Editor's Note: In today’s United States, is being black determined by the color of your skin, by your family, by what society says or something else? Soledad O’Brien reports “Who Is Black in America?” on CNN at 8 p.m. ET/PT Sunday, December 15.
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) – What is black? Race. Culture. Consciousness. History. Heritage.
A shade darker than brown? The opposite of white?
Who is black? In America, being black has meant having African ancestry.
But not everyone fits neatly into a prototypical model of "blackness."
Scholar Yaba Blay explores the nuances of racial identity and the influences of skin color in a project called (1)ne Drop, named after a rule in the United States that once mandated that any person with "one drop of Negro blood" was black. Based on assumptions of white purity, it reflects a history of slavery and Jim Crow segregation.
In its colloquial definition, the rule meant that a person with a black relative from five generations ago was also considered black.
Your take on black in America
One drop was codified in the 1920 Census and became pervasive as courts ruled on it as a principle of law. It was not deemed unconstitutional until 1967.
Blay, a dark-skinned daughter of Ghanian immigrants, had always been able to clearly communicate her racial identity. But she was intrigued by those whose identity was not always apparent. Her project focuses on a diverse group of people – many of whom are mixed race - who claim blackness as their identity.
That identity is expanding in America every day. Blay's intent was to spark dialogue and see the idea of being black through a whole new lens.
Soledad O'Brien: Who is black in America? I am
"What's interesting is that for so long, the need to define blackness has originated from people who were not themselves black, and their need to define it stemmed from their need to control it," says Blay.
Blackness, she says, isn't so easily defined by words. What is blackness for one person may not necessarily be that for another.
"And that's fine," Blay says. "Personally, my blackness is reflective of my ancestry, my culture and my inheritance."
"Black," in reference to people and identity, she says, is worthy of capitalization. Otherwise, black is just another color in the box of crayons. (CNN, like other news organizations, does not capitalize black or white.)
For young Americans, what's black is gray
CNN interviewed some of the people who participated in Blay's project to find out how they view themselves. What follows are their insights into race and identity.
Kathleen Cross: Black as a descriptor of color makes her identity hard to accept.
Black and white
California author Kathleen Cross, 50, remembers taking a public bus ride with her father when she was 8. Her father was noticeably uncomfortable that black kids in the back were acting rowdy. He muttered under his breath: "Making us look bad."
She understood her father was ashamed of those black kids, that he fancied himself not one of them.
"My father was escaping blackness," she says. "He didn’t like for me to have dark-skinned friends. He never said it. But I know."
She asked him once if she had ancestors from Africa. He got quiet. Then, he said: "Maybe, Northern Africa."
"He wasn't proud of being black," she says.
Cross' black father and her white mother never married. Fair-skinned, blue-eyed Cross was raised in a diverse community.
Later, she found herself in situations where she felt shunned by black people. Even light-skinned black people thought she was white.
"Those who relate to the term 'black' as a descriptor of color are unlikely to accept me as black," she says. "If they relate to the term 'black' as a descriptor of culture, history and ancestry, they have no difficulty seeing me as black."
At one time in her life, she wished she were darker - she might have even swallowed a pill to give her instant pigment if there were such a thing. She even wrote about being "trapped in the body of a white woman." She didn't want to "represent the oppressor."
She no longer thinks that way.
She doesn't like to check the multiracial box. "It erases everything," she says.
She doesn't like biracial, either. Or mixed. It's not her identity.
"There's only one race," she says, "and that's the human race."
"I am a descendant of a stolen African and Irish and English immigrants. That makes me black - and white - in America.
Biany Perez: Too Latina to be black, too black to be Latina?
Blackness and culture?
Biany Perez, 31, loves Michael Jackson but she doesn't know the Jackson Five. She didn't know that "Good Times" was a television show about a black family struggling to survive in south Chicago. Nor was she able to pick up certain colloquialisms in the English spoken by the black kids in the Bronx, where she grew up the daughter of Dominican parents.
Some people questioned Perez's blackness because she didn't fit into their definition of black.
She spoke only Spanish at home. She watched Telemundo and listened to Puerto Rican boy band Menudo.
She wasn't black enough because she was Latina and not Latina enough because she was black.
"The way I look shakes the image of Latina," says Perez, a program manager at a nonprofit in Philadelphia. "As I started getting older, I felt more comfortable in my skin."
Now, she calls herself Afro-Domincan.
"I think black is a broader definition I also embrace," she says. "Black is more than just saying that I am an African in America. It's political.
"It's about me connecting myself to my ancestors."
For Perez, black is about empowerment.
Kristina Robinson calls herself black over Creole.
Creole identity is a complicated thing in Louisiana, says Kristina Robinson, 29, of New Orleans.
It's an ethnicity, a cultural designation for people descended from colonial settlers in Louisiana, mainly of French and Latin lineage.
The term Creole was claimed by the French and Spanish settlers in colonial times but it also referred to Africans and people who were a mixture of races. Those mixed-race descendants became a unique racial group and sometimes even included Native American heritage.
But in popular representation, Robinson says Creole has come to be defined as skin color.
She doesn't want to deny the rich Creole history but she doesn't identify as such if it means moving away from her blackness.
Black people think that her embrace of Creole means a rejection of being black.
"I never wanted to distance myself from my black ancestors," says the creative writing graduate student at Dillard University.
"They are the ones who claim me."
In her light skin, Robinson understands the insidious ways of colorism, a system in which light skin is valued more than dark skin.
"Colorism is a major problem within the Creole community and the black community," she says. "It's underdiscussed. It's perplexing and vexing how to work out this idea. I can see how the one drop rule is why we have so much colorism in our society.
"One drop is a lie," she says. "Black plus white doesn't equal black or it doesn't equal white. It equals black plus white."
