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.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/24/art.whitfield.jpg width=292 height=320]
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

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 (699 Responses)
  1. Amanda

    I am a white mother of bi-racial children and I don't care if my child is darker than his black father, they are bi-racial!!! We teach others around us how we want our kids to be viewed. Before each school year, we meet with their teachers and let them know that they are
    bi-racial. Whenever we fill out forms, if we can't check a black and a white box, then we check the "Other" box and write in bi-racial or multi-cultural.

    Society can see my kids as black all they want............but they aren't. They know that, I know that, their father knows that and we make it a point to let anyone who miscategorizes them for any reason know that. We educate others on how we want to be viewed as a family. It's really not that difficult!

    July 25, 2008 at 9:42 pm |
  2. Allison

    I am so incredibly moved by Grace's words. I am a Jamaican born American and a child of a mom who was mixed.
    I now have a son who is biracial and I have struggled for a time arguing with friends even, saying, "why on God's green earth would I tell my child to choose between one race or the other? To do so would say that he has to negate one parent and that is just ridiculous.
    I found myself pushing hard for my child to say, "you are black", because there are still so many negative ideas and images about being black, that I wanted to find a way to instill a love and strength and courage in that part of him so that no one can tear it down. But in truth I shouldn't have to do that. It is as though I am making excuses or apologies as to why the world is still so backwards. The fact is there is only one race...THE HUMAN RACE.
    There are things far beyond color that make us beautiful and one, I wish that is what we would focus on as a people.
    Maybe I am confused by it all, because the whole topic makes me sick.
    Life is hard enough, we don't need any more false walls to limit, who we are, or ways for us to continue to hurt and hate one another.

    July 25, 2008 at 9:41 pm |
  3. Stalyon

    Ignorance is the condition of being uninformed or uneducated, lacking knowledge or information. It may also refer to:

    The stage America is in when it comes to identifying people of MIXED DECENT. America sadly to say has people who want to be in this catigory. They want to think that everyone is either BLACK or WHITE, however the TRUTH is that many Americans come from a wide array of nationalities and culutures that are of MIXED DECENT. If you told a IRISH american man that he was that of the same as a ITALIAN American in 1776 he would probably punch you in the face. The fact of the matter is to make it easier on applications and things of the such we have come into a way of thinking that is ignorant and needs CHANGE. The ways of old are changing and so do the actions and thoughts of those living in this NEW era. THE ONE DROP RULE needs to be looked over and vitoed out of the American system as it has too many flaws and in the big picture keeps many Americans in a stage of ignorance. However today we have many MIXED AMERICANS taking the stage because people want to put you in a box, however people such as Tiger Woods and Barack Obama and many other great Americans make it impossible to do so and that confuses many, even Jesse Jackson who is BLACK and speaking of Mr. OBAMA as if he was a slave who needed his nuts taken off.

    The answer is simple, we are all humans of ONE race and that is the HUMAN RACE. We send both BLACK, and WHITE people to the moon. Our bond of medicine is of one bond we do not look at medicine and see how it can cure ONE race vs. ANOTHER race, we look at how we can for example cure CANCER that does not discrimitate on a particular race or culture or demographic, if only one could see thru the eyes of God can one truely understand that we are all of the dirt, we breath and we die, BLACK or WHITE, or of MIXED DECENT lets be respectful of all as we are all in need of eachother.

    July 25, 2008 at 9:39 pm |
  4. Eric R.

    Bravo! Nicely put.

    July 25, 2008 at 9:39 pm |
  5. Renata

    I believe that being biracial,multiracial,black,or white shouldn't matter. The point is everyone should be treated the same and equal. We're all humans and people,not colors. America is a melting pot of many people. In the African American community there is much self-hatred for one's self. We look at what's on the outside instead of the inside. We hold each other back instead of helping one another. It's like the William Lynch Story. We all should just be Americans instead of a race. There's only the human race of people and love.

    July 25, 2008 at 9:36 pm |
  6. Michael Nassenstein

    Way to go, that is excactly what i told my daughter, half german and half korean, be proud of both your parts and identify with both and you will be happy. Glad to see that in this segregating world someone has sense, and this from a young person, it should shame all the older persons that identify and categorize others by race.

