Catching Up With Black in America’s Soledad O’Brien

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-01-06 18:51Z by Steven

Catching Up With Black in America’s Soledad O’Brien

Clutch Magazine

Zettler Clay

A while ago, I took my little cousins to Toys “R” Us. Three of them. 8 years old, 6 years old, 4 years old. It was going smoothly enough until we came across a row of dolls.

There were two on the end. A fully-adorned Black doll on the left. A fully-adorned white doll on the right. She picked the one on the right.

My radar immediately went off. I gently suggested the melanated doll.

No dice. I strongly suggested this doll. Nothing. We weren’t getting anywhere and I was met with the confused look of a little girl whose older cousin had a problem with what she wanted. After he said she could get what she wanted.

I was short on time. She was short on understanding. So I relented.

I haven’t been able to shake this experience. The notion of colorism — the lighter the skin, the better the “doll” — hits us early in life and never leaves. It’s endemic in our community, a point brought to the surface by CNN’s latest addition to the Black in America series, Who is Black in America?

“It’s nothing wrong with seeing color,” said CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien. “It becomes a problem when people limit and define you by it.”…

…Classification creates forms. Forms create separateness, which leads to competition. Colonization. And a wondering lot of people left to discover who they are because of who they’re not.

But why the focus on defining minorities? What about a White in America? It is this criticism that O’Brien hears. And agrees with…

For a few candid moments, I caught up with O’Brien about defining “blackness,” future of Black in America, white supremacy’s effects on Black women and self-identification.

Me: This is a huge subject to tackle.

Soledad O’Brien: You think! (laughs)…

Me: How much has this series helped in your self-identification?

SO: I’ve always had a very strong self-identification. I’ve never struggled with my racial classification. I was very lucky. My mom used to always tell me, “don’t let anyone tell you you’re not Black. Don’t let anybody tell you you’re not Latino.” My parents instilled a very strong sense of identity. Even in the recent doc as I was talking to the young women, I kept thinking, “this is soooo not my experience.” I found that other people had many more challenges about racial ambiguity. I find it fascinating to learn about different communities and geographic history. Black people in Atlanta vs. Black people in Minneapolis (where we’re shooting now). Black people in Philly vs. Black people in New York. Just the history of these communities. I have found it rewarding to see the differences in us and how similar we are…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , ,