by Special Correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie
A recent post on Soledad O’Brien and a conversation with a friend got me thinking about issues of race and racial authority.
In the post about Soledad O’Brien, Danielle Belton examined O’Brien’s multiracial identity and its reception in the Black community via her work with CNN’s Black in America series. An issue that sprang to my mind was, “Does O’Brien have authority to speak about/for the Black community?” Many commenters did not believe she did.
This question echoed a similar issue that a close friend brought up a few weeks ago. Speaking candidly with me, he told me that he thought I shouldn’t talk about racial issues “past a certain point.” His reasoning was that, because I “pass for white”, I haven’t dealt with the same type of racism as those who do not pass. He is biracial like me, with a similar Iranian and Irish-Scottish makeup as mine. He passes for white as well. And the message I felt I was getting from this friend is that I shouldn’t talk about racism “past a certain point” (his meaning on where this point was exactly wasn’t clear) because I’m not “dark” enough.
My initial reaction was irritation, certainly. Though I’m aware of the privileges I reap as one who often passes, and aware that this has (along with socioeconomic and geographical factors) has shaped my life experiences, I was annoyed at being told that I overstep a boundary that I didn’t know existed. Read the Post A Question of Authority