    July 25, 2008 at 9:35 pm |
  7. Michon

    Grace has so eloquently verbalized what I have felt while watching our country evolve. I am Korean and Black. If you were to ask me to choose which I identify with the most, I would say both. It is unfair to ask me to give more importance to one part of my heritage over the other. My husband is of Mexican descent. How would you categorize my son? He should not be subjected to questions about what his ethnic makeup is.

    Our country is more of a melting pot than ever before. I hate the cliche, but it is true. Mr. Barack Obama is a symbol of the blending of ethnicities, however he is so commonly referred to as African-American. He is a man that is biracial. That is the historical perspective that should be referenced.

    I feel no need, nor will I ever try to select which race I am. I am proud to be who I am – a proud American woman who is Korean and Black.

    July 25, 2008 at 9:34 pm |
  8. orin

    if you as a beautiful young woman was stopped by a cop or followed in a shopping mall , is it because you are black? white? Biracial? Or is it because of your color? Think about it ? There is not a black person in america who is not bi-racial .... maybe because your first generation it is more in your face ..... If a woman who maybe ignorant with our caucasian background finds an ignorant reason to hit or slap
    you .... is she attacking the person in us who is like her or the person who is of our africian ancestory ..... You are young we as humans have a delima ... you young lady are on a quest as we all are.... keep pursing....keep challening and my god bless...

    July 25, 2008 at 9:34 pm |
  9. Monica

    I'm Peruvian and my husband is white American. I have two incredibly beutiful white skin, blue eyes girls... and every where we go people think (and ask me) if I'm the baby sitter... or maybe dady's new latin girl friend... But you know what?... we don't care! We are racing our girls teaching them that we live in one world, that we are all the same, that we have to accept each others.... and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE..!!!!

    Let's stop calling each others names... we are all humans, men and woman... that's it, please!

    July 25, 2008 at 9:23 pm |
  10. JeromeM

    Then why is CNN (CrappyNews Network) so racist? They always refer to Obama as black even though he is more white than black because typical to the black culture the father abandoned him to his cocaine usage and he ended up being raised by his well to do gransmother (VP of the largest bank in Hawaii) and his well to do mother who got a PHD from Harvard. She only had food stamps when she was in college which is what many well off 'slumming' white people do.

    July 25, 2008 at 9:23 pm |
  11. Krystin

    I really appreciate this blog entry. Very well written,very well said and right on. As a bi-racial person myself, I have often felt the same way and believe it is necessary to be expressed...even when society doesn't want to accept it. People of mixed backgrounds are beautiful and are fortunate to have sides of multiple races and ethnicities. Indeed, it is representative of hard fought against divides being broken and global society being represented. To be forced to put one's self in one category is to kill off who we are because we are neither and all.

    July 25, 2008 at 9:14 pm |
  12. Jeff

    RIght on. The real challenge for all humans everywhere is to see if we can rise above the limiting barriers of "race" and work together to overcome the increasingly serious problems that all living beings face in these troubling times. Race is a distraction when we take a look at what's happening to our world.

    July 25, 2008 at 9:12 pm |
  13. Anne

    It's nice to see a biracial woman that could pass as white dictating how I should define myself.

    I am biracial and I realize that I am just black to most people. Some other biracial people need to get over themselves. You're not that special.

    July 25, 2008 at 9:11 pm |
  14. Emily Barnett

    Bravo, Bravo, Bravo. My grandchildren are Blended and I am glad that someone has stood up to be heard. My granddaughter was told when she signed in to her High School she marked both races and was told no she had to choose one. she is proud of both parents but the school told her what one to choose because that way she would be more likely to get a minority scholarship. Please do not stop, spread the word everywhere.

