Editor’s note: Mark Whitaker is managing editor of CNN Worldwide and the former editor of Newsweek. He is the author of “My Long Trip Home,” a family memoir.
By Mark Whitaker, CNN
(CNN) - The Tragic Black Man. From the novels of Richard Wright and the plays of August Wilson to the spin that is still placed on the rise and fall of many African-American males in today’s media, it’s a stereotype with all too familiar themes: the bitter encounters with racism, the battered personal pride, the syndrome of wounded fathers who abandon their families, boys who grow up without male role models.
In reporting on my family for a memoir that has just been published, I encountered all these strands in the tales of my father and grandfather, and it would have been easy enough to attribute them to the immutable curse of race. Yet in the end, I came away concluding that their fates, and mine, were ultimately shaped more by the different times we each lived in and by our own individual talents and flaws.