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. Briggs

    Wow, I am sure this group will not like what I am about to say, but so goes life. I am really happy that you all are a proud to be of mixed heritage, thuth be told we all are, but for those of us whose ethnicity are more discernably defined, I am proud of that. I love being African American and I love that there is no doubt, I do not straighten my hair nor do I bleach my skin. nor do It look forward to the day when all children are blended, then wha?. Are you all really so naive as to believe that all our ills will be solved when skin color is no longer a factor, that foolishness will only be transferred to some other discernable or imagined factor. The goal we should strive for is to learn to embrace and accept our differences as apart of what makes us a whole people/the human race. I love the fact that African Americans brought the world Jazz, and attending hispanic festivals and learning to Salsa and do the meringue, eating Salt fish and cabbage with my Jamaican friends on a Sat. evening, teaching my Syrian neighbor english as she worked on her AA degree. A blended homogenous world no thanks, I'll work on this one.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:26 pm |
  2. Lyn Rodgers

    Obviously this person lives in a sheltered world. I am mixed. My mother is white and my father is black – Polish, English, Irish, Mohawk of the Iriquois Nation, Apache and African if you really want to know. I used to choose black. But after having so many black people tell me I am not black, I have chosen to live in a Puerto Rican neighborhood. They only care that I look like them, sound like them when I talk, and am active with the children and teenagers in the neighborhood.

    Maybe if my parents were wealthy, creative people well removed from the nitty gritty I would agree with this idealized view. But for now, I am me. I am NOT black. Nor am I white. I am bi-racial. The same view on one hand, but very much different because I realize that perception is 90% of reality and NO ONE sees black or white when they look at me.

    Heck, I have had people express astonishment at the fact that I can speak English and here I am an attorney at a major law firm with three degrees!

    July 25, 2008 at 2:25 pm |
  3. Christina

    I find it interesting that those of African heritage in England don't call themselves Black Englishmen. They are just Englishmen.

    I'm only the 3rd generation born here and I was taught early on I'm an AMERICAN first. I'm proud of my heritage and of the culture I'm a part of. Everyone should be proud of where they are from.

    We need to learn from history and grow from the lessons it has shown us. If we continue to divide ourselves and label ourselves and others we will never break the hate.

    I find all the positive comments here to be refreshing.

    Anyone who says that because someone is educated or well off removes them from the black community is crazy. Anyone who says that whites don't get passed over by a minority is blind. Everyone is suffering in this time and the reason isn't race or sex. More people today feel they are entitled to whatever they want. In today’s age we ALL have to work hard for what we want.

    I was raised to see people not color. We all bleed, we're all the same in the end. Only individuals can make changes. We choose to move on and remember or to remain in ignorance.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:25 pm |
  4. Josh

    Grace, because of the fact her parents are wealthy and famous, does not deal with the day to day of being of mixed race in America, she is able to side step all of the problems. She is also a bi-racial woman, who is more easily excepted as a model of beauty (see any rap, R&B video or look at Halle Berry). Growing up a biracial male, I was always made aware of the fact that I was not part of either ethnic group. I don't look white, and I don't look black and I was reminded by both parties of this though physical and verbal assults. from blacks I was told that I thought I was better than them, when I did not. Whites told me I wanted to be them, also untrue. The truth was I am just a person and want to be myself, but society likes to place you in a box for it's own benifit.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:25 pm |
  5. laura

    I can't comment on this specific racial mix, but I am white and Chinese. The problem is I am a 5' 9" blond-haired, blue-eyed female who most closely resembles the heritage of my mother's Scandinavian roots. This means people often look at me and say "Chinese? You're not Chinese!" Throughout my life, and maybe because I don't physically resemble the other side of me, I have sought out an understanding of the oriental world. For me, it's all or nothing, because I refuse to allow people to disrespect a huge part of me, even when they say things like, Well, your eyes aren't slanted."

