Skip to main content

tv   Who is Black in America  CNN  February 2, 2013 11:00pm-12:00am PST

11:00 pm
[heartbeat continues] [heartbeat, music playing louder] ♪ i'm feeling better since you know me... ♪ announcer: this song was created with heartbeats of children in need. find out how it can help frontline health workers bring hope to millions of children at tonight's moment of the week, a note of inspiration. >> the world needs you to stop being boring. yeah, you. boring is easy. everybody can be boring. but you're gooder than that. life isn't a game. life isn't a cereal either. well, it is a cereal. and if life is a game, aren't we all on the same team? i mean, really, right? i'm on your team. be on my team. this is life, people. >> all right, then. we will. this 9-year-old's video did something, something like 7 million hits on youtube. and that's just one of the many he put together with his brother-in-law.
11:01 pm
the two talked about their awesome strategy with soledad o'brien earlier this week. >> the first video came with the question is, what if the president really were a kid? >> i think that would be interesting. he would be concerned about everybody's emotional well-being. >> their awesomeness. >> is the world awesome. >> there you go. future president, robbie novak for a much gooder world and a more awesome you. i'm don lemon. thanks for watching. why is your hair so good? why is your skin so light? i get questions like, are you hispanic? are you mixed? >> why wouldn't i think i was black? >> a lot of people think i am black. i am dominican. >> just because you are black doesn't mean you are african-american. i used to identify as caribbean american.
11:02 pm
>> i am african. am i? >> i'm part native american. it's always been weird trying to figure out who i am. >> irish, italian, arab. >> black and white for a lot of my life, and black was something i rejected. >> black. >> black. >> black. >> you must have been told you are not really black? >> blackness is big enough to hold every shade. >> i am a black woman and these are my black daughters who happen to have a white father. >> i am black. it's never been a question, it's as simple as a beating inside of me. >> i am -- >> i am -- i'm soledad o'brien. over the last five years in this series, we have explored what it means to be black in america. my mother is black and cuban and my father is white and from
11:03 pm
australia, and when i was born in the mid 1960s the census didn't even track the number of mixed race children, because my mother was black, i always considered myself black and when i was a kid my mother would tell me don't let everybody tell you you are not black, and more often the question i was getting was, what are you? with the 2010 census, a record of 7% of new births are mixed race and more young people are grappling with that question and grappling with their racial identity. we follow two women who struggle with their racial identities and who are sick of answering the question, what are you? ♪ >> if i had like a word to describe me, it would most likely be quirky.
11:04 pm
i'm in a band and we do like progressive alternative rock, kind of. at first when people meet me, they don't know what i am. people will ask me, what are you? >> 17-year-old nile jones is a singer, a talented poet and high school senior. but that's not what people want to know. >> recently after i had one of those experiences, i just started writing things. and i was like, becca deals with the same thing. so let's make this a group piece. >> becca is nile's best friend. they do spoken word poetry together. >> it's like, girl, you are so pretty, what are you? a quintessential question for a tan-skinned girl and a soft kinky curl that doesn't seem to quit. they can't handle my racial figure. >> they itch to know what i am. it helps them sleep at night if
11:05 pm
they can pin down the reason -- >> the young women are being asked to categorize themselves racially. >> i am beautiful. >> in a country that has historically put most people into one of two boxes -- black or white. can you decide if you are black or white? >> i don't think anybody else gets to pick for me. >> when it comes down to it it's what i say about myself that is most important. >> perry coaches other young poets in the philadelphia youth poetry movement, or pypm. many are struggling to define themselves. >> like, literally. >> he is also a spoken word poet with some fame in the city where he is known as vision. >> i am the artistic director here. >> today and for the next month, he is teaching a poetry workshop, focusing on racial identity, skin color and discrimination.
