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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Why are articles like this still acceptable to publish? If anyone wanted to write about "What It Means To Be White" s/he would be slandered mercilessly as racist, culturally insensitive, and unworthy of keeping his/her job. When do we get to get off the "Poor, poor pitiful me, my background is something other than Scots-Irish and that makes me a victim" bandwagon?
Why not just don't read the article?
It means dat you sooo speshul you get 3 articles on CNN bout u err week. Sheeeeit.
If you're black, gay and Asian...... you can be the politically correct weather caster on the local eyewitness news..... that nobody watches.
Does anyone else think, "What on earth was CNN trying to accomplish by posting this article?"
Seriously, don't they have a single brain cell to even realize how many negative comments are going to come out of this single post?
YOU are an example of what CNN wanted to accomplish. The goal was to put an article up hat would expose the racism in America that has been swept under the rug for decades now. Look at the comments and realize that racism is still alive and well... Even within you.
Sorry, I don't think that's the point CNN is trying to get across. All I see are hundreds of people raging over race whether it be good or bad. I for one don't have any racial biased on this topic since I am Hispanic and don't care for pity arguments like these. To me, these articles just make matters worse. But I understand what you're trying to get across
I agree with you. In fact, I have no clue why any major news site has a comment section, because the majority of the time, because it isn't moderated, you will see some of the most sickest things uttered about any and every type of topic. From race to religion to politics, people flock to these type of articles to be secret bigots and trolls, and I don't understand how it adds anything to the message of the article.
Agreed, on topics like these, they should disable comments since they probably know that a lot of these comments cause more harm than good.
It means CNN talks about you all the time.
Maybe they should create a "what's it like to White/Gay in America"... I'm sorry but that would be Racial.... never mind...
We can't move on unless we get this discussion on race and its ugly past out of the way. Segregation was not long ago. Our grandparents and great grandparents suffered through it. Go bury your head in the sand or listen and understand our dilemma. Until you get the awkward stares and glares from being the only minority in the room will you understand the daily plight.
That is the truest statement here.
I'm wondering how much trouble there's going to be over Jamie Foxx's appearance on Saturday Night Live last night. So far the actual news articles on the Internet about it (from newspapers, etc.) seem to be positive; but there's an absolute "explosion" occurring in the "comments" sections. Very, very few positive comments; many many negative ones. And quite a few people who felt at least a little bit taken aback or offended. Almost no one who found it funny.
I think people are people...Each person has to prove their own worth.....CNN is bent on this color scheme thing, get over it...
CNN is stuck in reverse, in a racist gear they have a hard time overcoming!
Seriously. Of course they're only doing it because their ratings are abysmal and they're trying to develop a niche market... which really is just patronizing and insulting.
34% of all those who receive foodstamps are white...22% are black....so more like EBT White America????
So statistically 13% of the population is getting 22% of the total benefit expenditure??? Yea, I would be so proud of that! lol
wow...this is the 3rd article about blacks Ive seen this weekend since I started coming to cnn. What's wrong with this network?
Anything that attacks whites or traditional America is cnn front page.
Start boycotting CNN, find another news network. Sciencedaily is very good, neutral and informative. You can find politics too.
Is this really an attack on White America or do i hear white guilt coming out of You?
Why do we have to keep reading articles like this? Its 2012, not 1962....Blacks have just as many if not more freedoms today than at any time in their history, Whether blacks feel there is still racism or not, they need to realize that we all have our own problems. Lets be honest Whites are now, or will in the near future be a minority group. When is CNN going to write about what its like to be white in America?
Good Answer..however, this is one white girl with NO white guilt.
Why write about what is it like to be white in America when that has been written since 1620 when the whites arrived here.
Take it or leave it alone. There is a Black and White problem in America.
I pity the fools.
No, there's not a black and white problem. There's a black problem. Own it.
Ya.. It's called African Americans Can't stop Blaming Whites for the lack of motivation and cohesion within their own communities. No one is keeping African Americans Poor and out of the work force except themselves. Most working class families can't afford 2 or 3 kids let alone 7 or 8. Education is the gateway to success, but many within these communities don't bother showing up to school or taking the experience seriously. So yes, poverty and crime within the black community is higher than other places. It's called lifestyle choices.
Before you go screaming oppression and lack of ways to life from poverty. Remind yourself of affirmative action and that MANY groups have suffered. 6 Million Jews were killed a mere 70 years ago. Yet, Jews prosper in America. Native Americans had their land stolen. Tribes are opening Casinos and finding ways to overcome adversity. So you can make excuses, but they don't hold water.
It's not. It's just yet another story about blacks. Seems to be more than our fair share of "black" news articles as of late.
If having African ancestry means one is black, then all of humanity is black.
Black is as black does in my book. If you "see" black, ala Obama Claus, then you are a shill for the liberal racists. If you "see" based on facts and data, then you can be whatever you want to be.
Sergio, this is a very truthful statement. It has been established the oldest human bones found so far are from the far reaches of Africa.
What a joke. What a freakin JOKE.
it means that 78% of children of U S born blacks are born to unwed mothers, 30% among whites, 31% among asians.
"Some people said she sat like a white person – all proper." Why is it ok to be racist against white people?
Because it's all your fault.
That's what it means to be black I guess, blame all white people and be racist against them for reparations. Thanks, Moni Basu for showing me that.
"Some people said she sat like a white person – all proper." Why is it ok to be racist against white people?
Actually, it is just the opposite. I was told the same thing on more than a few occasions growing up. Basically what people were saying is that black people aren't supposed to be able to sit properly and speak clearly. It wasn't a racist statement against white people.
When are we going to stop preaching separatism and just get on with being American... Damn.... This country just needs to get over it..
Exactly. Its not as if racism exist anymore. Everyone gets treated equally as far as I have ever seen.
Until you walk in someone else's shoes, you can't say that there is no longer racism in this country.
When a Black professional computer programmer and military veteran is forced to study law and represent himself as "Pro se" the plaintiff because no white attorney would represent him to fight, prosecute and seek justice against his former ( billion dollar a year in ) employer and win a out of court settlement. That is what one black person has to endure in America. Google it. (Randolph v. Grange Mutual Casualty Company, No. 09-AP-519, Court of Appeals of Ohio, 2009
When a black supreme court justice has to defend himself constantly from charges of being a house slave from BLACKS..that's what it means to be black in America...lockstep liberal thinking..
We all came from Adam and Eve. Heaven is represented by all races, ethnicities, tribes and nations. I'll leave it at that...
I have been on this board for a while and I have come to this conclusion. You are a bigoted racist, probably a very unhappy and insecure person. Most of your comments are negative and knee-jerk reactions. I can see where it is not hard to "push your buttons", a sure sign of immaturity. I can see where you have not done well in the english language classes in your education. I fully expect a negative and blistering retort, but do not assume I am white.
...means you're voting for barack obama no matter what silly. a unifying quality to say the least
White is not a dying breed...it only looks like that on television. As races become wealthier and better educated they have fewer offspring. Whites still comprise at least 70% of the legal population. We should all think of ourselves as Americans first.
If that's a problem, there are planes, boats and trains leaving everyday....
When will people start looking beyond the surface, people are individuals, go from there. Human race.
racism will never be over until we stop focusing on it. move on in life everyone.
I'm so tired of the race or ethnic issues. Drop it.
Yea, so the perfect way to deal with a problem that has been pervasive for hundreds of years is to totally ignore it. Right! That ALWAYS works (sarcasm)!
I think cnn should do stories about being poor and having no healthcare in America, show the shame and humiliation these people have to deal with everyday. Show them dying and begging. Show how they are treated less than human in america. Rerun it as often as this series is. Black, white all races are suffering from this, yet all we hear is about what skin color you are. Enough already. What deference does it make what color you are, I personally don't care if you a decent person then it doesn't matter.
