Black in America: It's not just about the color of your skin
December 9th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Black in America: It's not just about the color of your skin

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.

Losing color

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

Black unequivocally.

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.

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  1. Vettie

    What I found most OFFENSIVE was "Becca's" ability to choose race as optional. She outright admitted that if she marked Black on her college applications that it might hurt her chances on admission. Just the mere fact she said that in a cavalier manner points to how race can be trendy. As a BLACK woman I am not afforded that opportunity. Everyday when I enter society I am generously reminded of my Blackness; from contemptuous sales clerks who assume my Black presence is for theft not patronage to the white or asian woman strongly holding her purse in fear of robbery. I find it most entertaining when people who are NOT of Black heritage claim they're Black for "cool" points BUT when it comes time to go through the Black experience they reclassify their race. Becca indirectly admits to Black suffrage, one she wishes not to experience. It’s most upsetting that Becca toys with race as a “thing” of convenience but for me it’s a reality of lesser privileges and opportunities.

    January 28, 2013 at 3:38 am | Report abuse |
    • jj

      Vettie, I'm not sure what you're referring to with Becca but if she thinks checking black on a college app will hurt her chances she's a silly girl. If you're white and apply to a HBCU seeking diversity it can help you with admissions and even get a white person who attends one scholarships. If you're black and check black on a college app at a school that's primarily white or non-black it can help you with admissions and scholarships. The reason being is that colleges and universities want a diverse student body and your background, especially when it's different than the main makeup of the school, is seen as adding a unique perspective to the student body. They need to add income to that too because underrepresented kids who grow up economically disadvantaged also bring a unique perspective to college campuses no matter their color.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. Summer

    I see and acknowledge that the two sides within me (black/white, minority/majority etc) are weighted and freighted unequally within society, and even in the world at large. And as long as this context of inequality exists, my self-identification remains politicized.

    January 9, 2013 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. tesmith47

    my dear Robert, you are woefully misinformed; if you like there are a number of books that will explain the results of white oppression and the results. would you like a book list?

    January 9, 2013 at 3:11 am | Report abuse |
  4. J

    I'm Irish and German. I view people as people, and before I make any judgments I certainly try to get to know the person. But we live in a day and age where everything we say can be 'racist'. Sometimes I feel that others think white people see themselves as superior, and are always racist. Sure, there's racist people out there – maybe even a lot- but not every white person is. I'd hate to be viewed as the 'opressor'.

    January 8, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. thomas smith

    1 drop rule banned WAY BACK in 1967??? it will take a few hundred years before the white mind looses it anti black bias
    in america

    December 30, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. thomas smith

    the internal strife in Black America has nothing to do with the economic disparities between Black and White America, the disparity is a function of 300 years of white oppression.
    the internal strife in Black America has historical psychological roots coming from the 300 years of anti Black psychological war fare Black America has suffered; which is peculiar to the situation of the African peoples held in hostage in America, AND normal sociological friction of a people competing against each other. this sociological strife is normal for ALL, humans including Europeans (remember ww1 and ww2? how many dead?)

    December 24, 2012 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
  7. SEM

    I went through African Ancestry and discovered the ethnic groups I came from, the region my people are currently living in today, and how much African and European blood was coursing through my veins. Although it shocked me to discover the percentage of European blood I have, I am substantially more African. And yes skin color has a lot to do with being black considering black is a color- it is not an ethnic group. If you have more European blood than African, I believe that person is European.

    December 19, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • thomas smith

      the bottom line is what you look like, if you can pass as a white regardless of your dna then you get to be white if you look black , even if one of your parents is white (president Obama) , in amrerica your are BLACK!!!!!!
      This is the rule that WHITE folks have made up.

      December 20, 2012 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
      • Paula

        Well said Thomas. I'm not sure why so many don't acknowledge the obvious. I have 7 mixed siblings and we all look different . Some identify as mixed and some as Black based on their experience. That experience is based on how they look...period. America responds based on what they see. No one looks at me and thinks Black or White. I'm mixed and that is my experience...and what I am.

        January 28, 2013 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jorge

    The U.S. will forever be behind the rest of the first world in race and ethnic relations, like the nuts on a dog.

    December 12, 2012 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Penny

      If it makes you feel any better, you're only behind CANADA by a slight margin. The only difference in Canada is government social assistance payments for anyone (in certain provinces) who can't find a job to save their lives just because of the color of their skin.

      April 14, 2013 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Creole Prince

    CNN and Soledad should spend time reading this or have staff read these posts to see how ridiculous and biased their show was and get insight what they people think and say. The comments are reflections of what the vast majority of Americans think, racist or not.
    Actually they could give a rats ass.All these comments are a waste of time and noting constructive will come of these posts. It wont even be mentioned by her.:(

    December 12, 2012 at 4:04 am | Report abuse |
  10. thomas smith

    let me make it clear to you people , the reparations owed to African Americans is not from any individual,. this capitalist system that has used racism to rob African Americans and benefit people with white skins (even european immigrants) owes reparations.
    No one is talking about cash payments to individuals, but a just compensation for the damage done to African Americans even up until this century example: Some places in Virginia chose to close their public school system and have private schools rather than to integrate in the 1950 and kept the schools closed until just recently. those whites deprived generations of education on purpose. that is the kind of pernicious attitude and action that white america governments has exhibited to African Americans for 300 years

    December 12, 2012 at 2:47 am | Report abuse |
  11. bd


    I have the right to express my feelings regarding race issues. I do know how old you are but if you have not lived through the 50s and the 60s then you have no reference as to what my parents and their parents had to endure so you could enjoy the freedoms and access you enjoy today

    December 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bd

    Lighter complexioned black people have white ancestry. The slaves that were brought to the Americas did not have freckles, red or blonde hair.

