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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. TRUE BUCKEYE

    Nice article, but Grace should know by now, certainly at 16 years of age, if your skin is not purely white, just like Barack Obama and the rest of blacks, you are black. The world when they look at you, do not see your parents, they see you and the COLOR OF YOUR SKIN and if it's not white you are black, not blended! My son is mixed with a keen nose and very small lips, actually he has all the physical characteristics of a white man, but guess what Grace, his skin is not completely white, so he is considered a black man! Not blended!

    July 25, 2008 at 4:41 pm |
  2. Patrick L.

    Judging from the amount of comments, it is evident, reguardless of what side of this issue that one may line up on, that race in America still very much matters. I found the series(Black in America) to be very informative, and sincere in its efforts to shed light on an issue that is not comfortable for Americans(black and white)to talk about, but in investigating the reasons for such prevalent racial attitudes in America(especially attitudes reguarding black men) not once was sex mentioned. In this day of such political correctness, we eschew words that serve to label, but if we fail to address the attitudes that gave rise to such words, and thoughts, then we have done nothing but clothe these same attitudes in softer, and more palatable raiment. As a man(not as a black man, white man, or any other ethnicity of man), I can tell you that sex matters to us(all men). From the dawn of Man, sex has mattered. Until the dusk of man, sex will matter, and while black men were slaves, their sexual prowess(whether real, or imagined) was lauded, and even admired, by those who held power over them. Through the years, and more importantly, as blacks began attending schools alongside whites, and working jobs alongside whites, and moving increasingly into arenas of our society held previously by white Americans, these feelings about black men took on more ominous sentiments which has resulted in widespread misconceptions, fear, and stigmatizations of black men. While sex is used to sell everything from bath soap to automobiles, America is still somewhat sexually repressed, and unwilling to speak openly, and honestly, about sex. If we can agree that this is a man's world, then we should also be bold enough to admit that sexuality factors in greatly to the state of the world, and our country. As a man I will tell you that while sex may not neccessarily be number one on our(men) list of priorities, its somewhere close to the top, and this notion that black men are these strapping sexual supermen is bound to produce feelings of animosity in our white counterparts. This supercedes one's education, upbringing, etc. It is primal, and we are powerless to do anything about the role that sex plays in our psyche, and our society, except to talk openly about it, and to seperate the truth from what is imagined.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:41 pm |
  3. Kim in NY

    Wayne,

    Thank you. And your smart, handsome, happy sons will thank you some day, too. It is all so useless, yet we seem to spend a lot of time in it.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:39 pm |
  4. Gregory

    I am white, yet science tells us that we can all be traced back to Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis, whose bones were discovered in Ethiopia 1974); can't we all be considered mixed then?

    July 25, 2008 at 4:37 pm |
  5. Kelly

    Please, please can we stop using the words African American. How many families are there that do not have many different races. Mine has English, Native American, black and we all enjoy life together, is that so unusual.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:37 pm |
  6. danyelle

    Finally! Youth speaks!
    Racism starts in the home and grows from there. Children are parrots of their parents. If the parents think and feel it their children will also.

    So, I applaud this young lady. I hope more young people feel the way she does and speak up. My friends and family certainly do, but no one listens to us. Why? Because most of us are considered white Americans who are painted with the same brush even though we are descended from every color on the planet.

    "The problems of today will not be solved tomorrow by those who created them yesterday!" (my own personal quote) In other words....Until my generation takes over, those born in the 70's who were not around for the civl rights movement and all that went on before it and were raised without hate, it will continue. Because no matter what the "old guard" says, they are the ones who created the problems. Time for their grandchildren to fix it and for them to go away into retirement.

    obama '08

    July 25, 2008 at 4:37 pm |
  7. Sandi

    AMAZING - well said - I pray one day that we all view each other from the inside out - God Bless

    July 25, 2008 at 4:35 pm |
  8. Larry

    YAHWEH says race mixing is an abomination. What part of thou shall not commit adultery do you not understand. Adultery had nothing to do with extra marriage affairs. Multiculturalism, Diversity, Race Mixing is all part of the destruction of America.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:35 pm |
  9. Steffany