    July 25, 2008 at 9:10 pm |
  15. Alice

    I am Black, Cherokee, Chippewa, Blackfoot. There is German, Irish, Italian and Russian in my family lineage. I grew up speaking English and Spanish, took sign language, French in school, learned some Swahili, German, Italian, and French from my father who was in WWII. My father taught me to always be proud of who I was for I made my ancestors proud. That I stood on the shoulders of all before me as they all lived for the day that I came into being. That they all lived for the day I needed courage and strength. My father was Cherokee, Chippewa and Black. My mother was Blackfoot and Black. The German, Irish, Italian and Russian from my father's lineage. He taught me about Cesar Chavez, Leonard Peltier, MLK, Jr., John and Bobby, Malcolm and everyone who thought to change the world during the Civil Rights Era up until he died. His main point was that I/we are "members of the world's family" and to understand our role in the family we must learn every culture of the world. I was not taught to see "color" but to look at the soul and heart. They both taught me that "society" could be brutal but it could also be inviting. They taught me to challenge myself if no one else did. But most importantly they taught me my name. That is who I am, what I should answer to and how I will be remembered. For my actions will be "logged" under my name. I believe in humanity, not just my own but everyone's. To do otherwise is to give up on myself. I won't give up on you because I won't give up on me. My siblings say that it is foolish to be "a double or triple minority" but I won't deny my parents or those who shaped them. I am me. It doesn't matter to me if some say I am Black or this or that. We all are supposed to answer to a higher calling. These things don't define but they also don't take away from who I am. We all are part of the collective world order (family) that should promote and protect one another. There are good and bad people of every hue in every aspect of life but it is the good that should be the norm and celebrated.

    Discussion is good. It is a start. But it dies before things are settled, before things are finished. It is time to talk until there is a solution. Then let us all act accordingly.

    July 25, 2008 at 9:06 pm |
  16. Jaimee

    I'm a white woman married to a black man. We have one "brown" son. That's right.... he's not black, not white, but brown!!! Most people think he's Mexican!!!

    As far as I'm concerned, as long as he is kind, charming, considerate, disciplined, and wise, his color will have absolutely NO impact on what he is able to achieve in his lifetime.

    July 25, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  17. Brad

    Well said, but you know, why must we be latin american, or african american. Point is, you are an American. On my moms side her father or grandfather is from India, on my dads side, I have cherokee and jerman. So what am I? InJerkee American? No, I'm an American, as are all my fellow brothers and sisters, dispite color.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:59 pm |
  18. NWA fan

    That was nice what Grace said, but she's HOT! Who cares if she's black or white?

    July 25, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  19. Monica

    I'm proud to say Im multi-racial!! I'm black, white, cherokee and lumbee. I claim all my racial makeup. I grew up in the South in the middle of the civil rights struggle where the "caste system" still reigns today. My birth certificate says "Negroid" but my skin color is very pale. My whole family is a rainbow with white skin-green/blue eyes-straight blonde hair to black skin-brown eyes-kinky black hair. Throughout my life, I have been discriminated by both races. Some whites and blacks would see me as dark as a night and some whites and some blacks would see me as white as snow. And some would see me invisible. I see myself as a loving person who would help others and will strive to live my life in the pursuit of happiness.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  20. Lisa P, CT

    What an inspiring young woman, we can all learn a lesson from her. Can I vote for her for President instead of Obama who looks at his grandmother as a typical WHITE person...
    I'm sure with this positive attitude, this woman will be whatever she aspires to be.. All the best to her.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  21. tera

    I completely agree with you. I am multi-racial and have always identified myself that way because I love and respect both of my parents and do not feel the need to deny one part of myself in order to fit with a specific societal model. I'm proud to be me.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  22. joe


    You are young and have ideals to which you are completely entitled too. However in your mother's movie about Josephine Baker, it was very telling of how the aparatus of racism is blatantly, mildly and ignorantly applied.

    Black, bronze, mocha, pecan tan, tan and light skin your fairer family members will always see you as "Black" hence their "efforts" to treat you no differently. Even within your unconscious mind looms the stima of race. Consciously and idealy you can profess unconditional acceptence of your white family members. Just as this never ending debate on race continues so will the questions that loom in your unconscious mind.

    Your absolutely "right", but society will force you to choose who to beholding too...

