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August 9th, 2008
03:46 PM ET

I am neither black nor white. I'm both

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.

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Editor’s Note: Lynn Whitfield is an Emmy Award winning actress famous for her role as Josephine Baker in 'The Josephine Baker Story.' Her other films include 'A Thin Line Between Love and Hate,' 'Gone Fishin’' and 'Eve’s Bayou.' Below is a response from her and her daughter after watching Black In America's 'The Black Woman and Family.'

Lynn Whitfield
Actress

My daughter Grace and I watched the premier of CNN’s groundbreaking "Black in America." I thought we would have lively discussions around many of the themes concerning black women in this country. However, when she saw the segments on interracial marriage and the children of those relationships, she had a visceral response.

I saw an activist being born.

Grace seemed ready to adapt James Brown’s black anthem to her cause: "Say it loud, I'm blended and proud!" I saw my daughter stand up for the equality of blended people like herself in all her olive-complexioned, big curly afro-like glory. She went immediately to the computer with dignity, passion and everything but a fist in the air and wrote the statement you are about to read:

Watch the 'Black In America' story Lynn Whitfield and Grace Gibson are reacting to
Watch the 'Black In America' story Lynn Whitfield and Grace Gibson are reacting to

Mixed in America
Grace Gibson (16-year-old daughter of Lynn Whitfield)

Although I found this segment of “Black in America” to be highly informative for the general public, I was disappointed that the interviews in the section on what it is like to be biracial in America seemed to focus only on the more negative aspects. With the eyes of the world now on Barack Obama, I had hoped for a more balanced discussion on what a positive symbol a mixed race person can project.

Obama’s candidacy embodies change and hope for so many in this country of all generations, genders, races and cultures. His message of bringing us all together as Americans is enhanced by his mixed heritage. The biracial person personifies the breaking down of racial barriers that so many fought and died for in the civil rights movement. It is what Dr. Martin Luther King stood for and what his legacy of equality imparts to us today. So one should feel nothing but pride to be mixed in America.

If parents of biracial children are too concerned about what race their children identify and associate with, the only outcome will be confusion. They should rear their children to have enough self-esteem and self-confidence to be their own persons - encouraging them to be strong children who can grow up to be strong biracial adults.

There should be no need for them to say “I am black” or “I am white” because they are neither, yet they are both. Trying to force a choice is often done just to accommodate the people around them. Why should it be so difficult to understand that a person can be and take pride in two races, ethnically and culturally? Those who cannot accept this are perpetuating the kind of ignorance that would only resegregate society by taking away a positive symbol of integration, the mixed child, and restricting him or her to an either-or status.

In a world where a biracial man may well become the next President of the United States, all that a parent should be trying to instill in a child is pride in his or her race or races.

I am proud to be a child born to two loving, talented, creative people – a mother and father who happened to be of African-American and English descent, respectively. I do not feel confused at all nor do I have an identity crisis. I do not feel lost in society nor rejected by any race because I am all races in one.

I am the melting pot, and in our global society, soon all the children of the world will be a mixture of races as well. So why should we try to pick and choose what we want and don’t want our children to be? Why can’t we just accept our common humanity and try to refocus our energies on more pressing matters such as Hurricane Dolly in Texas, infected children in flooded Burmese streets, earthquake victims in China, AIDS patients in Sub-Saharan Africa or those here in Washington, D.C.?

As the world confronts these and other serious challenges to survival, why add more complications by trying to reduce a living symbol of racial harmony to a checked-box identity?


Filed under: Black in America • Lynn Whitfield
soundoff (698 Responses)
  1. JN

    Somebody drop her off in rural Mississippi and see how "half-white" she is then.

    This "I m both races" stuff is really cute on print and for TV specials but really when you meet these people they are usually people who only have a inner self hatred of their black half. They dont want to b totally identified with, "them."

    July 25, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  2. Jamie Roberts

    "Trying to force a choice is often done just to accommodate the people around them. "

    EXACTLY! And why yield to labels that make it more convenient for the small-minded to package you?

    My children are a blend of African-American, Filipino and Caucasian. Why should they be forced to chose between their heritages? They are members of a single race – Human – and celebrate the cultures of all of their grandparents and great-grandparents to the degree they choose – and then they add to the mix that which is uniquely them.

