Before The Next Big Story

Here is a brief excerpt from Soledad O'Brien's memoir, The Next Big Story: My Journey Through the Land of Possibilities, which was published November 2 by Penguin Books.

It's from the first chapter when Soledad was 11 and first coming to terms with her own racial identity and the way it would be perceived by others.

I'm eleven. My sister Estela is fourteen. We're at a photographer's studio to get a picture taken to give to our parents. The studio is on the main street in Smithtown, Long Island, not that far from where we live. The photographer says, "Forgive me if I'm offending you, but are you black?" For a moment, I'm speechless. I turn the comment over in my head. I can't figure out what he means. My sister is light-years ahead of me. She starts to shred the guy. "Offend us? Offend us? By asking if we are black?" He is maybe thirty but he seems old to us. He has dark brown hair and he's tall. He's white and we're two mixed-race girls trying to get our picture taken as an anniversary present for our parents. It's 1977. I'm this cheery, optimistic kid who suddenly feels quite sunk.

I just stand there in my big sister's shadow. I'm trying to figure out why the nice-sounding words make me feel small and embarrassed...

Continue reading at http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/11/11/inam.soledad.excerpt2/
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