Very true. No matter what race a person is, if they are poor, they get beat up all the time by this country. We need a series like that to show that people of all races are just struggling to get by.
Very true, even up until today.
I am a white conservative independent southerner. If I consider myself better than another man, and I often do, it is NEVER because of the color of his skin. This is 2012, Racism should be a thing of the past. We should be embracing diversity and looking for ways to improve our communities for the good of everyone. The men and women in this article bring up an excellent point regarding who is black in America. The fact is, it should not matter! It is a mans mettle that determines his worth.
well said, finally someone!
Can we say Amen to that.
it means nothing to be black, or white, or brown, or light brown, etc, etc, etc.....
this is getting pathetic
I am not certain about what you mean by your comments but being black is to have the appearance, morphological and phenotypical physical traits of people who came from the West, Central and Southern parts of Africa! Anything else is considered non-black or persons of color! Let's ge real....when you have black women going to such extremes to de-kink and de-coil their hair and whiten and brighten the skin, not to mention purposefully bred with light-skinned or non-black individuals, then blackness in America is what I have specifically described above!!!!!!
Still waiting on WHITE IN AMERICA!!! By CNN!
They already did a special about white in America. It's been going on for the last 60 years and it's called "television".
Fernando, that is one fine reply. I have asked myself Ronnie's question many times. Next time, I'll remember your reply. Thankyou, sir.
From a Fernando to another Fernando, great answer!
One thing for certain – I AM SICK OF HEARING ABOUT RACE- it is what it is so deal with it. Just because you are white does not mean you have the world by the tail on a down hill drag. So just shut up please. You are what you are so celebrate it and shut up/
Without all of the anger coming through in your message, I believe that you have something there.
You seem a little too angry about this topic. Hate to break it to you, the topic of diversity and race is not going away anytime soon, so I guess you can plug your ears, stop reading these articles, or just develop a healthy tolerance... imho.
What does CNN think of a White in America article anyways? Is the idea too silly for them, too racist or are whites even more negatively stereotyped now due to the recent political on goings and they wouldn't dare?
There is only one race, human.
Thank you, but unfortunately a lot of people don't understand that...
What is white? Race. Culture. Consciousness. History. Heritage.
It is natural in America that people differentiate themselves by color, gender, lifestyle, et al, because America has no racial heritage. But drawing the differences between you and others enlarges the gap between individuals. I always thought that the idea was to close those gaps. This article and the myriads like it do not help close the gaps.
Very often everything we do wrong is because someone else fault. I think that 9 out of 10, that's a big bunch of bull.
I know it's probably really weird, and I'm sure the people with it don't think so, but I've always found vitiligo rather exotic and beautiful.
Then what are you doing here? Your reasoning, responses and rhetoric are junior high level at best.
I've owned a business quite a few years and I must say that African Americans are far more likely skip out on their bills. 100%. They are far more likely to bounce a check, have a rejected credit card, and phoney credentials.
Just saying it like it is. You seem like a bad bet also. Blacks have no problems going south on a bill to a White person. Most White business owners will say so.
Hmmm. Trailer Park. Interesting. If I do take you up on your offer I will show my proof. One was actually a reverend....
Loki. I am black and agree with you! Not ALL BLACKS fall into those stereotypes, but I do agree. There are bad apples in every ethnic group.
In defense of my statement...I do not have any middle class Blacks on my books. With the exception of the Reverend and his state worker wife.
If your employee is caught opening someone else's mail box that is a Federal Offense. No one can look into a mail box except the mail man and the owner of that box. That was an ignorant post.
I'm scared to death.
Lol..and you say I dont effect you..
I already proved you to be the liar and hypocrite on the last comment thread remember? Your weak feeble mind already forget that little lesson in hunility 😉
If you're going to try to make asinine racist comments, at least you could learn to spell "humility" before insulting others with your stupidity. Irony.
I obviously I do effect you since you feel the need ro respond.
I would share a different perspective. I grew up a multi-ethnic child in south central L.A. In my life the only bias I have personally experienced has been from those kids who identified as African-American when I was in school, and since then when asked by African Americans "What are you?". In school I was called all kinds of names, bullied and harassed. I went through a phase then where I suppressed and tried to change myself because I longed to just fit in and that only caused me more pain and did nothing to improve things at school. So one day I just adopted a personal philosophy that I would not lead an ethnic life, why should I ignore parts of myself for any reason? Why did race have to matter at all? It was a very simplistic idea from a child who felt pretty tormented. Once I implemented this in my life I got stronger as a person and life got a whole lot better.
Now if a person of mixed background chooses to embrace only one of their ethnic lines then that is their choice and thank goodness we live in a country where we are free to do so. As for me when asked that question "What are you?" I simply answer "Human". If that is not enough for the person asking the question then it becomes their issue not mine.
That's it, CNN, keep the MSM articles flowing that denote a uniqueness of race as opposed to the uniqueness of the individual. Keep it up and it further galvanizes people to their polar sides. We are human first...color of skin should be a descriptive only for identification rather than an automatic link to a culture. Humans are individuals and to make this world work we need to focus on that fact, first and only.
Name*God – why are you such a racist? Why are you so infused with hatred? Why don't you believe in equal rights for everyone? Why are you such a misogynist? Why do you hate using spell check? Why are you just a taker and not ever a giver? Why do you resist practicing personal hygiene? Why don't you carry your load at work? Why do you blame others for your short comings? Why are you so jealous of everybody who is better than you? Why are you so jealous of most people of most races? Why do you tailgate? Why do you play those ridiculous computer games all the time? Just asking.........
Why do blacks have lower test scores than other races?
It's because the majority of the mothers are not choosing to educate their young or take responsibility of them. The first 1 – 3 years of a childs life determines their cognitive and intelligence for the rest of their lives. Black women, in general, dont take care of their young as much as others.
Please, for the sake of YOUR own race, take care of your own child and stop living off the system and placing blame on others for your own mishaps.
That is very stereotypical. It's actually the opposite. I am just now starting to learn that where a child receives their education and what they focus on when studying is the reason for low test scores. Sometimes it's just boredom. One of my girls in after-school can recite definitions and poems but cannot write. This has been addressed and the school has done nothing. Another one of my students succeeds in STEM but has low scores in ELA. I am wondering why she has such low ELA scores when one must know how to read and comprehend math problems and science experiments.
The parents, teachers and administrators need to work collectively to bring the test scores up. There has been much more success within charter schools than regular public schools. Other than that, I felt insulted by your remark. I was raised by a single mother and my sister and I both graduated with Honor's from high school and college.
Peter, what an idiotic and condescending thing to say. You have no idea what you are saying and implying... There are just as many poor white parents who are not educating their kids. Buts easy for people like you to discriminate based on the color of skin. Sad.
and you have proof of this bigoted claim how? I am in college and test better than majority of my class. i would say at least 80% in most classes and almost everyone in my computer classes. i know white people who are dumber than a box of rocks but they get treated better because they are white. i can see your mother never gave you an education because of the way you think
This comment is exactly what It's like to be black. We get comments by ignorant uneducated morons who probably are as uneducated as they portray others to be due to color. Because as we all know, there are NO white parents who don't bother to educate their children. NO whites on public assistance, no white criminals, etc... You – are an idiot.
To the people negatively commenting on peters comment..do you have any facts to disprove what he is saying?
The less you talk about it, the less it will ever matter.
I think the system is set up to make you believe that or the system is one sided....I work 2 jobs with white people all day and they can not read, write or comprehend!!!I stand there purposely and let them figure it out because for most of my young life I really believed or taught that you people were smarter than me, but I became older and wiser and I learned, you are not smart at all...The color of your skin(white) is what gets you by.....
Please don't use the race card to get ahead in life.