    I thought the "Black in America" segments allowed the people in this country to gain some insight into the lives of Black Americans. However, I felt as if the documentary focused too much on the negative. For instance, there are plenty of Black families that have children that go to public schools and score above and beyond on standardized exams. In addition, there are a plethora of black business owners, attorneys, doctors, and teachers that are doing very well for their families. I feel like CNN and other media outlets need to do better with exposing the social ills of other racial groups in this country. How many times will I have to keep seeing black children being born out of wedlock or African-American men in handcuffs on television? Jeez enough already people! I am sure that White, Hispanics, Indian, and Asian Americans are dealing with social issues that would not be perceived as being very positive as well.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:34 pm |
  10. DWray

    Very Interesting article and I am proud of her thoughts...................BY THE WAY............WHERE'S DAMIEN????........LOL

    July 25, 2008 at 4:33 pm |
  11. NTulip

    I will read this to my 2 boys tonight, who themselves are mixed from a Romanian born father and a Zimbabwean mother. Sure the young one won't understand but I promise you he will have a question.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:32 pm |
  12. Ronald

    does anyone know when they are doing a
    "white in america" segment?

    how about a "asian in america" segment.

    or better yet a "mexican in america" segment

    does anyone know?

    July 25, 2008 at 4:32 pm |
  13. Niki

    Well Geri...that was an extremely ignorant remark.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:31 pm |
  14. Thomas

    People need to get used to the thought of biracial people. The thought of getting married to someone different than what you look like is more common today. My son is half/half, Asian/White. He understands that, and I' m glad that he's proud of his parents and the different backgrounds of each. I still find it hard to believe that we have to put a "label" on people today. Maybe human being is to hard to say..........

    July 25, 2008 at 4:30 pm |
  15. Terrie

    Use this one please... if you choose to use it all. I added a name change
    July 25th, 2008 4:08 pm ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Affirmative Action, now that’s a hot topic! I mean no disrespect to anyone, but would any hispanic, asian, african-american, pacific islander, or native american ever graduate from college, work for a Fortune 500 company, become a state legislator or an astronaut , own a company that bids on government contracts, buy a house, or operate any kind of business or earn a bonus or tenure or gain any other perceived school, business, or career advantage (except for in the post 1980’s/90’s sports arena) without the help of affirmative action? We’ll likely never know. That’s also something that Lynn Whitfield’s very aptly named daughter will likely never experience. She is a very smart young teen, but even with all that God has blessed her with, there are certainly things that life in the ‘other’ world will teach her, if as my friend says, she keeps breathing.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  16. LD N IND

    Nice dreams you "biracial" people are having. Sounds good, should be that way and all the things you are saying, but it means absolutley nothing when you go to look for a job. No matter what box you check the person looking at you and is making the decesion does not see a white person.

    Who are you trying to convince? Just like several people have said SOCIETY makes the choice for you. Wayne, TX sounds like a great guy, with a great oulook on life, but lets get real dude. Prepare your boys for the way it is and not the way you would like it to be.

    The labels you speak of where created by Whites, not Blacks. Blacks have tried to be "just people without labels forever" Whites won't let us and guess what "mixed race people", they won't let you either.

    Go ahead and create your own race. Doesn't matter. You still are not white. Blacks will accept you unconditionally. Whites will not. Maybe you are the pioneers to get this thing going but believe me, before you leave this earth, you will make a choice.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  17. Werner (FL)

    The only race of importance is the human race – in an effort to gain equality (equal respect) the importance of color is so over accentuated that the goal drifts only further away.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  18. Phil

    Soladad,

    You should address the question of whether this documentary is helpful to the Obama campaign. I suspect the the RNC is trilled that you are keeping the spotlight on racial wounds.

    It would be interesting to see what your readies and what you non-biracial husband thinks?

    July 25, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  19. Joyce

    Very well said and it would be a wonderful world if we all could see past the color of peoples skin....I hate to say this but we are taught at a young age these differences ..... and so many people take them into adulthood..... Yes it would be nice it we all could see past color....