11:06 pm
>> how many folks have been asked what are you? talk about how you identify yourself versus how others identify you and whether you are okay with that. >> it's a challenge he has experienced himself. >> white boy, half breed, what is he? the things i am reading right now, i don't have memorized because i am running from it. i won't lie. i am running from that poem. >> he's running from his past. divorced parents, his father, perry, is white, his mother is black. he says she hates her skin color. >> she doesn't like being dark skinned. i have not talked to her in years. i think subconsciously it made it okay in my mind to not be okay with who you are, to not be comfortable in your own skin. i didn't want the curly hair or light skin and i wanted to blend in and be like everybody else.
11:07 pm
i used to live here with my mom. my father is white and lived in a black neighborhood. my mother was black. she moved us to a totally white community. i got jumped literally right here on this pavement because i was black. and they would make comments about my mom, and make monkey noises. >> beat up and taunted because to the white boys, he wasn't white enough. >> my father's house, this is home. >> to his father's black neighbors, he was not black enough. >> always jokes here and there and light-skinned boys think they are this and things of that nature. >> high yellow meaning light skinned. it's one of the many taunts over the years that made him feel rejected by the black community. those taunts, the result of colorism. >> colorism is a system that says that light-skinned is more
11:08 pm
valued than dark-skinned. >> this professor wants to get people of all shades working together to end colorism. instead of pointing fingers at one another. it's why this dark-skinned woman began one drop, project that looks at the experiences of light-skinned people and what it means to be black. she plans to turn it into a book of photos and essays. >> once i really started as my own personal exploration into what i call the other side of blackness, it helped me to kind of think differently, if you will. helped me to reflect on the assumptions that i was making about people of lighter skin. >> she believes colorism divides the black community creating identity issues for light-skinned blacks and self-esteem issues for those that are darker skinned. she's felt it herself. >> i had a friend or somebody that i considered a friend, very light-skinned, blue eyes. she got engaged.
11:09 pm
i said so her jokingly one day, hello, where is my invitation? and she said to me, girl, my mamma would pass out if you came to my wedding. >> because you are black skinned? >> basically i was too dark. >> why are discussions in the black community often quiet? >> there's always been anxiety about what white people think about us. we don't want them to give them more fuel for the fire. so let's not air our dirty laundry. we'll deal with that on our own. but anytime we try to talk to each other, it turns into war. we are quick to point fingers and blame and say i had this experience because of somebody that looked like you. >> what are the darker people doing in the yellow circle? >> keira lee is 22 years old. like the professor, she believes color divides the black community and it is why she teaches concepts of colorism to grade schoolkids in virginia. >> my goal for the kids is to have them understand what colorism is, hopefully them knowing where it comes from.
11:10 pm
they will be less likely to perpetuate these behaviors. >> i heard somebody over here saying, i don't want to be dark, dark, dark. who said that? >> me. >> why don't you like being dark? >> because it's ugly. >> why is dark ugly? >> i don't know. >> so if you were darker you wouldn't like yourself? >> huh-uh. >> this is a safe space. >> vision hears the same thing from the teenagers he mentors, on twitter under hash tag team light skin and see comments like light skin is the right skin, or there are few pretty dark-skinned girls. >> why are we putting ourselves through this? >> so vision is focusing on a conversation about skin color and identity with about 50 other young poets. among the questions they will be tackling, who is black?
11:11 pm
>> race is a social construct. you are who you say you are. >> what makes you black? >> is black skin? is black culture? is black struggle? >> who determines who is black? >> the irony is who is black is determined not by black people. who's black is determined functionally by white people. >> and how does skin color divide black america? >> we are very aware from our lived experiences that skin color matters. >> once you've identified -- >> these are uncomfortable, often painful questions. >> you have to stop trying to push people in boxes that we are comfortable in. it's not about me. it's about becca's path. >> the journeys down these paths are just beginning. >> why are you so reluctant to say, i'm black, deal with it? >> i am -- >> i am -- the capital one cash rewards card
11:12 pm
gives you 1% cash back on all purchases, plus a 50% annual bonus. and everyone but her likes 50% more cash, but i have an idea. do you want a princess dress? yes. cupcakes? yes. do you want an etch-a-sketch? yes! do you want 50% more cash? no. you got talent. [ male announcer ] the capital one cash rewards card gives you 1% cash back on every purchase plus a 50% annual bonus on the cash you earn. it's the card for people who like more cash. what's in your wallet? i usually say that. what's in your wallet? trying to find a better job can likbe, so at university of phoenix we're working with a growing list of almost two thousand corporate partners -
11:13 pm
companies like microsoft, american red cross and adobe - to create options for you. not only that, we're using what we learn from these partners to shape our curriculum, so that when you find the job you want you'll be a perfect fit. let's get to work.
