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tv   Open Phones with Taye Diggs  CSPAN  May 1, 2016 5:45am-6:16am EDT

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or their latin father because, you know, they would get harassed at school. and some of these stories are really, they're really sad, you know? it's too bad, you know, how we all -- i mean, i understand it, but, you know, we as human beings, we feel the need to categorize and, you know, label just for our own edification, out of fear, do you know what i mean? instead of just with accepting people for whom they are. >> host: taye diggs will be with us for the next 20 minutes or so. if you'd like to call in, we're talking about his book, "mixed me," his first book was "chocolate me," and we're talking about, generally, the issue of race in america particularly from his perspective. 202 is the area code. 748-8200 if you live in the east and central time zones, 8201 more those of you in the mountain and pacific time zones. if you want to send a text
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message, 202-717-9684. we've also got a couple of ways that you can contact us by social media, twitter and facebook. we'll put those addresses up as we go along as well. taye diggs, you mentioned that there was a bit of a kerfuffle when you were doing press for this book, but i'm going to quote you here and let you talk about this. we're talking about president obama here, and this is you speaking. everybody refers to him as the first black president. i'm not saying it's wrong, i'm just saying that it's interesting. it would be great if it didn't matter and that people could call him mixed. >> guest: uh-huh. yes. >> host: so do you consider him to be the first black president? >> guest: i do. i do. but that's only because i'm playing by the rules that have already been set. see what i'm saying? i always, i always tell my
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friends i bet you, you know, i would bet you that growing up there were black folks that did not accept him or black folks that said he talked white. and, you know, after you reach a certain level a lot of times these same black folk turn that around and say, okay, now that you've established yourself, now we can accept you, you know what i mean? you know, we as a race, you know, from and because of slavery, we've been put through so much that when it comes to identity, it's confusing. it's really confusing. i can understand how, you know, we as black people want to find as many from our tribe as possible. i get that. but at some point that's going to have to, that's going to have to end because where do you draw the line? where are you going to draw the line, you know? there are some black people that
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are lighter than you, you know what i'm saying? and they've been treated a certain way their entire lives. and it's just, it's not fair, you know? i think at some point we're going to have to, we're going to have to move on. >> host: do you think that because of your notoriety as an actor that perhaps your son has an easier time of it? >> guest: i would probably say yes only in that we have a little bit, we have a little bit of money, so we can afford to send him to certain schools where, you know, a diversity is paramount. i don't know what his experience would be were he to go to a
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public school. i don't know. but, you know, i know -- this is what i do know. regardless of who i am, he's going to, you know, he's going to, he's going to come across some problems, you know what i mean? he's going to come across some kids whether it's college or high school or wall street that are going to ask him, you know, with whom he identifies. i remember a while back tiger woods not saying that he was black and everybody getting so upset. for me it just made sense, you know? but people, you know, when it comes to ethnicity and race, people take it very, very seriously. with good reason. >> host: i'm sorry. no, go ahead. >> guest: with good reason. but, you know, we've got to try to move on.
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>> host: 2016, what do you think about the conversation, conditions of race in this country? >> guest: i mean, you know -- [laughter] it's getting better. it's nowhere near, you know, i'll try to stay positive. it's getting better. it's getting better. we've got a ways to go, but it's getting better, and i'm very, i'm very hopeful. i'm trying to come from a place of understanding and love, you know? people can get very angry and aggressive, and at times it can become easy to kind of fall into a defensive mode. but i'm trying, you know? i'm trying to understand and be empathetic. and, hopefully, you know, if we
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all can kind of, you know, walk in groupty with that -- in unity with that vibe, you know, things will get better. >> host: what's it like to write a children's book? >> guest: oh, man -- >> host: what's the number one rule for writing a children's book? >> guest: oh, i don't know, man -- >> host: for you? >> guest: for me it's got to be fun, you know? i'm excited that i found my own kind of rhyming rhythm, poetry, and i've been very fortunate to work with one of my very best friends, i call him my cousin. excuse me, shane evans. he's the illustrator. and being able to work with one of your best friends is awesome, you know? being able to see him, you know, put art to the words that i've come up with is, you know, it's like opening presents on christmas morn. [laughter] >> host: let's take some calls.
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taye diggs, you've seen him in rent, you've seen him in wicked, you've seen him in how stella got her groove back -- [laughter] you've seen him in private practice and the good wife as well. >> guest: so long ago. hi there. >> host: first call for him is dorothy in haiti, missouri. dorothy, you're on booktv. good morning. >> caller: good morning. >> guest: good morning. >> caller: hello. >> host: dorothy -- >> guest: hello, hello. >> host: torte think, we're listening. please go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: yes. my granddaughter, she's mixed, and she's absolutely beautiful, and she's in eighth grade. we kind of have a different sort of problem here in our school with her. she has problems with the black kids in school. we had to take her out of school and home school her.