    July 25, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  23. nancy

    At the very beginning of this discussion the sentiment was expressed, in response to Ms. Gibson's letter, that "...no matter how you define yourself, society will place you in a category." I believe that no one has the power to categorize you, unless you give them that power. I was pleased to read another commenter's entry, who shared that whenever someone referred to him as black or as white, he corrected them and told them that he was neither–he was mixed-race. Isn't that what we would do if someone called us Sheila when our name was Laura–speak up and correct them? Of course we would. A person is who he/she chooses to be–Black, White, Mixed-Race, Bi-Racial, Post-Racial, etc. etc–and I would hope that parents raise their children to determine for themselves who they are, present themselves to the world as that unique individual, and not let anyone else "categorize" them. Validation of identity belongs to the individual, not to any external source.
    Ms. Gibson, you are an inspiration.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  24. Leslie Reimer

    As a parent of children of mixed race, I appload her for speaking out.
    I never made race an issue in our home, it was a non-issue and as such I have two beautiful children who are colorblind.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  25. Deb

    I too am of blended race. I am an American mutt. Born of English, Irish, German, American Indian, African, Welch, and .Swedish.
    I hate being pigeon holed into a "race" . I am not "white" that is my skin, my race reflects many generations of strong individuals who were proud of their heritage. So when filing out questionaires, I never mark "race". What a stupid question. Who cares!

    July 25, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  26. Penni Miller - Iowa

    Wow, I could not have said it better myself. As a mother of 4 bi-racial children it gives me great pride to hear from another young person that be mixed does not necessarily create an identity crisis. I think those who are most preplexed are those that are not bi-racial and obvisiouly the ones who need a way to identify or label those that are.

    Lynn, I am sure you are very proud. I want to applaud you for raising such a confident, intelligent, well spoken and beautiful BLENDED child.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  27. Teena

    I am half Japanese and half Caucasian and my parents wanted me listed as white at school, etc. I grew up in the 60's when Pearl Harbor was still on the minds of many Americans.

    My parents didn't have to experience how many whites rejected me because I wasn't "all" white. All the Japanese hate from the war thrown at me. Then to have my mother's Japanese family not want anything to do with me either because I am mixed caused a lot of confusion in my life. Where did I fit in and belong.

    You want to be accepted but it didn't happen when I was growing up. Now as an adult, I still get it the workplace. Mostly blacks pitted against whites, but what am I? Blacks say I am white and also Asians are white. I see a lot of prejudice still against Asians from both whites and blacks.

    I would like to see a series on Biracial in America or Multi-racial in America. Not only on black and white, but on Asian and white or Asian and black. Racism is still out there no matter what color you are.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  28. Reimi

    Very well written Grace. I too, am mixed; I am half African American and half Japanese. However, being mixed, or "blended" by two minorities is an almost completely different experience than being half black and white.
    With that being said, I would like to add that at your age, being idealistic is a given. For people who are much older than you, being half white and black was not something to be proud of; think of it from a historical point of view.
    Also, there tends to be a resentment toward those who are blended (black and white) from the black community because we live in a society where the lighter you are, the less kinky your hair is, and the more your facial features are less black and more white, the more likely you are to be favored and chosen.

    And Grace,don't forget that from a visual standpoint and to whites, you are black. You may look a bit more exotic but you are black in the eyes of pretty much everyone. You are not mixed or blended, or any other fancy word. Look at Obama–he is bi-racial, yet he is considered the first "African-American" running for president, not the first "Bi-Racial" running for president.

    At 16, its hard to see this. The downfall is that you will never be fully accepted by either community–people who are not mixed will never understand this and will tend to sugar coat it and blanket it with the usual 'cant we just all get along' statement–so you have no choice but to play the role of being the melting pot. Parents who are not mixed themselves will also never fully understand what its like.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  29. Danielle

    Maybe the documentary should have offered a more positive view into the biracial experience. Unfortunately everyone isn't as well adjusted as Grace. It's wonderful that we live in a time when people can be proud of their mixed heritage. This has not always been so...biracial children have not always been symbols of racial harmony.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  30. Wilson

    The comments are very well expressed.

    However, the fact that solely by virtue of you being the daughter of an actress and for no other reason you have been given special attention by CNN should indicate that while we would all aspire to the ideal, we must live with the realities of life, among which is, for better or worse, we are all somehow defined by our society in some way.

    Not being judgemental about you, but if your mother were a black secretary and your father a white bricklayer, you would simply be known as that black girl with the white father.

    Unfortunate but true.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  31. Pembro

    Geri, I agree with you. The segment is called "Black in America"; How it is and how it should be are 2 different realities. Its easy to sit on the outside 'looking in' and come up with these out of touch expressions of what its like, collectively. Sadly, many 'blacks' in America are very much out of touch with the African American community. You see, when we are fortunate enough to gain a certain status quo, only a few of us return to help another the way someone helped us.