    July 25, 2008 at 2:24 pm |
  6. Gary

    I agree ...why should one be forced to choose one or the other when you "belong" to either race. I am a product of a bi-racial marriage. My mother is white and my father is asian. I was raised to be honest, caring, friendly, fair, etc to every single person that I encounter, regardless of nationality. It wasn't until perhaps Jr. High when someone brought up race ...and I was totally oblivious to that concept. I have had relationships w/ women of virtually every race ...White, Black, Brown, Native American, Asian, etc ...My wife happens to be Mexican.

    Our children are White, Asian, and Hispanic ....what box should they check?

    July 25, 2008 at 2:23 pm |
  7. Don

    I am a 69 year old white man who was raised in the segregated society of the south. I've live in the southern US all my life. If I can overcome racial prejudices, I believe anyone can.
    This article is well written and drives home some conclusions that I came to years ago. The mixing of the races will be the solution to the racial problems in this country. I wish I could live to see the day when there will be no such thing as a checkbox for "Race" on any form or in anyone's mind.
    The color of someone's skin is no more important than the color of his eyes.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:23 pm |
  8. Sara Rosalinda

    I am so proud to read this blog!! Amen and praises to you little lady! I am Mexican American and I had a wonderful son with an African American, and I make sure to remind my son about BOTH of his beautiful races and to be proud of being biracial. Whenever we fill out questionnaires about m son's background i always check Latino and B;ack. Because that is what he is. Forget about trying to please the whole world!!!

    July 25, 2008 at 2:23 pm |
  9. Lisa

    What a bright, articulate young woman! Very well said, Grace! My husband feel very strongly that our beautiful son is *both* our races, not either/or or 'half this and half that.' Thank you for speaking up on behalf of so many families and people who are often overlooked.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:22 pm |
  10. Nona

    All be of one race? If God had wanted all of one race he would have made us that way. Lets hope this never happens. So nice having all the ones God created.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:22 pm |
  11. lizzy

    When it's apparent that one is black, one will be perceived and treated as African American, regardless of having a Caucasian parent, because people love to pigeonhole. My life has been different because I appear completely white, but have a parent who is Asian and Latin, so people have always felt free, if they were that ignorant, to put down those minorities to my face if they didn't know my background (or sometimes, when they did). I wonder, and actually, assume, that happens to people who are ostensibly black, but mixed. I agree with Grace–why choose? If you're mixed, embrace it all, and as my dad always told me, don't worry what people saw who aren't paying your rent.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:22 pm |
  12. Stefano

    As a biracial man, I am pleased to see there be more discussion of both biracial and black experiences. I guess as a result of not feeling fully integrated by either whites or blacks that I have always felt a desire for all people to connect through a sense of shared humanity. I am both, but it doesn't make me any less black, or any less white and I reject the thought that this program is for or can only be appreciated if you are fully black or labeled as black. This show is for everybody to learn and grow and have there ideas of what's going on challenged and discussed so that we can finally really begin to get beyond the shackles of ignorance that have bound us all.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:22 pm |
  13. BW

    I have to agree with Ben and say that while your speech was impressive and what we'd want to see in an ideal world, you are an exception. As a dark skin black women I was born with one strike already against me meanwhile you were born privledged. You have every advantage available to you (successful parents who are able to shelter you and provide you with the best possible education, a beautiful and safe neighborhood to live and grow up in, a stable household with both parents actively involved in your life, opportunities to travel and broaden you horizon, etc.). I think you'd be singing a different tune if you had to deal with the everyday issues people such as myself face (police brutality, discrimination, etc.). If anything you're looked at as being "special". You have the best of both worlds. Men will want to date you and place you up on a pedestal just because you're mixed and have "good hair" and a fair complexion. So lucky you. What about the rest of us who have to face a tougher, harshier reality?

    July 25, 2008 at 2:21 pm |
  14. Sue Binder

    Thank you for your wise words. The ideal situation would be for SOCIETY to stop putting people into categories. Can't we just all get along and accept each other? After all, we are ALL God's children.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:21 pm |
  15. Michael

    Some estimates indicate that 80% of African Americans have European ancestry. Most of us are "biracial" and therefore have been defined as "black" in America. I know some people whose parents are both black who look more "mixed" or European than people who I know who have a black and a white parent. Historically, when biracial children were born between a black woman and a white man, as was usually the case, those offsprings were catorized as black. Why does it seem that now that so many biracial children are being born to white women and black men (and some times with absent black men) and these white women and their white families are having the responsibility of raising these children, all of a sudden there is this need to call these offsprings something other than black?