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white kids have accepted her, but the black kids are the ones that are bullying her and giving her trouble. and, you know, yeah. yes, our town, we have a lot of prejudice in our town. we're a small, rural town, and, you know, it's there. but that's what has surprised us. so do you have any explanation for that? [laughter] >> host: taye diggs. >> guest: ooh. i mean, there are tons of people out there that can relate, and i'm sorry that your family has to go through that. but it's, as i said earlier, you know, african-americans -- i guess i should say, you know, most ethnicities, you know, that have been kind of disenfranchised, does that work?
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have issues. and that is one of the issues that we as a race carry, you know? wanting to include or not include people for certain reasons based on how they look or how they speak or how they dress and how that kind of plays into race. i understand it, but once again, you know, it's hurtful, it's harmful and -- it can be. it can be hurtful, it can be harmful, and it's something we need to work on. >> host: another call from missouri, this is dan in camdenton, missouri. go ahead, dan, we're listening. >> caller: yes, mr. di goodggs. i've had a relationship with a
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number of blacks, either friends or working. and my question is how do you feel about the psychological effects of blacks in america who don't ascribe to being african? >> guest: ooh -- >> host: tell you what, taye diggs, what did you hear from that caller? what did you hear? >> guest: what did i hear? >> host: as an african-american? >> guest: this gentleman wants to know where i stand on, i guess -- and correct me if i'm wrong -- african-americans that don't identify with being african. that's an interesting question. once again, you know, we're making up these rules as we go along.
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and the difficulty with that is that there's no real right or wrong, because we're making it up. so african-american, that's a made-up word, you know? i've never been to africa. i don't know for a fact if my lineage is from africa, but that's manager, that's a term that we came up with i think for ease, you know? so it's hard to speak on something like that when, you know, there is no cemented answer. you know? i think the term comes from a time when black people needed to feel like a group, they needed to feel, we needed to feel unified. strong. powerful.
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so, you know, once again i get it, but, you know, when you're making things up as you go along, you start to run into some bumps in the road. ask you get people out there -- and you get people out there that want exact answers. and when it comes to race and ethnicity and prejudice, there are no, there are no exact answers. you know? >> host: so the last two calls were both from missouri, the next two are from california. do you think that the problems or the issues faced by those two in missouri are going to be the same issues faced out here in southern california? >> guest: sure. sure. it's all over. it permeates the world. it's all over, you know? that's one thing you can always count on. unfortunately. you can always count on people
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drawing lines and wanting to separate. unfortunately. i think i feel like it's part of our nature, you know what i mean? looking at someone and then making a judgment so that you can identify them and better understand them, you know? and i think through the years we've tried to do that in many different ways, and race has been one of them, you know? that's why you get into all these issues with, you know -- i remember in college i was in an african-american studies class. and as we were talking about stereotypes, there was a black, a young black man skateboarding out the window, you know, outside the window. and about four or five kids, you know, pointed that, pointed him out and said how he was, that's
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a white sport, why is he doing that white sport? why is he skateboarding, you know? as opposed to, what, like playing basketball or -- you know? and then you have on the converse side people getting upset when folks assume that you are good at basketball because you're black, you know? it's muddy. it's messy. and, you know, it's complicated. >> host: lillia right here in los angeles. you're on with author taye diggs. please go ahead. >> caller: thank you. sir, i've never really read any of your books, but -- >> guest: okay. >> caller: -- for the past 22 years i have been going to an indian reservation in south dakota. >> guest: okay. >> caller: and one of the most
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amazing things that i heard from legitimate, genuine med zahn man was this, that -- medicine man was this, that he said do you know if you are an fbi, full-blooded indian, they would not trust you to get any credit than if you are a mixed indian. i said, why is that? i don't know, they just think that we full-blooded indians cannot be trusted where the mixed indians can be trusted. and he died recently, this old man. i really loved him. and i remember that when i was listening to mr. diggs. just a comment. >> host: all right. thank you for that. any response for her? taye diggs. >> guest: oh, that's, you know, it's all of these questions, you know, the answers or the comments, they all come from a similar place which is it's too bad, and, you know, we as a
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people and a lot of cases we are ruled by fear. a similar situation is with african-americans, you know, a lot of mixed race folks are considered to have good hair. you know? when i was growing up, the light-skinned african-americans were always considered better looking, you know? so it's something that we are struggling with, and z i continue to say, i can understand where it comes from. but at the end of the day, i think it's more polarizing than, that there's more of a spirit of that as opposed to bringing people together. >> host: and you grew up in newark, new jersey? >> guest: i grew up in rochester, new york. yeah, yeah. born in newark, raised in rochester, new york. >> host: karen is in pasadena