I'm in almost the same boat as Ms. Cross. My father was a black man, my mother very Irish, and while I have her more angular nose, very light skin, and blue eyes, my features and my hair give me away as black. I was raised black, and I was actually very well accepted by other blacks were I grew up in southern California. My mother and my father were not close, but my mother made sure that I understood and maintained my roots in the black community, which came effortlessly. There were rare issues, and members of my family were less accepting, to the point where there was severe abuse against me in my infancy, but for the most part I was raised to accept myself as black, which until I moved to Idaho was not a problem, and then for only white people.
Thanks, man. Working hard on that right now.
whites have to work twice as hard as blacks in the USA. Civil service, colleges, the private sector all need to fill quotas and will do it with token blacks who are not as qualified.
In Civil Service and top echelons of management it depends a lot on connections. No connections = No jobs, black, white or otherwise.
civil service takes people for police and fire by their score on a test. They only skip people to take lower scoring blacks and women. One large fire department that required you to be an EMT before you were hired waved the requirement because they could not put together a class with enough blacks . Even after a year on the job, most still can not pass. When the class was hired, the whites hired all scored 95% or above. The blacks in that same class all scored 70%-73%. These same blacks , if they are lucky enough to keep a job the should never have been hired for, will never be able to compete against these much smarter white for promotion and will then say the exam was racist.
Thank you, George. Don't forget Ivy League education that the majority of us do NOT have.
For Paul: It depends on where you live and how the tests are scored. For the Civil Service exams in NYC, they found out that a lot of Black and Latino men scored higher on the written and physical exams than their White counterparts but were not offered positions due to demographics of certain neighborhoods. This is for NYPD, NYFD and Postal Service (minus the physical). While some cities skip following protocol (which is an injustice for all involved), anyone who receives poor scores should not be hired...no matter the skin color or race (or family connections).
As for colleges, the young lady in Texas that recently took her case to the Supreme Court took issue because she thought being a legacy was enough. She did not qualify based on her grades and test scores and she did not fit into the other criterion (essay, community service, financial need, extracurriculars ). She wanted to blame "affirmative action" and not hold herself accountable for her actions...or lack thereof. I was told the exact same thing by people I went to high school with...even though I was in the Top 10% of my class, honor roll, extracurriculars, community service, distinguished graduate and had a full-ride academic scholarship to 4 different universities...not to mention being in an academics gifted & talented program. Sometimes people truly can't wrap their head around the idea that ethnic minorities who are NOT Asian (hate that stereotype) are intelligent. That is what I dislike most when people make this argument. Affirmative Action exists because of people like me.
1. Whites WILL NEVER EVER have to work harder than Blacks. The reason is that whites are privileged.
2. Blacks should be given affirmative action because we have never been given equal opportunities in america because you guessed it WHITE people
It's amazing how many people don't seem to get that; nevertheless, Soledad does seem to be tasked with a rather ominous assignment as there's rarely a contenxt for _______ in America.
Imagine a whole page dedicated to "what it means to be white" or "what it means to be human" stop stirring the race pot 24/7!
Just check Soledad's "who is black" article linked above.... I mean the media and our culture can't get enough of endorsing this open, hard core, mindless racism.
"What it means to be human"? Unlikely. Unless we encounter a non-human sentient life form or are threatened by a global, extinction level event, simply being human is not enough to unite us as a species as we are by race, religion, ethnicity, etc.
The world has advanced. We have come to black and white. Before it was what it meant to be Irish, Italian or Anglo-Saxon.
I take it you haven't encountered Nell Irvin Painter's 'The History of White People', jonnyg.
I really don't care what color you are, what color you think you are, or what color you want to be. It doesn't matter. You're either a decent person or you're not. You're either an American or you're not. Racism will continue to exist for as long as people demand to be referred to as African-American, Irish-American, Brown, Green or Orange American. If you were born here, sorry, you're just an American too. Stop living in the past and work for the future you want. No one owes you anything and no one owes me anything. If people spent more time blaming themselves for not getting ahead instead of blaming history and someone else, this world would be a much better place. The only one who's going to change your life is YOU. Get on with it.
A part of what makes me who I am is my heritage, culture and gender. Am I supposed to ignore that?! It's crazy when I see or hear statements like just be an American. What does that mean?! (Possibly a good topic for the next In America series). California is different from New York, Iowa and Florida. There are so many subcultures within this country that having an established American culture can be difficult. We have to accept the good with the bad...but it seems that many people want to keep the good and eradicate the bad. Jews are taught to never forget. Why can't ethnic minorities follow the same code?! I am very proud and blessed to be the person who I am. Anyone who doesn't have that positive energy flowing through them when they say "I love myself and proud to be who I am" has issues.
Jews are taught never to forget? Therein lies a problem. How can one find true forgivness if they do not believe in forgive AND forget? You seem to be able to forgive with stipulations. Never a good idea.
I was taught that if you forget your past, you are doomed to repeat it. That is why I believe in forgiveness and remembrance.
You can say all that feeling good about yourself. Why don't you lend my black cloak for a week and see the truth of been black in america. You blah blah blah like nothing goes on, do you know how many rejection you face in a day as a black person? and by the way, am in college, never been arrested, don't like rap, love English style dressing and completely black. Its what I love, not trying to impersonate, but I still face 100% racism from likes of you everyday. My girlfriend is even white.
Seriously? Because my post was directed at taking responsibility for one's life, I'm a racist?? You have no idea what color, ethnicity or gender I am yet you accuse me of being a racist because I stated that I believe race shouldn't matter. With regard to your college education, request a refund. Your writing skills are seriously lacking.
Kudos! Probably the most sensible post on this article, and I've been on for quite a while, hoping to engage in some serious dialogue relative to the article itself. As usual, there a lot of small minds, knee jerk reactionists and down right racists doing their back and forth personal attacks. They cannot get a grip on the the fact that if you have a black parent and a white parent, you are bi-racial, you do NOT get to pick what race you are.
I'm an African-American man. I've learned that purpose is more important culture and ethnicity. I'm in the skin that God chose to put me in... and for that I am blessed. To know the purpose that God gave me... and for that I'm blessed. To help others in the middle of my own struggles... I say again, that I am blessed! WHY is it so important for people to put things that have NO RELEVANCE on who you are as a person...in a category.( like in a shoe box that you stack on a shelf). Through our social evolution as human beings, haven't we learned more than that? God has allowed me to come to the understanding that it's NOT THE COLOR of a man's flesh that defines who he is. IT'S WHAT A MAN DOES that defines him. Find your purpose in life and in that, you will find your place in life.
How can you complain about being catagorized when you refer to yourself as African-American? In all seriousness, why do you not refer to yourself as an American-African?
African American and "American African" are just silly.... too many syllables and just sounds like people are trying too hard to seem respectable.
If a person is referring to skin color, why not black and white. It just works. We all know what we are referring, too.
Do any other groups associate themselves with an entire continent??? It's just desperate.
As I said, it's the skin I'm in and it has little to do with who I am as a person. The problem is, when people think they can define the individual based on skin color. People often make sweeping derogatory indictments about others as if they personally know all of them, when the truth is they know little to nothing. My life flows from God and being an African-American is a Part Of Who I am. But if others think they know me or (Black) African-American people or any other group ...think again! There is NO CONTRADICTION in what I'm saying here. People make far too much of color in place of character.
@JustAnAmerican, I do refer to my self as an African-American and I'm proud of my heritage but my heritage, (be it good or bad) doesn't define the man that I am, it's only a part me. As an example: Jesus was born Jewish, but he is the Son of God. He died for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD not just the Jews. He gave up His flesh (body) to pay for the sins of the world. So I say again, it's not the skin you're in that defines you... it's what you do that defines you!
Oooh, "Nate", How very clever you are. Are you afraid to say how you really feel? Please...I can't wait to read more!
If hostile aliens came to earth they wouldn't care if you were yellow, olive, pink, black, gay, straight, bi, liberal, conservative, smart or stupid...........they'd kill us all.