    Their father, who is biracial, grew up feeling special and so have our children. Those who feel the need to label should not have the final word on who we are – we should determine our own identities.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  3. Kida

    As long as everytime we fill out a form we have to check what race we are its always going to matter. America is never going to change they are always comparing race to something always saying more black this more whites that and i just get sick of it. Why can't we be one! But there are still ignorant people stuck back in time (especially our government) so it's never going to change.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  4. claude

    You know, Black White, Red, Yellow, Green..

    Gee, it's year 2008.

    Let's wake up..

    People are people. Skin colour means nothing. In the end, we all share the same blood types.

    We all poo, pee and sleep and eat.

    We all think and feel.

    I cannot wait for the day when these issues are dealt with and we all move along together, relishing the differences instead of being afraid of them.

    Personally, it's not colour or race that matters, it's what you do. And that means, your actions. That's all that matters!

    July 25, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  5. Dawn

    "There should be no need for them to say “I am black” or “I am white” because they are neither, yet they are both. Trying to force a choice is often done just to accommodate the people around them. Why should it be so difficult to understand that a person can be and take pride in two races, ethnically and culturally? Those who cannot accept this are perpetuating the kind of ignorance that would only resegregate society by taking away a positive symbol of integration, the mixed child, and restricting him or her to an either-or status."

    Well said! I'm half Black and half Korean and remember how hard it was for me try to identify myself racially. Eventually I learned it didn't matter and that I should be very proud to be who I am and that I have two cultures that I can relate to. No one should relate to only one race. Be proud of your race and culture and celebrate them all!

    July 25, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  6. Sal

    How you hold yourself is how you will be perceived by other people. Education and upbringing (parents) have the biggest influences.

    By the way there are only 3 races that inhabit this beautiful planet of ours:

    Caucasoid
    Negroid
    Mongoloid

    Each race has their own physical characteristics. For example Mongoloids are what most "Oriental" people are , they have no eyelids.

    Asian is an incorrect term becuase the continent of Asia goes from Eastern part of Russia, to Turkey to India all the way the Japan............

    But labels help people quantify and manage things in ones own mind.

    Everything esle is just ethnicities and religions............

    July 25, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  7. Shirley Wiggins

    I watched your series on "Black In America", you showed the negative
    side of the black and bi-racial people. There are thousands upon
    thousands of black and bi-racial educated, law abdiding, working,
    successful, 2-parent families,never been to prison, and are proud
    of their heritages, and are GOD worshiping people.
    Now, when are you going to do a series on "White In America"?
    We are all in this struggle together, for when we get to heaven,
    GOD will not see color.

    Shirley Wiggins

    July 25, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  8. Dee

    "As the world confronts these and other serious challenges to survival, why add more complications by trying to reduce a living symbol of racial harmony to a checked-box identity?"

    As a biracial young woman like yourself, Grace, I ask myself this exact same question on a daily basis. I recently was required to complete a survey for a college related test where one of the questions was "Please check which best applies" and two of the choices were "White/Caucasian" and "Black/African-American" with no option for "Multiracial." The first thought that popped into my mind was "Hmmm let's see...am I feeling more black today or am I in a white mood" – sarcasticly of course.

    I felt it was such an ignorant and disrespectful question to ask. I was genuinely insulted by their lack of understanding that nowadays it is rare for a person to be of one race. You are completely right in saying that "soon all the children of the world will be a mixture of races as well." I believe and hope that is exactly how the next generation will be.

    I personally want to thank you for writing this piece, Grace. It was very well written and thought provoking. I am positive that your mother is extremely proud of you.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:18 pm |
  9. Darrell

    Grace Gibson can have all the strength of character in the world, as she eloquently displayed in her email, but she has been sheltered from the reality. Whether you like it or not, society will decide if you are black. I am an uncle to two bi-racial children, both of whom have been classified as black, not by their parents, but by their small mid western community. Grace should go into the small towns of middle America and ask that question. They will tell her something she might not want to hear. Furthermore, their attitudes towards her may be shocking as well.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:18 pm |
  10. LB