    July 25, 2008 at 2:20 pm |
  16. Karen Brewer

    I have a great nephew and great niece that are bi-racial. I love them as much as I love my own children. To me color of a persons skin makes no difference, but I do worry about their self concept and how other people treat them. I tell them that there is good and bad in all races of people.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:19 pm |
  17. Heather

    I thought this article was excellant. I am a single white mother of a bi-racial son. I have to say the most frustrating thing I have had to deal with is the school. They make you fill out the form and choose what your child is: white or black. I hesitated checking either box and when I asked if I could leave it blank they said no because they need it for their "count". I was very upset at this because he was only 4 at the time. Am I to label him one race at 4 and then he decides later what he want s to be considered? That hardly seemed fair, it is his choice and I will not make it for him. I do believe they need to change things like this and give more options!!!

    July 25, 2008 at 2:19 pm |
  18. Cindi


    I love what you wrote and agree with you. I am a mother of 4 wonderful bi-racial children with my 5th on the way. After watching this program I looked at my daughter and asked her what she identified with and she looked at me confused. From day one we have taught our children that they were not just white and not just black. They are special because they are both. When you ask my children what color they are they will tell you black and white. So to ask them to identify with one race is to tell them to deny who they are.

    I would be offended if my children saw them selfs as just white or just black. Times have changed and bi-racial children are everywhere so my kids are the only bi-racial children they see. They have become a race of their own now.

    I have seen allot of programs that talk with old bi-racial individuals and they talk about the struggles they had and how they weren't accept in the white community or the black commutiy or sometimes both. Today bi-racial children have become the norm.

    I was angered by the mother who said her husband and her couldn't agree how to raise their kids. She didn't know whether to raise them as black or as white. Why is that an issue raise them as both.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:19 pm |
  19. Ralph

    This is for Carol. You just gave that tip. You raised your child with the message of Pride and Love that got passed on to you by that young teenage grocery store clerk. You are continuing to pass that message on. That is the way you pay that kid that tip.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:19 pm |
  20. Kevin


    I believe that you are basing your judgement not on the content of the piece, but on the color of the author's skin.

    Doesn't that make you a racist?

    July 25, 2008 at 2:19 pm |
  21. Deebee

    I am a mother of a biracial child and I always assumed that he would identify more with the black side of his family, since he spends more time with my side of the family. His father assumes he will identify more as a greek american. Another reason is that as a society we are asked to identify ourselves by race, I have been told many times I am trying to be white because I speak a certain way or like a certain type of music. After reading Grace's response to the CNN special last night I will do my best to make sure my son is proud of who he is and not help put him in a bubble of identifing with one race or the other. I will make sure he is a productive, loving part of society. This is what is really important.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:18 pm |
  22. HALLE

    It's great to embrace all of you however, society sees it differently. There are millions of americans who are mixed with another race but if you look more of one race you're considered to be that race. That's evident by Tiger Woods, Halle Berry, Shemar Moore, Mariah Carey, and numerous others. Because they look black they are considered to be black.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:18 pm |
  23. mj

    Unfortunately we live in a society that likes to catogorize and generalize everyone. Everything that we do in life requires us to put ourselves in a catagory. Until this world starts looking as people as people versus requiring us to indicate on a sheet of paper what our nationality is, we will continue to be asked of such.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:18 pm |
  24. Laura

    I am the mother of 7 biracial children ages 13-23 yrs old. My children are at the point where they are defining themselves. They are doing that by combining what we as parents gave them and who they feel they were meant to be. You may want them to fit in a box, but they don't have the time to answer why they don't choose one color over the other. Maybe society sees them one way, but they are creating a new society. They know that this planet we live on is filled full of people with differences. They know that they are one of the many great flavors. They are proud and we are blessed.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:18 pm |
  25. Sue Binder

    Thank you for your wise words! The ideal situation would be for SOCIETY

    July 25, 2008 at 2:18 pm |
  26. Cathy Landon

    I salute you for your stand! You sound like someone I would like to know! I am white, but I think of myself first and foremost as an individual human being and a citizen of this country, and I cannot think of anything more important to teach our children - in this country and around the world - than who we are as individuals is far more important than our race or the race of either of our parents.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:18 pm |
  27. c.e.