    December 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • thomas smith

      one of the things that whites do not want to own up to is the 200 years of rape that white men have forced on blacks, the funny thing is that white men have a deathly fear that black men will rape white women!!! which is such a Freudian projection.!!!
      many black folks have some white genes, some more than others, modern dna science shows that it is almost always white male genes

      December 12, 2012 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Mulatto King

      You are one of the few that have critical thinking skills and not in denial of that!

      December 12, 2012 at 3:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. bd

    Because white society says so.

    December 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bd

    I am in my 60's and I find amazing that in 2012 we are still struggling with the concept of race in our society. I watched the episode of Black in America and was surprised that kids who are interracial are somewhat confused as to what ethnic group they are part of. The young Egyptian sister who identifies with being black, chose to check off white on her college application. This continues to perpetuates the notion that white is right and black will hold you back. The other young lady who was struggling with her ethnicity, is a strong indication that our society has done a number on us as well as our children. Although we see more people of color on TV and in advertising, whites still define, determine, and promote what is beauty, what they will promote, and what is considered black. The inaccurate data on northern Africa as being white is preposterous. Pat Bucanon uttered that the white man is responsible for all things that mankind has invented. Again misinformation about the contribution of nations that had people of color. If you look at the paintings of ancient Egyptians in the tombs of their leaders, clearly, these are people of color. Why is it so difficult for white people to own up to the fact that from ancient times all the way up to the Crusades that white people stole ideas and technology from other people? Roman architecture was taken from Africa and adopted into Roman society. I digress, the point is that people of color have bought into the falsehood of who they are. It starts in elementary school and continues through higher education. It was disturbing to her a young black sister say that she did not want to be "dark skinned". I can remember my 5th grade class in Corona , Queens when I asked my teacher, Mrs. Stienberg, where do black people come from and was told to report the principle"s office. Whites in the south will tell you that they had nothing to do with slavery, but continue to fly the confederate flag which represents the confederate states which used slavery as the center piece of their economic prosperity and thousands lost their lives, not to free the slaves but to preserve their way of life. When you see banners that say, "Lets take America Back, it begs the question, back from whom. Racism is a mind set and education will eradicate this. People of color need to educate their children about who they are and stress education in order to overcome the obstacles that this white centrism society has embraced like it is a legacy.

    December 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • bd

      Mr. Lee, if you knew anything about ancient Egypt, you would know that they are the civilization that gave us the mathematics we use today. They were also people of color, not Elizabeth Taylor or some other false betrayal of who they are. White people continue to live on that famous river in Egypt. If all the lies that have told and portrayed in books and other forms of media were divulged to the world we would be thoroughly embarrassed. So white society cannot let that happen. What continues is how wonderful white people are and how hard they work and people of color are just lazy and should pull themselves up by their boot straps. PLEASE. You have nothing truthful or factual to state just ignorance.

      December 12, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Skeptic

    Tell me this . In history , why did the Afican slaves allow themselves to be taken by the Muslims and other Blacks Africans to be sold in the first place ? In Islam , especially the Gulf states , Saudi Arabia , UaE , and others , still allow slavery because it is Sharia approved . The Democrats have ideologically enslaved blacks via messaging techniques , via the complicite media , to hate Republicans , even though Republicans want freedom and prosperity and jobs for everyone , even Blacks . (Abraham Lincoln was a Republican ) . Perception manigment opperations have inbedded a specific set of beliefs and emotions in Blacks , as Obama has more power when people are dpendant upon welfare , food stamps , Obama phone and section 8 housing vocher . Obama has not helped Blacks out of murder violence , drug infested ghettos run by gangs , raised the educational outcomes in inner city schools, increased employment for Blacks , or reduced the AIDS plague effecting Blacks . If you are Black , Obama has done nothing for you . Now , that is racist .

    December 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Sammy

    Imagine where we could be as a society if there were no racial barriers, if we decided, hey, for bettering the human race let's bring the brightest minds of each culture, each skin tone, each gender together and finally solve some of our worst problems. Let's not focus on hate and bitterness, this one's different from the other, instead, turn that negative energy into creative energy, band together as we all should and solve the tough problems out there such as world hunger, alternative energies, diseases, and the list goes on. Seems like everyday we get distracted from what is truly important and commit ourselves to more hatred, unacceptable!

    December 11, 2012 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  17. Sammy

    Dave, couldn't agree with you more though this doesn't pertain to just one race, it pertains to the human race. Too many out there playing the blame game, whether it's about their skin tone, religion, gender, and the list goes on. Take accountability for yourself and your actions, if you want change, start from within, peacefully. Oppression has happened and will always happen to every race, unfortunately this holds true, the only ones that are outside of the scope are the top 2%, they will always be untouchable.

    December 11, 2012 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
  18. Bob Passion

    I think we need to visit Africa to appreciate this notion of blackness. The majority of folks there seem to be poor however the majority ironically are happy in their simplicity, unlike many folks in the so named developed world who despite plenty on their table cannot sleep without enhancments, unhappiness in yonder. I guess it is the idea of enjoying your life rather than living your life that counts. The world will always have a good mix of happy and unhappy folks wherever and whomever they may be.