11:14 pm
then you're going to love this. right now they're only $14.95! wow-a grt deal just got a whole lot better. hurry. $14.95 won't last. i am dominican. i'm not african-american. i think it's two totally different cultures. they come from the same ancestry as africa. but we're 400 years removed.
11:15 pm
how i took on the outside doesn't necessarily mean i'm the same culturally as somebody else who's the same complexion was me. >> 3, 2, 1! around the room, there are a bunch of signs on the wall. a bunch of "identities" on the walls, on the pillars, on some chairs. walk around the room. you can only choose one. walk around the room. find out the classification you think you fit that you identify with most, and stand there. go. let's go, let's go! let's go! let's go! >> vision is asking each student to choose an identity. >> female, perfect. so easy. lady parts. >> has everybody identified?
11:16 pm
is everybody comfortable? >> when somebody walks up and says, what are you? this is how you identify? correct? this is where you're at, correct? everybody have a seat. >> i went for female. because everything else feels like i am not a person. >> honestly i copped out. i will readily admit, i was like okay i will walk over to other and maybe that's not how i feel, i don't feel like "other." >> your mother is? >> black and my dad is white. >> tell me about your mom? >> there's not really much i could tell you honestly because there's not much that i know. her and my dad got divorced when i was really, really young. and after that, i just never saw her. >> do you say you're black? >> i will say i'm black and white. but i've never said i'm just black. i don't necessarily feel black. i was raised with white people and white music and white food, and it's not something that i know. >> why are you so reluctant to say i am black, deal with it? i have spiky little black hair.
11:17 pm
i have brown skin. >> personally, i feel like i don't -- i don't really feel black, you know? i feel like it's a part of me. but it's not everything. >> so is nio black? >> she can identify how she chooses. if we didn't know each other, i would assume she is a black woman. >> ancestorially, she's biracial. but the rest of society will remind her of her blackness in a middle subtle ways, and the fact that she was embedded in white culture will not prevent her from having a black experience in a racialized system. >> tim wise began fighting racism right out of college. he's written books on racism in america. >> color and who qualified as black or white has been policed not by those who were the targets of oppression but those who set up the system of
11:18 pm
oppression as a way to dole out the goodies or to withhold the goodies from a society where color has been the dividing line of opportunity. >> how are you? >> good. >> today the professor is speaking to vision's workshop about one drop. historically it's the concept to define who is white and who is black. by 1925 nearly every state had a form of the one drop rule on their books. it began during slavery. >> what's one drop mean? >> you've got any black ancestry in you at all, you're black. >> you guys are coming in the middle and you don't look like white man, so what are you? >> they were, for the most part, children of rape. white master, black slave. >> historically, whiteness has been defined as pure.