She calls herself black. But other people think she is from India or the Middle East, especially in her academic work environment, where she does not have black colleagues.
"The assumption is I am not black," she says.
Ultimately, she believes environment plays a big role in identity.
Few people, she says, think that of her sister. One reason may be that her sister has more of a button nose. But another reason is that she works in a field with more black people, whereas Robinson finds herself in academic settings where she is the sole black woman.
Robinson acknowledges her lighter skin gives her privilege in a color-conscious society.
"But in those situations where you have to identify yourself and you choose to identify yourself as white - there's a big denial going on there.
"I do think it's troublesome when someone who is of mixed race chooses to deny that part of them that was oppressed," she says.
James Bartlett: White privilege means the freedom not to have to address race.
Race equals identity, or not?
Race is a social construct; identity is personal.
That's how James Bartlett, 31, views it.
"I'm black, I'm biracial," he says of his black father and Irish mother, who met and married in Louisville, Kentucky, just a few years after a 1967 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional.
He was raised in an all-black neighborhood; his mother was the only white person on the block.
"I interchanged between saying I am biracial and I am black," he says. "The culture I live in is black. I felt black because black people considered me black. That was because of the one drop rule."
But later, when he went to Ghana, the locals thought he was from Lebanon. Kids called him "Oburoni," the word for a white man.
Bartlett felt as though he were being told he was not who he really was even before he could interact with them, as though they were taking away his black identity.
"It put me on the complete opposite side of the coin," Bartlett says. "The first reaction was to put me in a box."
In America, people thought of him as a lot of things but not usually straight-up white.
"It's difficult for me to separate race and identity," says Bartlett, the newly named executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Diasporan African Arts in Brooklyn.
He is black, he says, because he didn't grow up with white privilege. What is that? The freedom, he replies, to not have to address race.
"I definitely didn't grow up with that," he says.
Being white in America is also knowing that people who look like you are always representing your interests in institutions of power.
"That is the essence of white privilege," he says. "Regardless of changing (demographic) percentages and numbers, racial representation is going to remain out of balance for quite some time."
In some ways, Bartlett says, he has been more attuned to race as a light-skinned black man than he would have been had he been darker.
Bartlett feels white people in America are threatened by the tide of color across the nation and that it will give rise to an us against them" mentality.
"I think blackness will change, too," he says. "The biggest change in the near future will be the end of blackness as a diametric opposite to whiteness."
Charles Cloud: He could have passed for a lot of things. He chose black.
Here and abroad
Charles Benjamin Cloud, 63, remembers a time when he was angry at all white people. That was in the time of the white water fountain and the black water fountain.
"They had their side of town; we had ours," he says of his childhood in New Bern, North Carolina.
As the son of a Cherokee man and a part-Cherokee, part-black woman, Cloud could have passed for something other than black.
"If I had decided to tell everyone I was Puerto Rican or Mexican, people probably wouldn't have known a difference," he says.
But he didn't.
"I never wanted to identify as white," he says.
"Blackness is a state of mind more so than a physical experience. But back then, physical appearance was much more of a black identity than it is now."
Cloud joined the Air Force and traveled the world. His light, ruddy complexion threw people off. The Turks thought he was Turkish; the Iranians thought he was from Iran. He even passed for Greek.
But back home, he chose not just to be American. He was black.
Sembene McFarland gets strange questions because of her skin condition.
What happens when you lose your color as is Sembene McFarland, a 35-year-old emergency room nurse in Newark, New Jersey?
She has a condition known as vitiligo and is losing the pigmentation of her skin. The disorder affects people of all races but is most prominent in those with darker complexions.
McFarland describes herself as "garden-variety black" but once her vitiligo became noticeable, she found herself the target of outlandish comments.
When McFarland was working at a cash register job at a Barnes and Noble, a customer told her, "If you got rid of the rest of the color, you would be a really pretty Asian girl."
"Thank you very much," McFarland told the woman. "Have a nice day."
Now, she can't relay the story without laughing out loud.
Others have wondered: Were you white first or black first?
"That blew my mind," she says.
Her skin condition shows how people think of being black so literally, she says.
"When I think black, I don't think a particular shade," she says.
McFarland was 16 when she first learned she had vitiligo. It was tough. At that young age, no one wants to stand out.
Later she laughed. In high school in Mississippi, her classmates always joked she wanted to be white. She spoke like a white person. Some people said she sat like a white person - all proper.
Now here she was, turning white.
In the end, McFarland says, it's not about black or white. It's all the shades of gray that make people uncomfortable.
Brandon Stanford: My complexion is not black but I am black.
Unique but certain
Brandon Stanford's parents met in school in New Jersey. His mom's Irish family rejected her for dating a black man.
They've been married 37 years.
In that time, a lot has changed about being a child of an interracial marriage. For one, the man who occupies the White House is the son of a Kenyan man and a white American woman. Many Americans think being mixed is "cool."
Stanford, 29, has his own take.
"I wouldn't say that being mixed race is either cool or not cool," he says.
"I'd say it's a reality that one can choose to embrace by seeing the beauty of a world where the possibilities of transcending the limitations of race and racism exists if one is able to recognize the oneness of humanity. Is this not what our democracy is supposed to represent?"
Stanford, a graduate student in African-American studies at Philadelphia's Temple University, has had his identity questioned by both whites and blacks. That makes being mixed race difficult for some.
Some times white people speak about black people in front of Stanford, assuming he is white. He lets them go on for a while and then says: "By the way, I am one of them."
"I have a unique position in the world based upon what my complexion is," Stanford says. "I always have an opportunity to unsettle people's minds."
But Stanford has never wavered on his identity.
"My complexion is not black, yet I am black," he says.
Stanford doesn't deny his Irish ancestry. The Irish, he points out, were thought of as inferior by the English. They, too, faced discrimination in the United States. Black people were often called the "dark Irish," he says.