    With that being said, I can only applaud the parenting of Lynn Whitfield and husband for raising such an articulate child to have a beutiful self-image in a society that would have her believe otherwise.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  32. Atlantic Islander, DC metro area

    There is a reason it is called Black in America, because only America can come up with the 'one drop of black makes one black' belief, I will not even call it a theory or statement. In other countries, with mixed and separate races people, you are treated as an individual based on what you contribute, on who you are. Most other countries welcome the blend of races, because it makes for an interesting 'sea' of colors.

    Only in America.

    It is similar to what happened on the View. There are many like Elizabeth Hasselbeck who are educated and THINK they understand the problems of being black in America and they do not. When she said 'we all live in the same world', that is what got Whoopie ticked and the whole incident proved how this country has NOT made a lot of progress with regard to race integration. Why does someone have to be just ONE race to feel good about themselves? I believe blended people like Grace and Obama have MORE tolerance of all peoples, because they come from all peoples and have no problems with their own identity, they are humans, after all. There are far more important things to spend time on.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:52 pm |
  33. JaNiy

    I'm a parent of Biracial childeren and I know that I will never raise my Daughters to be black or white. I will raise them to be American and not see people for there color but to see them for what kind of person they are. Also I think that everyone needs to get over the fact of how they are treated because of the color of there skin just because you have dark skin doesn't mean that you are the only one that has it hard... Every American has it hard...Rich or poor...Everyone has problems.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  34. Jacques Casimir

    As a Biracial (black and white) person here in american i cannot think of anything more freeing for me. I consider myself to have the best of both worlds, all the strengths none of the weaknesses.

    The freedom it allowed me, i could pick up an electric guitar and jam out with my white friends, then pick up a basketball and go play with my black friends.

    My social realities were more a function of the communities i was raised in and the racial blends there in rather than the racial DNA i carry in my genes. I've lived in Argentina, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Washington DC, and Houston, Texas. Knowing i was biracial and never claiming to be just one or the other, i grew up knowing i was already a rare breed. Thus trying to find my own kind would be futile. This was the realization that brought the freedom to allow me to do things because i wanted to, not because it was what was expected of a person of my social, racial, economic class to do.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  35. Susan

    I am white and my husband is Cuban. We are both in our late 40s. Not once have I ever thought about his skin color or felt that he was looked down on. We have never been hassled and my family has never once said anything derogatory toward him. I will say this though.
    When I was young and was very much into sports, I would sit and watch NBA basketball (Bulls – Norm Van Lier was playing at the time)and my family would call me a N-– lover. I didn't care what they thought. I played and ran against African Americans and never thought about it. When I graduated H.S. and initially went to work for an Insurance Co., some of my best friends were black. I have always had respect for other races.

    One of the best things that colleges have done over the past 20 years were to hold classes regarding discrimination of any kind in society. This definitely covered racism and other stigmatisms. My only son roomed with an African American (AA) as a freshman at U of I, Champaign-Urbana and never really gave it a second thought. I believe the more schools, especially grade and H.S. attempt to educate kids regarding this, the more likely we will have a more open and tolerable society regarding race and religion.

    I do believe that it is the older white generation which still follow the same old racism path, especially the white Europeans. The younger generation I believe for the most part has gotten over this (depending of course on their upbringing, church, and education). I felt I was a groundbraker regarding my feelings and have followed that path ever since. My parents had no affect on me whatsoever regarding their tainted views about AA. But again, I was born in the 60s and was always a rebel and had a mind of my own. The most important thing for anyone is to be yourself, know others are just like you, and be true to that belief. Respect everyone.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:49 pm |
  36. Lisa

    Way to go Grace! As a young woman of mixed race, I am very proud of the stand you've chosen to make....you're representing us well. But mostly we have to give credit to your parents for raising you to be confident and proud of your heritage. But the truth is that most of us were not raised that way. I was raised in a neighborhood where we were the only children of mixed race, so I understand where the confusion comes from. I was told that because my mother was black, I am black and for that reason I wasn't able to relate completely with the my father or the white side of my family. I have only now started to see the beauty in being mixed and learned to embrace both sides and not be ashamed of being white. So we all have different experiences. We should just learn how to be supportive and understanding because it is a struggle to be mixed in America.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:48 pm |
  37. dave

