*In her documentary series “Our America,” Lisa Ling aims to peel the scab off of hard truths that are happening across this country, such as child sex trafficking and suicide among veterans – two stories that were explored in the show’s current second season on OWN.
This Sunday, the 38-year-old journalist will put a spotlight on the disproportionate number of African-American men in prison and their challenges in finding employment after they’ve paid their debt to society.
The episode, titled “Incarceration Generation,” explores the rate at which black men are jailed and ways to reduce it. She interviews inmates who are caught in a growing cycle of crime and punishment that crosses generations, creating poverty and destroying communities.
It was the opportunity to do these kinds of stories each week that drew Ling to the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) following her investigative work for the National Geographic Channel, which she took on following her three years at “The View.”
“It has certainly been the most gratifying work experience I’ve had ever had,” she says of “Our America.” “I’ve never been prouder of any work that I’ve ever done. And I really feel like this has been the culmination of everything I’ve ever learned as a journalist. And it’s ironic that all of these stories are here in America, in our own backyards.
“Because I can’t tell you how many times throughout the course of shooting this series, that I felt like I was in a foreign place or a distant place. But the reality is that all of these stories, in their greatest complexity, are in our backyards. And we set out to try and understand or explore what it really means to be an American. And sometimes the answer to that is a very moving answer, but sometimes it’s very challenging.”
Below, Ling explains the single motto that drives her investigative work: “Everybody has a story.”
The Incarceration Generation episode of “Our America with Lisa Ling” airs Sunday, Nov. 20 (10-11 p.m. ET/PT) on OWN.
Below are statistics compiled by The New York Times in 2009.