When did you become conscious of race?

Academic, Television Host, and Political Commentator
Lacewell's father is an advocate in the Black community, and her mother was a White Mormon.
  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Question: When did you become conscious of race?

Harris-Lacewell: My father graduated in 1962 from Howard University, so a historically Black college.  And he was college roommates with Stokely Carmichael, which tells you a lot sort of about who my dad is.  He’s a very serious, you know, Black community, Black power sort of advocate of the ‘60s.  My mother at the same time graduated in 1964 from Brigham Young University, grew up in the West, and is, or was, a White Mormon.  So when they met in the early ‘70s, it was this kind of this Black nationalist dad and this White Mormon mom who met in Seattle, Washington, which is where I was born when they were in grad school.  So although I was raised in the South, it wasn’t in a typical Southern family.  It was in a very unique, kind of interracial, interesting family.  (Chuckles)  So my father, before he met my mother, had three children with an African-American woman.  So my three oldest siblings are Black in terms of both of their parents being Black.  My mother had been previously married to a White man and had one daughter who was White.  So in my household there were three siblings who both of their parents were Black; one sibling who both of her parents were White; and then me who had one Black and one White parent.  So that means that from very early on there were . . .  I mean from immediately, even sort of in my household, there were different racial identities; people thinking and understanding themselves within different identities, but of course all being brother and sisters; which was, I don’t know, I suspect relatively unique.  Maybe Barack Obama also had that.  But just sort of me and Barack.  That’s . . . (Chuckles)  We’re the ones who had that story.  So I would say very early on, but it didn’t have a negative connotation for me.  It just had an awareness.  Sort of like if you grew up with a bunch of boys and girls in your family, you learn a lot about boys and girls.  Well I grew up with Black and White people in my family, so I had an early on sense of Black and White.