    With the lights off all skin looks black. With the lights really high we all wash out. Unless you've been lost in a fire you cannot really look black. If black is a culture fine but it is identified as too much more. Look to see why some humans brains are more apt to pidgeon hole people as compared to others. Identify and remove this undesired cause and the effect will be more spirited, dynamic, honest. Find out why some people don't pidgeon hole others. What do these humans do differently then do that. There is no 'race' to win. I am american-african, i am american-italian.... if you must identify you're american first and ancestry 2nd. We identify too much.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:48 pm |
  38. Teri

    There is not one person on this earth that does not have biological heritage of one form or another of mixed race in them. Starting with Adam and Eve, there is no where that states exactly what is black or white. It is just a word of no substance for either. You show me one person that has ancestors that were pure 100% white or100% black, 100% protestant or 100% catholic, 100% democatic or 100% republican. We are all human beings, in a complex world, when we are stripped of everything down to our naked trueths, we are all a mixture of a cocktail human being in life. We live and we die, that is all there is to it! So how about everyone just accept who we are, and live life for better reasons then the color of our skin!

    July 25, 2008 at 4:47 pm |
  39. Susie

    Black, white, asian, hispanic (which, by the way, is not a race- it is a language group), etc.... blah blah blah blah blah ! Who cares?! The more we dwell on this issue, the more people focus on their differences. I stopped checking the Race/Ethicity box on forms a long time ago because it bugged me that I did not fit into any of the predefined categories.

    For the most part, race has little or no impact on the future success of an individual. There is a much bigger factor- MONEY! A poor white kid will not have nearly as many opportunities as a rich black kid. Let's start giving out scholarships based on socio-economic status rather than skin color. Isn't that more fair? But, then again, my sister got a full ride to college just because of that little "hispanic" box she had to check. Not bad for someone who grew up in an upper-middle class suburb and attended private schools. I was never by any means economically disadvantaged, but my parents always told us to expolit the fact that being a "minority" can give you an edge when it comes to financial assisstence for college. Funny, huh?

    Another funny thing- my relatives from South America always thought of themselves as white (Spanish ancestry) until moving to this country. Spain is after all in Europe. If we want to confuse or frustrate people let's keep shoving them into categories.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:47 pm |
  40. Joyce

    It's amazing that even after people read the article, they miss the point entirely.. Such as Geri.. The more people try to make things about race, the more they stay in the past. Every race has seen discrimination. MOve forward. Teach your children to be strong and proud of the individual they are. It is not about the color of your skin. I am of mixed heritage. My mother was beat in the US Classroom for not being able to speak the english language, BUT she grew past that.. She forgave. She doesn't bring it up over and over again how she was so mistreated because of the color of her skin. She forgave. Some things as a society we need to grow and change and not continually rehash things to reopen old wounds. I am proud of both of my heritages. And I would never say I am one or the other. I am both and mighty dang proud!

    July 25, 2008 at 4:45 pm |
  41. Vivek Saxena

    Incredible article! Very beautiful and highly intelligent young Lady! I wish I would have had such a strong vernacular at that age!

    I myself am Indian, TECHNICALLY. I was born elsewhere, but my parents are Indian. The insult I get the most is 'wigger'. Because I enjoy hiphop music and dress according to a hiphop lifestyle, I get the term 'wigger' a lot. It frustrates me because society automatically says... "Well you are Indian. You need to pull your pants up, wear a nice shirt, and stop acting black." It makes no sense to me at all.

    In fact, I do not get along with others of my own race because oftentimes, they perpetrate the same hatred. I once had my computer fixed at a local Tiger-Direct outlet and one day the young Indian lady fixing my computer suddenly blurts out, "I do not understand why all these kids are trying to act black." And a Middle Eastern peer of hers blurts out, "Yah, it is so ridiculous." I could tell that they were referring to me. It really offended me. She kept telling me how I need to accept I am Indian and a Hindu. Um... I am actually a Christian!

    The only race I feel unconditional acceptance with is well... black people. When I hang out with friends of other races, they always make jokes and nitpick about how I am "so ghetto" or "such a wigger" and it really offends me. I brush it off to be a better person, but it still bothers me.

