The fifth installment of CNN's Black in America Series focused on the question, "Who is black in America?" That single, seemingly simple question unravels the complicated, densely packed issue of racial identity in this country. To continue this important conversation, three of the interview subjects from the documentary: Fmr. Editor, Essence Magazine Michaela Angela Davis, (1)ne Drop Project" Artistic Director and a consulting producer for the documentary Yaba Blay and poet and mentor Perry "Vision" DiVirgilio join “Starting Point” this morning.
Mentor Perry DiVirgilio, also known as "Vision" says during his workshops with students he would come across a lot of “folks who you would look at as a …black man… a young black woman,” who “were checking other or not wanting to identify with race at all.”
On the question of why this topic is important Davis says, “Acting like it doesn’t exist doesn’t heal.” Davis goes on to add, “That America as a family… this is our taboo issue. This brings up so much – it triggers a lot of black girl pain, it triggers up a lot of secrets. There’s a lot of bias. It triggers emotional things…. People don’t like to look at it but this is the roads to healing.”
Blay who says she could see her younger self in a young girl in the documentary who said she didn’t “want to be dark,” talked about the affects of colorism. Blay says, “At that age you’re very aware of whose privileged, who is seen as beautiful, which little girls are on T.V. with the curls in their hair.” She adds that for many like the young girl, “the pain of being dark-skinned is such that you will take an incremental step lighter and think that that is going to improve your life.”
Davis says progress can be made in “having this conversation. This is the solution.” She adds however, “It’s not that it’s done after this,” referring to the documentary.
“I think my skin is ugly … I don’t want to be dark.”
That stunning confession comes from 7-year-old LaShawnte Brown – whose reasoning for disowning the color of her skin is “because light skinned is pretty.”
LaShawnte’s teacher, 22-year-old Kiara Lee, decided to confront the negative self identities of her students by exploring the concept of colorism using tactics taken directly from the history books.
Soledad profiles Kiara, and her shocking teaching methods, in this piece of “Who is Black in America?”
In this piece of Soledad O’Brien’s “Who is Black in America” Nayo Jones explains why she doesn't "feel black." Jones explains she feels this way in part, because of all the teasing she endured as a child from other kids who called her "white girl."
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.
In a heated exchange on "Starting Point," Rep. Peter King (R-NY) insists to "The New Yorker" Washington Correspondent Ryan Lizza that 'there is no racial profiling' by the New York Police Department.
Lizza asks King what his position is on racial profiling and if the NYPD should be above criticism. King says "there is no profiling. And that's the absolute nonsense that people like you and others are propagating."
Rep. King was on to explain why he was calling for an apology from Democratic members of Congress after slammed the NYPD for monitoring Muslims.
"I'm telling you there is no profiling," Rep. King insists. "You have no evidence of profiling at all. They use terms like profiling, spying, casually and cavalierly. And you don't know what you're talking about."
See more of the interview here.
(CNN)– A New York grand jury has declined to indict a white police officer who shot and killed an ailing 68-year-old black veteran in his own apartment, the Westchester County District Attorney's Office said Thursday.
The shooting occurred in November after police responded to a call that Kenneth Chamberlain, who suffered from respiratory and heart problems, had set off his medical alert device, indicating he needed help. The encounter was recorded by audio and video devices which police released to the public yesterday to counter charges they had engaged in excessive force and racial profiling.
District Attorney Janet DiFiore called the shooting "a tragedy on many levels" but said the grand jury had not chosen to indict after hearing from 42 witnesses, including Police Officer Anthony Carelli, who fired the fatal shots.
Today on Starting Point, Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr. explains that he is "not surprised" about the court's decision, because Westchester County has "a history of questionable police shootings that have all been cleared."
Chamberlain Jr. is joined by his attorney Randolph McLaughlin, who calls the killing "a tragedy caused by the White Plains police department and their lack of professionalism."
Former Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza was the latest person to be "fired" on this week's episode of "Celebrity Apprentice." During her time on the Donald Trump's reality show, Mendoza was the subject of racial slurs by comedienne Lisa Lampanelli, a fellow contestant.
Today on Starting Point, Mendoza discusses her relationship with Lampanelli and her departure from the television show.
Activist Kevin Powell discusses his new book "Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and the Ghost of Dr. King " and explains why he thinks that it would be "tragic" if Arizona's immigration law was upheld.
The case of Rodney King sparked a nationwide discussion on race. He was videotaped being brutally clubbed by Los Angeles Police Officers in March of 1991. After a trial the officers were later acquitted, which sparked the violent riots that swept L.A. 20 years ago this Sunday. Dozens died in the riots and over 1,000 were injured.
Now, two decades later, King has written his first book reflecting on those events, in which he writes "There is no longer a riot raging within me... I realize I will always be the poster child for police brutality, but I can try to use that as a positive force for healing and restraint."
The book is called "The Riot Within: My journey from rebellion to redemption." King talks with Soledad this morning on writing the book, reflecting on the beating and the riots, and explains how he found forgiveness.
See the clips below for more from the interview.
Also, watch CNN this Sunday at 8pm Eastern for "CNN Presents: Race and Rage," an in-depth look at race relations between police and the black community.
Rodney King explains how he has found forgiveness for the police officers who brutally beat him in 1991.
"The Riot Within" author Rodney King talks about changes in race relations since his 1991 beating.
Attorney Cyrus Mehri on the discrimination lawsuit his clients filed against the ABC show "The Bachelor".