you read and hear some of the slings and arrows thrown at the President and First Lady. I wish some of the rhetoric were not so heated and we can honestly conversate about race in America.

I don't want to be defined by race." Well guess what, no Black person does, but you damn sure gone be. But don't tell that to the White folks who do it everyday on Faux News and in the workplace because CNN tells you it ain't so. CNN still holding onto the post-racial bullshit Big Lie. Apparently, so is RG3 whom I love as a player.  But he damn show got a case of amnesia.

Where's Jim Brown and Abdul Jabbar when you need them? 

p.s. This is the same network that HIRED RUSH LIMBAUGH and here's how they defended him when Rush was just being Rush: 

PHILADELPHIA -- Donovan McNabb has been to three straight Pro Bowls and two consecutive NFC championship games, and was runner-up for NFL MVP in his first full season as a starter.

Still, commentator Rush Limbaugh saw fit to question the quarterback's credentials.

Before McNabb led the Philadelphia Eagles to a 23-13 victory over the Buffalo Bills, Limbaugh said on ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" that McNabb is overrated. However, Limbaugh injected his comment with racial overtones that have set off a controversy.

"Sorry to say this, I don't think he's been that good from the get-go," Limbaugh said. "I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

ESPN released an official statement Wednesday night.

"Although Mr. Limbaugh today stated that his comments had 'no racist intent whatsoever,' we have communicated to Mr. Limbaugh that his comments were insensitive and inappropriate. Throughout his career, he has been consistent in his criticism of the media's coverage of a myriad of issues," the statement read.

Earlier, ESPN executive vice president Mark Shapiro came to the conservative Limbaugh's defense.

"This is not a politically motivated comment. This is a sports and media argument," Shapiro was quoted as saying in a USA Today column published Wednesday. "Rush was arguing McNabb is essentially overrated and that his success is more in part [due] to the team assembled around him.

(shucks, looks like White folks get to define what the Racist White guy thinks and says as well as the "angry" Black man)

"We brought Rush in for no-holds-barred opinion. Early on, he has delivered," Shapiro told USA Today.

ESPN spokesman Dave Nagle said Tuesday that Limbaugh doesn't do interviews.

"It's sad that you've got to go to skin color. I thought we were through with that whole deal," McNabb told the Philadelphia Daily News. 

Quoting ESPN: "Rush has delivered!"

This would be an appropriate time for me to weigh-in on one of my favorite topics:  Political Correctness. 

PC is nothing but an instrument of the dominant culture to dictate dialogue, truth and perceptions.  If I can't say what I want to say, then seems to me I can't think what I want to think. I've always said I'm near absolutism w/r/t 1st Amendment on that premise alone.  Don't piss on my head and tell me it's raining, and fortunately there is a multibillion dollar "entertainment complex" to borrow from David Frum, that never confuses the two.  I appreciate reminders, you should too.

PC is an instrument to suppress true Black Expression, its a majoritarian instrument of power to control thought first and foremost.  It's a false, paternalistic mode of non-protection.  If Rob is suspended by ESPN for what he said, then hell, we may as well ban BAR?  They treated Susan Rice a lot worse than Rob treated RG3, I'm just saying yall...But do you get my point?

Black folks risk their livilihood to go against the White (increasingly monopolistic) media, they define who and what we are.  And there's punishment if you violate the dictum.  So we all must toe the PC Party line.  Conversely, Whites get better deals and finanicial rewards, hell, even greater STATUS, with racist-oriented, sexist, homophobic, down-right mean spirited rant.

What did Rush just call Sen. Elizabeth Warren?  Did any of his sponsors threaten to pull out, was he "reprimanded?"

PC is nothing but a mind and thought control technique.  Charlie Sheen and Imus got only temporary demomotions. Charlie looks great in that new commercial, btw. Those women around him are sexy, Charlie wouldn't have it any other way.