    Remember no race will get extinct, so let's learn to live together and die together to that last very day. This way we may open ourselves to lesser stresses about fellow humans.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:37 am | Report abuse |
    • independentlyowned

      What do you mean Africans never evolved??? Where do you think white people came from? Yes, obviously some stayed in Africa, but a lot migrated out. We all started in Africa though, and it was also a time where there were lush forests and plenty of natural resources. If you want to talk about laziness, let's talk about agriculture. Instead of spending a good portion of your day hunting and gathering for your community, all you had to do was plant a few seeds and you could feed everyone! Who cares if corn isn't as healthy as fruits and nuts, you can grow as much as you want!

      December 11, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  19. Dave

    There is famous late black artist who totally agrees with you. Michael Jackson sang a song about the oppressor who keep you in shackles........its called man in the mirror. Now, why don't you wake up tomorrow and go do something about you oppressor.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
    • David S

      Michael did just fine-WHY? because he worked his ass off.The only one that oppressed Michael was Joe.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Troy

    Yeah, but don't knock it. It's a fun place to vent

    December 10, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Bill Lee

    Equal opportunity . Is just that "opportunity" not a guarantee .....

    If you can't pass the test... you missed your opportunity ...

    Don't blame anyone else for that.

    December 10, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Bill Lee

    Im beimg moderated.....lol cuz the truth can't be told

    December 10, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Bill Lee

    Maybe those civil service exams need to be translated into " black English" so they don't discriminate against black people???

    December 10, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  24. lanette77

    You can't have a decent conversation on this topic in a blog forum because the racist trolls come on and spread their ignorant, hate-filled, point of view all over the board. If you hate everyone but white people go to a more fitting forum and hate away!

    December 10, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • tesmith

      thank you lanette77, maybe the trolls will take a hint and go away!!!!!

      February 3, 2013 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  25. maria

    (AMER) RICA RICA RICA rica====rich in latin amer ==rich in indin
    We need to be rich in Speak in happinees in COURAGE to cheer the AIR THE SUN the GIFTS
    OUR planet our home our space need more vision more WISDOM moreCOMPASSION
    It is just about the moment your FIRST BREATH......CHEER THE AIR WITH JOYYYYYY

    December 10, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  26. maria


    ALL around you Sand,yellow land, red land, dark land.
    You see the faces of people, children, babies, both poor and rich are alike
    Simple absolute, clear not by choise
    ALL ALL people around are the colors of dry land and sand
    Dark....Red.....Yellow........Sand...............The grass is green
    The sky is blue The clouds are white The sun is yellow bright....
    Are all about you Just like the color of dry land and sand
    With rivers of knowledge, respect love and joyyyyyyyy
    Dark; rich,lovely, and good land Red; Prety like pottery Yellow;Good for bread
    Sand;After so much work I see beautiful glass With joy I live my life
    All people are just of colors of dry land and sand.....

    December 10, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Zumbi dos Palmares

    In my opinion, this whole discussion is a result of Obama's election, and the desire many people have to not classify him as "black". Never before have I seen a US media source that was so interested in our community and concerned with how black people classify themselves in America. Now all of a sudden we get a "black in America" special every year. Before Obama's election the general consensus has always been that if your physical features display African ancestry than you were "black". End of story....it wasn't up for debate and no one really cared to challenge that notion. until we have a black President.....now they want to "reevaluate" what it means to be black, because it really bothers some people that their President is considered "black". Anyway, I think CNN should do a "who is white in America" special, that's the question they need to be asking.... because the definition of "white" has changed several times in this countries history while the definition of "black" has always remained the same.

    December 10, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amanda

      This discussion is coming to the forefront because of the growing multiracial population in the U.S. It is true that Obama has put the topic in the spotlight, at least concerning blackness, but there have been studies since the 1990s about being multiracial and how to identify racially.

      December 10, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • thomas smith

      EXCELLENT IDEA! i would suggest folks read the book "how the Irish became white" to get a better idea of what the idea of " being white" means

      December 30, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Penny

      Well if "African features" are the definition of why people consider all dark-skinned people to be "black" then explain why someone with clearly Native American "FEATURES" but dark skin, is still treated like "black" even though I have no African ancestry in me?!?! No, no one is looking at my "features" only the shade of my skin. Dark skin with Spanish-Amerindian features equals "African" black?! No, really, people. It's just racism and some all-fired desire to lump everything darker than "white" into "black" with no other races acknowledged. Seriously, I've been told that they'd also consider Philippinos and Vietnamese with my skin shade, "black" as well. It's just stupidity on the part of sighted people – as the Blind never do this to me.

      April 15, 2013 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
    • jj

      Zumbi while I disagree that it's all about Obama - this entire country was color obsessed long before Obama - I do think a series on who is White in America is an excellent idea. The concept of white didn't exist until colonial governors in the early days of slavery started getting worried about white indentures and free people of color banding together and overthrowing them for the poor treatment, abuse, and oppression anyone who wasn't wealthy suffered. But even more than that, the history of white people in this country and how whiteness has changed tells a compelling story - when you get rich as a people you become 'white' but if you're an immigrant or powerless group you were deemed not white. White was code for real human male and everyone else was less than including females no matter their color. There's a reason the term poor white trash exists - it removes poor whites from being human (trash isn't human and isn't really white by the standards embedded in whiteness). I think if people who think they are white really knew what whiteness was a lot of things regarding this countries views on race would change for the better.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:27 am | Report abuse |
  28. Tim W.

