Political strategist and MSNBC commentator Karen Finney arrives at the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League Pro-Choice America's 2012 Los Angeles Power of Choice Reception in West Hollywood, California

Why is our blackness always up for debate?

Karen Finney, the former deputy press secretary for Hillary Clinton, was announced as the host of a new show on MSNBC, airing on weekends from 4-5 PM EST. As part of the press rollout for the show, MSNBC touted her as the “first African-American spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee.”

Newsbusters’ Tim J. Graham doesn’t believe she fits the description, because she doesn’t look black enough. He tweeted: “MSNBC touting Karen Finney as another African-American host. Would the average viewer be able to guess that? Or is Boehner a shade more tan?”

To prove her melanin count is too low for his taste, Graham followed up with a picture of her and asked his followers to help decide her racial makeup.

The problem is Graham doesn’t get to make that decision. Finney does. And since she identifies as black, it’s deplorable for him to debate that based on his own ignorance. We come in a variety of shades and tones, even “tan.”

His line of questioning reminds me of Soledad O’Brien’s special on how what defines blackness for biracial people: do they self-identify or is their race based on how they are perceived by the outside world? What are your thoughts, Clutchettes?

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