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Yvette Carnell: CNN’s Soledad O’Brien Isn’t Black Enough, But President Obama Is?


by Yvette Carnell

Funny thing. Right around the time Soledad O’Brien started buzzing about her “Black in America” special, entitled “Who is Black in America?”,  she was barraged on Twitter by purists, accusing her of not being black enough to have that conversation.

Lately I’ve been trying not to really comment on colorism because I think, no I know, it’s an antiquated discussion.

When Zoe Saldana was tapped to play Nina Simone, I spoke up because that selection represents a standard set by Hollywood, one which has all but eliminated darker skinned women from leading roles. And I would be the first to admit that Hollywood’s penchant for fairer skinned actresses,  which resulted in Saldana’s casting,  is at work in other vocations, including media (maybe even CNN, although I see no indication of that).

So I have no problem with anyone criticizing media, Hollywood, business, or whatever. What I will never do, and what I have a sincere problem with, is black people berating other black people solely based on the color of their skin.

There are certainly cultural distinctions between Ghanaians, Nigerians, Afro- Cubans, Brazilians, African-Americans and so on. That’s up for discussion. I have, previously, even made the argument that President Obama’s “up by your bootstraps” ethos is more accurately reflected in African immigrants than African-Americans. But Obama is still black, and so is Soledad O’brien.  Which is why I was stunned when one of the trolls who  dismissed  Soledad O’Brien as not black (actually calling her white) named President Obama as one of their most favorite people in the whole world. The only difference between O’Brien and Obama: One has darker skin than the other. And to allow that to be the standard for what is and  is not black in America is utter insanity.

Listen, Soledad has a rich history, which includes an Afro- Cuban mother and a white and Australian father, but most African Americans are not pure bread. That is our history. That  is our struggle. And anyone who cannot intellectually grapple with  that, who has some sort of purist ideal, who continually berates our history, or foments division within our ranks, should catch the first thing smoking back to “Mother Africa.”

I’m not going to go into what was said or by whom. I don’t feed the trolls. I don’t give them light to see or air to breath. I certainly don’t give them a place to shine. If you’re determined to know, just check O’Brien’s twitter feed from this morning. My point is that, with the fiscal cliff on the horizon,  African-Americans are facing serious issues which we need to get a handle on. We need each other.  And in order to help each other,  we’ve got to stop hating each other.

Yvette Carnell is a former Capitol Hill and campaign staffer turned writer. She is currently an editor and contributor to Yourblackworld. You can reach Yvette via Twitter @YvetteDC or on Facebook.

50 Responses to Yvette Carnell: CNN’s Soledad O’Brien Isn’t Black Enough, But President Obama Is?

  1. Justice Reply

    December 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Soledad O’Brien’s one drop of b***d may make her black but that does not mean she relates to African Americans. I once heard her comment that there was no inequality in regards to race in this Country and that minorities are afforded the same opportunities as Caucasians. I agree that African Americans are afforded more opportunities today than our Ancestors in history’s past but inequality still exists. I think she needs to sit down with Rev. Jesse Jackson and let him enlighten her without becoming offended this time. If she had embraced her blackness out loud Rev. Jackson would have known that she was African American before their interview. I think she has a lot to learn about the plight of African Americans in this Country.

  2. Robert Johnson Reply

    December 10, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Soledad is a great Afro-American lady. She has the means to get the black American view point on air and she certainly does that every day. The Black community have a valuable person at our disposal. One who’s highly dedicated to her race and extremely educated. She takes on all comers in her profession. I applaud you, Soledad, and will forever be a fan of yours.

  3. KG Reply

    December 10, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Everyone knows she isn’t the best person to hold these discussions, but these days the media isn’t really doing a bang-up job at ‘justice for all’ either. Most of CNN’s AA TV journalists are ‘light, bright d**n near white’ anyway, so I am not sure who would fit the bill to host. Blacks need to start creating their own dialogue instead of relying on a weekly show from Ms O’Brien to do it. I recommend start watching MSNBC where Rev Al Sharpton has a show and he makes a lot of sense.

