CNN Presents United Shades Of America with W. Kamau Bell


CNN Presents United Shades of America

I got to attend an exclusive screening of episode two of CNN’s UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA starring comedian W. Kamau Bell.  United Shades of America is a documentary that takes a large black man with a fro and places him in situations that you might not expect him to be in.  It really examines ways of life in America that we may never see.   In episode two, Bell heads to San Quentin to meet men who have spent a lifetime in prison, to hear their stories and see what kind of people they’ve become behind bars. The screening took place at White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails, in which I experienced the most inviting Meet and Greet ever. The attendees included actors, authors, bloggers, community leaders, radio personalities, and teachers. The hors d’oeuvres served were carefully picked with the choice of wine, specialty drinks, and other non-alcoholic beverages.


DISRUPTOR. A tall, middle age man entered the room, neatly dressed in all black with the word “Disruptor” on his chest. It was W. Kamau Bell, a socio-political comedian and host of CNN’s United Shades of America.  Mr. Bell did an awesome job of humanizing the inmates that are all currently serving seven years to life in prison. Through general conversation, he showed how hard the inmates work to become rehabilitated, knowing that they might not have the opportunity to enter back into society. He introduced us to Rashaan, an inmate and who is also one of the staff writers for San Quentin Newsletter.  He stated that writing was an outlet for him.

“My voice is the only thing that is free.” Rashaan

Rashaan and a host of other inmates have taken advantage of the rehabilitation program to learn how to read, write, trade stocks, and give back.  In this episode of the series, Mr. Bell successfully “disrupted” the thoughts and negative stereotypes that are portrayed on television about inmates.  

I had a great time attending this screening and I learned a lot about the penal system and what rehabilitation really means.  I will be checking out future episodes of this eye opening documentary on society.  

Let’s see what W. Kamau Bell has to say about it….

United Shades of America airs weekly on CNN.  Check your local listings for times

Written by Guest Blogger, Lakesia Tyson.



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