    God bless you Grace! Stand for what's right – being a proud woman and American. If those who want to wear the 'badge' "African-American" because it seems to be a way to make a racial stand only knew how much mixed blood many of them had they'd be surprised. While my husband knows SOME of his ancestors are from Africa – he knows that could entail heritage brought from Europe, the Middle East, Spain, etc. He finds it offensive for even another black person to call him African American – he's American – he has never lived in Africa, never will – no more than I will. We're Americans, and God's gift to one another. Racial tensions and separation remain – and are perpetuated in the hearts of men and women unwilling to see one another as God sees us. The ministers in predominantly black churches throughout this nation should be taking a Godly stand for unity and love, NOT more racial division, blame and unforgiveness. Our place in life is not to brow beat others for their wrong ideas, but to forgive and exemplify love – that's our job and the example we should all set for our children.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:18 pm |
  11. JD

    Wow, in reading some of the closed minded opinions here, I am ashamed.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:18 pm |
  12. Jeff L.

    Thak you! Finally, somebody got it right! I can sleep easier now.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:18 pm |
  13. Shawn L

    I am mixed white and Indonesian, and I think it made my life a lot easier, mostly because I felt like I didn't have to conform to any particular racial group and could just be myself. Of course I am proud of both my fathers German family tree, just as I am proud of my mom's Asian side. I makes me mad though when people try to put a set color on mixed people. Such as calling Tiger Woods or Alicia Keys, Obama, Mariah Carey, etc. black. They are mixed and their own individuals. And I live in the deep south and many are not fine with mixed couples down here which includes whites and blacks. I just have to say to those individuals that mixed raced people are genetically advanced and many times very beautiful. If you don't believe me just walk into a Victoria Secret store and look at the Brazilian super models who are very mixed. haha

    July 25, 2008 at 3:17 pm |
  14. Carla

    Yes, I agree that Grace is a very mature and eloquent speaker. However, she is speaking from a position of affluence, privilege and insulation from the ugliness of racial discrimination that most average, Black Americans do not have the means to hide from. In a perfect world you could be anything you wish to be: biracial, human race, etc. Unfortunately, that is not the America we have right now. Also, I think there is some validity that some biracial people inherently project this aura that because they are biracial they a just a little bit "better" than the average black person.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:16 pm |
  15. Brian

    I can appreciate and understand her comments....What we must all remember is the fact that most people who classify themselves as "Black" are at the least a certain percentage European. I know of European geneaolgy in my family and I am proud to say I am "Black". Some of us are of a heavier percentage due to recent mixing, but all in all we are "Black"...be very careful with classifying yourself as anything else. It weakens our numbers in this country, and does not give credit to the strength of our ancestor blood. Both, flowing in their veins, and the blood spilled...

    July 25, 2008 at 3:16 pm |
  16. Bruce

    Dr.King did mention equality will reign. Maybe in 2012, when the plan of Willie Lynch expires that started in 1712. Equality, the end of the World?

    July 25, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  17. TSmith

    Grace's response shows much wisdom and idealism which I find refreshing. What is missing from her response is the reality of the society we live in that feels the need to categorize and label everything. That said, I don't think the parents of interracial children should "chose" race for their child, but rather educate their children about all the races & cultures that contribute to who they are. As a reminder, very few people in America are "purely" any one race, so by allowing labels to define who we are limits what we think about ourselves and potentially limits what we think we can become. As stated previously, it does appear that the older generation (regardless of race) is more apt to perpetuate the need to classify people by race, which is often rejected by today's younger generation (The Millenials).

    July 25, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  18. ed

    Its not that hard to remove the labels, just stop asking on all questionaires and forms and it will loose importance.

    I am from South America where there are many many Blacks, direct Europeans, Native Indians and smaller numbers of Arabs and Asians, but we have more mixed combinations than the US can even think about....and we have very little racism! Guess what, no where in any form does it ever ask you what race you are.

    Most Americans can't believe this can be true anywhere but it is, there are countries that have very little racism. Granted there are always people with prejudices but not overt racism like what is seen and feared in this country.

    If we stop asking, it loses importance...everyone needs to stop labelling mixed kids as black, whites need to stop going back 4-5 generations in order to say they are Italian or Irish or whatever, just because of their last name ...and all just embrace being American!

    July 25, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  19. Faith

    I am so glad to read this story. My fiance is black and I am white. We've read Obama's book Dreams of my Father and wondered if our children, too, would find it hard to identify with one race or another. We collectively decided that when we have children, we will teach them to be proud of all aspects of their history and heritage. It's nice to know that Grace feels comfortable in her own skin and that we may raise our future children to think as she does!