    I am a 40 yr old gay white Jewish man, Who was raised in diverse communities all my life. So maybe I live in a bubble but I never got racism. I definately have been surprised and/or confused when a new cultural tradition came my way that differed with my own. and while I have on a whole been treated well in this country. I have received comments and occasional abuse for being gay from people of just about every race. I am NOT trying to add the gay 2 cents to this discussion. Yet, it seems there are Americans who wants respect for themselves while using the same negative treatments toward other people who are not them. It makes it harder to come to the table to fix things. Why wait til Obama is elected to change things. Who says we can't do this now? But, again I may live in a bubble. But I do believe more change will come since a lot has been done in the 40 yrs. I'll just keep my eyes open and be patient.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:17 pm |
  28. Kathy

    I have very fair skin and blue eyes but my dad is black and my mom white. Most of the time people do not know I am of mixed race. I struggle to identify with black or white. Because I am so white, black people don’t accept me as much, and the same goes for white people because I look different. This is wonderful to see because it gives me an opportunity to see others who struggle to identify with either race. Thanks for a wonderful piece!

    Denver, CO

    July 25, 2008 at 2:16 pm |
  29. Selah Brown

    I am the white daughter of a black man. My biological parents are both white, but my mother married a black man and it is him I called Daddy. As a person with white skin, I do not have to face the daily aspects of rasicm so deeply in-bedded in this country, but as a child walking in the world hand in hand with my father, I most certainly felt it. I remember once, my father and I were spending a sunny afternoon on the Staten Island Ferry when I noticed that we were being followed by a man who was watching every move we made. I finally looked up at the man and said "What's wrong, don't you like my Daddy?". I was 4 years old and I could feel the man's hatred. That is only the beginning of the stories I can share about the treatment we received when we were together – some of the others are much worse. As a child, every time I went out in public with my father I felt the oppressing and violent attitude that people of color face every day. I grew up watching how racism impacted the life of my own father, and how it made his life different than what he wanted it to be because he believed he was less than. Racism effects us all – black, white, everything inbetween and especially the children that come into this world open to simply being loved. In my opinion, racism is the single greatest disease this planet faces and until we cure it...everything else will suffer. I applaud Miss Grace, for being part of the cure.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:16 pm |
  30. Margie

    Hm-m-m! I am in the baby boomer generation (born in the early 50's for you kids reading this blog) and live in the midwest section of the United States and I have a problem with all the hoopla that is being made over "am I black or am I white". Does it really matter to you deep down the color of your outside skin? Why? Does being "black" skinned make you smarter than anyone else? Does being "white" skinned make you a more important person? We have a friend that is society called "black" and his wife is society called "white" – so...but they are just people – good, caring and loved people....they have a wonderful daughter that is the most beautiful, lovely little girl in the world – her name is Grace. She fell down at my house the other day and skinned her knee – guess what--the blood that flowed from her knee was red – OMG! Amazing isn't it – let your thoughts be of "light" skinned americans and "dark" skinned americans – no more black and white. We all (I mean EVERYONE) bleeds red blood-let's go with that and get on with life together. Have a good day and I will get down off my bandstand now. Thanks for reading. God Bless

    July 25, 2008 at 2:15 pm |
  31. Lori

    Wil at 12:53, I cannot agree more. I am a white woman and have singlehandedly raised a daughter who is now on her way to college. She looks through skin. I am so proud that she's able to look at people for who they are not their skin color. She has, on occassion, asked me about things that are labeled specifically "black". Your example mentioning BET is just one that deserves attention. It strikes me that there are some that are perpetuating the stereotyping within themselves. Can you imagine a White Entertainment TV station. There would be outrage in every direction. It's time everyone realizes that skin is just that....something to hide our insides 🙂 And isn't that what we all should be looking at anyway?

