August 9th, 2008
10:28 PM ET

Black In America... Let's start talking

Program Note: In the next installment of CNN's Black in America series, Soledad O'Brien examines the successes, struggles and complex issues faced by black men, women and families, 40 years after the death of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Watch encore presentation Saturday & Sunday, 8 p.m. ET

We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.


Soledad O'Brien reporting for 'Black In America'

Soledad O'Brien reporting for 'Black In America'

Soledad O'Brien
CNN Anchor and Special Correspondent

I'm on the phone with a confused reporter, and I'm confused too. She keeps asking me why I "count myself as black... And why does Barack Obama?" My answer (for Sen. Obama, at least) is "have you seen him?" But she won't let it go. "Is your father annoyed that you deny him?" My dad is white. I interject. "Let's conference him in," I say. "Listen, he married a black woman, he has six black children. He'd be the first person to tell you I'm black."

The questions, to me, reveal more about the asker. This (white) reporter surely doesn't know a lot of black people, or she wouldn't be struggling so hard. She'd know black people come in all hues.

Our documentary, Black in America airs on Wednesday and Thursday and now all anyone wants to talk to me about is race. A clear sign, if you ask me, that this is a discussion that's been long in coming.

The TSA screener at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson airport asks me if the documentary is "worth letting his sons stay up to see?" I tell him definitely yes.

It's an indication that the story of black people in this country needs to be told – a wide range of stories – some of successful blacks, stories of some who are struggling. We interview corporate execs and recovering addicts, parents who've proudly sent all six kids to college and single moms who are struggling. We have lots of stories that make up who we are – and guess what, we're more than rappers and ballers and Secretaries of State (though we are that too).

Which brings me back to the reporter. Finally I tell her "this is clearly more about you than about me. Why is it so hard for you to see me, and Barack Obama as black?" I'm trying to remember that talking about race is a difficult conversation and it sometimes means starting at the very beginning. Let's start talking.

Filed under: Black in America • Soledad O'Brien • T1
soundoff (312 Responses)
  1. Jim Samples

    To: B Jiggy....

    Yes, I was. I just returned from vietnam and was scouting out an apartment complex for my wife and I to move into. It was 7am and when I pulled out of the complex I was pulled over by the State Police because someone in the complex thought I was casing the place.

    It happens, so get over it..

    When people "look" out of place, they get questioned. Its built into our safety mechanism, but "you" think it's only against blacks. Here's the deal: When you "look" to see if are looking at you, you are going to see people looking at you. If people go into a store and start looking to see if someone is watching them then you can be damned sure you are going to raise some red flags and people are going to start looking at you. YOU however will blame on the fact that you are Black and NOT because you raised flags by looking around to see if someone was watching you..

    July 23, 2008 at 5:38 pm |
  2. Krystal, Wash. DC

    People consider almost everything to be a race issue, when in fact it is a class issue. Look at it this way, a decent percentage of the African American Community are in the lower classes. Most have been stigmatized since a young age to think that the world is against them, when indeed it is not true. When I left Washington to attend College in PA, I lost the since of Utopia that I had back home. I have lost count of the many incidents. The reality is that people still contribute to overt and covert racism ......and classicism. That is the issue that needs to be addressed....From the elite to the untouchable.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  3. Gloria

    I, too, would like to see a special on White in America. But like Jimmy K., it's probably way to racial to talk about.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  4. Nita

    While I truly do appreciate that we all have opinions and we all, evidently, have very strong ones on the topic of race, may I suggest something? Why don't we all WATCH THE PROGRAM FIRST? Even those who say they "don't want to waste their time" may actually learn something from it. We all know that we all have problems in this country (what country doesn't), but that does not mean that we have to cruel or careless with others feelings. Some of the comments I've read are both. Face it, we dont' understand each (no matter what ethnic background we come from) and we never will with the comments I've read. Some people won't even make the effort. Black people, this show is not JUST for you or about you, its about teaching others who you are and what you are. White people, this show is not about the supposed "plight" of blacks in America. I believe its to help you understand that how blacks view their place in a society that, I hate to say, is more agreeable to a light/bright/white face. Before you ignore it or deride it, WATCH IT FIRST! If its not what you expect, change the channel.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  5. Mark P.