But the Irish in America distanced themselves from the anti-slavery movement in the interest of joining the white mainstream, Stanford says. That's where his connection to the Irish stops.
"I identify myself as African-American because of the history of the culture," he says.
Kaneesha Parsard: Blackness stems from a moment in history.
The past in the present
That's how Kaneesha Parsard, 23, grew up. She was the daughter of parents who immigrated to the United States from Jamaica in the 1980s.
She didn't understand what her father's ancestry - her grandfather was Indian - had to do with her.
"I took the one drop rule pretty seriously," says Parsard, a graduate student in African-American studies at Yale University.
Parsard's father was born in British-ruled Jamaica. He was raised with Indian people but identified as black because, she says, of how exclusionary Indian communities can be in Jamaica.
She began to think about her own identity when roti and chicken curry appeared at the Thanksgiving table.
"What I have come to realize is that ... people's history is intertwined, that being mixed race is not at odds with being black," she says.
"When we think about blackness, it's usually along a black-white context," she says. "But there are many histories, interesting histories of resistance."
For Parsard, blackness stems from a moment in time in 1492, with the discovery of a new land and a history of brutality that followed.
Appearance is a primary factor for many Americans in determining race and identity. For Parsard and others in Yaba Blay's project, it's not.
That was a very creative piece of writing. All those categories that you named as Black people being good at are actually ones in which the young white culture is leading the way in these days... i know what you would call them!!! So being that white folks steal anything of value( music, culture, etc...) from others your post shows how much of and idiot you are. Oh yeah... this isn't the fox news website buddy...redirect!!!
If one drop of black blood equals black then we are all black !
Is it black history month already?
Can we please have an official "WHITE HISTORY MONTH?"
one with 31 days in it, of course..
you have it everyday. Paint your face black and experience it
My friend what you and others don't realize. Everyday is white history month! The text books we use in school and the images on TV do not hide the accomplishments of Americans of European descent. You never experienced a black out in history. I'm amazed that's so many whites do not realize the first 25 dynasties of ancient Egypt up til the Middle Kingdom were black. I bet you never heard of African Americans like Elijah McCoy, Benjamin Banneker, Lewis Latimer, Charles Drew etc... I can go on and on. I bet you don't know that black Americans built the nations capitol building or that a black American was the first to die during the revolutionary war. I bet you don't know that all living people on this planet trace their DNA back to black Africa. When the history books begin to tell the truth, then we can get rid of black history month. Until then, peace out.
You do...January, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November & December.
everyday on CNN
Please can we get over the race stuff here on CNN. When does it end. PLEASE!!!
We are ALL people of color in this world.. so why should it always come down to the color of Black? I like all color, its the person who I may not like.. does this make me a racist? NO! I am soo tired of the color Black playing victim to the universe. What would you do if there was no color named black? Do you realize we all are mixed in every way... we all people of all color All over the world.. AS IT SHOULD BE!
Yes, you did leave something out. Being Black means not having the burden of propogating a non-existent position of superiority. It also means not worrying about extinction. Any two brown/black people can reproduce the deepest black to the lightest skinned child. White can only reproduce White. You're out!
What is sad is that many people of color accept outsider's as well as ignorant insider's opinions concerning beauty and skin tone, complexion, and color. Even worse is when parents do not reinforce from birth a pride in whatever skin their children were born in. Instead many parents reinforce a self hate mind set.
You do not end this by ignoring it. It will not go away as long as children, teens, and adults continue to attach ugliness to blackness and darker skin. The truth needs to be told and the issue(s) need to be dealt with head on!
Its all about the additude of people.. color just seems to be the excuse to have a additude.
What does it mean to be Asian in China?
It's so sad that people feel a need to divide humanity by petty things like race and skin color. It should not matter what color someone is. The only race that really matters is human. God judges us by what we do, not by what color we are.
Don't get amnesia. It is European culture and society that started the racial divisions going back to the days of Darwin and colonialism. Don't now pretend that you don't know how we got here. Why does so many American government forms ask for your race and classification if we are all equal Americans? Who invented the "one drop" rule. Hint. It wasn't black folks.
@Kevin: There's no such thing as a human race. Human is a species.
@dman: Could you be a bigger idiot? If it wasn't for whites, there would be NO civilization in this world. Blacks and Browns would still be chucking spears and thinking fire was an evil spirit. Get over your white hate and realize that if it wasn't for whites, there'd be no world.
@Urafkntool, you have it twisted my friend. It is black Africans that civilized Europeans first. Not the other way around. During the 13th century West African was more prosperous than Western Europe. Yes in modern times European societies are more advanced, but don't let your overall ignorance of history be revealed for all to see. Black African civilizations like Mali, Timbuktu, Ethiopia, Abyssinia, Ancient Egypt ( 1st 25 dynasties were black), and the black African Moors (Maurus in Latin) civlized the European continent. African got Christianity around the same time as Europe, but did not go through an industrial revolution. The Greeks learned and copied thier knowledge from black Africa. I'm sorry that the white educational system in America has failed you. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Ever since 1st grade when my teacher told me about it, I have been obsessed with blackness. I have never lost the desire to understand everything there is to understand about blackness. I feel like I am only started on my journey though, there is so much to learn, so much to know. I hope I can understand blackness completely, before I die... of boredom.
Everyone has a history... if that is what you seek to learn about, perhaps you would also choose to learn about the history of all color in the world and nationalities that go with that.
Exactly!! Who cares?? What private sector job can one pursue with an African American Studies degree? About the only thing you can do is apply to grad school for more multicultural bunk.
Oooops! I've been moderated....lol
Guess CNN doesn't like my creative writing.
Loud and crappy music
Thank you for admitting your ignorance. This is why we have black history month and black studies. Enjoy.