Why is it that if someone is half white and half black, like the President, he is labeled black? Why do people have to choose?
They are typically forced to choose. If Obama claimed to be white, both whites and blacks alike would throw a fit because most ppl define race/ethnicity but the shade or your skin. The point of this article is trying to make, I believe, is that race is complicated and isn't has simple as how many melanocytes you have. Unfortunately, whenever it's concerning race or ethnicity, the hate mongrels and closeted ignorant Americans come out to play. (Not say that you are one).
I have to somewhat disagree with that. It's true that most people who are mixed identify as being white but the more white you looks as a mixed person, the more likely you are to identify as such. Though the number may be low. I think that also just goes to show that people judge race by what you look on the outside, sadly.
One drop rule:
Asian + White = Asian
Hispanic + White = Hispanic
Black + White = Black.
That is the way it is, as of now.
Mike,the President identifies as Black because society sees him as Black. No matter what arguments people make (his mother is White, he was raised by White people), society views him as Black (remember the Birthers?!) Most bi-racial people identify with race that society sees. Although they are taught about both cultures, whoever one is strongest by appearance is usually the one they lean towards.
Only in the USA these people would be called black. they are not. they are mixed. black is not a disease. just because you are part black, does not mean you are now contaminated. people are mixed and they should not have to choose something they are not.
Why are you yapping here? You cannot write the English you say blacks can't speak, if you could you would not write stuff like 'engish' nor would you confuse 'principals' with principles. You surely are one of those who think they can be successful and educated by association.
OMG, how many more stories do we need about being black in America. I am curious, when do we get to hear: What's is like to be Korean in America? Or Indian? Or Chilean? Or Native American? Or East European? You never see a story like that.
Well, the simple answer to your question is that all those ethnicities you mentioned were not forcibly removed from their homeland to be brought to America for the sole purpose of slavery. So, the issues and continued oppression of Blacks in America must constantly be discussed if we are to correct some of the misdeeds of America on blacks.
Native Americans were forcibly removed from their homeland...what we now call America!
I actually agree that there could be more minorities featured in the In America series. However, I do want to point out that American Indians were mistreated, as well. Many of them also owned slaves. Catch-22!
if you get reparations will you finally stop whining? I read a great piece a few years ago how American blacks had the highest standard of living of all blacks in the world. I think I need reparations for all the theft, burglary, rape, etc. committed by American blacks on American whites.
If Obama had come out as bi racial, it could have been a time of great reconciliation in the US. Instead we have a bigger divide of unity and understanding. Maybe that's what the Nobel Prize was supposed to be for. Terrible loss for us all.
So its Obama's fault that the county is divided. It has nothing to do with the past. You sound like a person still bitter over the election.
Actually, I'm proud that the color issue didn't seem to surface that much with the 2008 election. The division right now is largely economical, with the 99%, etc, and Obama did nothing to snuff that out, because it helped his election. The whole bashing of the rich has made us look like a communist country. Now, the rich shouldn't have loopholes, and they do, and that needs to go, but they shouldn't pay a higher percentage in taxes. Anyway, now that we have had a black president, I hope black people, whom I've always rooted for in their search for 100% acceptance and success, can be more color-blind. If you are black and didn't agree with Obama's policies, you should have been able to voice that without being called an Uncle Tom by other blacks. I hope that is the next phase of the process for black Americans.
How about what it means to be white in Ameica- Thats the real story! The white population has a history of evolved tolerance while the black community whines and sucks the blood from their own communities, whites created the conditions for the black community to progress and the white community built this power house of a nation with the help of various racial communities.. Sorry but how about blacks getting their acts together based on todays realities not those of the 1700s
We hear that story every day.
WOW...ignorance is running rampant today. What qualities of life did White people do for Black people?! I am not stating that question due to hatred but I cannot think of one single thing that White people have done to benefit Black people or any other minorities. There has always been EQUAL contribution somewhere. The end of slavery isn't even a White/Black issue...that was about money and loss of life. So name one time or one thing...
Good Job Eric! On behalf of the black folks, we thank you for eradicating racism.
All true..except one gift given by a white man to a black man...that gift was Romney to Obama...the 47% comment!
The comments of rla demonstrate just how relevant the program "Who is Black" is, and what it means to have an intelligent conversation about race. However, ria has shown an inability to discuss the matter without vitriol. That tells us more about ria than about African-Americans. Why is there so much defensiveness when addressing the race issue? And why even address it if one has never kinown a person of another race?
Last time I looked black slaves and Asians were the ones to built American!!! While the lazy white overseers/plantation owner!!
What I learned living in New York City was that you didn't have to be careful of race. Some of the racial generalizations people get all worked up about are just true. Plain and simple. You can joke about them with your friends of varying races in New York City and we all laugh... people just need to lighten up about all this stuff. I do admit the mixed people in the article must have a hard time in our race-based society though. It must be difficult to decide which culture to embrace if you have several.
How about the American culture
Pure American culture could fix inside a shoebox. Most of it is appropriated from other countries. Subsequently without hyphenated-Americanism, there would be no American culture.
While I don't agree with all of Soledads view points, I applaud her attempts to depict what it is like to be born black in a white mans world.
I think the black culture and habits can be totally different by region and the influence of religion. A black person from California has a very different culture than black from the south, or Africa, or Caribbean, or Hispanic black. Different moral values that can sometimes be totally opposite. The impact of religious leaders is also huge. Some communities believe that you should be totally selfish and will go to heaven and some others believe that you need to share to go to heaven and you have some that believe something else. So, a united or unified culture, it is not. I have seen a black American being harsh to African black more than once. I have met often highly educated black Africans (school and manners) . Part of my culture is black, but I have to admit that it does not help any culture's image when people don't care what others think. For me, not caring about what others think or feel means: "We are not concerned about being one society or part of it.". That's a mistrust label Blacks and Hispanics will carry until we decide to realize that we are all the same and we all need each other regardless of the race. If you do not want to feed a stereotype, do right then. If you want to take advantage using people, they will also take advantage using you. I feel the same way for my Hispanic side and/or the black side. I apologize if I offend anyone.
I agree with you that people of the same race can be totally different. The problem is many people will use stereo types anyway.
Apparently, wallowing in a sense of victimhood releases dopamines.
It is not just about understanding what it means to be black in America. To understand the issue you have to always remember what it means for white people to have privilege. This is not an earned privilege, this is the privilege of "not having to know the realities of minority groups." White culture constructs dominant culture, thus minority groups have to know white culture for day-to-day living. Put that understanding in a historical context and maybe then we would be getting somewhere.
Very true, Kevin.
I've have two black parents. I'm a college graduate making six figures. You need to start living in the real world.
I feel sorry for you. There is so much hatred in your heart and your ignorance is baffling. Throwing around numbers with no proof, disrespecting Black women and not having a complete understanding of Black culture...WOW.
Explain the success of Bill Cosby, Gabrielle Douglass and so many other Black people in this country...Oprah Winfrey and Benjamin Jealous. If you are that ignorant to not even recognize that the Black community has come a long way from slavery to freedom then there is no wonder why you carry around so much negativity. I am so glad that I was raised to respect all people and to judge by individual character and not stereotypical myths or else I would not have the friends I love and the family I admire.
Also would be solved by affirmative action, college entrance and contract set a sides.
99% of the problem of African-Americans is dealing with ignorant racism from clueless white people.
Fortunately, many are so far above such ignorance that they just laugh at the stupidity and go on with their excellent lives.
JM....your silly post merely confirms that you yourself are a racist. We assume you are black, and thus an embarrassment to your race. Grow up......
