Back in January 2008, I had the good fortune of meeting CNN anchorwoman Soledad O’Brien in person.
She and her CNN crew had traveled to McMinnville to speak with Jerry Ray, brother of James Earl Ray, in preparation for a CNN special on the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination, titled “Eyewitness to Murder.”
To say the least, Soledad was cordial, exceptionally bright, and none too hard on the male eye.
Still, in 2008, Soledad O’Brien – her father Scotch-Irish from Australia, her mother Afro-Cuban – came out with the first of a CNN-produced series of documentaries entitled, “Black in America.”
To date, there are four installments, titled, aptly enough: “Black in America 1,” Black in America 2,” Black in America 3” and “Black in America 4.”
In these documentaries, Soledad addresses important issues such as single parenthood among blacks, disparities between blacks and whites in the educational system, the alarming rate of black male incarceration, as well as the devastating toll of the HIV and AIDS epidemic in black communities,
Indeed, O’Brien’s “Black in America” series is both edifying and alarming.
Further, in 2009, Soledad released a book titled, “Latino in America,” (published by Celebra Trade).
Soledad has also hosted CNN-produced a series of documentaries called “Latino in America.” In addition to talking about the rapidly growing Hispanic population in America, she pinpoints other noteworthy aspects of Hispanic life in America, as well.
As mentioned, O’Brien’s father is of Scotch-Irish bloodline, which makes him white.
To date, to the best of my knowledge, Soledad neither has written a book nor hosted a documentary that recognizes her father’s ethnicity.
Well, it is her choice, her Constitutional right, to write whatever about whomever, within an acceptable parameter, that is.
Let’s shift gears and ponder this possibility: I announce that I’m about to come out with a series titled, “White in America,” and in it, I’ll talk about some of the “difficulties” and “drawbacks” that the white population faces in today’s America.
If O’Brien, who is of African-Hispanic lineage, can host and write “Black in America” and “Latino in America,” then I, Mike Vinson, a white man, should have the same Constitutional right to author a series titled, “White in America,” shouldn’t I?
Of course, I have the same right.
The question, however, is how such a book would be perceived by both the consuming public and the mainstream media?
My guess is that the mainstream media would attempt to make me out as some kind of racist.
Because the mainstream media has shown an overwhelming propensity to turn even the most benign of race-related matters into headline-grabbing issues of alleged horrific “racism.”
I say this from past experience: In the Jan. 28, 2002, issue of Newsweek, the cover-page headline read, “The New Black Power.”
That same cover page featured a photo of three outstanding black men: American Express’ Kenneth Chenault, AOL Time Warner’s Richard Parsons, and Merrill Lynch’s Stanley O’Neal.
After reading the article that accompanied that cover page in Newsweek, I wrote a full-length article, titled “Well, then, why not a new white power?”
It was published in The Tennessean’s editorial section, with my e-mail address at the end of the article – talk about ‘em coming out of the woodwork!
From that article, I received more than 80 e-mail responses from doctors, factory workers, legislators, school teachers, journalists, etc. The responses ranged from a “brave journalistic” and “masterpiece” and “long overdue” to “redneck racist from “Hootersville, McMinnville.”
So, tell me: Should I, a white man, feel that I have the Constitutional freedom to write a series titled, “White in America?”
Or should I keep my mouth shut and let only others talk about their races?
If the answer to the last question is “yes,” is this not a quintessential example of discrimination at its very worst?
Mike Vinson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.