    July 25, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  20. Shawn

    First, I must admit I'm not convinced that a 16 year old actually wrote that piece.

    Second, I've had this argument with my wife before and I think most are missing the point. I'm an "African-American" male while she is "bi-racial" (black and white). Most people classified as AA in this country are of mixed heritage anyway. Maybe most of us are at least 2 or 3 generations removed from white/other ancestors, but still, we are not full-blooded African in this country. So my questions are:

    1) Where does it stop? Should AAs of "mixed heritage" not consider themselves black either?

    2) Should there be a percentage rule, like only people with at least 70% African blood be called Black

    3) Why is her daughter (or whomever wrote that piece) calling Barack Obama bi-racial when he clearly states that he is African-American/Black? Isn't she doing the same thing she is accusing others of (i.e. classifying people)

    I think this argument is a joke, and like some people here have said, we should focus on the human race first.

    Peace

    July 25, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  21. Christina Green

    We are forgeting that we are really all one. I have come to realize this after growing up in working class England. Born to a protestant mother and a catholic father in a class conscious society. I married an African American man and had three mixed children. After living in the US the divisions of class and religeon were hardly noticable to me at first and being post civil rights era I was in a fairly comfortable zone, early 1970's. I wanted for my children to grow up without the hypocrisy of class, religion, culture and race. So I provided a positive environment of friends that would honour who they were for themselves and encouraged them to be whatever they wanted to be. Gradually as they grew they encountered all sorts of prejudment as we all do. But they are strong knowing they are loved and secure within themselves. Why we have to keep redifining our idintity is beyond me, what we ought to be doing is honouring ourselves and each other for who we are and that is all part of gods glorious creation.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  22. Dee

    If we must use labels, why not create a new broad label of "Biracial". Caucasian, Asian, African-American, Pacific Islander are all racial labels with different countries included in each one. Biracial would just be another broad racial category just like Asian and Caucasian. I think that would be the best answer in this changing world.

    I myself am from a white mother and black father and have refused my whole life to claim preference for one race over another. That would be denying half of my gene-pool, which would be absolutely absurd! It's nothing to be embarassed about, just like someone who is Irish/German should not feel embarassed. Only because the skin color is so different between white and black and the tension between the two in American history, do people really care. If it weren't for the darker skin in the mix, no one would care.

    There are more pressing issues in the world other than the color of one's skin. Let people call themselves what they like and stop worrying about it so much. It's no big deal!

    July 25, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  23. Randall Wesson

    Ms. Gibson is a beautiful person and a beautiful example of a multicultural marrraige. As one parent of three beautiful individuals that are themselves the result of a multicultural marraige, I have resisted society's attempts to pigeon-hole them as one race or the other. She and they are as James Mitchner categorized in his novel HAWAII, "The Golden People". How else can you denote people whose parentage arose from Europe, China, Philippines, Pacific Islanders and the Indian sub-continent?
    Let them all be what they are; attractive and intelligent explorers that will re-make this world into something that will more closely be what it should be!

    July 25, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  24. Vicki Scott

    Her wisdom far outweighs her years. Not many 'grown and educated' people could pen their thoughts as adeptly as she did. I expect we will hear and read many great things from this young lady in the future.
    I salute her parents for their obvious positive influence in her life.

    I was raised on military bases and in foreign countries. My parents had friends of many races. It never occurred to me or my siblings that this was 'different'. I'm proud to say I never understood the senseless bigotry. My parents are now in their 70's. They grew up in the South, and they are white. They could have easily fallen into the babel their parents were teaching. They didn't and I am proud of them because they were sensitive, intelligent people who knew it was wrong to judge people by anything other than their actions. There are several bi-racial grandkids in this family – mine and my moms – black/white, hispanic/white and korean/white and several affectionately called 'Heinz 57'. They are our future and we love them all.