11:19 pm
the government then came to define blackness as anybody with any trace of african ancestry, any trace. so this definition of blackness has come to be defined as the one drop rule. so we've got this pure bottle of white, pure, clear water. what would happen if we were to take some black paint, just one drop, let's see, and let's shake it up and see. oh, here we go. here we go. oh. that once pure water to quench your thirst has now been contaminated and what this has come to mean in history is 1/32, of negro/black/african blood. all you need is one person five generations back who is black
11:20 pm
and that's enough to make you black. take a guess when it was ruled unconstitutional. what year? 1967. the one drop rule was an attempt to save the so-called purity of the white race. >> why do so many black people hold on to the one-drop rule? including me. i think i'm black because my mother's black. >> the one drop rule, racist as it is, actually gave us parameters for our community. we knew who was black and we knew who wasn't and we knew what our issues were. >> and i hate the one-drop rule because of the historical significant of it. >> what do you check when you have to fill out a form like a consensus? >> i check black now. as long as i checked other -- i've never checked white. i am not white. america let's you know real fast that you are not white. i have never been jumped and called cracker or honky. i have been jumped and called monkey or -- >> you're black. >> i'm black.
11:21 pm
i'm biracial but i'm black. i'm no different than fredrick douglas or barack obama or many historical figures who were biracial. and are black and are part of black history. >> for becca, it's not that simple. >> i think i am from africa. i know i am from africa. but the black kids don't seem to really want me and the white kids don't really want me. i've got nine grams of protein. that's three times more than me! [ female announcer ] ensure clear. nine grams protein. zero fat. in blueberry/pomegranate and peach. nine grams protein. zero fat. all stations come over to mithis is for real this time. step seven point two one two. verify and lock. command is locked. five seconds. three, two, one.
11:22 pm
standing by for capture. the most innovative software on the planet... dragon is captured. is connecting today's leading companies to places beyond it. siemens. answers. all right that's a fifth-floor probleok.. not in my house! ha ha ha! ha ha ha! no no no! not today! ha ha ha! ha ha ha! jimmy how happy are folks who save hundreds of dollars switching to geico? happier than dikembe mutumbo blocking a shot. get happy. get geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more. thor gets great rewards for his small business! your boa! [ garth ] thor's small business earns double miles on every purchase, every day! ahh, the new fabrics. put it on my spark card. ow. [ garth ] why settle for less? the spiked heels are working. wait!
11:23 pm
[ garth ] great businesses deserve great rewards. [ male announcer ] the spark business card from capital one. choose unlimited rewards with double miles or 2% cash back on every purchase, every day! what's in your wallet? [ cheers and applause ]
11:24 pm
11:25 pm
all visions workshops end with an assignment. >> you are writing a poetry memoir of who you are, what you are. >> for jones and becca, it's difficult. >> so what you feel inside, what you feel you are, how you identify yourself is what you are writing right now. i want you to speak from your heart. one more minute. we will make our way up to the third floor in the drama studio. >> i don't have a race. i am now and forever my own race. i am tired of rabbit holing. why hide in the ground with everybody else when i can be myself and fly? [ applause ] >> nio, black mother, white father, refuses to put herself in anyone else's box. >> when those white kids say i am one of them i can't say i
11:26 pm
feel welcome. black has always been the color of my bones. bones black, black like sand and sky. black like heart and mind, black like me. [ applause ] >> i am black. i am african-american and i am accepting of that and proud of it. >> becca's roots are in africa, north africa, and her parents were born in egypt. >> you feel you are african-american? >> yes. >> that's been a struggle for me. >> why is it a struggle? egypt's in africa, right? >> yes. but it's not sub-saharan africa. it's in fake africa, not real africa. and most egyptians don't identify themselves as african-american. >> becca proudly calls herself black but not everybody in the poetry workshop is buying it. do you think she's white?
11:27 pm
this is becca's good friend. >> no. >> why is she not black? >> egypt is in africa, but i feel like there's a difference between being from africa and being black. >> so you think that you don't get to choose what you are? >> i don't think you get to choose. i think while we would all love to get to choose who we are and how people see us, you don't always get the chance to explain how you identify. >> what makes somebody black in your mind? >> i think how people see them, a certain amount of experiences. >> so there's a black experience? >> i think so. >> what is the black experience? >> you know, i would probably have to deal with racial profiling. becca would not. >> you think those differences are the difference between what make you black and not black? >> i think so.