    Andy from Chicago –

    I must say, I believe that your entry probably silences all of the conflicting points seen prior. You speak of something that many of the whites here keep hidden and those of color NEVER hear. Most whites in this blog session know fully well how their forbearers, the ones who raised and nurtured them, actually feel about "others". Yet, they try to act as if they've gotg nothing to more to learn about the issue and those who have suffered directly from that "hate" that you spoke of, should just "get over it".

    Yes, many of us African Americans have come a long way, we've known success and we've broken many a barrier. But our experience, as a people, in this hemisphere (yes, I speak of people of African descent in Latin America as well) is quite unique...and traumatic. I, too, am in my 40's and can tell MANY personal racism stories from childhood, a former US Army veteran and my current carrer as a national IT manager. Though some of us have probably experienced first hand at least one tragic racist encounter, MOST of us can describe years of repeated, more suttle ones, that cut into ever so slowly over time. That's why we need shows like what Soledad has so marvelously produced...this helps EVERYBODY understand what it's like to me a part of THIS ethnic group.

    We'll see how it's received, but I do feel that many in this country have to learn to face this demon for what it is...and don't ask us to just look the other way when things happen that DO adversly affect us.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  6. DetKeash

    Responding to Chris from NY

    "Black people make talking about race hard, not whites or anyone else for that matter. African Americans are not the only ones who have endured hardship in the United States, singled out for slavery? Yes. But, what about Native Americans singled out for extermination? Japanese Americans in re-location camps… The Irish (a white group) left starving in the slums of NYC until they themselves took on everyone else and brought themselves up the ranks"

    Okay, Slavery was not a hardship. You can not compare what hundreds of thousands, if not millions (including the ones that died during the middle passage) of Kidnapped Africans endured for 200 years, followed by 60 or so years of separate but equal Jim Crow period, legal lynchings, destroyed communities and then many more years of blatant post-segregation discrimination on up to present day subtle covert forms of racism coupled with "there's no racism–Look at Colin Powell!" And, all without so much as an apology, acknowledgement let alone the promised 40 acres and a mule.

    I am not trying to diminish what other groups have gone through, but I draw the line at any comparison that equates those experiences with what African-Americans have endured in this country.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  7. Dana

    There is this misconception that college is free if you are black and that we get all these special priviledges. My sister and I are the product of a single home family. We attended the local inner city high school, as did most of our friends. We did not go to college Free!! We had work study and our mother paid what she could off of her postal salary. I have never qualified for so much as a Pell Grant. Approximately half of my friends that attended college did not qualify for a Pell Grant. I do not have one friend that did not graduate without loans. Yes, we took out loans like everyone else. Most (black or white)people that are able to attend college for free are living below the poverty level. Most black people do not feel America owes us anything other than to be treated equally. We are aware of our weakness as a people(absentee fathers, high drop out rate and too many black men in prison. We just ask that the rest of America honestly acknowledges their weakness (stereotyping, white priveledge issues, denying the inequities created by the past). I look forward to CNN's approach to this issue. I ask that EVERYONE approach it with an open mind and be willing to learn from this special.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  8. Kim B.


    Many family names were changed at Ellis island. Not all immigrants have their birth names still. I know my white grandparents had their last name shortened and the spelling changed.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:04 pm |
  9. Jason

    Uhm, just so everybody knows. Race is a social construction. Wrap you head around this race was a contrived mechanism to dileanate economic lines in early American history between poor whites and newly freed slaves. Race doesn't exist as a fact but as condition of human conceptualiztion of "self". Theres only one race of people, the reason phenotypes are different are do to enviromental implications in early human history. Once Human beings moved out of Africa their phenotypes changed due to enviromental conditions.