    July 25, 2008 at 4:28 pm |
  20. MCPO RET USN

    My wife and I had the same discussion while watching this show last evening with our two Multi-Racial children sitting at our sides. We tell them that they are beautiful and that the best parts of three races lies within them. I told my children that when asked about their race they should merely reply, "Human Race", and they do (as did I all my life). Race does not define you unless you let it and others cannot use it against you unless you let them and tolerate such treatment.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:28 pm |
  21. Charlie

    Very well said.
    Unfortunatley until an alien being finally communicates/interacts with us, onlky then will we realize we are ALL Human beings.
    That in itself is ironic because their would probably be a predjudice againts the aliens.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  22. Andre Gibson

    I love this blog, I am a 50 yo biracial man that grew up in the 50s and 60s, it was hard to find friends because the whites didn't want to be around me because I was considered black, the blacks didn't want me around because I was not black enough. I am me !!!! niether black or white and dam proud of that fact. I cherish my mothers race as much as my fathers race and refuse to choose.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  23. steve

    some commenter said:
    "Over 20 years ago when my son was a baby, I was at the grocery store and the teenager that was bagging groceries offered to help me take them to my car.

    As we were walking out, he asked me if my baby was mixed. The question kind of surprised me, and I just said ‘yes’. He got a big smile on his face and said “That’s why he’s so cute …. just like me!”

    As we walked to the car, he proudly told me his life story about how his parents met and how lucky he is to have two cultures, and other people who aren’t mixed are so boring…"

    people putting down others for identifying with one race is just as bad as people putting down others for being mixed. criminy

    July 25, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  24. Josh

    Racism breeds from story after story being about race and not just about people and their stories. We continually show our kids the difference between black, white, and other colors. We aren't born with tendencies to classify people, we nurture our children to do it. For that, racism will never die! EVER!

    July 25, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  25. Jennifer

    My children are of mixed heritage and I recently took them back to my very small, very white home town. They were at the local swimming pool and a caucasian boy approached my son asking, "What ARE you?". I have instilled in my children that they have the very best of English, Irish, Dutch, Native American, African, Polish, German and French heritage and they should be proud to claim each and every one of these races. I was interested in my son's response and was so proud when I heard him say, "I'm an American....why?"

    July 25, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  26. Iris

    Grace, Thank you!!! People of multiple ethnicities and cultures should embrace both, be proud of both. Although, I am not bi-racial I have many family members who are and I love them dearly.

    As for CNN's coverage of "Black in America", I commend them for taking interest and time to cover many different angles of the African-American community. I feel it was well balanced. My hope is that parents took the time to watch and discuss this show with their young adult children. I watched each broadcast of the show with my 19 year old son and it had a good impact on him. It opened up the door for many discussions! Well done Solidad & Anderson!

    July 25, 2008 at 4:26 pm |
  27. Francis

    Grace's statement was well said.

    In reality we all come from either white or black or both. It all goes back in history when Europeans took over Africa and colonized blacks in different parts of the world. Many of the Europeans would rape African women and from there mixed children arised. In many ways most of us are mixed. It is very true why do we have to identify with just one particular race? It makes no sense.

    When people ask me what I am, I let them now I am black but my ancestors were taken and colonized in the Dominican Republic and my parents immigrated to the United States.

    Going back to the comment that we blacks have a whole month to themselves and we're causing the division ourselves...Yea, we have a whole month to ourselves but white people have practically the rest of the months. Also look at the month we have, the shortest month of the year! Some people may say it was a coincidence that we just happen to fall in the shortest month of the year but I personally don't believe in coincidences.

    White people have basically taken over everything, and on the " We have all BLACK schools, but God forbid we’d have all WHITE." comment uh most schools are predominantly white. More white people have chances at getting a higher education than black people. Most of the richest people in the world are white. There are still, to this day people living as if we were in the Jim crow days, we have kids being teased and even killed because of their skin color and its very sad.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:26 pm |
  28. Marie

    I am a black woman, but yes i have italian blood in me as well. What society sees when they look at me is a black, possibly hispanic woman, because of my fair skin. Whenever I am questioned with what are you and I say, "I am Black", it is always followed with "and what else." Why? Why can't I just say I am black, when I look in the mirror that is what I see, and I am proud to be a black woman. I wish Black and White people would stop questioning my identity. I think racism exists on both sides of the fence, but I will say Blacks are quicker to embrace me than the White people are. But, who hit the nail on the head was the Black man (mixed man) on Wednesday night when he said, " Neither Black people or White people will ever fully embrace him." And that is how I feel in America! Lastly, I will comment on the overall feel I had for Soledad's documentary, it was scewed and did not show a balance of black men. She did show black women in a semi-positive light, but as for our black men, she only showed negatives and when she did show positives, it was only light skinned black men doing good, well what happened to all the dark skinned black men that are doing good as well, not only dark skinned men go to jail or commit crimes, and not only light skinned men are successful. Next time there is a documentary on Black America it should be fair and balanced if you want to bring about effective changes, instead of bringing about anger and making everyone lose sight of what the point of the show was suppose to be about in the first place--Educating "Americans" about the struggles Black America is facing and showing how with fair treatment and help we can overcome those struggles and become successful and wonderful members of this "America."