I slightly agree with this post...most AAs are not worried about whites, despite what the media puts out there. There will always be a segment of the population that hates minorities becuase of who we are, and vice versa. I can't change that, all I can do is live a good life while these people wallow in their resentment of someone different than them. I will always be proud of my heritage (whites definitely do not have a right to tell others to "drop" their culture to assimilate–that's how the racial catergorization began, with interference), and if you're white (German-American, Irish-American, etc.) and want to be proud of that, go ahead, start a club (really–blacks could care less at this point, it's all media hype for $$$ and it doesn't affect us). I will not allow my pride for my heritage to stop me from befriending and working with people of all races, and whites should behave the same way or get left behind. Forget the stereotypes– as a black person who interacts with other blacks and Hispanics daily, many are currently in school, working twice as hard to get into decent jobs, and benefiting from the fruits of our labor (kind of a new Harlem Renaissance movement).
Talks and acts White?! What does that even mean?! I was raised in an all-female single household. My mother, my sister and I all have college degrees and excellent jobs. My mother was raised rural while my sister and I were raised urban. Our family valued education and each one of my cousins also hold degrees. Are you saying that we are somehow "White"? That many of the people from my Black urban neighborhood are "White"? Newsflash: When we learned that our ancestors were not allowed to read for hundreds of years, Black people took education seriously. To have been removed from a highly evolved society to a country where the people were just lazy and growing apart from that heritage...yeah, it reprogrammed a lot of people. You are just trying to stir up stereotypes and trouble. Where did you grow up and where did you go to school?! I just want to avoid those places in the future.
Name for me one city, town, nation, or neighborhood that went from majority white to majority black where things improved.
Indianapolis, Indiana. Once they included certain areas as part Indianapolis to increase the White population, the crime rates went up, minorities businesses were shutdown, the graduation rate decreased and unemployment hit an all-time high. When Black people were the majority, Indianapolis welcomed it's first Black female (and just female) millionaire entrepreneur. The city also made much more revenue up until the 1960s where districts were restructured. It really hasn't been the same since, but certain areas of the city are showing major growth. The fear in Indianapolis is gentrification of the successful Black neighborhoods (which have always been primarily Black).
Maybe Tulsa, OK...Before the riots of 1921
What do you think would happened if a bunch of Honey Boo Boo's family types moved into your city? Don't be a hypocrite, it negates any point you're trying to make.
Charles...it's not the fact that someone is a particular color, it's their education level and socio-economic status, if anything. Being poor and uneducated doesn't automatically make you a rude, amoral barbarian. However, any area, regardless of race, where people struggle economically and without education, usually has high crime rates as theft, drug trade, and violence arise out of the struggle to survive. They are poor because they are undecuated and they are uneducated because they were poor.
well chicago is the opposite. it was majority black and was founded by a black person named dusable and when the white people moved in the city got worse. corruption ran ramp id , crime rose, hate crime rose, etc. so there is one example where white people moved in and the place went to sh!t
I just watched this segment and was horrified by the person doing the story. How she talked about the issue was in a very uneducated manor. I have a bi-racial child and hearing someone just speak their mind on the views that have been imprinted in their mind by their parents is sad. I have done my own research on this issue and found that everything she just said is just ignorant. I think a good parent allows their child to be who ever they want to be and don't tell them they are this or that because they have to fit in to a category to fit in to society. When filling out applications there is an other box and you can put that you are bi-racial. The color of your skin should never define who someone is. Also to the person doing this story, I feel so sorry that you were raised to believe some of the ignorance that you do but don't place your ignorance in children. Let them be who they want to be and don't try to define them get to know them and don't judge them. This day in age is so different than when you grew up. Leave the past in the past, so there can be positive change in our future.(End Rant)
She also lived during a different place and time. What she said was true, though. You can let your kid be whoever they want to be. However, if you haven't prepped your child for the harsh world of racism then you have failed as a parent. It doesn't matter if your child is biracial, multi-racial, or just one race. If you do not teach the issue of race in your home, then you have left your child vulnerable for something he/she is not ready to accept. When I have kids, I will teach them about their culture & heritage...but I will also teach them that all Colorado are beautiful and to judge a person based on the content of their character. I will not leave them vulnerable to attack.
Teaching your kids to expect racism is verging on crazy. Why set them up to expect something like that? How would that look? Bedtime stories with racial undertones or just a good sit down talk? I have a bi racial child and although I understood the show to be about black on black racism for the most part, I would not prepare him for that. We are all human and the less we emphasize these lines the better.
The race card was pulled permanently from the deck the moment we elected a black President.
Fact 1: My ancestors came from Quebec and Russia. They never owned slaves.
Fact 2: 100% of blacks living in America who were born here were born free and have lived free.
Fact 3: While blacks were unique in that they were enslaved, they had the ability–once free–to better their situation through hard work and education as demonstrated by the Chinese, Jews, Irish among others.
Fact 4: Affirmative action is discrimination against anyone who is not "of color".
Fact 5: I owe the black man nothing!
You are exactly right.
What it means to be white in America
1. You are labeled a racist because of your color if you don't support the current POTUS.
2. You are discriminated against by Affirmative Action but that's okay because your ancestors were never slaves.
3. You are out of line when you ask someone to speak English in your office.
4. You think it's ridiculous that anyone has a problem with showing an ID to vote in our elections.
5. You, personally, have never done anything to injure any black but somehow their problems are all your fault.
6. You are told you cannot possibly understand discrimination because you have never suffered it but losing a job to someone less qualified but of the correct color doesn't count.
Hmm... you have a LOT of resentments of minorities and your ASSUMPTIONS on how we ALL see you. As my grandmother says, " a hit dog will holler". Think about it...
you forget, or perhaps ignore, Jim Crow and the history of segregation in the south, the civil rights battles, the white governors who refused to allow black kids into state colleges. that doesnt sound "free" to me.
The racist comments to this story contradict your statement. Besides you elect a non slave desendant and now you can erase the four hundred years of a dreadful past of stolen Africans in America.
With the exception of #4, you are correct! This is not the forum to discuss Affirmative Action (it needs a complete overhaul, though).
When I hear or see statements of improving Black culture, I always think back to the Tulsa Riots, Rosewood and the Black Panther Party of the 1970s and wonder if people were even taught those points of history. Black culture and business thrived during those periods of time...yet it just took a group of envious White people to destroy all of that hard work
With the exception of #4, you are correct! This is not the forum to discuss Affirmative Action (it needs a complete overhaul, though).
When I hear or see statements of improving Black culture, I always think back to the Tulsa Riots, Rosewood and the Black Panther Party of the 1970s and wonder if people were even taught those points of history. Black culture and business thrived during those periods of time...yet it just took a group of envious White people to destroy all of that hard work and dedication. It's just something to consider. When we do see positivity within certain aspects of the community, someone or something has to block it somehow.
Oh yeah..Blacks were free after 1863...Jim Crow Laws...Brown v Board of Education...the CIvil Rights Act...those were just done for fun.
If you live in America and have a roof over your head, you have and do benefit from slavery and Indian genocide no matter if your folks came from wherever or had slaves or not. This country was built on slavery and Indian genocide. Period. We all are living on Indian land, (including in Canada,) and we are living on infrastructure built by slaves – start with the white house, slave-built top to bottom. Half our huge corporations who employ half of you made their fortunes in the slavery era – that is right, by benefiting from the unpaid labor of Black people, for generations. They did not get to save their money or keep it for their children or pass it on. Affirmative action makes up for this: for 500 years while white people could spend their time working and bettering themselves, Black and Native Americans had to spend BILLIONS of dollars and TRILLIONS of man and woman hours just getting their human rights – just getting equal footing with your white ancestors and you. We did NOT all start with the same advantages or on the same level, because historically, Black and Native people were NOT accorded their human rights – and even still are not. It is Black people whose voting rights are still threatened. Native people were not even made CITIZENS of their own country until after 1920. They did not get full rights to religion until 1978. Black people are still suffering under segregationist policies that gerrymander Black neighborhoods so they can't get full representation in government. So this idea that we have all always been equal, if we just work hard enough, is NONSENSE, not to mention self-righteous and unkind. READ A HISTORY BOOK!!!!
