Soledad O’Brien recently addressed how she felt when her “Blackness” was challenged during an interview with Rev. Jesse Jackson. O’Brien who identifies herself as a Black woman, is of Afro-Cuban and Irish decent. O’Brien is a renown advocate for Black and Latino people, notably for her work with CNN’s “Black In America”.
Soledad O’Brien describes her encounter with Jesse Jackson in her new book:
Even though I am not sure what he [Jesse Jackson] is saying, I can tell he is angry. Today he is angry because CNN doesn’t have enough black anchors.
I interrupt to remind him, “I’m the anchor of American Morning”. He knows that. He looks me in the eye and reaches his fingers over to tap a spot of skin on my right had. He shakes his head. “You don’t count,” he says. I wasn’t sure what that meant. I don’t count — what? I’m not black? I’m not black enough? Or my show doesn’t count?
I was both angry and embarrassed, which rarely happens at the same time for me. Jesse Jackson managed to make me ashamed of my skin color which even white people had never been able to do.
I am immediately upset and annoyed and the even more annoyed that I am upset and pissed off. If Reverend Jesse Jackson didn’t think I was black enough, then what was I? My parents had so banged racial identity into my head that the thoughts of racial doubt never crossed my mind. I’d suffered an Afro through the heat of elementary school. I’d certainly never felt white. I thought my version of black was as valid as anybody else’s. I was a product of my parents (black woman, white man) my town (mostly white), multiracial to be sure, but not black? I felt like the foundation I’d built my life on was being denied, as if someone was telling me my parents aren’t my parents.
Rev. Jackson diminished O’Brien’s efforts and accomplishments by telling her that she isn’t Black enough. Numerous Black Planet readers have expressed that they too share Jackson’s sentiment; in that they feel she isn’t “Black enough” to represent Black people, while many others feel that the complexion of her skin or genetic background doesn’t set a precedence in her connection to the Black race.
Do You Consider Soledad O’Brien A Black Woman?
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