All in Commentary

The black middle class failed Michael Brown long before a white police officer shot him [Quartz]

In the 12 days since the shooting of Michael Brown, I can’t help but think that I’ve failed him and the many young black men and women like him around the country. In a media culture that often portrays only the grimiest black characters or the ace students, I’ll probably never get to know who Michael Brown really was. I most likely won’t ever understand his complexities, his contradictions, or the myriad things that made him unique—the things that made him human—and some of that is my fault. Sure, I didn’t pull the trigger, but I worry that my lack of understanding—my lack of relationships with black youth, particularly poorer black youth, may have contributed to the disconnect and invisibility that surrounds so many black bodies in America.

It’s time to admit that America will never really include black America [Quartz]

Last week, after watching another black man die at the hands of the New York City police, I can’t help but wonder whether there will ever be true equality for African Americans. The number of African Americans that have been victimized, murdered, terrorized, shot, and left for dead seems not just to be a legacy of some bloodstained Jim Crow past, but a part of a present moment that seems just as bleak. While there has been some progress, the narrative of the black experience in America feels remarkably static, as if it’s just shaken up, flipped, and twisted for a new generation.

It’s making me question whether America is truly the best place for African Americans.

Why Blue Ivy’s Hair Matters [The Atlantic]

There are lots of things that black people in the US should be protesting right now. High unemployment. The extreme loss of wealth. The gutting of the Voting Rights Act. Gun violence. The entire state of Florida. Yet one of the main things to dominate the news lately is the hairstyle of a particularly famous 2-year old. It’s one of the few things I don’t think we need to worry about.

“12 Years” only proves that Hollywood is a slave to business as usual [Quartz]

The Oscar ceremony is always a bittersweet event in my household, and this year was no exception. I like to think of the Academy Awards as a reflection of the beauty of art and a testament to the power of story telling. Yet by the end of the night, I always end the night angry over Hollywood’s challenges in depicting race and ethnicity. This year was no different, though host Ellen DeGeneres beat me to the punch in the first few minutes of the show: If 12 Years a Slave doesn’t win, she said, “you’re all racists.”

Why isn’t the Cosby Show for a new generation on network TV? [The Washington Post]

Today, the only way some Americans get insight into what life is like for a black family is by watching snippets of the Obamas on the nightly news. No English-language network program centers around a black family — or an Asian or Hispanic family either — except Fox’s “The Cleveland Show.” And that’s animated.

I never thought that I’d have to search so hard on television to find a family that looks like the one I grew up in. My TV experience began in the age in which “The Cosby Show” was the king of television viewing among black and white families alike. Twenty years later, after the Huxtables went off the air, not one show on any of the major networks can even remotely challenge its place as the standard of black family life.

Having Obama in the White House has made it harder to talk about race in America [The Washington Post]

I thought things would be different by now. The Trayvon Martin story flared up exactly four years after Obama’s famous campaign speech on race in Philadelphia, a speech that made so many of us believe that Obama would launch a serious, enduring dialogue. But the election of the first black president hasn’t made it easier to talk about race in America. It’s made it harder.