    If we adults will allow children to be themselves with each other and without our negative influences we all might learn something.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  25. a johnson

    As a black man in america watching our people deteriorate. We cant afford to have the bi-racial population not thinking they are black Although im not against mixed marriages per say. i do feel that it takes away from our strength as a people.In most cases the ones choosing to marry white men or women are the more affluent black people. When they become intergrated into white america we oftem lose them as help to our community. look at the number of high profile black men and women with white spouses. they usually never come back to the community, or like this girl believing that she is actually both. It creates an extra division in our society one we can ill afford as long as we keep thinking we are seperate we cant come together

    July 25, 2008 at 3:12 pm |
  26. Jacqueline Brown

    I just finished reading Grace Gibson's article about being mixed race. I do applaud her for speaking out against society having to define who is black, who is white, etc. However, the series from Soledad O'Brien was "Black in America." I am sure Ms. Gibson and Ms. Whtfield are fully aware that even in this 21st century, that race continues to be a complicated subject. I am sure that Ms. Gibson and Ms. Whtfield are not excusing the fact that African-Americans still face racial issues, even among our own race because of western european standards. Ms. Whitfield herself portrayed a woman (Josephine Baker) who had to go to another country because she was not accepted in the U.S because of her race. I am a forty-something year old black woman who have come to terms with the naturalness of her hair. Recently, I was with a friend of mine who wears her hair permed. I am in the process of locking (dreadlocking) my hair. I told my friend that I was going to "run to the store." The first thing she asked me, was "Are you going to comb your hair?" Now I know my friend did not mean anything really negative by her comment, but it proves how some of us as black people still view each other through western european(ized) standards.
    Again, I want to say that I commend you Ms. Gibson for your stance embracing both of your cultures. However, race will always be a factor (not stating that this is fair), and to my understanding of this series, Ms. O'Brien wanted to capture the challenges (and triumphs) of being "Black in America."

    July 25, 2008 at 3:12 pm |
  27. Chicago Joe

    I saw someone wearing a t-shirt at a restaurant in Chicago that said "Half Honky all Donkey" with a picture of Obama

    July 25, 2008 at 3:12 pm |
  28. Craig

    Michael, perhaps you do not have the desire nor the inclination to call yourself something other than black, if you indeed are something other than black, but please respect the desire of others to make that choice for themselves. The whole idea of racial hatred and superiority of one race over another oftentimes spurs the desire to differentiate one from the rubrick that foments these ill conceived ideals that birth any number of ideologues. Mixed-race individuals seek largely to avoid like the plague being placed in the same boat with the assertions that come through those that spew this venom. I see nothing wrong with this. Do you?

    July 25, 2008 at 3:12 pm |
  29. Marcus

    I myself agree with Grace. I am in a mixed relationship I am italian and my wife is from panama (but looks black). We also live in the south meaning it has a whole other meaning for people of color. My children face not just neg. from the white community but the black as well. It fustrates me that in forty years of struggle with racial issues that some black folks in the south still think backwards. We should all focus on making the world a better place for our children
    ( be them any race or color) not weather they are only one race or the other. Maybe if we had the attitude of other countries meaning we are all citizens of this country not clic's or groups of colors who if your one thing or the other we can't care for you or about you. Maybe it will change with my children's generation (with hope) but if we keep with this backwoods thinking we soon won't be a country of great minds but a country full of idiots.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  30. Nunya

    I applaud the thoughts.

    I applaud the parents who have raised her to have such an awesome outlook on life.

    I despair that we ever truly will see the broad mass of society come to the same position.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  31. Gigi

    I just asked my 11-year old son who is multi-racial. (I'm bi-racial-black and white) and my husband is white) how he answers the question: "What are you?"

    He said with the handsomest grin, "Yeah, one of my friends asked me that once and I told him that I was Japanese."
    I said, "But you don't have an ounce of Japanese in you, what happened after that.?"
    He said, "He kept asking and I said, that's a stupid question first of all and second of all regardless of what I am, I can still whoop your butt on Guitar Hero."

    Not as eloquent as Grace Gibson, but poetic to me!
    My son's my hero. 🙂

    July 25, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  32. Anna

    I'm a mother of two bi-racial kids. I'm Chinese & my husband is white. I was concerned about my kids being confused about their identity growing up. But guess what, they weren't and haven't been. They are just who they are–two American kids. The credit goes to both sides of the family. With strong family support and a loving home, my kids feel very secure about who they are. And they are proud of their "American" skin color.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  33. Kathy