11:28 pm
i mean, black, yes, african, no. >> my father is from guinea and my mother is from liberia. i was born in philadelphia. growing up, i was ostracized. you're not like us, you can't adapt to our struggles. you don't know our culture. people would say, you know, you are not black -- >> people would say you are not really black? >> growing up. that's what they would tell me for a significant portion of my life. >> both of my parents are considered light-skinned blacks, but what makes me black and what makes them black is the culture. >> michaele angela davis is a former editor for "essence," a magazine for black women. today she writes and lectures on issues of race and image. >> the music, the spirit, the food, the laughter, the way that we love, the way that black people have soul. >> i think it's an amalgamation of all of it.
11:29 pm
i think it's skin tone. i think it's experience. i think it's culture. i think it's a mindset. if you claim black that's what you are. >> i think there's a understanding particularly in racialized society, you have to be seen as black so when we walk into a room they know i am black but might question what you are so it has to do with do people see you as black? if people don't see you as black, you're not black. >> danielle says at first glance, very few people see her as black. >> i have always felt like i am a black woman. >> danielle joined the one drop project in 2011, about a decade after the two women met in grad school. danielle's mother is white, and her father is black. he died when she was a teenager. >> i made so many assumptions about danielle. i thought she was that type of light-skinned chick, that she thought she was cute, too good and that she was standoffish
11:30 pm
because she didn't fool with us regular folks. what was going on she had an experience growing up in the middle of pennsylvania in a mennonite community -- >> pennsylvania, 92% white. danielle felt like she didn't belong in the only world she knew. >> it was this quiet ignoring that i often felt as though people just didn't really want to mess with me, you know, they -- you are good, and stay over there. >> how did you get through? >> i left school. i stopped going. >> you dropped out? >> i didn't officially drop out. they sent a tutor to my house and that's how i finished my junior year. >> she got through that year and the next and graduated and went to temple university where she studied for her master's in african-american studies and she
11:31 pm
says she had a deep desire to connect with her blackness. >> my family is very important to me. my white family is who i grew up around but even with them i feel as though i am black, i am not the same as them. i have always felt that way. i know where i feel most comfortable and the way that i want to identify, and the beating that is in me is blackness, it's blackness. there's no question about it. >> that's not the case for nio, who like danielle grew up with a white family. she says to me, i haven't had a black experience, i don't feel when i'm around black people that i'm black. is she black? >> i would say she is black. and i think that maybe she has an idea of what a black experience is, and doesn't identify with that experience,
11:32 pm
and so therefore she doesn't think that she is black. every one would say i didn't have a black experience. but i -- i had my own kind of black experience. there isn't just one. >> for nio, the search for her identity is about to open old wounds. >> this is gross. >> it's not gross. there's nothing gross about healing. you name it...i've hooked it. but there's one... one that's always eluded me. thought i had it in the blizzard of '93. ha! never even came close. sometimes, i actually think it's mocking me. [ engine revs ] what?! quattro!!!!! ♪
11:33 pm
he opened up jake's very private world. at first, jake's family thought they saved ziggy, but his connection with jake has been a lifesaver. for a love this strong, his family only feeds him iams. compared to other leading brands, it has 50% more animal protein... help keep ziggy's body as strong as a love that reaches further than anyone's words. iams. keep love strong. that reaches further than anyone's words. all stations come over to mithis is for real this time. step seven point two one two. verify and lock. command is locked. five seconds. three, two, one. standing by for capture. the most innovative software on the planet... dragon is captured. is connecting today's leading companies to places beyond it. siemens. answers.
11:34 pm
sven gets great rewards for his small business! how does this thing work? oh, i like it! [ garth ] sven's small business earns 2% cash back on every purchase, every day! woo-hoo!!! so that's ten security gators, right? put them on my spark card! why settle for less? testing hot tar... great businesses deserve great rewards! [ male announcer ] the spark business card from capital one. choose unlimited rewards with 2% cash back or double miles on every purchase, every day! what's in your wallet? here's your invoice.