Kudos...well stated! Totally agree!
Well said, Kenny, well said.
Kenny Zales, you can't be this out of touch. If you are an immigrant you need to read up on history. So much of what you just said is inaccurate. Have you ever heard of separate but unequal schools? Affirmative action was created and promoted by white males to justify limiting the numbers of women and minorities in "good old boy" organizations and circles... Why even bother... Your tone indicates your biases. Ugh!
Lanette... looks like you've got it all figured out. You sit here preaching to everyone... telling everyone how you're right and their wrong.
Obama didn't go a great job. Heck... he didn't do a good job. Yes... I understand Bush was bad... horrible... whatever. So is Obama... but now he wants to give away the kitchen sink. I find it utterly amazing that blacks across the board voted for him at a rate of greater than 90% even though their unemployment numbers went up, up and away while he's in office. Just look at the black segment 18 to 29 years of age... 40... 43% unemployed. There's your problem... not worrying about how to defend someone that's black which is exactly what you're doing.
You're spending way too much time sitting here responding to a bunch of people. Now I have to find the way to opted out of getting automatic emails or responses from this thread because frankly, I'm sick of seeing your name and more of your propaganda following closely behind...
I'm sick of you too! 🙂 Who said anything about Obama? Is he always the "black" go to reference? Just proves my point, racism is alive and well. Good evening.
For those that slavery ended over a hundred years are correct. Legally it did end when Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery. That's when the Jim Crow laws begin to pop up every where, blacks couldn't eat,drink or even sleep in the same places as white people. I read articles all the Ike where white people say that black should just get over it. How can you get over when your mix grandmother was chased out of home state because she looks white and husband was black in the 1950's? Or when your mother tells you how they would get spit on dogs sent after them for asking for equal treatment in the 1960's. There are ignorant people of every race and nationality living in the world today. You have trailer trash white people on welfare living it just as you have ghetto black people living it up in the projects. We all have our faults but to another group of people about letting things go when the events happened 40 years ago come on. I for one would have no problem if there was a white in America to show other minorities out there, that white people struggle just like every one else.
yes where is the article about growing up as a white person
Everyone already knows what it's like to grow up white...just look at the TV. Family Ties, Full House, Growing Pains, the Brady Bunch, Leave it To Beaver, Donna Reed, My Three Sons, Alf, etc.
For Blacks...hmm...Just look at the Cosby Show....that was typical
The point is that society is saturated with images of the dominant culture. We learn it very well and its history. Our own culture, not so much without effort...the news and media tend to highlight the negative.
this is a mainstream news website and this article is ridiculous
I think "classification by race" is an outdated concept and the faster it disappears, the better. I am an American, born in India; my wife is "white" and of Cajun descent. My kids – what should they be classified as? And more importantly, WHY is it relevant? And why should it matter? I hope we as humans are not so insecure that we seek "classification". Just my 2 paisas and 2 cents worth. 🙂
CNN, the new Klan.
Your kids don't have to choose at home, but you'll find that the world will choose for them. And there in lies the tragedy of growing up mixed in the United States. And that's why you should care as a parent.
Why not do an article about growing up as a white person? I'm not trying to be racist but look if you cover one you should cover all. Maybe we should just do an article Growing up as an American? That is what we all are. Color is just a side note which should never bother anybody at all. CNN be fair.
lets see, growing up white is the subject of hundreds of movies and most tv shows. That isn't enough? White people are the center of the universe... why does it bother you to let others speak about their own experiences? Ever think you could learn something?
And if you are so bothered with their being other races in the world, don't click on the articles.
That's a good idea. They have covered Black and Latino people. Just finish with White people, then everyone has been covered, right?! WRONG! The reason why the In America series exists is to represent the viewpoints and voices of people who are not represented fairly. I would personally like to see Asians, American Indians, Jews and Muslims represented in this series as well. However, it seems that the Black in America series gets the most criticism. Sometimes Black issues have nothing to do with White people. Is that so hard to accept? Contrary to popular belief, White people are NOT the center of the Black cultural universe. We are all created differently and there will always be some unity amongst those differences (male, female, Black, White, gay, straight, young, old, etc.). They should still be respected. One is not stronger than the other...they are all equal and deserve to have that appreciation within those groups.
Actually, one is still stronger than the others. One has actively (and legally, for many hundreds of years) worked to hold back and oppress others. Because of this oppression and history, one is the numerical majority, holds most of the political and economic power, and fuels the social messages and media. A series like this is RARE and is very much appreciated. So requests for parity in this rare series is very near insulting.
Soledad O'Brien. I'm black but I look white. If I had any talent I wouldn't have to point out that I'm black to get a job. THose mean white people dragged by great grandparents to the US from Africa. Just think I could still be in Africa banging my clothes on a rock in a creek.
You really need to visit Africa. 6 of the worlds 10 fastest growing economies are in Africa. Just like African Americans were suppressed in the west, so were African economies for the better part of the last century. And despite this, the future in Africa looks bright. Look up "The next 11" and educate yourself.
Well Dave, I work in a Human Resources department, and while we do maintain an "AA/EEO" file, our workforce is made up of 90 whites, 6 Asians, 4 blacks and 2 Hispanics...beleive me when I say that blacks (nor any other minority) are not getting a free job...we rarely interview minorities (which is a shame) because most people get jobs through networking, or knowing someone from the inside–or simply being "likeable", or able to fit in. We meet people/potential co-workers in our social groups, which tend to be mono-racial. What you're saying simply doesn't mirror reality and just shows contempt. Why get bent out of shape because you assume that a black person was a "shoo-in" (which you have no factual knowledge of)–there are 90 other people in the organization that looks just like you, so you can calm down now.
No, self-respecting black guy would say this... I suspect this is one of the many racist trolls posting on this blog. Just get over yourself!
What's this article is missing is not who considers themselves "Black" rather how they were classified during Jim Crow's era in the South. In those days, anyone with a complex were Black, therefore, it continues until this day. Obama and Tiger Woods would have been referred to as the "N" word not "bi-racial." Indeed, it is 2013, it doesn't change the equation!
What happened more than fifty years ago is no longer relevant. Anyone who can't get over themselves needs to improve the human (only) race by dropping in their tracks. And hurry up about it.
What happened 50 years ago is still revelant....Look around your office, I bet you have more white people working there that black people, and your mentality doesn't see anything wrong with that.....If you have 50 employees at your company, 45 are white, 3 are black, 1 is Asian, and 1 is a white intern.....I only have problems with race when it comes to hiring, promotions and salaries....Most companies don't hire black people, you NEVER see black people in Supervisory or Management positions, and we never make a good salary....I was told by a white manager it is not a form or racism, it is prejudice....He is more prejudice to his people.....
What you really are saying is it is not relevant to YOU (and those who think like you). And if that is the case, why even comment on this article? Why are you so threatened that people are trying to work out issues that have been problematic in this country since it began? Come on. This is when I say "get over yourself".
Transpose the first letters of both of these words – "Nate Higgerzz" and everyone will know why our society is so messed-up. People like that continue to perpetual hate. So pathetic! CNN should do a better job of screening these types of idiots!
I loved this article. I am your basic mongrel white (German, Irish, Scottish, Cherokee Indian and likely more). I hate racism. It makes white folk quite often walk on eggshells lest we offend. All the while I want to embrace black people and celebrate with them what it means to be black. I've been to Africa twice and Mexico once and I work with a large number of Pakistani and India folk and I love it. Color is beautiful. Cultures are beautiful. Yes, there are jerks of all colors, white included, but much much more they are all people. So, I love the glimpses given into lives of the people here, and I'm thankful to the author for this article. I choose to live my life embracing the wonder and beauty of people including their race, and I choose to walk in the minefield where a wrong step or word can blow up in your face, but the price is worth it. Joy in the journey...