    July 25, 2008 at 4:26 pm |
  29. Ann Bedingham

    I am looking forward to the time when there will be one race globally – blended.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:25 pm |
  30. Brad

    The politics of identity are incredibly frustrating. The most fully self-realized people I have known are those who refuse to be pigeonholed by society as a whole, groups within society, or other individuals. They make of themselves who and what they want, embracing all parts of their backgrounds, using those parts and their own unique qualities, ideas, and aspirations to fashion themselves as individuals. In my experience, people who accomplish this, no matter from whence they spring, gain acceptance, affection, and respect from nearly all around them. There are some too narrow-minded to throw out the pigeonholes "society" has built into their consciousness, but the individuals of whom I speak above often begin the deconstruction of the limits, societally imposed or self-imposed, in others' consciousness. It all comes down being deliberate and sincere about being oneself. Few things in life are more important.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:25 pm |
  31. Elfriede

    When Hitler was in power, all Germans had to show they were of "pure Aryan descent." My father was worried that he could only prove our lineage to 1735 because prior to that date birth records were kept in church, and the church in question had burned down.

    I married an American, and 3 generations later the family tree consists of many different fruits. There are Welsh, Russian Jews, Latinos, and Native Americans in the mix. I find my grandchildren to be very interesting, fun, and beautiful to look at. I wonder what future generations will look like in 100 years. We have created a family tree so the family members know what their roots are, and to be cognizant of any potential health issues based on heredity.

    I am curious what my future descendants will be like, but, alas I won't be there to find out. I can only enjoy te family I have now.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:25 pm |
  32. Myst

    I am white. My best friend of almost 25 years is black. Her daughter, who is my god-daughter, was adopted at birth, and was born to a black father and white mother. Members of my father's family, who are Catholic, were killed or imprisoned for ethnicity and religion, in Northern Ireland, during the troubles. My son's great grandfather, an Austrian Jew, perished in Auschwitz. I bless my family for counting prejudice of any kind as among its greatest sins. This lovely child must make her parents very proud.

    This article can't be seen to detract from the overall focus of the programme. I hope it will not be. It has much value. So do many of these comments. It is true that no matter what you are, society will attempt to quantify you. Just going to work, standing in line at the grocery, sitting in traffic. It is something that has to be fought, fought, fought, and never stop fighting. And for the commenter that implied Grace's eloquence is somehow lessed because she is perceived to be a child of privilege – do not be discouraged by that. Me nor any of mine are wealthy or privliged. As my grandfather said, we own just about the dirt we stand on. We must MUST learn to value and love people for who they are as individuals and pull together, or our societies will continue to fly apart – our humanity will be nothing but statistics, and no one will count for anything.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  33. Jason

    You go, girl! 🙂

    July 25, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  34. JimB

    What could be more boring than yet another program about American Black People? We get bombarded with their misery and whining in school... on TV... in books... in movies and music... ENOUGH about these people. Never have so few people, who have accomplished so little, demanded so much attention.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  35. Chris

    Halle Berry said it best–my mommy told me that the world is going to tell you what you are. Reads Tony's note above...WOW...

    July 25, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  36. Jennifer

    I've often wondered, Grace, why people see and judge the outer side of a person before ever trying to know the human being inside. If we thought of each other as members of the human race instead of white, black, chinese, indian or whatever we might have fewer problems. But then again we wouldn't have many people on earth. Unfortunately, people are generally insecure about themselves and pass it over to others to compensate. And then they teach their children to do the same. Children aren't born prejudice, they are taught prejudice and hatred for other people. We need to start with the fresh young minds of our children if we want to change the future. Seems your mother knew that!