The most ignorant thing I've ever read. I've seen PLENTY of people who fit that description that are NOT black. Stupid people like you are the reason why this world is so messed up.
I must be black as like Soledad O'Brien's father I was born in Australia.
Is O'Brien an african name....?
To be black is Soledad Obrien profession....she makes a lot of hay of it.
all you have to do is offer something for nothing and you will have their vote.....such suckers
White in America:
The prefered status
@Steve: Try "White in America: The Persecuted Status," or "White in America: The Hunted Status." Either would be more accurate, as whites are being hunted to extinction.
You really ARE a tool. And a disgrace to educated whites everywhere. You come across as a trailer park dweller with no branches on the ole family tree. Yeh, stay classy trailer reject.
Everyone saying that people need to "get over it" have never been through "it" Racism isn't over, probably never will be. Nobody in these stories expects it to be gone, and it's dishonest to pretend it already is. People shared their stories and aren't letting anyone else tell them how they should identify themselves. That's what we all do. There are parades and festivals celebrating Irish, Polish, German, Italian, Chinese etc. heritage all the time and no one complains that they should just call themselves American. It's a great thing that we aren't all ONE thing.
There are parades to celebrate their heritage, nothing wrong with that, what's wrong is when a race decides to wallow and hide behind "racism" instead of taking responsibility for their own actions.
All human beings suffer from not taking responsibility for their actions. So, do not make that about race. And please do not ignore all the black accomplishment that has taken place inspite of being uprooted from our history, enduring unbelievalbe hate, surviving slavery and Jim Crow laws. Black people have come back from hell and are thriving in America. I'm sorry if I am disputing your stereotype talking points.
CNN raised a worst and ediotic topic here. It should have been WHITES IN AMERICA. IT IS NOT ABOUT THEIR DISEASE.
There is an invention called spell check... it's for use for those of us who cant spell....maybe you should try it out. I'm sure it will do you some good.
Would have been an interesting if the piece had included an interview a black individual form the Hip-Hop/Rap industry.
CNN is just like our public schools – encouraging people to find racism in everything.
What it means to be white: nothing. And we're fine with it.
LOL. One of the best comments I've heard yet
I would have hoped that in this year of 2012, we would have progressed with racism and inequality. Unfortuately, I live in a Canadian city with very few Black (African Americans) about -3%
We still have a bit of a stigmatism with the few blacks here in the news, but we have a larger Asian community that seems to be engaged in illegal doings.
Still, we have White trash that out numbers the crime stats. Little light is shed on minority do-gooding though.
Hope this changes.
@Randoms: Consider yourself lucky. If you can't, take a look at Detroit. I'll bet your city has very little r–a–p–e, very little murder, very little armed robbery, very little assault, and very little drug issues, too.
If things were truly equal, this article wouldn't exist – because race doesn't exist. It's a human construct to separate each other. And we're all human. We're all the same. The sooner we stop talking about stuff like this the sooner racism will go away. Being a young white guy, all I ever heard all my life was that I was automatically a racist because I'm white (which is racism in itself, no?). I'm tired of hearing about how tortured black people are for being black. I've always loved black people equally just like everyone else – and usually got nothing but a slap in the face for it. So just keep writing journalism like this – it's doing nothing but create more racism.
The more you talk about how race doesn't exist, the more it actually exists. Do you know how many people here have stated the exact same thing? Too many to count. But very few are listening
Your logic doesn't make any sense. Besides, it needed to be said, no matter how many people have said it. I don't care if no one is listening.
it is easy to say that there is no such thing as racism and that we are all the same – human beings. I agree that we are all human beings and we should all be treated as human beings. But unfortunately, racism does exist and it is most noticeably by those who experience it and live it. If there was "no racism" then why isn't all people of color being treated equally when it comes to wealth distribution, health, education and many more? We are trying to extinguish the term "racism" because of the negative overtures that it represents and we have become a color blind society but with overt ways to oppress those that are people of color (i.e. Latinos, Blacks, Asians, etc.).
Race does exist. It's biological. It's intellectual. It's proven. Get over it.
We know that race don't exist and it is a social construct, yet someone forgot to tell that to half of white America. Look at how the first black President has been treated by the racist within the Republican party? Some have stopped faking and will openly refer to him with the N word. You can get tired of something if you never suffered from it and don't want to be reminded about it. Black people do not have that luxury. Why are so many black boys being shot to death in Florida under this stupid stand your ground law? Why does our justice system administer justice unqually when it comes to sentencing under the law? Why have so many mortgage lender unfairly sold high interest rate loans to minorities? I am participating now in a class action law suite. Until, you have experienced what it is like to be black maybe you should hold off on being tired.
What it means to be White:
It means you don't have to be burdened with being Black
Blacks can drop that burden and get on with life and just be fine human beings.
"Just dropping" the idea of racism would work just fine if people of color didn't have to work twice as hard to be thought half as good.
If blacks could be half as good, they wouldn't have to work so hard to try to be.
There needs to be more articles about the importance of blackness. Really, what else is there to talk about? It is the most important thing ever, over all history, so I want to know everything about it.
It means you have a nice reason to sue when someone doesn't give you what you "deserve".
It means you have a nice chip on your shoulder when it comes time to be evaluated.
It means lowered expectations from our federal government.
I i have a problem with the dark skin only if it's owner is an Indian. Those guys are too talented, well educated and take all good American jobs.
We should demand an Asians in America segment.
IThey may try, but it will be hard to find an Asian to interview: they all work and study too hard.
The asians can get onboard a junk a sail home
Do you know that you are considered to be racist with that comment?
No he is just a narrow minded bigot!!!
It means you can play your race for advantages in your life; politically, professionally, personally and you will have racist networks like cnn to back you up.
