Totally Awkward Conversation with Jay Smooth Challenges Who Has the “Right” to Be ‘Black’

OMG…if you haven’t yet seen this conversation between Jay Smooth, host of “Underground Railroad,” a popular radio show in New York City, you need to watch. In the video, MSNBC host Nancy Giles, a black woman, assumes that Jay is “co-opting” blackness, because he’s all, “street,” when he speaks, but appears white. He responds that he is, indeed black, which makes for the most awkward bit of live television I’ve seen in a loooong time. That awkward moment appears right after his monologue at 4:00.


Which goes to the ridiculous debate we continue to have about “who’s black” and who isn’t. As America moves toward a “lighter shade of brown,” through interracial unions, it will be increasingly harder to tell who is, and who isn’t “black.”

That brings up another problem. The word, “race.” I know we use the term as a basis for why this site exists (celebrating interracial relationships) the scientific fact is that we are all ONE RACE. However, since the country was built on the CONSTRUCT of race, it is extremely hard to get away from the term, which at one time, people in power believed there was a scientific basis to race.

Here you have someone like Jay Smooth, who is EXTREMELY fair skinned, basically being labeled a “wigger” by a woman who is more easily identified as black. So are only easily identifiably “black” people allowed to be black? If you “look” black, are you black? Or are you black when enough people tell you that you are? To be fair, Nancy Giles doesn’t have the privilege to slip in and out of “blackness” the way we all know Jay Smooth can. He can go into a boardroom full of white men and they’ll assume, by his lack of melanin, that he’s one of ‘them.’ Then he can saunter into the studio with his hat turned sideways and pants two sizes too big and be “down” and “one of the boys” based on what essentially boils down to a state of mind.

Perhaps we should stop focusing on the lack of melanin or the richness of it identify people. Let’s just identify people from the tribe they’re from like they do in Africa. I know it’s probably unlikely.

As long as people get special treatment for skin shade, we’ll continue with these debates. Admittedly, this whole thing is confusing for people who are COMMITTED to the supremacy of the racial construct.

Me? Meh.

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