11:35 pm
11:36 pm
i self-identify as black and grew up as the son of a black father. although my mother is white, i never saw mixed and black as mutually exclusive. mixed culture is people being brought to this country, building their own cultural traditions here in america. i feel connected to my russian heritage and jewish ancestry. but a connection to my white culture is an alien concept to me. >> it's a poem about her life, but jones is struggling to recite it. >> they always called me white girl. >> she calls her poem other, or the biracial poem. it's about being bullied by black kids for being light-skinned. >> i remember their taunts.
11:37 pm
i became ashamed. >> now the tough part, she has to perform it at the first spoken word poetry competition of the season, but it's painful and she can hardly get through it. >> i pretended i didn't know they were all wondering if i was adopted. no black mother to explain how this tall white man ended up with this short chestnut-skinned girl. they doubted he was ever my father. >> only seven hours still show time and nio can't remember her poem. >> find it. you've got it. i can tell you why you are not remembering it, you are not connected to the speech yet. when it's pieces that are personal, we don't want to connect with. i wrote it. i am done. that's the beginning. >> they always call me white girl. i was never ashamed of myself until they taught me to be ashamed. i won't be white girl anymore and i won't be mixed girl any more either. i have come far enough where i am not ashamed but i refuse to be defined by itself.
11:38 pm
>> don't. don't. >> i don't want to -- this is gross. >> it's not gross. it's not gross. there's nothing gross about healing. >> i am just so frustrated. i don't know. >> it's okay. and it gets easier. i promise you it gets easier. >> come here. come here. let go. it's okay. it's all right. you got this. claim who you are tonight. this is your speech. that stage tonight is for you. it's all right, sweetie. >> these are the wounds of colorism. >> come on!
11:39 pm
>> wounds often first inflicted on the playground to both light-skinned and dark-skinned kids. >> they lived in the same neighborhood. they were even in the same grade. >> keira lee recently graduated from the university of richmond. her passion is educating children about colorism. >> tell me about that. why did the teacher not call on him? >> because she is ugly and black -- >> lashantae is 7 years old and her mother is worried her daughter is getting the message dark skin is bad. >> i think my skin is ugly. >> why do you think it's ugly? >> because i don't want to be dark. >> you don't want to be dark? >> no, i want to be light skinned. >> why? >> because light skin is pretty. >> you think so? >> yes. >> is there anything else? >> yes. >> what?
11:40 pm
>> that i like to be light, like you. >> and you know what, i want to be pretty like you. >> so we both have something we would wish for. >> can somebody tell me what that means? my stance is, teach the children what it is and show them the history and make them aware of this issue so when they go to school and out in the world, they are armed with this information. >> because he wants to buy her, because her skin is lighter. colorism was something that plantation owners used as an instrument to divide and conquer their own enslaved persons. by extending to lighter-skinned enslaved persons more privileges. and it was a way to get those lighter-skinned black folks to be more likely to side with the owner if there was a slave rebellion plan. >> even among 6 year olds, she is not afraid to shock. today the brown paper bag test. she stops each child entering
11:41 pm
the classroom and compares their skin tone to a paper bag. >> let me see your arm. put your arm out for me. >> lighter than a bag, you can sit in the front. it's a real test from the early 1900s used by social organizations like churches and fraternities and neighborhood groups to decide who was light-skinned enough to join. was it too extreme to do to little kids? >> the more shocking the activity is, the better because it's going to stick with them. >> why are y'all feeling bad? >> she showed us that dark skin had to sit in the back and light skin had to sit in the front. i didn't think it was fair. >> do you think you are less privileged because of the color of your skin? >> 18-year-old sophia washington, one of vision's poets, has learned the same harsh lessons. >> i think i have less opportunity. >> when she claims that her life
11:42 pm
is harder than either of the other two young women, because of her skin color -- >> she has a basis for that claim. >> there's a lot of evidence that would be consistent with her saying that. >> dozens of studies show differences in skin color have huge consequences, including a 2008 study that shows light-skinned black women have a better chance of marrying than darker women and a 2006 study that shows that dark skin color can affect earning potential. >> we found that darker skin and medium skin toned black men suffered a 10% to 12% penalty in wages relative to white males but lighter-skinned black males suffered no penalty relative to white males. no surprise, the emotional toll
11:43 pm
of colorism comes up again and again as the slam competition gets under way. >> too dark written on our skin. >> the competition is tough. and nio is nervous. the boys use capital one venture miles for their annual football trip. that's double miles you can actually use. tragically, their buddy got sacked by blackouts. but it's our tradition! that's roughing the card holder. but with the capital one venture card you get double miles you can actually use. [ cheering ] any flight, anytime. the scoreboard doesn't lie.