Old topic, rehashed by the establishment, not sure why has it does not change anything. Here are my observations; African Americans of any hue know that they must use any and every advantage to excel in America. Light, bright, and damn near white will afford you greater opportunities in many case but not all, so if one can use as an advantage, take it. As many of your guest stated lighter gets you more. Whites experience this as a privilege and use it skillfully to their advantage at every turn in society. But back to this show, let’s take the news industry as an example. Soledad, most of anchors on the various networks including CNN have African Americans who are either light skin and/or have Caucasian features. The rule still applies those who are black are told in sometime or not subtle terms to get back, your not ready, when what they really mean is you are done have the right look. This fragments the African American community because this goes to survival. Rewards go to the fairer skin unless you are exceptional; it has been continually repeated in the images that are projected. Angelo Saxon characteristics and features are what get you in the door. Martin Luther King's dream remains unfulfilled. Not until we are truly judged by the contain of our character instead of the color of our skin, will America truly be exceptional
Soledad Obrien is a poor journalist. If she made a Whites in America segment she would get fired.
This article simply perpetuates the problem in this country. Every single time a person of color emphasizes their color they are self segregating and adding to the problem.
Either be proud to be human or shut up. But the "Im a proud black man/woman..." mentality is counterproductive
iit is long overdue to discuss on CNN the racist prejudices toward Irish, these wretched drunken Papists
Black is the absent of ALL color. White is not the opposite of black, get a friggin' clue. The only way that black can be seen is through illumination of light...The blackest of all persons is an albino....good luck in your color coding.
Usually it means you are a democrat.
'WHO IS BLACK" Very informative; It is so sad how racist we are against our own culture. We have been made to believe that light skin is better. But why? I personally never experience this until I was grown because I was raised in a bi-racial family, color or complexion was never a topic, for me or my cousins, aunts, uncles and of course not my parents (my white Daddy & Black Mother). I am now raising a light skin daughter who is tri-racial Black, White & Indian, who can identify with all cultures because she has not been limited to just skin. She often compliments how beautiful black skin is, but often begs to die her hair blond (LOL). So I can only hope that she continues to identify with who she is as a whole and not just her complexion. I constantly remind her that beauty is intelligence not color!
Beauty is intelligence ? This is why Jlow acts white dresses white markets herself for the white dollar but is a porterican
If you are Soledad O'Brien, it means this is the only thing you ever talk about.
She really is an amateur.
Some white people are just born black, even if their parents are white. J roc is an example of a white person who was born black.
There are VERY few examples of these. LOL. Nice try though
Congratulations for being black. Yippee!
This is all about empowerment. Caucasians have long had the luxury of not having to identify themselves collectively. They are losing that luxury exponentially year after year.
"Empowerment" is usually a code word for disliking white people, as seen here.
In 2013 USA being black means you expect special treatment basically. In this new global economy blacks will find they dont have this option since the rest of the world is varying shades of brown.
What time is White Entertainment TV on tonight?
Try any American TV channel not name BET
every night of the week. we needed a little color to spruce it up.
This article is so freekin stupid
Not really a news story but an opinion. News is 47 million people on welfare, News is real unemployment is over 14%, News is the middle east is a mess. News is 16 trillion dollar + deficits, Racism isn't news this is an article that tries to explain something that isn't as important as someone thinks it is. 50 years ago it was important as it was rampant and blatant, now it seems to be an excuse. You don't like Obama your a racist so pathetic. I have never been called a racist until we elected a black president who I feel is doing a crappy job much like I felt Bush did a crappy job yet all of a sudden I am a racist?
This is a ridiculous article. Pointing out that you are black, when these people listed are obviously more oreo white than milk, is silly. If race didn't matter, why write this article?
Good response. Could not agree with you more. Now, I don't have to leave a comment.
Because it does exist.
II thought we all came from the same DNA CNN?
I found this article an interesting read. One point I saw and completely agree with (which continuously gets overlooked) "There is only one race of people... Human." There however is a vast diversity of ethnic backgrounds but we are all human. For centuries our race has been focused on the wrong things in life.
There are "Black" people problems? Go figure... And they say I was born just yesterday.
None of them is an inner city black man under 25 they are all sort of brown not black.
This is a very interesting subject, but one must ask why now do we speak of it?? I have a personal account from the other side of the tracks.. 24 white male. Grew up in a all black community with two sisters and a single mother white.. I was 1 out of 5 white children growing up going to public schools there. Depressed city to say the least, but I can not begin to describe what its like being WHITE in a black community. I left my mothers care when I was around 13 or 14. It is strange how location has an effect on how people are brought up.
not one black man in the entire pictorial...SHAME ON CNN!
Good observation, only mix race men who are labeled as black by some whites.
ones that look more white than black.
How about running en expose on what it means to be an AMERICAN and quit racially dividing us.
Have you ever defended a nation your a freeloader
I took great interest with the mix race issue. My mother's family is Jamaican, so we are blended with Indian, Chinese, English etc. I have female cousin who is half Chinese and Jamaican, who left for England when she was 4 years old. When she came to visit us in the states when she was 15 years old with those features and English accent, she unknowingly proceeded to destabilize our whole neighborhood. Thank goodness we did not have cellphones back then or we would have had a consistent "flashmob" of "knuckleheads" in front of our house everyday trying to talk to her.
Just thought I would put some humor in this discussion. Some of you need it.
This isnt your country to laugh about ya man
Bregren yu dun know already this is a new ting for America. In Jamaica and the Caribbean we have evolved pass those issues long time. I love our Motto: Out of many one people. Black, Browning(mixed) Chinese, Indian and White. We are all cool with each other.