    Charlize Theron is a African.....more African then 99.9% of the posters here ! Just saying !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 10, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Hypodescent Sucks

    t would it be fair to call Dr. Yaba Blay a "Black Eugenicist". Her 1nedrop or whatever she calls it seems to be one of the biggest steps back I've seen in race academia in quite some time and is frankly gross to witness. Yaba and Soledad appear to hold the white supremacist belief that "black blood" makes people too inferior for any other identification. Few "white" liberals dare to question anything a "black" says about "race" as long as they don't feel personally threatened by it and what Soledad is doing is making sure that One drop obsessed white and Black liberals get to continue the one drop sickness of white supremacy. Many whites with black ancestry and many mixed race people do not want to be Black and are not Black culturally. Soledad is where she is today because she looks more white than Black yet she has no problem profiting from this same sick caste system while yelling about "how Black" she is. What I found most telling is that on Yaba's
    atrociously amateur one drop glorifying website she has a mixed race Latino, Native American and Ethiopian who are being allowed to claim dualities within her 'scholarly' construct of race but the women mixed with European ancestry HATE their white ancestry or can't deal with it. This creep is very clear that she used to racially vet and melanin police as a pass time and nothing has changed for this sad and ugly woman. Now she's been able to get a PHD for it and infect young minds.

    So yes, she is upholding white supremacy. Why is she any different than David Duke?

    December 10, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  30. kikipani

    Whose is black in America. All is saw that is a bunch of light skinned people barking about nothing really. I am a black female that feels there is a more that is going on in black america than mixed breeds talking about how bad they have it. Stop acting like a slave really.
    1.Economic growth among afro american is whay more important
    2. Black familes are headed single black females.
    3.The housing market wipe out more 51% OF BLACK WEALTH IN AMERICA.
    4.We have more african american males in jail than white america had in slavery.
    5. Black people with college degrees earn less than there coworkers.

    That is something that should tackled in black in America. Lets talk about POVERTY in america. Speaking about light skinned black people is like talking about getting a whos is getting plastic surgury? I have seen alot poor black light skinned people in the world really .

    December 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Courtney

    Clearly I have far exceeded your levels of intelligence and civility. I will not trot out the tale of my heritage or upbringing, I will simply say this: My parents did not raise me to make broad unsupported negative statements about any of the world's cultures. In my family we were taught grace, dignity and good manners, you would have benefited from such instruction in your youth.

    December 10, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Gonna Get Real

    Yaba Blay the Black One Drop Nazi must be happy that she's played into the hands of so many sick white racists who believe in racial purity. CNN should be ashamed of running such sickness.

    December 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Mike

    As white people, we have the luxury of ability to not even think about race...How many of you are reminded EVERY day that you are white? How many of you walk into a nice store, and people look at you automatically like you can't afford it?? How many of you get pulled over by the police and right away being treated like a criminal? How many of you are reminded that your physical features are not pretty unless they look like this other race's?
    Racism definitely still exists, we just pretend it doesn't. Is it as bad as it was 50 years ago?? No...but it is still pretty bad...I have worked many places where they refused to hire black people, I have been pulled over once while driving with a black friend and the cop put me in handcuffs and put me in the squad car, just to ask me why I was with him... I can sit here and name numerous experiences that I have witness racism.

    December 10, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Mike

    How many of you, whenever you go into a black neighborhood, gets really nervous, lock your doors, or even refuse to stop and get gas? And if you do stop to get gas, you're nervous the whole time till you leave...How many of you get nervous when a black man approaches you to talk to you?
    As white people, we have the luxury of ability to not even think about race...How many of you are reminded EVERY day that you are white? How many of you walk into a nice store, and people look at you automatically like you can't afford it?? How many of you get pulled over by the police and right away being treated like a criminal? How many of you are reminded that your physical features are not pretty unless they look like this other race's?
    Racism definitely still exists, we just pretend it doesn't. Is it as bad as it was 50 years ago?? No...but it is still pretty bad...I have worked many places where they refused to hire black people, I have been pulled over once while driving with a black friend and the cop put me in handcuffs and put me in the squad car, just to ask me why I was with him... I can sit here and name numerous experiences that I have witness racism.
    This is the exact reasons why black people and any other race in America, cannot stand us white people...We think that what we do is "the correct" way, and that physical appearance wise, we are more beautiful. Or in other words..."superior"...

    December 10, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Taami

    It would be nice if CNN interviewed some light-skinned Black folks for this article who do not also have a white parent. They do exist. Why make it seem that the only people of color who can pass for white have a white parent?

    December 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Courtney

      There are plenty of people who have done this over the years, you just don't know them because you clearly have very limited exposure to cultures other than your own.

      December 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Bill lee

    Can any explain why black things are all bad????

    Black Magic
    Black Balled
    Black Eye
    Black out
    Black and Blue
    Black Sky
    Black Sheep

    December 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Bill lee

    You only check the black box on an application if it benefits you...... hey I check other...

    December 10, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  38. markusw2006

    Attn my White Friends: The vast majority of Blacks DO NOT want an apology. We don't care about that. We only want what ALL ppl deserve and that is respect. The majority of ppl respect others in this world and I'd like to thank everyone who chooses to be above all of this hate and respect ppl no matter what their skin color is. White ppl: please do not take a negative comment one black person said and assume they are speaking for the entire race. Just like there are many types of white ppl in american, there are also a lot of different blacks. We do not all share the same values, lifestyle and opinions. Just because one white guy says some ignorant comment on CNN it would be foolish to assume every white person feels the same way or is ignorant. One black person says something about slavery and all the white ppl go crazy on here. RELAX ppl. Majority of blacks do not walk around talking about slavery! RESPECT is the only thing that matters. Regardless of this countries past, If you have respect for all ppl everyone will be OK. Judge my character not my skin. Now lets hug it out and grab beers.lol 🙂

    December 10, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Respect is earned not given. Nice to know you speak for all blacks though.