    July 25, 2008 at 2:15 pm |
  32. Keyonna

    I agree with everthing that Gracie said on her blog. I am going to keep this simple.... yes we live in a world where everyone is judge by thier skin color unfortunately, but black people endure the most obstacles. As for biracial couples and children I feel that no matter what society is going to look at you differently because you have chosen to date outside of your race and also the children will be affected by your choices. I didn't really understand the mother on this segement because I believe that there is really no white or black way to raise a child and that all you need is to love them and make them confident with who they are as a person and human being. Although you might not want to reduce this issue to a check box, I am here to tell you that you don't have to because the Government will. Simply if you have a black parent no matter how light you are you are Black. So here's to be Black in America!

    July 25, 2008 at 2:15 pm |
  33. andy

    Is African-American a race or is it a culture? I have white friends born in South Africa.. How would they be described? Did all black people come from Africa? I am part Lithuanian and part Russian yet born in New York and raised in the midwest. Arent we ALL part of the melting pot? There is a divide in any country. Ireland, Korea etc...

    July 25, 2008 at 2:14 pm |
  34. Cynthia, Oregon

    Mixed-race can mean more than black-and-white. My grandmother, born in 1898, was an illigitimate "half-breed," and her white half was from her mother, not her father. Because no one talked about such things, let alone took pride in their mixed cultures and heritages, I have no idea which southwestern Native American tribal blood flows in my veins.

    But I do remember a venomous diatribe written in a pueblo tribe newsletter left in a Taos, NM motel room. The hatred toward whites that spewed forth stunned me. So did the picketing of a Native American woman at a pioneer gathering in Oregon City when wagons rolled in for the 150th anniversary of the Oregon Trail. She took one look at my blue eyes and white skin, and she totally missed the Indian bones that frame my body and face. From that day forward I have chosen to celebrate the heritage of my Anasazi ancestors – whoever they were – and my white ancestors because I cannot miss the modern prejudices practiced on all sides of many racial fences.

    Sad, because I wish I knew who 1/8th of my people are.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:14 pm |
  35. John

    All well and good, and I agree that we should all be proud of our heritage. I find it ironic that Ms. Gibson says a person with one white parent and one black parent should be proud of both. I guarantee 100% that if a white person says they are proud of being white they will be labeled a racist. A black person or a multi-racial person who says they are proud of their heritage will be labeled a strong, confident person.

    It is disappointing that it is OK to be proud of your heritage unless you're white, in which case you are a racist, and also that the media insists on labeling multi-racial people as black/African-American, Hispanic, or Asian.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:13 pm |
  36. Luis

    I work for a very well known company that gathers information based on the demographics of househlods in South Florida were you would find many differnt cultures but specifically when you find interracial groups like in the Hispanic group you do see a lot picking white as there racial group or some other race but rarely do they pick black this especially with Dominicans, PR,Trinidad, Guyana, ans even some Jamaicans. I think it because in Souht Florida there is so many interracial couples with difernt cultures that it does not even matter to them how they classify themselves like the rest of the US. Sometimes they even look if there is a hispanic race class so they dony have have to identify with the others but theres not.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:13 pm |
  37. Melissa


    I was blessed with what you have wriiten. I have a two year boy who is bi-racial as well. My focus is for his father & I too show him unconditional love and for him to be proud and well informed of his two race. As long as I as a parent is doing those things for my son, then he will never have an identity crisis. I am glad to see that you are living what I pray and hope my son will become.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:12 pm |
  38. Michelle

    I think this was an amazing statement. Way to go!!!!! I also think mixed races are some of the most beautiful people in the world.
    You don't have to be just black or just white. You are a human being and that is what should be checked off in the box. A Human Being who should never let the color of their skin or their parents stand in the way of this world. It's what you are inside that matters.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:12 pm |
  39. rosa

    The segment on bi-racialism was very brief; not that important as the real atrocities that affect the black race. The 'melting pot' notion is just an idea. I am black and want to see the black race multiply more rapidly; but productively. I am American also, but I love my black heritage and do not want to see it disappear simply because someone of mixed race wants to feel good about being 'mixed.'