    July 25, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  37. Josie in NC

    I am mixed as well, and growing up it was hard because people try to figure you out. I had a t-shirt when I lived in NYC that said, "Not black, not white, but HUMAN!.
    Can people live with that? NO.
    I put on my job applications "OTHER", then I write Human-being.
    I am greek, german, french, native american mixed. Many wonderful people.
    I was on a job a whole year and when I left, someone asked one of my friends, "what was she, was she black or white" FOR a whole year they wondered.
    I applaud Grace. Now that people are talking about race, we can move to be a better country.
    IGNORANCE is a DISEASE. TO FIND A CURE, GET EDUCATED (copyrighted)

    July 25, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
  38. NYK

    With so many immigrant population, why only whites/blacks? We can have browns, hispanics,soviets etc in future generations. Without removing RACE column in every application form and every media coverage, there is NO UNITED STATES.

    With Family values at a all time low, we cannot blame govt all the time. With family support and family values, children of any ethinicity can achieve anything they would want to. The change has to come from gross roots level.

    Parents should stop smoking, drinking, gambling etc etc infront of their children to have them learn first, earn when adults, enjoy when mature.

    As an immigrant if I can do it, everyone can do it.

    Also, Mixed Race is no different from Gays, Lesbians, Transexuals, No Sexuals etc. They like it, they get married. Why the society should care where freedom is the primary goal of the constitution. Yes, you cannot remove religious factors during marriages of these children as every parent would want happiness for their children. Hence before getting married think about it or else face the society. Can we change the society, may be in next cretaceous period!

    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

    July 25, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  39. Kathy

    Bravo Grace! You said it so well. I hope Mr. OBama reads this. It's what I've been hoping to hear him say.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  40. Kala

    As a bi-racial person myself, I agree 100% with Grace. It is refreshing to know that there are parents out there like her, and mine, who are teaching their children to embrace who they are. Many people have asked me about my heritage throughout my life, because by looking at me I neither look Caucasian or strictly African American. My answer has always been the same, I am both. Just like a Caucasian person cannot wake up one morning and decide they are Cambodian or African American, I cannot wake up and decide to be either African American or Caucasian for that day. I am what I am, to deny one half of me would be to discredit who I am and half of my heritage. I often find the very people who ask about my racial identity are the ones who would like to restrict me to one particular label. Sometimes as if it is American Idol, with people anticipating which one of the races will get more votes as an identity from the bi- and multi-racial population. It is as if that is the ultimate showdown of the age old question of racial superiority. When people ask what your race is, knowing it is of a mixed decent, and then ask "Which do identify yourself as/ identify with more?" I know what the true meaning of that question is. "If someone has the choice to be black or white, which will they choose?" A good portion of society wonders this, though no one would willingly admit it. This is what people want to know. I do not wish to be a compass pointing in the direction of one race, as to say this is a better race so this is the one I choose. I choose to be me. Hopefully the face of a new world, where racial identity is futile because we are either all so intertwined you cannot distinguish just one heritage or people just dont care anymore. To all who are not of a mixed racial background, ask yourself, "If you do not have a choice as to what your heritage is, why would you assume that I do?"

    July 25, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  41. JM- Philadelphia

    I like all others are blown away by the maturity of Grace and her words should be read by all children of of mixed races. We should all take heed to such wise words. I for one am proud to select "other" when asked for my race on certain applications.

    P.S. She is right...America will be one big melting pot soon so we might as well adjust:)

    July 25, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  42. Maya

    I applaud anyone who is confident enough ito declare they are proud of who they are and where they came from. However, I think it is naive to ignore the fact that although you are of "mixed heritage," you will be treated as you are seen and thus your life experience is defined. For example, Barack Obama's mother is white and his father is black. He has said that he is a Black Man because that is what is reflected in the mirror and that is what his life experience has beeen in America. Call youself whatever you wish, but don't bury your head in the sand.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  43. Doc. W.

    Nice article by a young lady with a very bright future ahead of her. The issue with the idea of "Black" that we continually misunderstand is that it ceased being a true reference to a person's race well over a century ago! "Black" in this country is a reference and testament to an emergent ethnicity, more so than a race. As many of the others have mentioned, there no longer exists various "races", only humanity! That is an indisputable genetic fact; check your Y chromosome! Let us once and for all understand "Black" for what it truly and historically is. It is a socio-cultural and genetic intermixing of many diverse ethnic groups from various parts of West, West Central and even East Africa, as well as various indigenous American ethnicities along with European ones that have evolved under the institution of slavery in North America into a hybrid or Creole culture. This mixing spawned very distinct outward cultural traits such as seen in linguistic, religious and even dance traditions. This new culture shares various traits with a multitude of similar emergent ethnicities in places like Brazil, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Curacao, Belize, Colombia (esp. in Choco) etc. all of which share a similar history of enslavement. These new cultures within these societies are inextricably linked to one another through what is termed the "Black Diaspora". For those like Ms. Gibson who would rather not refer to herself in terms of race can't be more correct with such a sentiment. Let us move away from the now artificial construct of race and start to understand the history behind this very distinct culture created by this relatively new ethnic group that evolved out of the necessity of survival, called African Americans or "Black" people in the U.S..