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right here, southern california area. hi, karen. go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: hello, thank you for taking my call. mr. diggs, with regards to i understand you exclusively date white women, and i guess my question would be have you deviled into the -- delved into the psychology around that? and the other question i have is with regard to the societal ills that black americans face in this country, can we really afford to be taking on the struggles that mixed-race kids have? i mean, how do we, how do we embrace something else -- >> host: are you african-american? >> caller: yes, i am. >> host: thank you, sir. taye diggs? >> guest: well, first off, i don't date exclusively white women. [laughter] that's wrong. so there's that. and secondly, our problem is a
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problem, and problems need to be dealt with. as my son, i love my son. if he has an ear ache and he cuts his knee on the sidewalk, i don't let the cut on his knee bleed because i'm taking care of the ear ache. i help him with his ear ache, and then i help him with his cut. problems need to be solved. and it's just that simple. i kind of find it difficult to believe or understand how being a member of the earth you would say certain problems need to be taken care of, you know, prioritizing certain problems as opposed to others, you know? what about the homeless? what about education? like, are we just supposed to ignore all of those problems and just deal with the problems that
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african-americans have? no. we have problems, it sucks, and we need to deal with them. >> host: have you heard those comments before such as what -- >> guest: not this one. not this one, no. [laughter] not this one. >> host: a couple of texts that we've received, i'd like to congratulate taye diggs for saying and writing what a lot of people are simply afraid to speak about. keep up the good work. >> guest: thank you. >> host: that comes from area code 859. by the way, you can include your first name and city, that would be great. and this one as well, a shout out to taye diggs for the movie, "the wood." great movie about friendship and growing of age. and here is one from carl in detroit. what race do you consider your son, black, white, mixed? and why? >> guest: race. i will answer that if this
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person can define race. >> host: via text so -- >> guest: well. >> host: there we go. >> guest: you define it. >> host: brea in landover, washington, in the d.c. area. you're on with taye diggs. go ahead. >> caller: hi, taye. >> guest: hi. >> caller: hi. first of all, we are all god's children, first of all. >> guest: first of all. good point. >> caller: yeah. let's start there. and when he allows that egg to meet that sperm and that life created, we are all here because we're all meant to be here. >> guest: uh-huh. >> caller: i just think, and i must conclude by saying i am 51 years old, i am african-american not that i've ever set foot in africa, but i know that my roots, that my origin comes -- my people were forced here from that region. so that's how i identify myself,
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as an african-american. >> guest: okay. >> caller: but i am 51, i've never been married, i have no children. i just think it's sad -- >> guest: okay. >> caller: i'm glad you found someone that you could love and that you could share that portion of your life and created that life. but i just think it's sad for people who choose interracial relationships to not consider the legacy they're passing on to their children in the world of racism and bigotry, you know? i just hope that if i find someone -- i'm too old to have kids now. [laughter] but if i did, i'd like to adopt those who are already here who need love and to be nurtured. >> guest: okay. >> caller: and to not pass on, you know, related to my selfishness -- >> host: brea, you're 51 years old, you say. has the relationship,
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conversation, etc., about race in america changed in your lifetime? >> caller: i don't think it's changed. i think that it's become more exposed. i think, you know, back when i was a little girl, it was more, you know, overt. it wasn't so blatant, although during the time of my grandmother -- who i must say was a really fair-skinned woman. she's creole, and she had a dark-skinned mother and a european father. so while i'm sure during my mother's mother's era -- she was born in -- the 7th would have been her birthday,. she would have been 102. rest in peace. >> host: all right, brea, we're going to have to live -- leave it there, i apologize. taye diggs, what did you hear from brea?
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>> guest: i, i understand where she's coming from, and i, you know, i commend her. she has the right to, you know, to date or hold any kind of relationship she chooses. ask that's her prerogative. -- and that's her prerogative. for me, i choose to work from the heart. and as she said, accept and appreciate all of god's children. you know? if you pick one specific type, there's no way you can pick one specific type without excluding others. and i believe in being inclusive. period. is writing addictive? is there a third book? >> guest: oh, yes. there's going to be more. yes, yes. i'm very excited. >> host: the next one? >> guest: it's a secret. [laughter] it's a secret, sir. >> host: all right. >> guest: oh, my goodness. >> host: mixed me -- >> guest: yes. >> host: is the name of the
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