      December 10, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dante

      Actually, he did say that Black people have a longer way to go to earn his respect, so yes, that is exactly what he implied.

      December 10, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Bill lee

    Not all blacks.....mostly the ones born here descended from slaves...

    December 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Tom Sawyer

    People act like race defines culture, but it is only one of many facets of an individual's culture. Factors such as geography, income, and education, among others, also play very strong roles. I don't think anyone would expect a black teen growing up in the projects of LA would have the same culture as a black teen growing up in rural Montana or in the White House, yet "black culture" gets talked about as though it's universal. Same goes for "white culture" or any other supposedly racial culture.

    December 10, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Agreed. The black teen from the projects of LA would accuse the black teen growing up in rural Montana as ‘acting white’ or selling out. Black culture is talked about most by blacks. And no one is more critical of a black person than another black person.

      December 10, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
      • ImpishLisa

        Actually, I agree with you, on this.

        January 7, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  41. notredamegirl

    We all know as well as the outside world that America is a very racist country!! America was built on double standards! Thats why I find it ridiculous that America shames other countries on human and civil rights abuses while also committing the same acts!!! America needs to stay out of other countries affairs and fix this racist countries problem first!!!

    December 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Tom J

    Welcome to the melting pot everyone is so proud of. Now get over whatever it is you have and get on with being just a plain ole American!

    December 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • notredamegirl

      These people are too ignorant and racist to move on. This is why this country is doomed in the first place.

      December 10, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Says the person accusing others of being racist with little to no proof because you didn’t agree with their view.

        December 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
      • Bill Lee

        Hehe.... the pot calling the kettle, "Black"...

        December 10, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • tesmith47

      just dont move in my neighborhood
      dont marry my daughter / son or me
      dont go to my church
      yeah, we all just good ole " mericans"

      January 9, 2013 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Tammy

      I agree I am so sick of hearing about this.

      January 28, 2013 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
      • kevin14618

        He's right about that. Race does not matter. We are all human.

        January 28, 2013 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
  43. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    It doesn’t help that people accuse others of being racist for stating statistics or simply because they disagree with the person.

    December 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Suz


    December 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Optimistic

    I find myself reading this forum and thinking... wow we have a long way to go. Race is a construct that this country created which is related to physical characteristics, and that is it. I'm surprised nobody has brought up culture. That is really what people hold on to. Being 'African American' has come to mean something in this country because of the traditions and culture that has progressed throughout the years. The food, the music, the dances.If you take away race, you take away putting those people from the article into categories. It saddens me that people are made to feel like they are not who they because of their skin tone. Another major factor is geography. Where you grew up, who you were around is going to be a big contributor to what you identify with and why. The more the melting pot mixes, the more opportunities we have to let go of our initial judgments and move forward as a society. I could go on and on about this subject. And if you have something rude to say in response to this, I'd really appreciate if you save it for someone that feeds off negativity.

    December 10, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • sembene

      Agreed, Optimistic.

      December 10, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  46. justapirate

    Enough of the freakin' race games already. This isn't the past. The problem seems to be more folks are worried about what 'color' they are and forgetting that they're a bloomin' human. The sun doesn't rise any different because of race. The sun doesn't care. The moon doesn't care. This planet doesn't care. I have no problem with anyone til they start talkin' 'race'. At that point I don't have a bit of interest in what you have to say. You done blew it.

    December 10, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dante

      It's easy to pretend that race doesn't matter when you are in the majority. You don't even see the privilege you have.

      December 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
      • thomas smith

        Dante, you are exactly right, I have some White acquaintances that are all right normally; (we are all about the same pay grade jr. engineeers) until we went out socially to the local (white pickup bar), that is when what color you are reminds you of the problem with white folks,white skin privilege, and why Blacks have to emphatically be BLACK! .

        December 17, 2012 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
  47. jennifer

    I watched the program with my daughter who is 16 black and light skin. It was very interesting and educational for her.

    December 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Lomo

    What does it mean to be a hated minority in America ? ....a minority that can be insulted with impunity ....the butt of continual jokes that are considered "witty and clever" by the smarmy, pseudo-intellectual, liberal elitists ?
    How about an article on White male Christians ?

    December 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • lol

      I truly hope you're not a "white male christian" lol After reading your posts, "white male" would be a more accurate descrptor.

      December 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Neither white males nor Christians are minorities. Stop playing victim and realize Christians bring the criticism on themselves by trying to force their views on others.

      December 10, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    If they have been doing so well.. they wouldn’t have been so easily conquered.

    December 10, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    If you have to tell people you are black or ‘Native American” then you’re not. You’re just looking for attention.

    December 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Lomo

    Yeah....just look at how great Africa is doing!

    December 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Lomo

    Mainly, as a Black American you can be a racist with impunity.

    December 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • notredamegirl

      Yeah because white people are not racist (sarcasm)! No one should be racist and you using blacks are racist to justify why you are says a lot about you and your character!! Typical racist behavior!!

      December 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        He didn’t say whites were free of racism. What he said was if you’re black you can get away with it. You’re response it typical however.