    Also for the percieved to be white person out there who thinks its unfair that minorities have gotten a boost, do please remember that their was a time som 30 years ago when blacks, Irish, Jews, Southern Europeans, Asians, Catholics need not APPLY. So don't say that had nothing to do with you, because the limititation put on my grandfather or father because of color was not put on your father or grandfather, yet they still overcame. So its difficult to do undue 140 years of Jim Crow for a generation that is just not able to reap benefits of only our fathers, maybe our grandfathers if were blessed.

    Thank you kindly.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:56 pm |
  10. Dee, New York

    This whole "race" thing is getting me crazy. The next time I have to fill out a form which asks for race, whether it is the census or whatever, I swear that I am going to write HUMAN. Don't we all share mitochondrial DNA which goes back to the same source? Call it creation or evolution, it seems that we all had a common origin. Also, on the ancestry DNA tests, doesn't everyone come up with a combination of four basic geographic heritages? It seems almost comical to me that people who are racist will park themselves on the beach risking skin cancer to get browner. Also, I have even seen African Americans act in a prejudiced fashion toward those who are darker than themselves. I wish that we could all just get along. Our son, who would be considered caucasian, married a young lady who would be considered African American. Their union produced a gorgeous (in my opinion) grandbaby for us. I only hope that he will be able to thrive in our world as he grows up and has to face some of the silliness of our world.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:53 pm |
  11. Che'

    In response to Dave:

    I had a friend, one of my best friends actually, and we never quite saw eye to eye on the built in racism defense bit that you commented on. However, that quickly changed when she had a bi-racial children and could see the differences of how her children were treated from her first marriage who were completely "white" and those from her second marriage to an African gentlemen who looked "black".

    As a matter of fact I had to explain to her why there was a difference in how her daughter who had a lighter complexion was treated differently, than her daugher who had darker complexion.

    I totally whole heartedly believe that sometimes this can be taken to the extreme, but to say that there is no bias along the way in America would seem blatantly ignorant and unsupported by facts.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:52 pm |
  12. Hunter

    I am SO tired of privileged, preferred, and entitled whites whining and telling African Americans to “get over it,” complaining about Affirmation Action (which has helped predominantly white women) and other programs that were designed to help women AND minorities, and insinuating that racial profiling by police, harsher penalties for crimes, lower pay for jobs, disenfranchisement, and other ills is the fault of Blacks.

    Let’s lay this game bare. Many, but certainly not all, Whites have conspired and colluded, based on a sense of entitled to maintain a level of cultural and economic hegemony over African Americans. The labor base for the establishment of Capitalism in America was slavery. You all should know about the triangular trade. While I am not a Marxist or Communist, nevertheless, a Marxist critique of American society does yield some interesting conclusions. Large business which depend on labor – whether manual field labor during the agrarian era, unskilled or semi skilled labor during the industrial revolution, or functionally illiterate labor during this “service era,” capitalistic business need – demand a group of people that can be exploited for their labor. Whether during slavery or the Jim Crow South with prison chain gangs or the current use of the industrial prison complex, the group that has been the most systematically abused and oppressed is African Americans.

    Many Whites, even dirt poor whites, always believe that they have a better chance of succeeding because of the “preference” they enjoy over African Americans. By preference I mean that whites know that other whites are more likely to hire them with less education and experiences than better qualified African Americans. If you do not believe me then take a look at the statistical analysis and adverse impact adverse performed by those companied that are required to do so by Executive Order 11246. Statistical analyses of “qualified” minorities show that tons of qualified minorities are systematically stepped over by white hiring managers for jobs for which they are over qualified. Then these same managers gripe about “being made to hire a diverse candidate” PLEASE – give me a break and stop your whining. White privilege is real, it is not fictional. It has been studied widely.
    “Why do Blacks still complain?” some may ask. Because race trumps class as an indicator of life options and it is ridiculous to tell a person to stop struggling while you are choking them with your nightstick.

    For anyone, particularly whites, who wants to understand how whites have benefited from race preference, privilege, and entitlement, consider the following works:
    “When Affirmative Action was White” by Katznelson, “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness,” Lipsitz and “Two Nations : Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal” by Andrew Hacker.

    Soledad, I look forward to tonight!