    July 25, 2008 at 2:12 pm |
  40. Jenny

    As a parent of a bi racial child I do agree with Grace. I do not see my daughter as white or black I see her as both. I am proud that we have come such a long way that being with my husband and living a good life is possible. I do understand there are struggles especially with the topic at hand...being Black in America. One that I hope my daughter will appreciate as she gets older. Thank you.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:12 pm |
  41. Jamal Conrad

    For those who watched the program; I dont think it precended anything new, same old stuff we hear every day, unmarried black women, run away dads, black on black violence, crime, jails, drugs, and of course same accusations "racism' , whites are responsible for all the above. I think racism contributes a very small part in African americans failure or success.

    As a black person i advice my fellow brothers and sisters to take responsibilty and stop grieving about spilled water, those who were enslaved are no longer here,they did their part, they suffered on our behalf. Stop the blame game, people have been arriving in this great country without nothing, some come here as rufegees from war tone countries where thery faced more difficulties than us e.g murder of family members by militias etc. It doesn't take them long to learn a new language enroll in college and achieve their dreams. They dont let the past occupy their minds or whine about the past. You have to stop that mind set that the white man is to blame for all our own mistakes! If you are looking for reasons to blame others, you will always find them. i think the program divides america more, its unfortunate its coming when we have a potential presidential candidate of African/European decency poised to make history, he is American not black or white, Americans we need to stop this color coding it doesn't help to unify us!

    July 25, 2008 at 2:11 pm |
  42. Andrew

    Well said, but. You are obviously educated and have had access to things a lot of so called minorities have not. This factor alone changes everything. I am mixed and faced quite a bit of racism growing up just because people living in my area had not been subjected to very many people of different races. By the sounds of it you did not. This is usually because of money. I do agree with everything you said about Obama. He embodies what we hope America can be.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:11 pm |
  43. Justine


    Beautiful thoughts from a beautiful and intelligent young woman. I wish more people shared your very enlightened point of view. Out of the mouths of babes – so to speak.

    I am the product of an international bi-racial blending and have been happy to identify myself as OTHER for most of my life. When other is not an option, I am equally as happy to check both 🙂 I understand the "Great Racial Divide", I see it everyday. However, I strive to be the best individual that I can be – not the best white or black person and not the best male or female person – simply the best person. I refuse to get drawn into discussions that are meant to draw conflict – situations are what you make them. I am married to a gentleman from Poland and our children are a mix of a mix, brilliant and out-going. I am raising them to be free thinking and loving of any and all peoples – culturally expanding their horizons at every turn. With knowledge comes power. The power to rise above and excel no matter what path in life you choose.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:11 pm |
  44. Alex

    My mother is Mexican and father black.
    I look white.
    All my life I have had problems identfying with who I am and that has caused me much pain.
    I look totally white and when I tell people my background they don't believe me. What do you do. I don't have to try and pass for white, I just show up, if you know what I mean. It was hell in school. And on top of all that I am a gay person.
    I wish I could tell my story to a larger audience maybe my life stroy could help young people like me.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:10 pm |
  45. Gretchen Celestine

    I am a 43 year old multi-racial woman (African-American, Native American and East German) who has always embraced the dimensions of my heritage! Sadly, Americans more than most other cultures have a need to define race.....I live in Kansas City and the proverbial question I invariably encounter when meeting people is, "What are you?". Interestingly enough, that question is usually posed to me by women (both Black and White).

    As multi-racials/bi-racials, we represent what the world could be if race weren't used as such a defining measure....

