Iranian TV Profiles African American Oppression

The Façade of the American Dream

Press TV (2013)

Film Review

This is a very troubling documentary by Iranian national TV about the present plight of America’s black community. It features a variety of African American voices, ranging from educators, lawyers and doctors to community activists. There are also four Caucasian faces – an economist, two anti-racist activists and the late assassination researcher John Judge.

The documentary is divided into four parts.

Part 1 This is Why We Have the Blues mainly addresses the problem of mental enslavement that results from being forced to adopt the culture of the dominant society. It goes on to address the plight of black youth when schools deliberately conceal their history from them and the campaign of assassination and incarceration of black leaders like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, George Jackson and Medgar Evers when they successfully mobilized black people to stand up against African American oppression.

Part 2 From School House to Jail House looks on serious drawback of public school integration, which has denied black students access to black teachers and a curriculum that endows them with pride in their history and culture. This process has been aggravated by national and state mandate for high stakes testing – which one activist compares to apartheid South Africa’s Bantu education. This was a system dedicated to preparing black South Africans for menial jobs.

Part 3 Lack of Wealth, Lack of Health focuses on the lack of access to healthy food and routine medical care in inner city communities. For many African American men, the only access to a doctor or dentist is in jail or prison. The result is a significant lower African American life expectancy (on average, black men live eight fewer years on average than white men and black women six fewer years than their white counterparts).

Part 4 You Ain’t Free explores the rise of mass black incarceration in the 1970s, which one activist views as a direct response to African Americans rising up in the 1960s to demand their rights. During the mid-sixties, the US prison population was 70% Caucasian – at present that percentage is 30%. Meanwhile the total US prison population has increased from 300,000 to 2.4 million, despite a significant reduction in violent crime. All the commentators link black mass incarceration to the War on Drugs and police policies that deliberate target African American communities with arrest quotas (see The New Jim Crow).

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