UK Reviews of America Beyond the Colour Line
This was a wonderfully intelligent documentary from Wall to Wall Productions…in search of a solution Gates dismissed the simplistic “they’re all lazy” approach of the right, and the equally simplistic “Jim Crow racism is to blame” pleading of the left, wisely preferring instead to talk to the residents themselves.
The Observer Review
It is an often fascinating and always accessible series, authored by Gates, who is a natural on camera, relaxed and chatty, whether he’s quizzing Samuel Jackson on why Hollywood is overwhelmingly white, or an inmate in Cook County Jail on why the prison population is predominantly black.
Henry Louis Gates dishes out this kind of insight every couple of minutes in this fantastic programme on racism in Hollywood…If the subject matter sounds like it could get a bit worthy, a bit right-on, don’t worry. This is thoughtful TV but it’s seriously entertaining, too, with contributions from the likes of Chris Tucker and Samuel L. Jackson that are as sharp and witty as a stand-up routine.
What makes this documentary so fascinating…by asking hard questions about colour Gates gets amazingly straight answers about money and power in America.
…Gates continues his investigation into the future of black America by visiting Chicago’s housing projects. The numbers he reveals are chilling – for example, one in five black males is in the prison system – yet by visiting an environment few television crews reach, he humanises the bleak statistics.
This week Henry Louis Gates Jr interrogates Chicago – a city where one fifth of black males in their twenties are caught up in the judicial system, and the majority of others subsist in Third World conditions…Being granted access to everyone from incarcerated dealers to Jesse Jackson helps, but this is stunning television nevertheless.
…this portrait of the third world societies inside America’s biggest cities contained thought-provoking moments…and some striking extended conversations – notably with Eric, a clever, articulate and witty man who had realised too late that being in prison was not the best way of being a man.
Henry Louis Gates Jr…continues his illuminating investigation into the recent rise of black people to positions of power within American society…As usual, it’s not simply a back-patting exercise.
Henry Louis Gates’s fine series about black America comes to an end where it began – in the South, the emotional and geographical “home place”. As ever, Gates mixes his considered political comment with personality, talking to a black police chief and a sergeant major about their experiences of racism: “break it down for me, brother to brother”.
In his final meditation on the future of black America, Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr examines the role of the South in today’s racial landscape…this fascinating programme reveals how many African-Americans are now reclaiming it as their rightful home, including the incoming black middle-classes who have left the north to transform the socio-political make-up of Atlanta, Georgia.
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