    July 25, 2008 at 2:10 pm |
  46. Pamela

    Well-written and well said, however, we are not societies within ourselves. We are individuals within a society. We are all mixed raced, the question is how are you ultimately perceived by others and through that prism, how are you treated, how are you recognized and ultimately how are you respected as an individual by others. Discussions of race are very complex; it all comes down to those "Blink" moments you are categorized by what one sees and if your skin is dark enough it doesn't matter that your Mother or Father is decended from Royalty and has the bluest blood around or that you are a quarter Asian and a percentage Scottish-Irish. What will get a rational reasonable person past any bias they may have is the opportunity to see the character and spirit of the person behind the skin color. As a proud African-American, I don't have the option to proclaim any other thing that what I am a spiritual being who is having a human experience that happens to be in the body that is colored black. One of my proudest moments as a parent was when I overheard the conversation my daughter, who was six at the time was having with one of her friends the same age. The little girl asked my daughter if she would rather have her hair, which was smooth and silky being that she was the product of White father and Asian Mother. My daughter's response was no, she was perfectly happy with her own hair. A small statement to make but it made me feel that my husband and I were doing a good job about her valuing who she has and all that that entails, skin color, not always manageable hair and features that are uniquely black. It is very good to be at a point that we do have children of mixed race and the more interaccial couples we have the more progressive we show we are, however, there is still a history behind the how, what is and what is to become and it would be naive to write all of that away. The human story is a long and complex one and each step we take forward in a positive direction is a tribute to those who came before.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:10 pm |
  47. Kathleen

    Grace is truly fitting of her name. Her message of individuality should serve as a voice for all of us of different culture, color, religion or class We live in a time that heralds progressive thinking, is full of awesome invention and inspiring education and yet still clings to many archaic judgmental standards.
    Grace, like so many of her generation, reminds us that we should should look beyond the labels and into the people themselves. Each of us, from so many diverse backgrounds, are proud of all of our heritages- and should be. But we need not diminish anyone else in the process. It is a slow process to eduacate an entire society about the diversity of the people of our world. And an even slower process for the majorities to accept and adapt to the diversities. Bu hopefully, through messages like the ones heard on this series, a small dent will be made toward the progress of all who do not fit the typical stereotype of what it is to be black in America.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:09 pm |
  48. Lawrence

    I thought Lynn’s point is perfect. Being the guardian and Uncle of a biracial nephew she hits the point perfect. I hope I have given my nephew the same confidence that Lynn has to embrace both of his cultures with equal pride. What I don’t undestand is why hasn’t Obama? He seems to only embrass his blackness and has pushed his white heritage aside even though they were the ones who supported him and enabled him to go to the elite middle and high schools as well as Yale. I am very disappointed that Barack has forgotten who he really is. Maybe if he does become president he will not be known as the first afro-american president but the first biracial president.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:09 pm |
  49. E. Torres-Evans

    I don't check the boxes and write in Human under "race". If we don't stop trying to qualify each and every individual as belonging to this group or that based on color, ethnic group, religion, sexual preference, vegetable eater or meat eater, we are never, never going to seek, much less find, the humanity in each of us.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:09 pm |
  50. Marcie Lee

    Congrats to Grace you are so right. Its time to kill the one drop rule, et c. I am triracial Native American, European, & African American. We celebrate all our ancestors in my generation. The generation before us didn't even let on we had African American ancestors. They hid the photographs leaving that little bomb for us until after they were gone. Imagine going through your family papers & finding you really weren't who you thought you were. It wasn't a shock, just disappointment with the knowledge that they were trying to do what they considered best for their children by hiding in plain sight. I found out my light skinned lovely Granny was passing & gave up her dark skinned daughter, a beautiful child from her pictures, so that she & my dad would never be found out. I can't imagine how that was to her but I never want other families to give up children & cut themselves off from their families just to make a better life for themselves & the lighter skinned child. Its not worth it. I wish today I could sit down with my Dad & Granny & tell them that I would rather have had an aunt & more family & it wouldn't matter at all if they were purple or polka dotted. I wish they would take the race designation off all papers & ids. Too many families have lost themselves & their past because of it. I live in a small Southern city in a racially mixed neighborhood. Thirty years ago this wouldn't have been possible. Things are getting better but still not good enough. I too wish CNN would do something on those of us of mixed race.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:09 pm |
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