    Daniel... you say that black genetics are dominant but my understanding is that it's the darker color genes that are dominant....example.. if one parent has blue eyes and the other has brown eyes the child is more likely to have brown eyes... You represent a good example of the problem with society as a whole... we judge people by how they look when that is just a small part of who a person is. Someone may look like they are of a particular race / ethnic background but their personality – mind, physical makeup etc. may more strongly reflect their other blood lines. It seems wrong to me to 'dismiss' or 'disown' one parent, 50% of their heritage, just because they look more like the other as Obama is apparently doing. Obama is just as much white as he is black and just as much black as he is white. Without his great, great, great, great grandmother or grandfather from northern Europe he would not be here today.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:10 pm |
  34. Bori

    Very well put Grace. I know your mother is very proud of you & it is so good to hear of someone who is so proud of all their heritage. I am bi-racial myself (Puerto Rican & Italian), I look more Puerto Rican & people always think Im spanish & black because my Puerto Rican genes are so dominate; my family is also a big melting pot having black, indian, polish, irish & french all fused in somewhere. I have two daughters who of course share my mixed race plus more because their father is black. My oldest is 9 (she favors me in looks but has a nice med/dark complexion w/natual curly hair that is more of my texture) & she has kids tell her that she doesnt look like her father is black but then others say she doesnt look spanish either. I tell her that as long as she's proud of her culture it doesnt matter what others think because its just ignorance talking when they things like that. My youngest is 3 ( looks more like their father with a lighter tan complexion & real kinky curly hair) & she doesnt yet understand color or that she will have to deal with peers who may question her heritage but I know that she will be just as proud of her background as we all are. Today's society needs to stop questioning race & realize we are all the same, soon the minorites will be the majorities & our future generations are going to be mixed with many beautiful races.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  35. Kim

    Lori, I completely get you! Imagine those associations that exist: LA RASA, BET, UNITED NEGRO CF, Musica solo para los Latinos, etc... Imagine if there was: THE White Race United, White Entertainment TV, United WHITES College fund, Music only for WHITES? It would be Racist..just as those first listed ARE. It's all a sham to make you beleive all whites are racists and have a master plan to "keep down" those who are not.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  36. Julie

    As the white mother of a bi-racial child, I have dealt with many wonderful and awkward situations concerning black women in my community. Some think it is horrible that I would adopt ,what they say, is a black child and some feel that she is blessed to be part of a white family. My daughter is aware of her birth parents being black and white but for her and for me, we see ourselves and others as different shades of brown. Yep, we're just a big ole' world of brown people.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  37. Bryan

    I'm a 29yo multi-racial male and i have a few things i want to share.

    "You don’t identify with the black race so….this is not for you" For starters this is the type of attitude that separates blacks and whites today. This program is for everyone- those who identify with the struggles and those you need a better picture painted of those struggles.

    secondly, the race with which you identify is based primarily on your up bringing and where you grow up. i've grown up in the south and i'm often times viewed by older folks as black, and my parents view me as a "young black man"; however the people of my generation have always treated as if i were white, thus, i never grew to identify with being black. At this point i believe it woudl be unfair for me to identify as black because i have not equally bared the load.

    I strongly feel this is the result of growing up in a "white neighborhood", listening to " white music", attending "white schools", having most, if not only, white friends and dating only white women. culturally i have always been white and that has lead to how i am viewed within society and how i view myself internally. this acts to me as evidence that your culture dictates your race and not your race your culture.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  38. Bob

    Where the story about Poor white , or poor hispanic in America ? Cnn racist

    July 25, 2008 at 3:08 pm |
  39. Jan Collins

    What a powerful statement. With young adults such as this young lady growing into whatever field she pursues the world will be a much better place.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:08 pm |
  40. Rami

    I have been identified as a Black-Moslem-American throughout my life!

    Now let me get to the point, I believe they should ban the use of terms such as Black-American, White-American, Asian-American, Jewish-American, Terrorist-American, etc... since they don't do any one any good but bring in some more grief and guilt. I mean dang, is it really that hard to figure out someone's skin color or background? Be friends with that person first, then start questioning their background if you're really curious... This should start with the media, right here, starting with CNN... Quit identifying people by their race!

    Labeling someone or asking for their race is just WRONG man. Tell me what purpose does it serve besides insisting the obvious, which is the fact that we are different (i.e. background, skin color, religion, culture, etc...)? Jeeeeeeez, aren't you and your brother/sister two very different people at times too? For god's sake, your fingers who share the same hand are very different! so what? get a life!

    That being said, I politely move to ask everyone to unite as Americans and start living the American dream as best as they can. Do I get any one to second this motion?

