In the United States of America in 2012, what does black look like? Who defines black? And why is there an argument – or disagreement at all – about who counts as black? Can someone choose to be black? Isn't race assigned at birth, just like gender? If race is a choice for some people, why pick black? Why not? What does your choice mean for your future? What does it mean for the future of your children?
CNN's Soledad O'Brien examines these important and provocative questions in an hour-long documentary, "Who is Black in America?" She follows two 17-year-olds, Becca Khalil and Nayo Jones, on their journeys to find their racial identities. "I'm from Africa, says Becca, whose parents were born in Egypt, "but the black kids don't seem to really want me, and the white kids don't seem to really want me." She says Egyptians are dismissed as Middle Eastern or Arab, but she is neither of those things. Nayo Jones was raised by her white father, and doesn't really know her black mom. "I can say that I'm African-American, but I see being black as being more of a cultural thing," she says. "I was raised in a. white environment, and a mostly white neighborhood." She insists that makes her less black. The man guiding Becca and Nayo is Perry "Vision" DiVirgilio, a spoken word poet who calls himself a "biracial black man." He struggled with his own identity issues for years.