If you really understood the issue it would not be like walking in a minefield. It is not just about understanding what it means to be black in America. To understand the issue you have to always remember what it means for white people to have privilege. This is not an earned privilege, this is the privilege of "not having to the know the realities of minority groups." White culture constructs dominant culture, thus minority groups have to know white culture for day-to-day living. Put that understanding in a historical context and maybe then we would be getting somewhere.
Why is Obama referred to as "black", when he is half white, raised by the white side of his family?
Why is Tiger referred to as "black" when he is half Filipino?
Had they not had been successful, would they now be half white and Asian?
Joey, those men identify themselves as Black men. Neither have ever denied it. While they both admit that they are biracial, they are considered Black because people viewed them as such. While we are all human, as long as people make sociological race an issue, this will always be a cause of tension.
In the stark light of reality, there is no "meaning" of skin color.
Skeptic, were you born in a barn? Race issues have ALWAYS been at issue and matter for discussion in this country! CNN is not milking some brand new issue just raised by our wonderful president's racial background, it's writing an article about an ongoing issue for everyone in this country. Especially white people who have their heads in the sand.
I think its very true that the media is very much stuck on race and it may have penetrated the thoughts of the home.
But I think you're implying that to acknowledge differences is equivilient to racism towards your child by "minorities". Thats not true. Being color blind, in fact, is denying your child's brown skin and supressing who they are. Part of who you may be is a blond woman, average size, pretty brown eyes, etc. Who am I to tell you that you should ignore that and only focus on the "inner"?
The fact of the matter is that people treat you based on your outward appearance. And one day soon your brown children are going to experience how they're not quite the same as their other playmates. I hope your answer will not be for him/her to just ignore their skin color. But embrace it.
I wonder if Soledad O'Brien will ever do any useful journalism.
Your mom didn't slap you enough
Imagine if white people when around touting whiteness. I wonder what kind of riots that would cause. I think white people are the least racist of all ethnic groups. "Being black' is a euphemism for racism. It serves no positive purpose.
Image if we white folks were dragged from our homeland and even sold out by our tribal leaders and forced to come live here as 2nd rate citizens to black people. Image if we treated as 2nd rate people all the way to the 1960's by law. Image if we had to put up with ignorant black people telling us we should go back to our homeland ignoring the fact we were forced here by black people. Imagine what kind of an impact that and many other disparagement lobbed at us might do to our self esteem as a group.
Really now, stop and think.
Nate, try reading the whole thing you fool. Black people were forced to drink from different drinking fountains, use different bathrooms, eat in the back of the restaurant, sit in the back of the bus, etc. all the way until the 1960's and there are millions of blacks who are still around who remember that. Successful people like Oprah must gnaw at your wounded ego.
Imagine not having to listen to white liberal idiots like you speaking for the black race. If what you describe happened, white people would have immediately gone home once they were freed by Abraham Lincoln Jones.
Well said Woodie, well said!
Woodie, I can understand where you're coming from and I think you're wrong. "Being black" as you put it seems that you believe that statement means superiority in some way. Why do people who have pride in their culture seem to appear that they either hate everyone else or think that they are better than everyone else. I don't believe this is ALWAYS the case. As for the person below who mentioned slavery, this has nothing to do with the argument. Slavery/human trafficking has existed before it happened to our ancestors and it is still continuing today. I am going off topic, but just wanted to let you know that you were wrong there.
The point I'm trying to make is that black people are still treated like 2nd class citizens. I mean, did you all just read the same article I did? Look at what these people have experienced. As a black woman, I have also experienced similar discrimination. And no, I don't hold that against the races of the people who disrespected me. I don't assume the people who did it are necessarily ignorant. I strongly believe people are products of their environment. If a child is raised to hate, he will more than likely grow up and hate.
America is continuing to evolve. Those who are not willing or capable of accepting this ever changing country are the ones with a problem. Like my mother said: Treat people the way you want to be treated. More people should consider living their lives this way.
Well said, Coral! I agree 100%!
What up soul sista?
They "went around touting whiteness" for centuries... Only the result of them doing it was mass genocide in several different continents. Might want to catch up on your history.
Thats not it. I find blacks as attractive as any other race. But then you have to think of children. You are making weaklings. Blacks just don't got it. Can you imagine a ship full of blacks going to Europe and gathering up white slaves to have them work at chicken farms on a new continent? Right. Or sitting on rocket and going to space. Right. Or killing someone for no reason, just because it gives them pleasure. Right. See, no other race is as aggressive, vicious and fearless as whites. Russians took over entire Northern Asia. English took over Northern America and Spaniards took over Southern America. And then they made laws. I love black females as much as white females, problem is I am scared for my offspring not being able to survive for long. You got rich black people around, fine, but whites are wealthy. Wealthy whites run the world. And its not the jews either, as conspiracy theorists like to claim.
How little truth do you know. You speak of whites as being aggressive and as conquerors. You have no idea what you are talking about. It is blacks who were the more aggressive of any species. In fact, the nature of black man was so aggressive and so fearless that God himself had to cause blacks to go into slavery (yes, it was God who did that) in order to contain him, in order to keep him under control, otherwise blacks would have taken over the world. Thus, God helped whites to get where they are today in order to contain the black man. Otherwise, the blacks would have taken over the world...
Ezekia 30:9 – (God speaking) In that day shall messengers go forth from me in ships to make the careless Ethiopians afraid (because God knew the black man or Ethiopian wasn't afraid of anything and could have taken over the world), and great pain shall come upon them, as in the day of Egypt: for, lo, it cometh.
Actually whites are responsible for the most killings throughout history.
The Census has always been ignorant and racist, what has changed and why would anyone take it seriously? The one drop rule was as dumb as Hispanics/Latin Americans being treated as a unique race today in 2012. The Census says Non Hispanic White. What in the world is a non Hispanic white? Does is say Non Hispanic black? Hispanic is NOT a race. Our country is essentially taking people from 25-30 unique countries who have their own culture, race of people, history and many languages and are lumping them into some super "race" because they were ex Spanish colonies. It's like saying the Uk, US, Australia and all the ex British colonies are one race of people. The ignorance on this topic is constant especially in the Media, this site is one of the worst offenders. In 50 years there will be writers saying how did everyone go along with such ignorance about Hispanics?
The U.S. census form does NOT refer to "non-Hispanic white" as a race. The form asks the citizen whether he or she is of "Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish" origin. Then, in a separate question, the form asks the citizen what his or her "race" is. Researchers using census forms sometimes put the two together, by way of combinations of the non-racial answer with the racial answer, such as "non-Hispanic white," but that is not the U.S. Census Bureau doing that.
Looking basic civic rights in the States, I was attacked by the San Antonio, TX pólice and mexican terrorist, and the minority of White in Power in Mexico. As Brown in my country, I can not have directive positions or have the opportunity to be a millioner. Mexico is sending mexican terrorist and criminals to the States supported technologically and economically by China and India.
Reading this article is quite disheartening; why does a person have t choose between being black, white, yellow, or brown? This is one of our biggest problems in America – we feel that we have to pick a racial side to be on. However, everyone forgets that they are first and foremost an American. I was born in Jamaica, but I identify myself as only an American. Until we all realize that we are Americans, only then can we move forward as a country. Stop choosing sides; it only creates separation!
That is incredibly naive and simplistic. If I could snap my fingers and "poof" make there be no racism or judgments based on race then I would but I don't make those calls unfortunately. We all are Americans. I'm proud to be, but where I'm from I'd like you to try that "we have no race but the human race" stuff on a bigoted police officer stopping you for nothing more than just to "find out where you are going" because you look black. You can identify with who you want to or no one, who cares, but people in a racial society will treat you like the group you resemble. Right or wrong.
Racism is just about over in our society. What we have left is a hatred for the culture that many blacks and whites have chosen to embrace; the culture of no ambition or future.
