Sunday, December 09, 2012

CNN's Soledad O'Brien reports "Who Is Black in America?"


On Sunday, December 9, 2012, CNN aired Soledad O’Brien’s report “Who Is Black in America?”, as followup episode in a long-standing series.  O’Brien is of mixed ancestry herself. The episode was also called simply "Who Am I?"

Tonight’s report discussed the informal “one drop rule” and presented a number of mixed-race families.  “You decide what you are”.  Well, Census considers “North African” heritage still to be “white”.  (Census doesn’t consider Hispanic to be race at all.)  7% of the children born in the US today are said to be of “mixed race”.  My own parents, of earlier generations, believed the “one drop rule”

The CNN entry for the program is here

It would seem that the “one drop rule” would make shreds of “affirmative action” admissions policies, is with a lot of recent litigation in Michigan, where some race conscious admission by the state university system is permitted.  Similar debates go on elsewhere, as at the University of Texas. 


Scientifically, we are all “black”, as the first humans appeared in Africa about 100000 years ago.  As people migrated farther from the Equator, they often lost pigment as an adaptation to less sunlight in order to get enough Vitamin D.  Humans also lost most body hair originally, in order to remain cooler (than competing species) when hunting and foraging in daytime tropical heat.  In colder climates, male members sometimes got some of it back, and it came to be seen (like the beard and lower voice) as a secondary sexual characteristic that could be viewed as attractive for mates.  

Update: Dec. 14

There is a book by Deborah Watts, "101 Ways to Know You're 'Black' in Corporate America", self-published in 1998, presented at a forum at ReliaStar (now ING) insurance in Minneapolis that year. 

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