        December 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Nick76

    It seems that Soldad brings race up quite often. Ms Cross did not understand her father. He wasn't ashamed of his blackness he was ashamed of the conduct that painted AA's. We are known by our actions not our color.

    December 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  54. B

    realy im so sorry! but why is ok for there to be a black program and not say that this is racist. if white people had a white only anything all black folks would be crying and saying its racist. so BET must be racist then!!!!!!!!!

    December 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  55. bohunk

    What is up with all the black articles. Being black in america, what it is to be black ? There are other Ethnicities in this country with issues to. I work in the inner city schools and a 75 % free and reduced lunch rate is the norm. Explain to me how hmong/asian students Learning the Lnglish Language can outscore blacks on standardized tests by 30 and 40%? Seems to me black leaders, families and communities need to point that finger at their homes and get down to business and value education, not sports. Stop glorifying this gang lifestyle and work hard to acheive, just like my Brown great great grandparents who came over from slovenia. Racism is nothing but an excuse to blame others.

    December 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ha

      In other words..................................... "I'm a racist" If you would stop denying it, maybe you could get some help.

      December 10, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
      • thomas smith

        neither need nor want your "help", just want you to stop your oppression and opposition

        December 30, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Well said bohunk. Ignore Ha and those like him/her. When they have no real answer or argument they fall back on calling one a racist.

      December 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill Lee

      They wont score any better in another hundred years...they are to interested in dumbing down entrance exams so as not to discriminate against black stupidity

      December 10, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Allen

    Then of course the question comes to mind; 'What's it like to be white, male, and slightly above average intelligence, trying to find a job after graduating high school in 1965'? Affirmative action was not my friend.

    December 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Affirmative action doesn’t level the playing field. It’s discriminatory by definition and the most racist legislation since Jim Crow.

      December 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dante

      Oh boo hoo. In the 60's you didn't have to fight for your right to enter the businesses you wanted. Quit whining.

      December 10, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  57. Brandon

    I don't see race. I see a human being.

    December 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lomo

      That is unacceptable in modern, liberal America. We have to divide everyone in every conceivable category so that we can then pander to them.

      December 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  58. Babbs

    The same can be said for your race as well!

    December 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Steve

    Heres the issue: Everyone wants to be treated equal but everyone wants extra because of their ethnicity, race, heritage etc... We have Irish Day parades, Gay Day parades, Mexican American, Puerto Rican, Cuban Day parades. Everyone wants more than they deserve. The one drop comment was something that happened almost 100 years ago. Your black, great! Your Irish, great! Get over what makes us different and start figuring out what brings us together before we become so polarized that we end up line Yugoslavia did in the 90s.

    December 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick


      December 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Couple things wrong with your comment. The Irish do have Parade but it isn’t because they are Irish. It’s a holyday celebrating Saint Patrick who wasn’t even Irish. Gays have parade but it isn’t because they want more than they deserve.. they want what YOU have. Thats equality not preferential. Neither of which get legal protection or preference in the work place or collages like Hispanics and blacks do. That said I agree with your overall point

      December 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • sembene

      Celebrating who you are need never be divisive. Certainly, embracing who I am has only enhanced my ability to truly see others and be enriched by the differences.

      December 10, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  60. Babbs

    Well said.

    December 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  61. bored already

    "It's a black thing"- probably the most stupid thing ever posted on CNN yet. Whoop-de-freakin-do. You were freed a log time ago- some of you decided to be productive members of society, some of you demand a monthly check and blame "the man", and others look for a quick paycheck from complaining that your rights are compromised because the black pepper shaker isn't as big as the salt shaker. Dr. King would be so proud.

    December 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  62. LO

    Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumbbbbbbb!!!! Stupid comment award!

    December 10, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  63. DalcassianKnight

    Not to be a "nit-picker" but I wanted to concentrate on one small excerpt from the article that I think needs to be analyzed more fervently. One of the interviewees said "But the Irish in America distanced themselves from the anti-slavery movement..." is he freakin' kidding me????? Read a history book sometime dude. The Irish in this country have been exposed to as much (and in some cases, even more) prejudice, hatred and slavery as the blacks ever were.

    While studying the Irish history (why don't we have a month set aside for that) in this country, I was especially taken by the story of the Irish miners in northern Pennsylvania around the 1870-1880 time period. The Irish was subjected to the most inhumane and disgusting conditions ever. It's been said that the mule used in the coal mines was worth more than the Irish laborers down in the mines.

    The mules cost money, the Irish didn't. If an Irish worker died in the mines, no problem, the mine owner would go down to the docks that same day and get two or three more. Even the blacks were given more respect and were "valued" more than the Irish. The mine worked were paid little or nothing. They were usually paid with something called slag which wasn't even real money and had absolutely no monetary value except in the coal mining town (also owned by the mine owners).

    Don't tell me that the Irish were "distanced" from the slave trade.

    December 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill lee

      Solidad O'Brien probably wrote that.........lol

      December 10, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Babbs

      Lord knows that too many African-Americans have Irish surnames.

      December 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dman968

        Some AA like myself are related to the Irish by blood. My great, great, great grandmother came over during the potato famine. I have portraits of her in mint condition dated 1850. That could account for the surenames.