11:44 pm
what's in your wallet? hut! i have me on my fantasy team.
11:45 pm
your doctor will say get smart about your weight. i tried weight loss plans... but their shakes aren't always made for people with diabetes.
11:46 pm
that's why there's glucerna hunger smart shakes. they have carb steady, with carbs that digest slowly to help minimize blood sugar spikes. and they have six grams of sugars. with fifteen grams of protein to help manage hunger... look who's getting smart about her weight. [ male announcer ] glucerna hunger smart. a smart way to help manage hunger and diabetes.
11:47 pm
slam night at the franklin institute in center city philadelphia. 20 young poets competing for the win, and jones is about to face them and her fears. >> everybody show love and give it up for nio. >> she not only has to be better than the competition, she has to expose old emotions and confront painful questions about her identity. >> they always called me a white girl. i was never ashamed of myself until they taught me to be ashamed. i was never keen on splitting hairs. or splitting veins. my blood is not segregated into black and white. in my mind, i'm gray, a mixture of all beautiful things. you cannot paint me the color -- >> she rushes to finish. >> i have come far enough to know not to be ashamed of what i am. but i won't let them define me by it either. [ applause ] >> it was so fantastic just to get it off my chest.
11:48 pm
i did not stutter or stumble and forget the words which was really great because i was so scared i was going to forget the words. >> i know that she can dive so much deeper into the poem and she can tap into that and really get free. >> he forces me to do the things that i would really rather not do, but sometimes the best for you is kind of hard to do. >> for her, getting through this first slam of the season is a relief. for becca -- >> biting the hands of every guy who tries -- >> it's phenomenal. >> we bark, growl and tear apart the portraits you painted and we paint our own for the paint you had no use for we will re-paint ourselves as women, holy once more. [ applause ] >> our winner for the evening. give it up, y'all, for becca! >> what was that like?
11:49 pm
>> awesome. i never have one anything before. it was a really wonderful feeling. >> becca khalil feels black. she desperately wants the world to see her that way, too. >> i never thought being black was synonymous to your color because i thought that was racist. who wants to be racist is our society? everyone does, apparently, because i'm not dark. i'm not black. >> so who determines who's black? >> the important thing to do is to, of course, define yourself however you wish and that's your own right and freedom and you should exercise it but it's also
11:50 pm
important for people to keep in mind how the larger society is likely to see one. >> the u.s. government has a say when it comes to identity. the u.s. census bureau, white, a person having origins in any of the original peoples of europe, the middle east or north africa. you are defined as white according to the census. >> yep. >> she is not white. so the question really goes to the u.s. government. why are people from north africa white? what purpose does that serve? how did you come to make that decision? they are on the continent of africa, they are of african descent, why not be black? >> will she be viewed as white by anyone other than the census taker? unless the police officer or loan officer or teacher or employer for whom she is trying
11:51 pm
to get a job views her that way and it's unlikely they will, she will be, at the very least, a woman of color. >> what role does family play in all this? for nio, that's unclear. >> i already have a poetry book. but look how nice this is, dad. look how pretty that is. >> i think a lot of it is how you are cultured. what is the dominant culture in your household? >> for her it's white. she lives with her dad. >> so there you go. who loved you? who took care of you? >> while she is reluctant to embrace her black roots it's a different story for her 14-year-old sister. >> i feel more comfortable when i am around people that are black. i think that i fit in more with black people. she likes different music than i do and dresses differently and hangs out with different people. i like more hip-hop, and she doesn't really like that.