    July 23, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  13. Danny

    Nicole – "Point black, when blacks were brought over here we lost a lot of our identity…We were stripped of our names and families. The people who turned the hoses on my parent’s generation, let loose the dogs, told us we couldnt’ sit down in a restaurant, go to the movies except on Friday between 3 and 6 etc…..are still around..And you best believe that a lot of their beliefs have been passed down. "

    I doubt you ever had those problems.

    I bet your name is the same as it was since birth
    I bet you've never had the dogs let loose on you.
    I bet you've been able to sit down in whatever restaurant you wanted.

    You shouldn't 'believe' whats passed down, you should 'believe' what YOU believe... thats not something inherited. That is part of the problem.

    I bet you believe that a white person should not be able to use the "N" Word.. "Cause you aren't black".. and then I bet you'd get angry at a white man who told you that you couldn't use the same water fountain he could "'Cause you aren't white"

    People are silly

    July 23, 2008 at 4:47 pm |
  14. jerry

    Of all the comments made in this forum only 1 stands out as facing up to the truth of the black status in this country today.

    Tim, you said a mouth full in your reply to all those posting on and reading of this issue.

    Responsibility. Accountability.

    Life is hard enough. It takes a person to be strong to make it thru life. Do we have pitfalls, stumbling blocks, doors shut, criticism.....yes we do. But we must go on.

    There are too many people who have lived in this country..in the past as well as today...who have been downtrodden, ridiculed, scorned, abused and whatever unfortunate thing you can thinkk of...who have made it.

    As human beings, we're all made of different material that will stand the test of all the trials and tribulations we face as humans. Some will make it easier than others..and some will fail where others succeed.

    Jesus said "a house divided against itself cannot stand".

    Will we as a nation make it...or will be continue to divide ourselves?

    You know if this show on CNN makes some people proud, so be it. If it makes some people glad, so be it. If it makes some people sad or mad, so be it. Just enjoy what you will see and take from it that you will be a part of doing something POSITIVE about the state of things in our wonderful country.

    Think about it.

    From an American....and proud of it.


    July 23, 2008 at 4:47 pm |
  15. Cassie H.

    Wow. these responses are ridiculous. As a 22 year old black educated BA RN, i am offended by those who don't want to see this program special. I've grown up around white and black people, and have have an open mind to anything. Ignorance is strong in the US, white and blacks believe it or not. CNN gives people an great opportunity to see our how the Black community goes through day by day and what we face; and we got IGNORANT folk ( white, black, Indian, Hispanics, or watever) saying they don't want to hear it or watch it. Don't say you don't understand when there was a chance to understand. This country will stay divided as long as there is people like some of these IGNORANT folk who refuse to listen and learn. Soledad, i think you are doing a great thing for our community. We need to change people perceptions about the Black Community

    GOD Bless everyone, Obama 08

    July 23, 2008 at 4:45 pm |
  16. Danny


    "The thing that gets me is that America is ’supposed’ to be the place where you can be whatever you want to be. If I have a black father and a white mother, why am I inherently WRONG in the eyes of many White Americans because I consider myself ‘Black’? I believe many of the problems we face stem from the negative portrayal of what it is to be ‘Black’. Some White Americans feel that bi-racial individuals are denying that White lineage but we understand that having ANY ‘Black’ lineage instantly MAKES you Black. That negative stigma is so profound in this country. "

    Ok, cool.. I can deal with that. I'm white.. but I'd like to just call myself black. Since America is supposed to be a place where I can be whatever I want to be.. I'm now black.

    Thanks Brian! I'm glad this special is for me!

    July 23, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
  17. Charley Siales .N.

    It's all about giving or what something going wrong or nothing happening we just nevermind everything wrong and just trying everything right .

    July 23, 2008 at 4:40 pm |
  18. LJ

    stacy July 23rd, 2008 2:33 pm ET

    I was quoting an earlier poster about how ridiculous that was (see quotation marks) and making the SAME POINT that you were.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:39 pm |
  19. Kofi

    Soledad, I look forward to your special.

