SOMaria dela Soledad Teresa O’Brien

Soledad O’Brien is a forty- nine year old anchor of CNN in America and author of Latino in America. O’Brien’s parents were both immigrants. Her mother was from Cuba and her father was from Australia. Her father was three quarters Irish and one quarter Scottish descent. Her mother a Cuban from Havana was Afro-Cuban. O’Brien was the fifth of six children to graduate from Harvard University. O’Brien currently lives with her husband and four children in Manhattan.

O’Brien sees herself as a multiracial, first generation American. She believes her ethnic roots are relevant in bringing the news to Americans. She has been an advocate for the Latino community and hosted the documentary Black in America. O’Brien recounts an exchange she had with the civil rights leader Jesse Jackson in 2007 in her book, The Next Big Story. She reported that in 2007 she met privately with him while he was there to complain about the lack of publicity that CNN was giving to their black personalities. She interrupted him to remind him that she was the anchor American Morning.  She states he looked her in her eye and reached over and tapped a spot of her skin on her right hand. He shook his head and said “you don’t count.” O’Brien said she was angry and embarrassed. Her thoughts were if Reverend Jesse Jackson didn’t think I was black enough than am I?  She states that Jackson managed to make her ashamed of her skin color. After two week of stewing she stated that she knew he was wrong. She states I am a product of my own life and I know who I am. It reminded her that is how the race game is being played in our country, that we are so easily reduced to our skin tone. That someone as prominent as Rev. Jackson has a box to check for black and there is one for white. No one gets to be the in-between or they just don’t count. Later she called him and reminded him of what he had told her. He claimed he did not know she was black. He said he thought she was a dark skinned someone else. I am sure many multiracial Americans can identify with O’Brien.

–Makensie Shay McDaniel, Project RACE Teens President