11:52 pm
she hangs out with more white people or black people that act white. i hang out with black people that act black. >> same mother, same father. sisters living on opposite sides of the same wall divided by views on culture and identity. but for nio, that might be about to change. >> there were certain things about to change. it was like female, poet, black. i was thinking how come i have to be the odd one out in this situation? juice or fancy water. i've got nine grams of protein. that's three times more than me! [ female announcer ] ensure clear. nine grams protein. zero fat. in blueberry/pomegranate and peach. nine grams protein. zero fat. with so much competition,
11:53 pm
finding the right job is never easy. but with the nation's largest alumni network, including those in key hiring positions, university of phoenix can help connect you to a world of opportunity. olaf gets great rewards for his small business! pizza! [ garth ] olaf's small business earns 2% cash back on every purchase, every day! helium delivery. put it on my spark card! [ pop! ] [ garth ] why settle for less? great businesses deserve great rewards! awesome!!! [ male announcer ] the spark business card from capital one. choose unlimited rewards with 2% cash back or double miles on every purchase, every day! what's in your wallet?
11:54 pm
or double miles on every purchase, every day! capella university understands bright students are getting lost in the shuffle. need. and administration's work gets more complex every year. when you look at these issues, do you see problems or opportunities? with an advanced degree in education from capella university, you'll have the knowledge to meet these challenges and make a difference in the lives of students. let's get started at
11:55 pm
11:56 pm
i am a black woman and these are my black daughters who happen to have a white father. >> i see my daughters as gifts from god who come from a heritage of german ancestry, irish ancestry. guyanese ancestry. we're raising them as black women because i think that's how the world sees them. i think the united states, we still abide by a one-drop rule. we are not overemphasizing anything but just being who we are. >> application center. okay. create new account. >> it is senior year, which means it's stressful and it's extra stressful for nio.
11:57 pm
>> hold on. >> dad. >> what are you doing? >> college stuff. they are making me select my primary ethnicity. american indian, asian, asian, black, african-american, and -- >> she picked african-american but you should have the option of identifying as strictly biracial. >> becca khalil is also filling out college applications. >> when i'm applying to college, i don't want to have to sit and have this long discussion with myself about what bubble i should fill in for my ethnicity. i want to put african-american. i think i'm african-american. >> what box do you check? >> i check white. >> you check white? >> yep. so that i can avoid any troubles with getting into college. i am applying for theater. >> she fears checking black could mess up her chances of acceptance. >> you look at black or
11:58 pm
african-american, you have this image in your head. and then when you meet me, because i have to addition for the schools and you meet me and now they don't have any black girls, you know. >> 20 years from now what will you be? >> i want to say 20 years from now i will be like i am black, and people will be like, that's what's up. >> i am a firm believer in the ability to self-identify. if becca says she's black, i would agree she is black. >> give me a positive about being biracial. >> maybe these girls get to help dissolve these boxes. they have to say for themselves, they have to define what is beautiful and who is black and who is not by sharing images, by sharing stories, by sharing culture. >> the final workshop is all about sharing. >> going to write down ten things that identify you.
11:59 pm
write a group poem about the thing that you guys have in common. >> creative, black, ambitious. >> black, tall, educated. >> i have biracial, female, student, poet, short, musician, afro'd. as you were going around the circle, certain things kept coming up. it was like female, poet, black. i'm wondering, how come i have to be the odd one out in this situation? i don't have to be the one out. it's plausible for me to be like, okay, i'm black, too. >> we are the mango queens. >> we are the blossoms of the mango tree, the black woman, the beautiful black tree, the beautiful black woman. >> we are the mango tree. >> today she said i am a black woman. when she came off stage, i said,


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on