    To some of the commentors on this blog, I understand you completely when you say;

    a) you are tired of black this/black that
    b) there are other minorities who are also suffering from injustices, etc etc

    I am a black man and I understand that we all need to move forward especially with regards to race relations. But, the issue is, it still exists and people deal with it everyday in their lives and no matter how many times we address it, it will forever be there (hopefully NOT!).

    Also, Soledad probably undertook this study mainly because she is half black and felt she can address it much better. Yes, she could have undertaken a study of "Asians in America" or even "Being Homosexual in America," but trust me, I am sure she would have probably been attacked by either group for not fully understanding the issues that minority group faces as she does not share the same experience, or she would have been criticized for looking at it from a negative standpoint or what have you.

    All in all, as I understand the frustrations of most of you, I believe that Soledad has done a great job and I am positive that we will witness this in her report over the next two days. To other journalists a=out there who may be gay, Asian, Latino, etc, its time to step up to the plate and educate the rest of America on the issues your group faces so as to build a better nation of citizens who are knowledgeable in a wide array of issues.


    July 23, 2008 at 4:37 pm |
  20. B. Smith

    I come from to bi-racial parents and the color spectrem in my family is all over the place...this on regards to the blogs of people claiming they dont see discrimination....in my entire 38 years of living I have witnessed discrimination...I have seen people at certain jobs accidently say the N word because they thought they were down because they hang out with another ethnic party or date outside their race....I have seen my son or even myself playing live on xbox 360 or online and hear adults throwing the N word all over the place because they do not think anyone of that race is playing(yes their are some brothers that play online games(and more than just Madden for those who discriminate))...just because for those sum of you that do not witness it or could never understand how it feels to be discriminated like that feels do not bring your bias oppinions that your sick of hearing about it....and so ends my post

    July 23, 2008 at 4:34 pm |
  21. Sharon from Indy

    Exceptional documentary!

    I worked in Mississippi as a journalist for several months this year. My experience in MS was that the class/poverty wedge is quite apparent. I remember someone telling me that the citizens of Mississippi are still fighting the Civil War.

    I was shocked to hear and see areas where blacks are not welcomed and that "an unspoken rule" exists to not move into certain neighborhoods. In one small town, an alderman still calls his sanitation workers "boys" (there are black) when addressing the town board of aldermen.

    Coming from the Midwest I felt the culture of the south still holds plenty of tension on race relations especially when it comes to education and prisons. One early education director told me they test Mississippi children in kindergarten as a measurement for reading skills. Unfortunately, those statistics are also used to see how many prison cells will be needed twenty years later.

    Because of the high poverty levels of African Americans in MS, the majority of deficient readers and future prisoners may have little hope unless the MS African American community and the state commits to major changes within the "have and have nots".

    Again, great documentary. I look forward to watching tonight.


    July 23, 2008 at 4:30 pm |
  22. Fay, CA

    I'm glad that CNN is presenting this series Black in America, but when it was announced a few months ago, my first thought was that some of the people who probably should watch it will most likely tune out because they are tired of hearing about blacks and their issues. Whenever there is a discussion of race on this blog, I am always reminded how divided we continue to be, but I am hopeful that those who do watch will be getting a clearer overall picture of blacks and their lives instead of just the one-sided view of them as criminals and impoverished that tends to dominate the media–there are plenty of blacks who work and are educated and who have never been involved in any criminal activity whatsoever, and although they are practically invisible in the media, they inevitably have to bear the brunt of the negative feelings some have towards blacks due to the actions of others within their group rather than being judged as separate individuals–this is just one of the reasons why we still have a long way to go when it comes to dealing with race.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  23. Taylor

    Soledad's feeling, I think go back to the days, where if you have one drop of black blood, you were considered black.

    I think that most children who have a black and white parent, tend to view themselves as black. I don't think I ever met someone who views themselves are white.

    Eitherway, I say view yourself whichever way it make you feel comfortable.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  24. Eric

    Soledad's situation is not the same as Obama's. If one looks at Barack Obama, one would definitely see the African ancestry in him. When I look at Soledad, I have to be told that she has part African ancestry because to me, and I am going to guess to a lot of people, she doesn't look remotely "black". Therefore, one cannot say that she calls herself black because that is how others will automatically perceive her. Therefore it is strictly a choice that she makes because she prefers it to admitting that she is bi-racial or mixed. Therefore, she IS denying her father's half of her ancestry.