I lived 40 years in the caribbeans dont preach to me of what you have no clue
Yep but it Isn't color coded, clyde
>>Many Americans think being mixed is "cool."<<
Name one time this has been said
Many white Americans are mixed with black blood going back to the founding of this country and do not know it. During the days of the American colonies whites and blacks mixed with no problem. Indentured servants were treated the same. It didn't matter if you were African or European. Both were considered less than. So I guess being mixed is cool.
Point one- anyone who is tired of the race issue is typically white and has no experience in dealing with racism. So they don't have any empathy.
Point two- anyone who mentioned anything about black people needing to get along is a racist. Only a racist would come up with that because that is how racist people always view all black people.
Point three- rascism is taught. So thank your mom dad grandparents teacher or who ever put dumb none experienced racist stories in your mind that you feel the need to share.
Finale point- I wish that one time I read an article about race that people would appreciate life and people. I have travelled the world and only here in America I have experienced racism. It saddens me that our beautiful country can not over come race. Geez people claim the believe in God. Yet hate various groups of his children without even knowing them.
I have traveled the world and have experienced racism in several countries. I am white so I don't believe you.
Well thats because the rest of world doesn't like arrogant white Americans. But I guess I should believe you because you are white. You did mention your race for a reason right
Point #102: cry me a river year after year after year. The Evil White Man is not holding you down. The failures in your own life are probably of your own making. Accept responsibility for your life and stop blaming others. We're more than 10% into the 21st century. Move on.
Just so you know never felt held down by anyone. Which is how most black people You just fall into the I am racist and I believe the myths about black people that my grandaddy taught me. I know you don't mean to be but people believe what they are taught. We do not spend our days blaming anyone. Me personally don't have any complaints. I just wish that people only see people and not race or if race not stereo types
Your comments are a bit hypocritical. Racism is using stereotypes to make assumptions about individuals and that's exactly what you did.
"anyone who is tired of the race issue is typically white and has no experience in dealing with racism" Anyone, typically?
" – anyone who mentioned anything about black people needing to get along is a racist." Anyone.racist? Black people do need to get along. So do white people.
Practice what you preach, blue. And if you haven't seen racism anywhere outside the US, I would say you haven't traveled much.
Guess you never travelled to South Africa
Keep talking every word is the spoken truth
Farzi, that's one of the tiredest and most predictably ingorant questions/comments that ignorant people always post. congratulations, you're ignorant. White entertainment TV is what most TV already is.
Why will racism never die? Because the media won't let it
Liberals are the most racist group on the planet – they make color the issue – they also have to put everything in a box, and if it doesn't fit their box – they try to make it fit. I refuse to check the "ethnicity" box on any form I fill out and I instruct my children to do so as well. Even classifying people as "black" is racist and outdated. Think about it – no one on earth is truly black. Everyone is just a shade of brown from very light brown to very dark brown. Culture is what makes us different. Ask my son "what he is" and he will reply Kikuyu American – he knows where he's from and he knows his culture – even though racist liberals will call him black. Sad to say that this discussion will continue into many future generations. There is absolutely no correlation between skin color and anything – not related to achievement, not related to success, not related to intelligence (except maybe related to the probabilty of getting sunburn at the beach).
"Liberals are the most racist group on the planet."
Uh, yeah. Are you by chance a member of the fat-white-guy party?
To USDude: 'Even though racist liberals will call him black' ARE YOU KIDDING? We whites have been taught that we are supposed to call a person who appears to have some African heritage in them "Black"! That's what we've been trained to do! Are we supposed to KNOW that your son is Kikuyu American??? Whatever THAT is? Do you not refer to someone like me as 'white'? Or can you figure out by looking at me that I'm Swiss-English?? Oh, I should be offended that you categorize me as 'white'. Tsk, tsk. You must be a racist liberal. LOL.
chicadow – looks like you couldn't get past the first line of my post – take a deep breath, exhale, and then continue reading – it get's better and you might even agree with me on a point or two... to answer your question I'm part of the very light brown group (yes, white if you must classify me), but not fat. Thanks for trying to put me in a box though – proves my point.
Okay, there seems to be some confusion here, and articles and thoughts on race in general. When White America can get off its high horse and admit, yes admit its own position of privilege (the reality of being the default position in society, not having to care because it doesn't concern your well-being or livelihood, and most of all, being seen foremost as individuals), they will also realize why it is important to have discussions like this one. They will also understand that even as a little progress is made, how hard it is for people to shift perspective. I look forward to the day that even minorities in this country can be seen as individuals too.
Very insightful article. It explores just how diverse the human race is and the struggle to fit into a clearly defined box, because this is what society has taught us is acceptable. This article is in no way racist, and it is laughable that someone can click on the article, and make a comment such as "When can I get a channel called WET? White Entertainment Television!!!!" This is precisely why Blacks continue to talk about it. And as long as racists exist, regardless of color or heritage, it will continue to be a topic of discussion. If you don't like it, stop watching, and stop coming to message boards to comment on it.
Just affirm what Ms. Tizzy says and what black people say about racism; otherwise, you're a racist. How is that fair, intelligent, or logical? If you come to the message boards, prepare to learn from other perspectives.
right soledad is about as black as the sun ,its funny tho she thinks she is down with that she is a tool that gets used everyday what will you be tommorw ? Mexican?
Why cant we hire the best person for the job
Why does that person have to be BLACK
That's not what this article is about.
WE don't owe black people anything. Especially when choosing our next president.
Because black people are the best.
best at stealing, killing, getting food stamps and wearing baggy pants.....cursed race. Only ones who have any sense are part white
You know I understand your irritation, but we black people know that white people have find a way to go around the desegregation laws in succeeding in keeping the country socially segregated after so many years by just controlling two crucial things; who get the most money, which going to determine where people going to live; therefore, keeping things almost the same as they where before the 60's at the exception of some extremely gifted people of colors...and by controlling access to good education; because good education in poor and black communities would help perpetuate the production of future "Obama experience" which, is not a good thing in their perspective...and the human resource guy here is crucial, because hiring is still a very subjective process in this country and they want to keep it that way... The hiring manager determine who get the job, the money...so go figure... because he determine what people make, and that will determine where they live and the cycle goes on....and the hiring manager is unfortunately white and ideologically wired…As long as this system of discrimination in hiring practices and access to equal opportunity will be in place black people will complain about the lack of opportunity...And articles like this one will be around to talk about these important social issues…
It's pretty simple, if you're committing a crime, you're probably black.