    July 25, 2008 at 3:07 pm |
  41. Harold ASSOU-DODJI

    Beautifully crafted, thoughtfully projected, functionally touching...the world should learn from the fact that black or white, yellow or red, we 're all made essentially of common substance: flesh and blood!!!

    July 25, 2008 at 3:07 pm |
  42. pew

    aww being mixed (asian and white) I have been asked everyweek of my life till an adult n probably every month of my as an adult "what are you?" I answer "white" 🙂 mostly the response is "ok what else" every once and a while it was "no your not"
    *shrug* what are you going to do. Life in america...

    July 25, 2008 at 3:06 pm |
  43. Glen

    Daniel,
    White bigots certainly did deny the humanity of other races, but I believe the 3/5 ratio is a bad example:
    Each state gets two Senators; the number of representatives in the House is determined by population. Slaveholding states wanted to include slaves in this equation, certainly not out of respect for them, but to get more members in the House. Northern states basically said, "hey, you can't have it both ways! You deny them freedom and the rights of citizenship, but when it's time to tally your population to increase your power in Congress, you want to pretend otherwise?" However nothing could move forward until the (admittedly obscene) "3/5" compromise was reached. If the North allowed the South to count slaves fully, they wouldn't have been acknowleging their humanity, they would have been ignoring hypocrisy.

    Regarding the "scientific" fact that African genes are dominant: if you mean in the sense of cancelling out the features of other races, it takes willful blindness to come to that conclusion. As far as culture and bigotry are concerned, not every individual has the same attitude about race, nor does every generation. Believe it or not, there are people who see their friends as individual people, and don't call them "you" in the plural, with an accusing tone.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:06 pm |
  44. Veronica Phillips

    Basing ones opinion of a person by the color of skin, or any other physical attribute is as accurate as guessing how a song goes after hearing only one note.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:06 pm |
  45. Kenneth

    Rosa, being mix might not be important to you, for those who are mix it is. For people to have the nerve to label us black and have a show representing black America was insulting to us of mix backgrounds, for we do not sit and blame white people for our problems, we work our behind off to get educated and live a good life, and we work our behind off trying to please people like you who could not give a damn about us, because you enjoy your pity self and your pity life....

    This show was about black/ dark skin America complaining about how slavery and history is keeping them from marrying their baby father, and continuing to have bastards children, if a kid is out of wedlock, guess what its a bastard.

    This show was about how Dark skin man cannot have jobs, or have they are being discriminate against in their "getho" while selling drugs. When all black people start taking responsibility and stop relying on the government for a hand out, maybe then their numbers might start decreasing.

    Don't blame your action on white people, and mothers stop supporting your criminal son.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:06 pm |
  46. Seak Smith

    I too watched the "Black In America", but I am of Southeast Asian heritage. My husband is Black and so my children are of mixed races. Grace has echoed my sentiment exactly as I feel. The program made me very upset because there was this focus for mixed children to pick which race they wanted to "belong" to. My husband and I have always taught our two sons to be proud of both their mother and father's heritage. They are NEVER to choose because if they do, they will only alienate the other parent. And in Grace's words, be confused. I watch time and time again as mixed race children proclaim to be Black and in doing so somehow invalidates the other race that is embedded into their genes. Tiger Woods mother said it perfectly when people describe her son as Black. She said, "What am I chop liver!" I understand her frustration with this debate because, just like her, I don't want to check Black when I am filling out school forms for my boys. I should be able to check off Black, Thai and Cambodian.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:06 pm |
  47. J Houston, TX

    Who?

    Why does race matter? Why does the question even come up? We press this emphasis and encourage racial pride as some sort of game. Racial pride is nothing short of prejudice. Nothing should be gauged from appearance, only from character.

    Black in America
    White in America
    Biracial in America

    Why does anyone fall for this garbage? We are all Americans in America.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:06 pm |
  48. Pat

    Sounds good and interesting in itself... Problem is, coming from a 16 year old, it could simply be too "good" to be true, so I wouldn't be popping any champagne about this too prematurely, if I were you:: it could all be a very well-rehearsed "feel-good" script already "overplayed" in the Whitfield home, and just thrown out for public consumption, to hide other feelings that are nor so "beautiful" and innocuous! The girl is after all 16, and is the daughter of an actress (this is not a put-down of actresses: all I'm saying is that actresses professionally play parts for a living, and are adept at identifying with "scripts" all of which do not necessarily correspond to the real native one...!) So the possibility that this is another feel-good script should not be shocking to anyone?