    I will soon be in a similar situation. I am white, my wife is black, and we have our first child on the way. I have to told my wife that I will be very dissapointed and insulted if our child refuse to accept her white half, as I have seen so many bi-racial folks, like Soledad, do.

    If a black person reads this and doesn't understand my sentiments, just turn the situation around, and imagine you have a bi-racial child who claims he or she is "white" when chosing to self-identify. Who wouldn't be insulted. So your half doesn't matter, or isn't considered considered cool enough?

    People who make the argument that they are just going with the old southern "one-drop" rule are also being disingenuous. Why? Wasn't that rule thought up by racist whites in the bad old days? Why would you choose to do that? Do you also go with the old "blacks shall count as 3/5 of a white person for purposes of population"? Of course not!

    July 23, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  25. Karin

    The over $1 trillion in wealth transferred from whites to blacks in the form of taxpayer-funded entitlements over the last four decades should have bought a lot of acres and a lot of mules.

    Yeah, taxpayer-funded entitlements that have benefitted ALL AMERICANS not just blacks...

    Let's not even get into this. You wouldn't understand.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:17 pm |
  26. Joe from Illinois

    Actually, I was taught by my parents that there is but one race- the human race! Black and Whgite are merely skin pigmentations when used to describe people. Life is all about how you view, accept and deal with others; even if they look different from you.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:15 pm |
  27. jondoe

    I always assumed Soledad was Hispanic. Silly me.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  28. jondoe

    Something to remember when you are bemoaning your past – in the 1700's, 80% of the world was a slave of some sort. Your family, my family – all families.
    Who owned the first slaves in America? In 1654, John Casor, a black man, became the first legally-recognized slave in the area to become the United States. A court in Northampton County ruled against Casor, declaring him property for life, –"owned" by the black colonist Anthony Johnson–. Since persons with African origins were not English citizens by birth, they were not necessarily covered by English Common Law.
    The origin of the name 'slavic' is slave. Guess how that region got its name?

    July 23, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
  29. margaret

    Poor Amanda. Another white apologist. That is half the problem: white condescending liberalism, feeling guilty for being white, pitying blacks, and damning anyone who doesn't agree with their ineffective baloney band-aid "social reform" programs as racist. Crying for blacks continues their role as victims...but you get to feel better about your white soul.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:10 pm |
  30. sidney crain

    Barrack is just as much Europen-american as he is African-american
    Why is he judged by his father who didn't raise him and not his mother who did? He is mixed race Cafe au lait not noir or blanc

    July 23, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  31. lisa thomas

    I won't really know how to recieve the airing of " Black in America" until I watch it, however, I hope the outcome is a positive one. I applaude CNN for having such a documentary, especially at a time like this in this world we live in. Most stations would be afraid to show something of this magnitude. Perhaps the outcome would be such that we suddenly realize that we are all human beings and we are to be treated as individuals, not as a race as a whole. "Do not judge me for the sins of my brother". This will be interesting to see.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:07 pm |
  32. Deborah

    From a review of these comments this special is long over due. There are many African-Americans in this country of mixed heritage. But in this country if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, its a duck. What is wrong with biracial blacks embrassing their blackness.?Obama and Tiger Woods could try to classify themselves as white or Asian but when you look at them what do you see? You see Black men. One uninformed person noted why not do a show on white America. You don't have too. Just turn on the TV any time or pick up a newspaper and that is all you see is images of white America. I sure wish I knew that being Black had the advantages that some of these posts talk about. I still wouldn't be paying off student loans. I wouldn't have to pay higher interest rates just because of my zip code either.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:06 pm |

    This is the first time I knew you were black.
    I still loved you as a reporter though.
    I am a black woman, thank you for what you are doing.
    This should open up a lot of people eyes.

