Black Irish Is Not A Drink

The face of our future (and present).

I so love Soledad O’Brien. That name alone says it all about the new America. America is changing and more and more we are going to see people everywhere we look who look like her and have this background.

Here is a great article on CNN.com about Soledad and growing up Mixed.

Soledad Explores Mixed Heritage

The following is an excerpt from “Latino in America” by Soledad O’Brien with Rose Marie Arce. Published by arrangement with Celebra, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright (c) Soledad O’Brien, 2009.

When you have a name like María de la Soledad Teresa O’Brien, you have a lot of explaining to do. My mother is black and also Latina, more specifically Cuban. She is a devout Catholic who credits the Virgin Mary with any success she’s had in this country. But it was my father, a man who spoke no Spanish, who chose the name María de la Soledad to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary of Solitude (“solitude” in Spanish is soledad).

My name is altogether too long for Americans, who’ve always struggled with it. It’s even too long for a driver’s license. African-Americans assume I’m named after the notorious Soledad prison or Mount Soledad in California. Latinos want to know if I’m lonely. That doesn’t fit because I grew up with five siblings and I have four kids of my own, so I’m not lonely at all, though I do often seek solitude, the actual meaning of my name.

My father was Irish and Scottish, but from Australia, and my parents added Teresa when I was confirmed. My parents named all their children after people they loved and admired, and when it got to me, it was the Virgin Mary’s turn. When I married, I thought about taking my husband’s name (Raymond), but I realized that, odd as it is, the name I have works. I have a mass of kinky hair, light brown skin and lots of freckles. I’m black and Cuban, Australian and Irish, and like most people in America, I’m someone whose roots come from somewhere else. I’m a mixed race, first-generation American.

My ethnic roots are relevant when you look at the broader picture of who brings us the news. Who you are matters oh so very much when, according to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), just 6 percent of the people working in TV news and 4 percent of the newspaper reporters in this country are Latinos. The NAHJ presents a report on media diversity called the “Brownout Report,” and it determined that less than 1 percent of the stories aired by the networks include Latinos, and that tiny amount is heavily concentrated on immigration, crime and drugs…

Read the rest of the fascinating article here.

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