        December 10, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
      • jj

        For the most part, surnames for slaves are a product of emancipation. Slave records kept show a plantation owner's list of slaves by first name and nickname and that's how people both slave and free referred to them. Surnames weren't that important back then unless you were a wealthy family moving in high society circles. If a slave's name was Jon then he'd be referred to as Jon. Once slaves were freed they pretty much chose their surnames. Some chose their former Master's surname, especially if the Master was considered a good man or if they'd freed them, some chose war heroes or political heroes, county names or place names while others chose a surname honoring someone they knew and liked or just picked a surname they liked the sound of. Some free people of color were given their mother's surname centuries before slavery ended (whether you were free or slave was determined by your mother's status and a lot of the major families classed as free people of color were the children of white women and black men) or were given the surname that their free black father chose on arrival (there were free black males here). But it's not always the case that a black person's surname has anything to do with his or her master. Also, despite common belief, racial mixing has been going on in this country since before we were a country.

        April 18, 2013 at 4:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Dman968

      Yes, the Irish did suffer in earlier American history, but the conclusion of the matter is that those prejudices against them fell after one generation. After all, the Irish are white.

      December 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
      • DalcassianKnight

        Just because they're white??? Could it also have something to do with the fact that were and still are hard-working, God-fearing, self-respecting, law-abiding people?

        December 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • @GuileOfTheGods

      And you wonder why minorities hate white people...

      December 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Not to be rude, but I think you over-read what he wrote... He wrote, "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.".... What he was trying to say is that he understood that Irish people were segregated, just as black people; but when the anti-slavery movement came along, Irish people decided to side with white people with the hopes of joining "white mainstream" by subconscious means. Irish people were the ones who created "black face" to degrade black people...And the strategy worked...By the 1950s, Irish people were considered white... I am myself, Irish, so I am not just bashing... But I agree that people do need to understand that there were cultures that are now considered white, that were once discriminated strongly by America.

      December 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • tesmith47

      you aare mistaken read "how the Irish became white"

      March 5, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  64. jimmy

    Yes racism exists, yes there are racists, but the vast majority of whites are not racist, and in fact over compensate being friendly to blacks. There will never be NO racists. Stop waiting for that, and stop whining about the few racists there are. How would you feel if EVERY FRIGGIN day there was an article about how blacks are terrorizing whites by perpetrating muggings, home invasions and rapes. It would be awful right ? Most blacks are not criminals, we get that, how would you feel if we want on and on and on about poor us being victims of crime. There will be criminals of all races forever and there will be racists of all races forever. STOP WHINING !

    December 10, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brock Landers

      Jimmy, i agree with you 100%, it's just a social issue they (meaning everyone) presses, only blacks can stop it really, the true black leaders would take ownership and just say, look yea there is racism but we are not using it as an excuse for our shortcomings or perceived shortcomings, but they won't, we won't and this will go on and on.......

      December 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • markusw2006

      I'm black and I agree. It all comes down to respecting each other and understanding that there will always be ppl that hate other ppl.

      December 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jimmy knows best

      @Jimmy Your complete lack of understanding is almost laughable. I was almost offended by your comments until I realized that they are deeply rooted in ignorance. In your head, Black people must have had a conference 600 hundred years ago and decided that the victim role is the easiest to play in society. Why else would they simply allow Europeans to colonize all but two territories in Africa? Why else would they volunteer themselves for forced labor in unknown lands where they would be herded, raped, tortured, killed (forced abortions), impregnated and treated like animals? Oh yes. I know why. So that in the year 2012 they can all complain about how bad a lot they were given in life and receive government handouts while doing nothing. Dude, if you really want to have a valid opinion on matters of race, READ A FEW DOZEN BOOKS ON THE SUBJECT! Until then, shut up. Your hatred hurts my ears (eyes).

      December 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        You're wrong.

        December 10, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lousinana CreoleKing

      Dude you are so wrong, in my most humblest opinion, I have to say the vast majority of Whites in America are racist. Its just very subtle. I am Creole and most of them always so to me, well you are mixed and look more like us, and I just listen to the hatred they spew, I do often correct them and tell them not to generalize. Some things they say about Black Americans I agree. A lot have that crab mentality and low self worth. Tell a dark skin Black person tha they look mixed and you will see a smile as broad as a mile because its such a compliment to be mixed. Some are even in denial that Alicia Keys, Beyonce, are mixed, so they can say we come in all shades/ colors.

      February 7, 2013 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
      • jj

        @Creole - Most black Americans are mixed if their ancestors were here during slavery. The average black person in America is almost 10 percent white and many are even more white than that. And it didn't all come from the Massa having a secret romance with a slave, or worse, raping a slave. A lot of it came from humans doing what humans will do when they see someone they like and it happened before, during, and after slavery - laws against mixing be danged.

        A HUGE portion of southern whites that have been here since those days are also mixed and they have no clue about it - they think if any relatives are out there who are black then one of the men stepped outside but have no idea that they themselves are carrying 'black blood' so to speak. People were making babies by choice with one another since they got here.

        As to most white folks being racist, I disagree. There are far too many who are but I don't think it's most and I think a LOT depends on how old they are.

        April 18, 2013 at 4:29 am | Report abuse |
  65. DC

    How about doing a feature on what it's like to be sons and daughters of white European parents, living in
    America for only 1 generation, and being blamed for everything that has happened to all minorities in this country for the last 200 years, simply because of the color of our skin? Try walking in those shoes......

    December 10, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Galiotsw1968

      The only thing racist here is CNN . Run a article about being white in America . CNN is only good at fanning the flames of racism , and their own agenda .

      December 10, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
      • DalcassianKnight

        CNN loves to incite controversy. Always have. That's why I've started turning to other sources for my news reports. Old habits die hard though.