    God bless you.
    I'm very proud of you.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  34. Betina

    Thank you, Carol (07/23 @ 12:30pm)!

    I am multi-racial (black, white & native american) and bi-cultural (French & American) and have never identified myself as one or the other. My parents raised me to be a decent, productive human being and always acknowledged all my "parts", recognizing that my color/ethnicity is not what makes me whole.

    The comments I'm reading from people stating that bi-racial people choose which side gets them further or causes them the least amount of grief are so infuriating! I've experienced racism from both whites and blacks in my lifetime (I'm 40), so I would be a terribly confused individual if I chose "sides" to be on.

    We are not some homogeneous population–it's just more labeling, putting people into categorical boxes. It's, unfortunately, something I don't believe this country will ever grow out of.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  35. JG

    Stacy...CNN has been researching, interviewing, and filiming for this special for over a year and a half. This has absolutelty nothing to do with Obama. Nice try.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  36. Nikki

    I guess those from the outside looking in will NEVER "get it." Unless someone has these issues, they simply cannot "get it." One can empathize and sympathize, but there is a difference between being black and white. Just as there is a difference between being a member of any other minority and being black. Personally, I do not choose to parse out what races comprise my ethnic make-up because it is not important to me. African-Americans were brought to this country by force. Therefore, we are not like Asians or Latinos, races who have fought to get here. This country was built on our backs and a war was fought to keep us enslaved (while I have no doubt that some posters will say it was the "War of Northern Aggression", let's not put a pretty face on it...the Civil War was about the souths wealth built on slavery). I do not recall that happening to any other minority group. I am proud to be black, just like I would be proud to be Cherokee, Jewish and Puerto Rican, but I LOOK black...therefore, I am black.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:53 pm |
  37. Debbie, Baltimore, Maryland

    There are some comments on this blog such as "How can the descendants of slaves and the descendants of slave owners co-exist in a world.. no country where the horrific acts took place… in a country that does not want to acknowledge it". "No one is bringing bI wish I had an ounce of black in me in that case. College sure would be a whole lot cheaper". "I still don’t get it – if a person is both black and white why would you only say you’re black"?

    With comments like those above, it explains the need for the show and the racial problem that exist in this country. I personally believe that race will always be an issue.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:51 pm |
  38. Paula

    To the gentleman Jimmy K whose looking forward to the special "White in America". You see it everyday- just check any channel and there's your roots, ancestors, your stories! Just pay close attention- your story is aired day in and day out!! Let us have our 2 DAYS!!!!
    Thanks Soledad!!

    July 23, 2008 at 3:49 pm |
  39. George

    I still do not get it.

    If a white person marries a black person, Why are the children black and not white? Why always black when the children quite often are more white than they are black?

    Since many black persons in the USA are not totally black as a result (to some extent) of slavery, concubinage etc, having caused some racial dilution from white slave owner or lighter skinned other slave etc, many that are called black are not totally so, just majority.

    In my case, my mother had a 100% black mother (1st generation born outside Africa and a 100% white Welsh father. She therefore is 50-50.

    My father is 100% white of Scottish and English parents.

    As a result I am about 75% white 25% black. Yet like Soledad people refer to me as being black. Why?

    Is it that although my complexion is like her's, my hair texture is a basic nap? My brothers and sisters are a mixed bunch, some of whom could cllaim anything and no one would ever know.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:48 pm |
  40. Leena


    Sandy the reason I, a black woman, and my boyfriend, a white man don’t bother to engage you in public is because your face and body language has already said it all. It’s your right to disapprove and it’s ours to ignore your ignorance. It has absolutely zero to do with “embarrassment or something” and everything to do with we’re sick of you feeling you have any right to make a comment or gesture in public about how we choose to love.

    Grow up.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
  41. V

    I read some of the comments (did not have time to read all) and came out with one interesting take away.

    I was shocked that Soledad refered to hersef as black. Not because of her dad, but because to me she was Hispanic.