    A life of a bi-racial kid in a perfect world would be wonderful and problem free... But the life of one in a society that is racist, is simply not a cake-walk- far from it! Let's not even talk about the life of the mean streets. Hell, Obama is one of the most privileged bi-racial people currently living in this country, and yet look at what a hard time he is having just trying to convince people that he is a "normal" well integrated person.... Let me just refer you to the recent cover caricature of the New Yorker magazine and its many complex implications (mostly negative) which have not received even one-tenth of the sober reflection it is due...

    Another case in point: Think of the well-known African-American pop star who wrote that song with the feel-good line: "It don't matter if you're black or white" and yet spent millions biologically altering his body, his color, and features to look "white." In our present society, a story like Grace's has "denial" written all over it, in spite of all the beauty it inspires

    My two cents

    July 25, 2008 at 3:06 pm |
  49. Erik

    I will never try to argue something that I do not understand.

    I am 'White'....(whatever that really is, I am not certain, as my skin color tends to change due to factors ranging anywhere from exposure to the sun, illness, anger, etc..etc.....combined with the fact that my American roots go back to pre-colonial times and, thus, I have just about every mix of race in me that I can imagine.....save possibly those races completely isolated from presence on the North/South American Continents)......But, for the sake of this posting, I will label myself as White.

    This being said, I do not know what it is like to be 'Black in America'.

    What I DO know, or, more accurately, believe, is that division among the races in this country is something that does not need to exist.

    Human Beings are not born disliking someone based upon the color of their skin.....babies of any ethnic background simply look at another baby and see...another baby. Racism is something gained either by being 'taught', or by experience.

    I wish the hyphen had never been introduced as a condition of being 'American'. I have spent time in Great Britain and noticed something that we all here in the U.S. could learn from......if you are 'White', you are British...if you are 'Black', you are British....if you are purple, you are British.....in other words, if you are a citizen of Great Britain, you are just……British.

    Why do we, as a collective 'Nation', insist on labeling one another, or ourselves, as African-American, Asian-American, Mexican-American, Polish-American etc..etc..etc..etc..???? This is what I truly believe to be the single most dividing factor of the peoples of our country.

    Let us lose the hyphen.....let us not forget the past, but accept it as THE PAST, and move forward.....and let us all start looking at one another as citizens of the 'United' States of America and value each other as such.

    Let us do these things before we are no longer 'United'.

    July 25, 2008 at 3:05 pm |
  50. aNITA

    This is a discussion that is way overdue. I remember having it in college over 30 years ago. My Italian mother and Black father raised us to appreciate who we are, not what we are. We are all strong, accomplished, educated people and our rainbow family continues to grow and diversify. My granddaughter is a true American, she has a little bit of almost every race.

    While I was growing up and I was not accepted by the black community because my skin was too light, I was actually asked, "Do you take milkbaths?" They wanted me to choose sides. The white community was curious, it was cool, they felt they could relate to me, but I was black enough to count as "The black friend" because my hair was so kinky.

    Fortunately my parents had the answer, "Love myself, totally." I am not mixed; I am two parts that make a whole. "Define myself."I am a strong woman who is both Italian and Black. I can and will not deny either. Here are a couple of lovely stereotypes...I like my greens with parmesan cheese, and my fried chicken is not fried chicken without garlic . "Challenge myself, compete and win on my own merits." I have both an undergraduate degree and a law degree and an incredible career in Information Technology.

    My parents didnt raise us with bitterness – even though they were forbidden go into stores and living quarters together when the first arrived here from Europe after WWII. They raised us to love and appreciate our ancestors, our heritage, our cultures, our citizenship. This is the gift that bi-racial children have we are so much more than our parts. There is no "mixed" in the equation.

    I was so happy when the census changed to reflect us in the makeup of who the United States is; we are the past, we are the now, we are the future.

    I could go on and on about this subject, but I will rap up my rant with...I am proud to be a bi-racial woman. I dont care what labels others put on me. Thanks to my incredible parents, I know who I am. As do my children and my children's children and so on. Ciao, y'all

    July 25, 2008 at 3:05 pm |
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