I hate the black welfare mom with a $100 manicure, Prada purse, that smokes and drinks and still expects me to pay for her healthcare as bad as I hate the white punk with the unkept long hair, a huge ugly neck tattoo and 30 piercings that can't find a job and get off unemployment. They are both ruining our society. It has nothing to do with race, it's the culture that has been enabled by liberals. They usually have one thing in common too; they both love ambition sapping pot.
Don't like hearing the truth, do you?
Hanrahan your truth is based on your dumb political ideology. That ain't truth; that is just your dumb belief in something you don't care to understand.
With an ignorant name like that, Nate you do more harm to your cause than good.
If it has nothing to do with race, then why do you specify that the woman you describe is black when most people on welfare are white?
I saw that comment and was like what??? There are more white people on welfare than black people....The average welfare check does not pay for a $100.00 manicure....Some people watch movies and videos and think that is our culture....Those are movies and videos....
I pointless article and let me clarify (French is not a race dear God!) also Laing is NOT a race; they share the latin languages such as French, Italian, Spanish and even Russian.
In America? rally PLEASE the United States... this is not a bar, its an article!
That's a really messed up statement about welfare. Statements like that is what keep mess going. If you check the numbers, blacks aren't the only numbers you see when it comes to welfare, and in fact not the higher numbers.
Also, it isn't Blacks who make issue of "being" black. Born in the 1950's it wasn't people in my community who ran around making a point of noting, that person over there is black, or in conversation making sure people knew that the person you were talking about is black. The more people like Nate Higgerzz make issue of skin color, the more others will make issue of it. Kids don't bring it up until they hear someone else bring it up.....generally they just try to get alone until they notice that some adult has a problem.
You are so right, Ken, about that welfare statement. That's the kind of rethoric that gets me fired up. My husband and I are black. We adopted two children when they were infants. Our kids were born on welfare, but we raised them and sent them to college so they would not continue the cycle of welfare. We got no help from the government. Yet ignorant white folks act like all black people are living off hand outs. There are MANYblack people like us. Just because we're not on the cover of a magazine bragging does not mean we don't exist. All black people certainly are not welfare recipients.
To Karen.......note from a black woman.....I wish what you said was true, but please be advised we are NOT living in a post racial society.
Take your own advice and you wouldn't have commented. I didn't realize this was the CNN sunshine comment board. My point is that it's time to move on. I guess when the article is about Syria preparing chemical weapons we should all say "Hooray! I always loved chemistry class!"
"Pride" should be about accomplishment, not racism.
Racism will never end until those claiming "black" stop it.
Racism is a game played by "minorities" these days (and for profit, to boot!)
The truth is always bitter.
YOu are so right!
So racism is a problem caused by blacks? I guess I just need to back up and walk away.....that's an insane statement.
Our government is set up to help anyone but straight white men. Why? Because a hundred years go there were slaves? My family never owned a slave yet as a young straight white man in America I get no help. I have to...get this, get a job! I'm sick of walking on egg shells for minorities because anything I say can be taken as "racist". Trayvon Martin, nicki minaj vs Steven Tyler Etc. The media enables racism
For Ryan: Slavery in this country did not exists in 1912 (one hundred years ago). Jim Crow laws were in existence. Slavery was eradicated almost 150 years ago.
As for everything else, it can only be racist if said in terms of bigotry and ignorance. That whole Nicki Minaj vs. Steven Tyler thing was just ridiculous. Trayvon Martin is a different story...we still don't have all the facts but it smacks of O.J. Simpson in the 1990s and THAT was all about race.
Racism is created by white people....They are the leaders of the great USA...They are the ones who started the box Black or White, they are the ones who created the one drop rule, they are the ones who started the anger, abuse, greed, and suppression of black people and they still are....Just look at how they acted, spoke, and treated POTUS from the time he threw his name into the Presidency to and thru his second term....They won't even give him a shot now....They show you how racist they are...Until white people act fair with black people, we will always has racism....
I guess I shouldn't be surprised at all of the whiny, "angry white males", posting on this topic suggesting that they are not getting a fair shake in America and any conversation not solely expressing their point of view is totally unfair and futile. It's sad because this is just a demonstration of the point made in the article, this conversation is VERY necessary because this is a "racial" society that judges constantly as those with any black heritage have a harder time, as evidenced by half of these blog posts. smh...
True statement. This is an issue even on military bases overseas. The current generation are lazy, ll around, and of course blame everyone else for the issues they are perceived to have.
Racism will also never end if people assume minorities aren't working hard to better themselves.
Racism will also never end if people deny that there is such as thing as White privilege.
When one has been told that they can't accomplish anything because he/she is Black, they will claim that Blackness when they have achieved a goal. It's as simple and equally as complicated as that. When people have collectively overcome barriers, it's because they have worked together for a common goal.
I am still trying to wrap my head around the racism won't end until people claiming black stop remark. So if White people claim their heritage, isn't that racism by your definition as well?! Yeah, let me stop before I start following the insanity of that statement.
Pride is achieving great things DESPITE the efforts and ill will of those like you that want to hold minorities back to your continued benefits. Times they are a changing, get used to it.
How about an article concerning the parents and grandparents of WASP's. Maybe mention how they overcame poverty and in many cases prejudice and became successful Americans without whining about it all.
I'm asking too much I guess.
The difference, WASPs were not enslaved by another race/color for thousands of years.
Since you are stating thousands of years that is going to include all races. Blacks were enslaved in this country for roughly 260 years.
My grandfather was enslaved in a prison camp in Siberia for several years after the first world war. When he was released, he was forced to settle to an area in Romania to work. He "escaped" and moved to Canada where he worked for forty years walking miles of rail track every day (summer or winter) fixing any breaks in the line that he found. I think what Sagebrush Shorty is saying is that most of our ancestors (black, white or asian) individually had to overcome things that would have felled most of us these days. All our ancestors (white or black) have individually had to overcome. That is the message that is lost here.
Read a little bit about others history and try to not be so myopic about your own. Name a group and I'll show ou how they had it rough too. I'm Irish, thousand were sold into slavery, millions died through starvation and "natural selection" over several hundreds of years. Kennedy had to prove his "whiteness" just a half a century ago. People can overcome their past, but they rarely do it by letting it be an anchor of who they are. It should be what fills the sails.
My ancestors were Quakers at Nantucket, Rhode Island. They dedicated their entire lives to helping slaves escape to freedom. In fact, two of them were hanged because one of the slaves that they were helping ratted on everybody. Where is my compensation? I also find it amusing that it was the Arab Muslims who gathered the Africans for sale to slave traders; however, most black today identify with that faith. Hmmm
Umm... You are describing 90% of the shows on tv. Are you upset that 100% can't be about you? Geesh...
Hi, my name is Soledad O'Brien. I'm black. I have a grandparent who was black. That makes me black. I'm trying to get a new channel called CNN Black. Did I mention that I'm black?
Is anyone else exhausted with all of this? I'm happy for people who are proud of their heritage but I would hope that people would be more motivated in their lives by what they can do with it rather than what their DNA ha coded for skin color.
Finally, someone else noticed this obvious ploy at ratings?
To "Thank You"... That is the problem with being a racist, you can't see beyond your own racism, even when the truth has nothing to do with racism...
I applaud Soledad for acknowledging that she identifies as being black. In my own family, I am the only one of my parent's four children who married another black person,. My sibling's children are half black, but think they are white, want to be white so badly that it is embarrassing. The little girls carry around white dolls. At family events, disparaging remarks are made about African-American culture. I am deemed a militant because I refuse to be ashamed of being black. People like Soledad make it possible for other bi-racial children to feel comfortable not pretending to be white.
Your siblings children are almost ALL WHITE. you hate what you are so therefore the children who identify white are supposed not be multi-racial white? get a life.