Black In America 5…

CNN announced its fifth Black In America special…

Soledad O’Brien Explores Racial and Ethnic Identity in Provocative Black in America

Who is Black in America? Debuts Sunday, Dec. 09 at 8:00p.m. and 11:00p.m. ET & PT

“I don’t really feel Black,” says 17-year-old Nayo Jones. Her mother is Black; she was raised apart from her by her White father, and she identifies herself as biracial. “I was raised up with White people, White music, White food so it’s not something I know,” she says in a new documentary that explores the sensitive concepts of race, cultural identity, and skin tone.

For the fifth installment of her groundbreaking Black in America series, CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien reports for Who is Black in America? The documentary debuts Sunday, Dec. 09 at 8:00p.m. and 11:00p.m. ET & PT and replays on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 8:00p.m. and 11:00p.m. ET & PT.

Is Jones Black? Is Blackness based upon skin color or other factors? The 2010 U.S. Census found 15 percent of new marriages are interracial, a figure that is twice what was reported in 1980. One in seven American newborns were of mixed race in 2010, representing an increase of two percent from the 2000 U.S. Census. Within this context, O’Brien examines how much regarding race and identity are personal choices vs. reflections of an external social construct. Tim Wise, an author and anti-racism activist believes in self identification, but says, in practice, society often will remind biracial people like Jones of their Blackness, “in a million subtle ways,” he says in the documentary.

Tim Wise, an author and anti-racism activist believes in self identification, but says, in practice, society often will remind biracial people like Jones of their Blackness, “in a million subtle ways,” he says in the documentary.

As the hour unfolds, O’Brien follows Jones, and her best friend and fellow high school student Becca Khalil, as they take part in a spoken word workshop led by the Philadelphia-based poet, Perry “Vision” DiVirgilio.

Vision, who is biracial, says he never felt quite White or Black enough to fit in with friends who had parents of one race. Vision identifies as Black, and says that identity is more than skin –that identity encompasses experiences and struggles. Through his workshop, he encourages young people to think, talk, and write about identity, as well as the concept of colorism, which he blames for his early struggles with self-esteem and identity.

“Colorism is a system in which light skin is more valued than dark skin,” says Drexel University’s assistant teaching professor for Africana studies, Yaba Blay. Blay tells O’Brien that, as a young African-American woman growing up in New Orleans, she felt discriminated against –often by lighter skinned African Americans – due to her dark skin tone.

Blay’s work focuses on how prejudice related to skin tone can confuse and negatively impact identity and self esteem. She aims to help others also develop positive images of cultural identity –for African Americans of all shades.

Blay’s work focuses on how prejudice related to skin tone can confuse and negatively impact identity and self esteem. She aims to help others also develop positive images of cultural identity –for African Americans of all shades.

Often complicating concepts of identity beyond multiracial heritage is skin tone. Khalil, who has light-colored skin and two parents who are Egyptian in origin, identifies herself as African American. She feels contemporaries dismiss her African American identity due to her light skin tone. She says in the documentary that she wishes she had darker skin.

Writer, producer, and image activist, Michaela Angela Davis says she accepts that race is a social construct, but she feels it is important for people to name and claim their own racial identity: “You are who you say that you are,” she says in the documentary.

Online, a complimentary digital extension will continue the discussion of Who is Black in America? by featuring iReports, news stories, and opinion pieces on what racial identity means today from a variety of perspectives. Stories can be found at http://www.cnn.com/blackinamerica.

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15 Responses to “Black In America 5…”

  1. Racists need not watch. That means all Republicans. You too black Republicans. If you are an Independent, most likely you are a closet racist and should not watch. Democrats who thought Soledad was Caucasian, too. Liberals, please wear your “I’m So Awesome” t-sirts and hoodies.

  2. Snore…

    “The 2010 U.S. Census found 15 percent of new marriages are interracial, a figure that is twice what was reported in 1980.”

    In 1790 Blacks were 19% of the population today they are 12%. How did that happen? The rate of abortions among black women is 33% of all abortions.

    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0904509.html

    There is also a high rate of incarceration of black men. Oprah had a program about black women who wanted to marry black men, but the ratio of black men to black women is uneven so black women marry out of their ethnicity.

    The Civil Right’s Act, was passed in the 1968, and Roe vs Wade was passed in 1973….what a coincidence/

  3. ^ I see stupid comments.

  4. Why does Soledad seem to have such a chip on her shoulder?

  5. We also see stupid comment

  6. imnotblue Says:

    Because chips make money, and gain notoriety in left-wing circles. They love that stuff.

  7. This is really unnecessary…

  8. Right joeremi it’s stupid to point out the rate of abotions among blacks and the correlation to the rise in bi racial marriage/ Soledad should air a five part series on being black in America, and never discuss abortion, the high rate of black abortion among black women, and the abortion mills in minority neighborhoods, because that wouldn’t be politically correct.

    Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg:

    Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a New York Times interview published today but flagged last week. In it, Ginsburg talks about Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion:
    Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100002972/what-the-hell-did-ruth-bader-ginsburg-mean-when-she-linked-abortion-and-eugenics/

  9. Yes, introducing abortion into the discussion is unbelievably stupid. Stop talking.

  10. @joremi First off I’m not talking- I’m typing, if you can hear me, they make medication for hearing voices. Secondly 33% of Black women get abortions IN AMERICA. Or didn’t you notice the name of Soledad’s CNN special Black IN AMERICA. Thirdly go stuff yourself, it’s not your blog.

  11. He does like to give orders. I don’t think he expects they will be followed.

  12. Idiots do things like introduce abortion into a thread about a Soledad doc, and take comments like “stop talking” literally. #whaddyagonnado

  13. Idiots try to engage with people whose mind they aren’t going to change. We’re all guilty…

  14. The origional sin of blog commentators. Without it, where would we be?

  15. Perhaps not totally related, but I recently had to explain “passing” to my son. I guess we were watching a movie, or something in-between on TCM. #RandomThought

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