Anyone notice anything peculiar about the eight people they chose to represent black in the picture above?
Yes – none of them are people that I would consider Black.
I have known a couple of African people (born in Africa), one in school and one in a volunteer group. Both of them detest being called black. They correct people saying that "I'm African, not black or African American". People get confused and go like huh? So finally I asked them what they mean and I got similar answers. They said that in America, black implies belonging to the black American culture and heritage. According to them, that culture is full of defeatist victim mentality which blames everything on slavery, is associated with arrogance, violence and thuggish mentality. As an African they don't relate to that culture and choose not to be associated with it. Right or wrong, I don't know, but that's their opinion. One of them (the guy in school) used to purposely avoid the black tables during lunch.
I know students from Africa who feel the same way: they want nothing of a victim mentality and nothing to do with people who exploit it instead of their own willpower.
My wife is from Africa – call her "African American" and you will get the lecture of your life. Why is it that Africans come to America and find success? Many even have skin colors that are darker than Black Americans here? Some of them even have distinct accents – but they still succeed? How can that be? Oh wait, they actually study and work through college, they care about academics, and they strive to work hard and contribute to society and take advantage of all the opportunities afforded to them. If you think skin color is keeping you down – you have many other (and much more serious) issues to deal with.
I wouldn't even compare your wife to me. I don't compare my African step-brothers to my sister and me. I actually compareAfricans to other foreigners (like Indians and Caribbean peoples). Some people are trained doctors and nurses but can't work in the U.S. due to laws. Some of these doctors went to top schools in their country, but they would have to dedicate an additional 4-10 years just to get accreditation in the states.
Stop stereotyping Black people. There has only been dramatic increases of Black people going to college and earning degrees. Black self-employment is also on the rise. The media has been giving you a miseducation and it's a shame you haven't expanded your mind further!
Your wife gets to start with a clean slate. We true African Americans have paved the way for her with our sweet blood and tears. If she choose to disown us that's on her. Also it's a myth or stereotype that claims that African Americans are not successful. Stop ignoring all of us who have went on to college and became middle class since the end of Jim Crow and the passage of the voting rights act. Stop ignoring all of our inventors, scientist, scholars, millionaires and positive role models. Africans who decide to look down on us African Americans are feeding into the divide and conquer scheme.
dman968 – I agree – there are many black americans who have contributed significantly to this country in spite of their skin color – that is my point exactly. I didn't say ALL black americans do not care about academics, etc. I was speaking to the group that believes skin color is the root cause of their failures. So now my question is... are black americans the successful group you claim them to be or do they need extra special help to be successful as others would like us to believe? I believe the former with hard work just like any other person or group in america.
Who cares, our country(black, white, whatever) is collapsing and this is what counts for news? Sad
The good news is that there is this confusion on defining black and white. In 100 years, the majority of the people will be of mixed race, which will help eliminate stereotypes.
If CNN thinks all black people come from Africa, you obviously don't know science all that well. Also all the black people who don't like America, I would bet you a dollar they would run back to America within 7 days. Not that america is so much better than the societies in Africa with our greed and glutney, food stamps and welfare. America has lost it's drive to be the best country on the planet as we have fallen to #13.
Who in this article says they don't like America? Are you creating false bogeymen?
Perhaps that is because Whites are the majority??
Y'all are the majority for a reason!
no work necessary!! Just show skin color!!
a lot of people try their hardest to claim some African or native american ancestries, especially in academia. They all just want some special treatments from the system. I have a friend, grew up in up-scale OC gated community, and claim his 1/4 Latino blood and got scholarship... so messed up.
We are all from the same DNA, YOU RACIST POS MSM.
Bible speaks of six things that GOD HATES. All people need to read these. Especially racists. Because GOD HATES...well you get it
the interesting thing there is that appreciating that you fall under a certain pseudo-demographic (like being black) isn't "dissention among the brothers." it's potentially a powerfully positive force. in this society, though, certain groups have so much guilt (or anger) over things done in the past, based on pseudo-demographics, that said people can't move past it to see the potential positive of embracing the diversity. diversity created the greatest society in mankind's history. it also has the potential to destroy it. how sad...
Why do we continue to segregate human beings ? How about we just eliminate black and white and just treat everyone the same. Soledad you just keep at it to line you and your networks pockets. 40 years dont you get it.. "The world is black, the world is white It turns by day and then by night A child is black, a child is white Together they grow to see the light, to see the light"
this is so old. I'm so over this, and I'm the group that is still relatively new to this country compare to everyone else ... ...
Of course you are over this. You came over with your history and culture in tact . You are not treated as a second class citizen thank to the civil rights movement.So it is really no big deal that you have moved on.
I was born a poor black child with no rhythm
I am half Cheyenne – Native American (registered tribal member since birth) and 1/4 Black. I do not relate to black people and any one "race'. I am an individual who is very unique in my own way. Nor did I grow up in a predominately back neighborhood. I used to be ashamed of my black side. I have learned to love myself and it was and still is a process. I was tired of black people complaining. I do not see that they do that much of it anymore. Also, news about black people in the 80's and up until recently was always about crime. Hardly, ever anything good. People tell me I look Egyptian and some are surprised when I say I am black. But then I resent having to say that because there are only 10,000 of us left. Why should I deny my other half when the one drop rule was abolished?