    I just do not understand why ... just because my parents were born from India ... why society has determined I must act, behave, talk, and be such a person as they deem fit. Where is my own personal choice to live AS I SEE FIT? Why is it that just because I am Indian, they automatically judge my life and take for granted all the hardships I have endured? WHY IS THAT?

    Anyways, wonderful article and incredible discussions you have inspired! KUDOS TO YOU! GOD BLESS!

    July 25, 2008 at 4:44 pm |
  42. Sarah GA

    I think unfortunately we live in a society where corporatations, and even our government, compartmentalize each race. If you are a citizen of the United States of America, then in my opinion your are simply and proudly an American. I have never understood the need to hyphenate our society, and continue to segregate it by these labels. If we truly want to be "one people" then we'll all be satisfied with just being Americans and realize that an American by definition is one who comes from many cultures, many ethnicities and be proud that we are such a diverse but inclusive country!

    So far I feel like the Black in America program is highlighting that there is still a black vs. white in this country, and the media is cultivating this animosity. Plain and simple, people of all ethnic groups struggle for a better life...or even to put food on the table. We have to stop concentrating on I'm black, your white, their brown...and realize that we are all humans facing the same fight of survival and pursuit of happiness.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:44 pm |
  43. V

    Very intelligent. Although I would add what is race but a social construct anyways. It is not biological that much is pretty much proven. We in essence are all the same. No one segregates people based on hair or eye color alone so why use skin tone.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
  44. Jai

    To Robert, My son made a similar statement to me 19 years ago, when he was a teenager at a predominantly white private school. He said he thought racism would die out as the older population passed away. Nothing could have been further from the truth! Children grow into adults and racism continues with each generation. Now, as a 32 year old black man in America with two degrees, my son realizes how naive he was! He has been discriminated against in employment. His struggles are the same as his father's, the same as my father's.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
  45. Terry

    Grace’s words are incredibly heartening, and her inner strength is palpable. It’s true that we need to look at both sides of everything.
    Genetics, however, is harsh. Not all of us are picture-perfect combinations of our parents. Some children of interracial couples are born appearing as either one color or the other rather than a mix.
    It is in situations like these, when you can’t even physically recognize yourself in your parents, that confusion occurs. When I was a kid, I figured my father’s Puerto Rican ancestry “didn’t count" because I had my Irish mother’s pale skin. Finally meeting my grandparents, hearing how they spoke in Spanish to each other and to my father, was a surreal experience. “Who ARE these people?” I thought. I acknowledged them as my grandparent, but I had a difficult time accepting myself as their grandson.
    I’ve had it pretty easy, sure, having inherited one color as opposed to the other. Grace is right in being proud of who she is. It’s just not always so easy.

    July 25, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
  46. Auntie Coosa

    soon all the children of the world will be a mixture of races as well

    We are already a mixture of races. I'm Scot, English, German, French, Swiss, Two Native American Tribes.

    I would like for Sen. Obama to identify as a Mixed Race person. But he seems too intent on "proving" his "blackness" instead of his "true self."

    Why can't we all just get along? No gang violence, no status, no anger over past misdeeds, no retribution ideology, no ethnic-anger. Just a group of people who care for each other, no matter what "color" the skin or what ethnic origin or what religious beliefs. Why can't everyone put down their guns and just be nice to each other? Why can't the Sudanese treat those in Darfur as their friends? Why can't Zimbabwe citizens put down their arms and communicate with each other on an intellectual level? Why can't women in the Middle East be treated as equals to men and not be restricted by codes of conduct from the eighth century? Why can't Muslims put down their guns and begin to view Israelis and all other peoples as equals and as neighbors and friends? Why can't Myranmar/Burma's leaders open the gates to their Country and accept aid from other Countries? Why can't Mexicans and Central and South Americans stay in their own countries and work to make their countries better instead of crossing into the USofA and taking resources away from US Citizens? Why can't leaders of Mexico, Central and South America provide similar resources for their citizens as the USofA does? Why are there dictators instead of duly elected leaders in other Countries of the World?

    No one can be a "citizen of the world" until ALL the Nations of the Earth have freely elected leaders and judicial systems consistent with the rule of law (and not theocracy).

    For anyone to claim to be a citizen of the world is to spit on citizens of Nations run by tyrannical leaders and dictators. World Citizens means Free Citizens in EVERY Nation!

    July 25, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
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