        December 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
      • Robert

        CNN is trying to create a climate of hatred toward white people.

        December 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dman968

        You can't fan a flame unless there is a spark.

        December 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
      • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

        A spark indeed. In fact that has been recognized in several comments. However a spark is not an inferno. Stop acting like its one and take responsibility.

        December 10, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Babbs


      December 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • pamelawhitelow

      That responsibility belongs to you ancestors, they are to blame for your hardship, not us. Had they acted like human beings you wouldn't have this problem. Try walking in your shoes, PLEASE! try walking in our shoes and see how quickly you change back to you own shoes.

      December 10, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lousinana CreoleKing

      I would love to see the liberal media do that one. It will never happen because they dont see the benefit of it. Also they enjoy lumping they innocent with guilty. They also have to educate the Blacks in this country that you cant generalize. And no its not fine for you to do it. Too wrongs dont make a right!

      February 7, 2013 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  66. Darryl

    No doubt get over yourself. The Italians lived through it when they came here, the Irish lived thrugh it when they came here, heck, every nationality I can think of that has come to America in groups has dealt with the melting pot. Maybe the issue is not so much those around you, which I would have agreed with a couple of generations ago. Maybe the problem is how you see yourself. Self healing ... what a crock. You make it sound like maybe when the thorns from the cotton plants heal on your hands you can begin to heal.

    You need to heal from a life time of self pity!!

    December 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  67. David S

    I come from a Sicilian background.Many countries invaded Italy through Sicily we were extremely oppressed. Since Sicilians are said to have black blood in them, shouldn't all Sicilians get reparations and benefit from affirmative action programs?Instead we opt for working smart and hard and trying to make the world a better place.Please get over the wawa crap-the people that caused whatever pain we all experienced have been dead for many years.

    December 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • David S

      And not one of them was from America originally.

      December 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • LostinSLC

      Spoken from a fellow countryman I agree!

      December 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Babbs

      What a stupid statement.

      December 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
      • David S

        Please prove you are literate and tell me why?

        December 11, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Dman968

      David S, yes Sicilians have black blood, but are still accepted as white Europeans. Your ancestors came over thru Ellis Island. So its like comparing apples to chewing gum.

      December 10, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
      • B

        thats not write a minority should get the same benefits as blacks a minority is a minority regardless of color people! Something very wrong about affermitive action laws. they need to rewrite the laws if you realy want equality. we do have a black president now i think its time to reverse these stupid laws that are not equal at all!!!!!!!!!

        December 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • B

      you are so write david thank you!!!!

      December 10, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well said David. However this argument falls of deaf ears like Dman968 because it doesn’t support their culture of victimhood.

      December 10, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  68. malsings07

    I don't think white people need to apologize for anything. I do think that people of color themselves still are holding on to that "Dark skin versus Light skin" thing and I think because it is still happening, it's at work it's at the stores it's everywhere. However, until Blacks as a people can move on and just accept themselves there will always be a story written about it.

    December 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • B

      why should we after all the africans are the people who traded black people into slavery. look up info and you will see way more slaves were sold to europeans than to the americas??

      December 10, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tammy


      March 11, 2013 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  69. Clattus

    It means not being white.......

    December 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darryl


      Perhaps you could provide me with the definition of WHITE? I know were the majority of my ancestors came from and other than being 1/8 English, most of the rest of their skin color would not be considered white?

      I love the typical definish of white by some people with any African ancestory, "ah, everywhere and every ancestory that did not come from the African continent! It must be nice to lump everyone else into one category so that you can blame the rest of us for your self pity!

      December 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
      • Freedom


        You're right that Clattus has an ignorant viewpoint, but it is also a historical one. In parts of the American South at one time, you were either "White" or "Colored" and that was it. People now interpret "Colored" as "Black" but that's not how it always was. It's weird to think that some people still hold this very outdated viewpoint.

        July 29, 2013 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • B

      realy because i thought it was not being a dumb ignorant person!!!!!! or if i look at like you do its about not being black dog!!!!!!

      December 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
      • Tammy

        Wow... your response was very childish and the language shows your level of intelligent’s so why bother communicating with you.

        January 28, 2013 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  70. Nina

    As a Dillard alum, just FYI, there is no creative writing graduate program at Dillard University. It's not even offered as a major, only a minor.

    December 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  71. Just Me

    I walk through life open to experiences and open to people regardless of the color of their skin. I make my decisions on who that particular person is by the way the act and the way the treat me. I understand that race relations in this country are move positively or negatively one encounter at a time or at least I want to believe that. I realize that stereotypes and media focus will always provide views of people to people in ways that drive those stereotypes. I understand that but I don't let it affect how I would treat any person posting here or anyone I met until I've actually had a chance to meet them. We can talk and post and blog about race in America as if it needs to be discussed but the reality is that it doesn't. If you care about race it will always be an issue and if you don't care about race it won't be an issue. if you can walk into a room and not immediately think you know someone you've never met simply by the color of your skin then you have the right perspective. If you can allow your opinions of race to be only be moved and assigned to individuals then you have the right perspective on race. It is a much simplier task than we make it out to be. Judge me by the man you met not by the man you think you see.

    December 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      Amen Amen Amen. You took the words out of my mouth. If we all think like this. The world will be a better place. Stay Blessed!

      December 10, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  72. light

    I just wonder were all the extremely dark skinned black people are in the pictures ... I am saddened lol that always happens to us.

    December 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
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