But what does the future hold for Rob Parker?  Same cold shoulder they gave Jabbar for most of his life?  Again, you ought to get the picture.

The folks who primarily lose under PC rules are the folks they are suppose to allegedly protect, that would be us in most instances.  We get blackballed for breaking the rules, while Whites get book deals..or more air time.  Ann Coulter doesn't seem to be irrelevant "yet" does she?  Get the picture.  Kinda like HSBC getting a relatively meagre fine for laundering billions in drug money, while Cousin Pookie got 20 to life for 2 keys that he was moving for the white boys.

My point in case I wasn't clear is that thanks to a noxious, stultefying, Black folk muzzling,  truth-concealing, politcal Trojan Horse concept like Political Correctness.  To borrow from Mr. Shapiro, top dog at ESPN: "Rush has delivered!"

In closing, PC is rank bullshit, some more symbolic crap that is more repressive than progressive when applied to the real world.  I say, "let the Red Necks and Bigots out the wood work, full speed ahead!!"

Oh, what did you say, I'm a day late and a job short?

Keep buying into the PC bullshit and Rush will keep delivering.

p.s.  On the positive side of PC, I would submit that my writing and thought process has improved tremendously since I've eschewed 4 letter words, though I will always love the "N" word and can't seem to avoid its weekly usage.  LOL

PC ACT I Scene 2: The "N" is wrong for using "N" to defend "N's"

You know what's funny or not so, depending on your mood, I couldn't even make up this article if I wanted to.   Notice the artful/italicized use of "angry" then what's precious is s/he finally says what's on their mind.

MSNBC Allows Black Commentator Toure to Use N-Word to Describe Romney 

Whether you are Romney or any other American, this looks like a campaign led by an “angry and desperate president,” sinking to new lows to win. Obama has been dividing America since he took office. This is why it’s shocking Toure falsely charged Romney of using “racial coding” to try to paint Obama as the stereotypical “angry black man.”

Obama has waged wars on class, gender, religion, and sexuality and now race. He doesn’t look like the “Black Jesus” of 2008, seeking to heal America or the “no-drama Obama, as Toure described him as.

Toure’s accusations were wildly irresponsible. Obama is “angry” because he’s failed miserably at being president but feels he deserves a second term just because of the color of his skin. " 

LEMON: Because you are too polite. Because you're too politically correct. You are too polite. This is racism free, so why not say it? Don't feel bad for me. That only motivates me to speak the truth, right? Because you can't -- not everyone is going to agree with you.

And when I said, when I said that word, I'm going to say it again, the N-word, I just wish, I hate saying the N-word. I think it takes the value out of what that word ready means, especially when we are reporting it. And I don't care what color the reporter is, I think someone should say, "That person calls someone nigger," instead of saying the N-word, because I think it sanitizes it.

Read more: 

Needless to say, about Don Lemon, "that's my "Nigga" because I agree with him, stop sanitizing sh*t, that's what we all often do in our discussions. 

Speaking on a so-called "higher plane," putting aside being snarky, we have a huge racial divide in this country that is harmful to the average working and middle class citizen, classic divide and conquer.  If won't work w/o honest dialogue and addressing all to often disparate realities w/o PC pre-conditions or ground rules.

And here's the other humanistic, metaphysical, couter-intuitive, psychologically determinant factor about human beings that PC dismisses with 9 demerits. Our conduct and actions as beings will disproportionately be fueled by, prejudices, perceptions, thoughts, feelings, emotions (ignorance) than anything else, it will trump PC protocol all day, anyway shape or form. 

As Napolean Hill said so eloquently:  "As a man thinketh, so is he."  We are the font of our thoughts, not of PC rules and regs. that are designed to thwart our individuality and uniqueness.  Eisenhower famously said, although not in a context most Black folks would like, "You can't legislate morality." (speaking of pressures on him regarding addressing Jim Crow laws).

Well Eisenhower was/is right about that notion as much as he was about the threat of the MIC.