  4. Derrick Reply

    December 9, 2012 at 6:32 am

    She should do a series entitled ‘cubans in amerikkka’ and stop portraying us Black people, as the only culture with problems.

    ALL people of color face the same kind of discrimination here in racist amerikkka; therefore, she should stick to her side of the coin and do some journalistic work on her culture! A REAL Black woman should be doing this series to show the POSITIVE side of Black amerikkkans.

    What most Blacks don’t OVERstand is that we are the ORIGINAL inhabitants of this country, and we WERE NOT SLAVES!!! The drunken white, murderous pilgrims (jailbirds), who england did not want, were BOUGHT by caucasoid amerikkka!!! They came here and STOLE OUR LAND, then claimed it.

    The bottom line is this…crackers are euro-anglo-amerikkkans; they are not indigenous to ANYTHING because they were nomads, who stole other people’s land and possessions aka ni*ggards!!! They are the ORIGINAL ni*ggaz!!!

    REAL TALK!!!

  5. Kdd Reply

    December 8, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    And so the Willie Lynch indoctrination lives on as our people perpetuate Lynch’s conspiracy of divide and conquer among Blacks:Get light And dark complexioned Blacks to hate each other thus eroding unity among us. How is one’s Blackness measured?

  6. rosemary davis Reply

    December 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    It was a long time before Soledad admitted publicly her biracial heritage I beleive durning the 2008 election and her black in America series on CNN that she gave a birds eye view of who she really is and I for one am glad that she freely talk about it now my question is why did she wait so long to reveal it? and my guess is perhaps her career maybe many journalits are from biracial parents but are either ashame or afraid too talk about it but the hair is always a good indication and for me it was Soledads hair that gave her away a long time ago as far back as her years with Miles O’brien on CNN

  7. Ruby from NJ Reply

    December 8, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    We, as a people, are just too dumb. We need to think about things that matter, like who needs food, who needs shelter, who needs shoes and clothes. Then we should do what we can to help, no matter how little it is.

  8. Cemotap Reply

    December 8, 2012 at 11:11 am

    People stop relying upon others to define you. Take charge! Define and name yourselves without seeking the permission or approval of others.

  9. David2001 Reply

    December 8, 2012 at 11:10 am

    The bottom line is this woman is NOT black. She has more in common culturally with the Hispanic or white community. IMO she only acknowledged this cultural part of her heritage to gain favor in a white racist media that would prefer a light skinned woman who isn’t black calling herself black. Many white Americans have african heritage in them even though they don’t aknowlege it. I wonder if she had blond hair and blue eyes would her black defenders still say it’s fine to call herself black to gain a high token position as top negro at CNN. She was giving the choice assignment of Black in America solely because she’s NOT black. If anything she exploited the racist mentality of white media that would prefer a woman who isn’t black calling herself black.

  10. Soul Sista Reply

    December 8, 2012 at 10:34 am

    When comparing The President to Soledad, the president married a black women and attended a black church in Chicago, whereas Soledad didn’t marry black which is her choice, however her stance just seems to be aligned with a white anthropoligist doing research on black people, sort of like she is on the outside looking in and forming her opinions. She doesn’t present a passion for her mother’s identity or heritage, except for resume purposes. She may be like this because CNN promotes that style just as they promote the “paper bag test” upon hire. If not the paper bag test, then you must be gay or both.

    • Miss T Reply

      December 8, 2012 at 11:10 am

      Nothing more needs to be said…thank you Soul Sista!

    • BiggestBoss Reply

      December 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      @Soul Sista, you’re nuts. Do you know how many white women the president has dated? Betcha didn’t know that all of his girlfriends prior to FLOTUS have been white, did you? The only reason the president married a black woman is because he’s running for office and Soledad isn’t. If he’d taken the business route, he would’ve married a white chick years ago. Don’t be so naive. And when has Barack ever shown passion for his Kenyan father?! I’ve seen Soledad on TV with her mom. Don’t be an idiot!!!

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