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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  • Biff Schmuckatelli

    in the old days, Finney would have been labeled a Mulatto or Quadroon depending on how much “black” blood her Father (or mother) has. Whites believed that one drop of black blood made a person black. There were many cases of “white” looking slaves on the auction block. One notorious case was that of a woman who was raised white but had 1/64th black blood. When her family died, she was sold into slavery. It caused major distress in the community. An abolitionist bought her and set her free causing a riot. Now some people view race as a stylistic choice and pretend to be black when it is hip and then revert to acting white in business, etc.We still haven’t got past race as a people or a country.

  • idnapper

    Blackness is not a particular shade or hue it is a cultural background, upbringing, and shared experience. Time to reject any biological attempt at segregation – it is both specious and divisive and removes the importance of culture from the equation. Racism is the belief in race – identifying as black white or mixed is racist.