    I was born and raised in the Caribbean as were my parents / grandparents, but their parents hail from many countries including Africa, France, Germany, and Ireland. So if you look at me (as I have confirmed from the many questions that I get), I can be anything black/white/Iraqui....so I have always found it easier to identify myself as hispanic since that is that term is more encompassing.

    so when she says she is black my question is not what does your dad think, but how do you get to black from Australian/Cuban – are you using the term black as non-white? In which case, it might be a disfavor to some people as they might not understand that diversity goes beyond black and white....

    July 23, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
  42. honey

    that is the color if my skin.


    I applaud you for the series... as so many have expressed not only do white people need to heare the stories but also blacks do also. Because as a people we often times buy into the stereo-type of what media and others say we are. i am so glad you are looking at the good the bad and the truth

    July 23, 2008 at 3:42 pm |

    Jim actually no the US along with other countries paid Jewish people reparations. And as far as us existing.............. It hasn't worked thus far.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:41 pm |
  44. Loretta from California

    Question. How many White Americans are pulled over by the police and asked if they are a child molesters, serial killer, or if they own a meth lab?

    Some of the comments posted on this blog are as ridiculous as my question.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:41 pm |
  45. Karen D

    It doesn't make any difference to me what someones skin color is – but what I don't understand is why someones 'past' is put before being American. I'm more proud to be a female born in the great US of A than of my skin color. I'm not disagreeing that our heritage, whatever it may be, should be embraced, but why not be American first?

    July 23, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  46. Rana Silver

    Why does everyone feel the need to quantify who were are racially...? Isn't that the real question. I think people need to stop feeling the need to identify racially and to identify rather as a species...

    I think we are more intellectually capable than having to compartmentalize by colors...having opposable thumbs and all.

    Wake up, America!

    July 23, 2008 at 3:37 pm |
  47. Matt in NH

    It is interesting reading all the comments so far. It appears most of the men writing in have no understanding or grasp of how important this documentary is for us as a nation. This lack of cultural competency leads me to believe the issues of racism may be more defined by gender than we would like to admit in this country.

    I for one can not wait to see it! Thank you so much Soledad for all your hardwork on this endeavor, I'm sure it will not go unnoticed, and lead this country one step closer to unity.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:36 pm |
  48. ndambuki

    LJ , dont be ignorant, any black person has his roots from Africa. You need to educate yourself. We know how white color looks like and how black color looks like. i have never seen a white or a black person except somewhere in southern Sudan.
    "Racial color " is socially constructed. Get out of your mental slavery. While all Jews all over the world champion the Israeli course, people like you are busy denying their heritage, no wonder your kind keep on whining in this great nation..... that shows you will always be a prisoner in your mind, be proud of your African heritage, or if you wish you can replace your nose with a pointed one and bleach your skin as well.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:31 pm |
  49. Debbie, Baltimore, Maryland

    Thank you so much for bringing this subject to the forefront of our country.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:29 pm |
  50. diane

    You are a Black male who has not been KNOWINGLINGLY profiled. You may have been watched more intently in stores or regarded as suspect without even being aware of it. It is no secret that security and police officers offen have adopted a profile of what the think a suspicious people look like; and often times people of color fit that profile. Just becasue you have not been detained, arrested, pulled over etc. doesn't mean you were not profiled or that you won't be in the future. There are numerous studies to suggest that it occurs on a regular basis.

    Secondly, personal responsibility is not mutally exclusive from discrimination. Every adult should be responsible for himself/herself and his/her children. That does not mean the racial and sexual discrimantion have not had an impact on minorities and women.

    My 73 year old father grew up as a Black man in the Jim Crow south and experienced discrimination on a daily basis. Despite those hurdles, he went to college,started his own business, got married, bought a home, rasied and educated his children. He was very responsible but that did not innoculate him from racism. My husband is one of two black managers in his dept at a fortune 500 company. He is well educated with an MBA from a prestigious school (many of his white counterparts don't have a graduate degree and his white boss does not) and is quite competent. Yet it took him longer than white managers to achieve the same professional success. Thousands of responsible, well educated Blacks could tell you similar stories.

    It is not necessarily an either this or that situation. One can work hard, get an education, be responsible and still be subject to discrimination.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:27 pm |
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