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December 7th, 2012
11:45 AM ET

CNN's Soledad O'Brien profiles one woman teaching children of color about colorism in her "Who is Black in America?"

“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?” 

Soledad O'brien's “Who is Black in America?” premieres this Sunday at 8 PM ET/PT.

Filed under: Black in America • Race
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Juan Torres

    Are we going back to the old teachings of the U.S.? Why do people want to continue in the past instead of forgiving and moving on? There is no good that can come out of a behavior that was detrimental to mankind unless the instruction is made for a suitable recipient. The teaching of colorism is not of adequate instruction for small children due that it could be misunderstood. As a result this can cause psychological scarring and traumatize our young population. This type of teaching will continue to contribute toward negatively affecting the social behavior of individuals in our society because it continuous to promote racism. We are in the 21st century. People need to continue to forget and forgive racial acts which negatively impacted society in the past. The children receiving this teaching are too young.

    December 10, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Tom

    Black In America - ThankYou for your presentation, if you are black, regardless of your complexion, I am a light complexed black, we all live with these issues, but rarely talk about them. Years 2006-2009 I was on assignment in Abu Dhabi UAE MiddleEast, most people there are all shades of brown, black to light brown and very attractive, it was common for people, especially women with beautiful brown skin, and long thick brown and black beautiful hair, were obsessed with trying to make their skin more white using skin lightners, and dying their hair blonde !!! It was like they were naturally very attractive, and they were making themselves more ugly..

    December 10, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. gqlewis

    There are so many deep issues in this country that we have never fully addressed. Thank you for continuing to shed light on this subject.

    December 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. marykay

    this story has made me sick, I feel so sad for the little girl who said she wants to be a light color. I think this teaching is wrong to me it is a form of teaching hate. there are other ways to teach history to a child. this child may be effected by this all her life. I think the teacher should teach kids that age about ugly on the inside/bad attitudes. we are all beautiful no matter what color we are it is the ugly attitudes that make us ugly not our skin. I get what she is trying to teach, but not to a child there is a different ways to do this that is if you feel you must.

    December 9, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Diane

    I really don't understand the debate about who is black in America, as if the choice is only between black and white. A great portion of those in America deemed black are no such thing. They are mixed race and I don't know what the problem is in identifyingas such. If someone who is mixed race stipulates that he is black, or white, isn't that showing disrespect for the parents or grand parents who are of the other race? And it dismisses the richness of background that results in such mixtures. Why would someone want to do that?

    December 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. brandon

    This is a completely horrible crime against racial diversity everywhere! this one woman is destroying over a hundred years of trying to improve relations between the races. If i was to teach white kids how to buy a slave or make them pick cotton I would be thrown in jail. this teacher is teaching her kids to hate white people and should be denied the ability to teach kids unless she can do it in a non bias way. I would love to challenge this woman on how exactly this benefits these kids in any way! she should be arrested for hate crimes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 7, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Lisa

    Kudos to this teacher for confronting the impact of colorism on her students!

    December 7, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Lisa

    A clip about this episode just aired on CNN and I found it very interesting. Also heartbreaking that the little girl would think she's ugly because she has dark skin. As soon as the show went to commercial, I couldn't believe what I saw. A Walmart commercial featuring a light skinned black woman and a sugar cookie commercial with two very light skinned children. Wow! Were my eyes opened! I can only imagine all the other media images that this little girl has already absorbed that have made her feel the way she does.

    December 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Charlotte Gaskins

    How could what she's doing have a positive turn out? I watched the bit on this teacher, holding a paper bag to these little kid's arms. Why would she bring up such a negative part of history that doesn't even exist anymore? These kids don't need to grow up with resentment or "learning" how to separate themselves by their color. This story is horrible and this lady, Kiara, has got it all wrong.

    December 7, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. sdboone

    Its truly sad to hear this little girl make such negative statements about her own skin color. We as black folks need to explain to out children that not matter how dark or light you are, your still beautiful. Light skin and dark skin are both beautiful in gods eyes. The parents should be educated as well because these vicious comments comes from the home and the youth follows the horrible cycle. Parents should educate their own children about self love and respecting another persons difference.

    December 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Dennis Jones

    It has been 50 years, now, since James Brown made the hit "I'm Black and I'm Proud." This concept needs to be instilled into the minds of today's youth. We quickly grasped the "I'm black and I'm proud' concept in 1963. We no longer felt that dark was inferior. Being black is the basis of the entire AA heritage. Even though your skin was light, you were proud to say you were black. We need to relive the James Brown's "I'm black and I'm proud" theme.

    December 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Yinka

    Starting point is one of my favorites on CNN, but having to see my 6yr old daughter listen to this colorism issue this morning was very upsetting. I had to spend time convincing her otherwise. I think such people should not have access to publicity.

    December 7, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply

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