There is no such thing as 'very unique'. It either is or it isn't.
25% black => not black... it's ok. still a perfectly good human, no different than any other human... but not black. black is a societal construct, more nuanced than this article gives credit. humans have constant problems using our imprecise language to try and define things, then we act shocked & awed when we fail. being black is a real thing, it's just hard to put into such imprecise words as ours. it is not a choice to be black, you are or you aren't. a white father and a half black mother though...and you're not black. again, it's ok. it's not an attack to say so. it's just what it is.
nice job fattening your wallet off your 1/4 black heritage, soledad :) we didn't know you had it in you (until it became lucrative for us to know)
Would you say the same to Obama since he is 1/2 white and 1/2 black?
Offensive, but very funny.
Or where you can use "coupons" to buy food at the store. They call it five finger discount!!
Color does not matter, just the person
If that were true, Barrak Obama would not be president of the United States.
I am a Black man! Slavery is over! I have been tapping white, black, and Hispanic women for two decades!! All women are the same! Trust me! LOL
To me, you are a true American. The rest of us are unwanted invaders despite the fact our ancestors were the culprits and not us. Guilt by heritage?
What would happen if "What it means to be White" was posted? Absolute riots in the street, the nation, the world from black people, that's what. This makes me never want to open a CNN article ever again.
What it means to be White is posted everyday on every TV channel in North America. Wow...there are some angry, ignorant people posting on this. You must vote Tea Party!
Actually your assumption is false. I think a discussion like that would be interesting since many descendants of Whites are from various countries and cultures. Regardless of whether their families have been in American for centuries...their ancestry can be traced to other countries. Having a segment about what it means to be White in America does not have to be negative. It just shows that some people cannot have a healthy discussion about race without making assumptions, feeling uncomfortable, and projecting.
Prejudice is a necessity. Black people were chosen as those who would have to suffer. If there were not black people, the system would pick or create another group to do the dirty work, to suffer in the guettos, to be the target of the police brutality. Simple isn´t it?
what are guettos?
shanty town, guettos, poor places where most people work hard, but receive less than the white community, where most people have a low level of education, where the police brutalize, shoot and kill innocent people.
Are you in charge of grammar and symantics?
Look for validation elsewhere.
Ghetto – I have made a spelling mistake, but what I have written was correct. Prejudice is a necessity. Black people were chosen as those who would have to suffer. If there were not black people, the system would pick or create another group to do the dirty work, to suffer in the ghettos, to be the target of the police brutality. I am from Brazil, and the english language is my 2nd language (spelling errors are a natural thing, don´t you agree?)
This whole thing seems a little silly. Why is race still an issue at all in this country? So many families and groups have successfully destroyed the boundries of race and culture to create functioning communities with the benefits of an array of backgrounds. This should continue. To me articles like this and people with these kinds of agendas are hurting their own cause. Separation, labels, and the idea of 'cultural purity' is the cause of racism. Just think about it. What group or groups in history fought after successfully integrating cultures? The answer? NONE. We fight and have disagreements when we insist of being seperate and different.
This is stupid. That means a white kid that hangs around black kids and starts actining like them can now put black down on the census?
CNN has a 'race' fetish
Calling someone a RACIST is a joke in THE year 2012. The most over used word ever!!!! The world is meaningless at this point. It is so over used it is a disgrace!!!! People were accused of being racist for saying the world "CHICAGO" during the presidential election!!!!!!!!!! WHAT A JOKE!!!!!! RACISM IS IRRELEVANT TO ANYONES RISE OR FALL IN THE YEAR 2012. WAKE UP!!!! RACE AND RACISM IS SO 20TH CENTURY....
being black means voting for obama just because of his skin color not caring about his policy
Obama follows the same policies that Democrats have followed since FDR. There's nothing different about what he believes, and you don't have to be black to agree with it.
Alright already! I am so tired of all this black, white, brown CRAP! These kind of articles are only creating more division. Stop it.
I have seen black and brown crap, but I have never seen white crap. May I ask what you ate that day?
I think we can all agree this is God's fault.
Do whites honestly think that blacks will ever forget how their ancestors treated them? Not something you can sweep under the rug and go on about. Saying it was 200 yrs ago lol.
Your own people sold your ancestors as well; get over it and get a life. All races/cultures have suffered at the hands of another race/culture at some point in time, the difference is some move on and overcome adversity to achieve greatness. Focus on keeping your young men and women from killing each other and idolizing thug violence instead of worrying about who to blame for the past. Do something positive and actually advance your culture in engineering or medicine for a change, do something for your people to be proud of....look at your people in African countries run by Africans...how are they doing? Go help them.
You sound like a genuine racist. You need to read some American history books about the contributions African-Americans have made to the United States. You'd be amazed!
Fine.. then we wont forget how africans treated europeans during the expansion of the Muslim Empire. Invading SPAIN and FRANCE. Coverting the populations by force (there was force involved, dont kid yourself). And before that. Those mean Africans from carthage who invaded the Roman Republic and tried to destroy democracy!
How can we ever forget this!
I have a solution. Let's dig up all those who imposed or supported slavery and hang them! Would that help?
No, but reparations would! Two and a half centuries of free labor need to be recognized.
It is terrible how blacks were treated. As a white person, I hope no black person ever puts me in the same category as those who did that and feels negatively toward me simply because of my skin color.
that dude has white skin, he is not black
Man that is so racist.
im white, and my skin is darker than his
That was the point of the story, that being Black transcends above the color of your skin. Did you even read the article?
Agreed; it is so much more.
I'm still laughing at the 'pretty Asian girl' comment. Oh my, the ignorance!
Why are you laughing its true!
It's ignorant because she is not trying to get rid of her skin color.
Biany Perez can hang around me anytime, all the time
This is a racist article.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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