Biracial Blues: Am I Black, White or Other?
Loop 21 reviews Soledad O'Brien's latest 'Black in America' project
Soledad O'Brien is a biracial woman, but you'd be wrong to think her latest Black In America project, which explores the complexities of racial identity, is somehow rooted in her own struggle. This week, O'Brien told Loop 21 that she never questioned her identity as the daughter of a black Cuban woman and a white man from Australia, unlike the subjects of "Who is Black in America," which premieres Sunday at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on CNN.
This documentary, the veteran news broadcaster's fifth installment with the cable channel, explores colorism -- the idea that lighter skin affords biracial and black individuals with lighter skin tones privileges, special treatment and experiences that blacks with darker skin tones are less likely to receive. The documentary's main characters, the young and bubbly best friends Nayo Jones and Becca Khalil, carry the project with their show stopping delivery of poems, reflective of their struggles to identify themselves among the rest of the world.
But Jones and Khalil don't come close to resolving their racial identity anxieties, a somewhat heartbreaking ending that even O'Brien told Loop 21 the documentary doesn't set out to do. Colorism and exploration of "who is black" and "who gets to decide who is black" are thoroughly defined, but seem to provide the average viewer with few takeaways to help jumpstart personal resolutions.
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That aside, the project will undoubtedly get people talking and is worth your time. Any biracial teenage girl (or boy) is certain to find themselves yelling, "Preach!" when they hear Jones' and Khalil's killer spoken word lyrics about navigating questions about their identity from the less informed masses.
If you'd like to weigh in on the subject, O’Brien (@Soledad_OBrien) will be live tweeting during the premiere of “Who is Black in America?” using the hashtag, “#BlackInAmerica.”