    Lastly, these so-called symptoms of the African American community seen in the "Black In America" series are not truly symptoms of the African American community!!! They are more of a symptom of any educationally and economically depressed area within a largely urban populace!!! Like Anderson Cooper says, "Let's dig deeper!"

    July 25, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  44. Miss Clover

    Wake up Grace. Even if you tatoo your racial make-up on your forehead, white Americans will still look at you and see a Black woman. Save the rhetoric for the rest of the young, naive "blended" folks like yourself. And by the way, we are proud parents of a daughter who is chinese and black. I know what I'm talking about.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:17 pm |
  45. jennifer

    ABSOLUTELY!! I am mixed and that is ALL I can think about in regard to the presidential race. Mr. Obama is somehow the "black" candidate, and it seems no one addresses the fact that he is actually the "multiethnic" candidate.

    And if every one of were to look at their own ethnic background, we would all see we are multiethnic. I get so sick of people saying, oh, I'm just white, or whatever "color". When I explain my ethnic background to one of the many people who ask, I say Chinese, Irish, German, and Polish. There's more to me than "just" half white and Chinese.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:14 pm |
  46. Liz T Tucson

    What a refreshing perspective from a smart young lady! My biracial children do not seem to be confused, although I hope they read Grace's message.
    I will never forget being asked as a newlywed by two black ladies what I was doing with one of "our" men. Since he was well into his 30s when we met, I guess they had had their chance.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:14 pm |
  47. DSL

    I am a mixture of Native American, English, Irish, German & French. The Native American is my most 'dominant' of percentage of my blood 'mixture'. I find that I have more discrimination from the Native Americans, of which I am more of a percentage than some of them,..... but I'm too "white" looking! They are more brown, so they are more "Indian"! So I have a bit of understanding of what Black Americans go through. I feel quite connected to ALL of my heritage, but I feel a closer kinship to my Native American side because I act & think more like they do. However, if I go to a PowWow, they look at me like I'm some little green person from Mars!! There is discrimination in all sorts of areas & with more than just black people. There's age, handicaps, gender, sexual orientation, religion & so on! Let's just admit it, If you're "different" from someone else, then you "don't belong here"! America has been this way from the very beginning & it has changed a lot, but there's still a lot of changing that needs to happen!

    July 25, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  48. Phil

    Grace,

    If I had a thousand dollars to bet. I would bet that all of your dates look like Brad Pitt! I think that you need to face the truth–you have a color problem. Ask yourself, why not call yourself black? This problem goes beyond black and white. It is deeply inculcated in the world culture.

    This young lady seems very naive. For example, what race is a child if one grandparent is so-called biracial and the parents are of the same so-called race? All African American are biracial! So this young ladies attempt to be both is nothing more than a desire to be more white, then black...there I said it.

    She is truely a 16 year old; and has a lot to learn about the mechanics of racial distintion and the priviledge that it brings.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  49. Linda in Memphis

    I must say that the comments on this blog are certainly as interesting and revealing as the original article. Racism, both from Blacks & Whites etc. are doing too much damage on society.

    But how about all possible check boxes with instructions to "Check all that apply?".

    July 25, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
  50. Rhonda

    Kudos to you Ms. Whitfield on your success with raising an intelligent, articulate and confident young woman. Ms. Gibson thank you for channeling your passion in a positive direction and sharing your perspective with the world.

    I must say though that I remember learning in my college genetics class that biologically speaking, the second you mix black with any other race, the genetic result is black; regardless of the physical characteristics, the entire being is black.

    This is not to say one should then ignore the other side of who they are; we are all created from the union of two separate and distinct being. I do believe though that if my memory serves me right, those of a biracial union do have a category – Black.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
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