Taye Diggs doesn't mince words when he talks about the race of his son.

Remember when the great Michael Jackson sang “It don't matter if you're black or white"?

Of course you do. And admit it — you know you were impressed by the epic video that included those super-futuristic transformations.

Man, music vids just aren't the same these days. But I digress.


GIF from Michael Jackson's "Black or White" video.

Unless you happen to be someone who believes skin color is the one and only thing we should pay attention to, chances are you agree with MJ's lyrics.

But what if you're black and white? Or [insert any racial combination here]? What happens then?

Actor Taye Diggs, the author of "Mixed Me!" a children's book about a boy named Mike with parents of different races, recently had the opportunity to answer those questions.

Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images Entertainment.

The book is fictional, but it hits close to home for Diggs because of his own child's background. The mother of his 6-year-old son Walker, Idina Menzel, is white. (She's also the voice of Queen Elsa from "Frozen," but the parents who watched that movie on a seemingly endless loop, like me, already knew that.)

So, is Walker black or white?

Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images Entertainment.

It depends on who you ask.

During slavery, the one-drop rule defined individuals as either "colored" (aka black) or white. Simply put, if any traceable link of black ancestry could be found, that person was considered black.

Granted, back in the days of that idea's inception, people considered other fellow humans to be property, so we can take that for what it's worth.

But many people still subscribe to the one-drop rule today and believe that President Obama, Tiger Woods, and Halle Berry are black — regardless of how those people choose to identify.

That's not how Diggs sees it, however.

The Grio asked him how important it is for Walker to be raised in an environment where he doesn't have to choose between being black or white.

Here's what Diggs said:

"It's very important. When you do [choose], you risk disrespecting that one-half of who you are, and that's my fear. I don't want my son to be in a situation where he calls himself black and everyone thinks that he has a black mom and a black dad. And then when they see he has a white mother, they wonder what's going on."

The social media backlash was real.



When I reached an obviously frustrated Diggs for a quote, this is what he had to say:

"A person of mixed heritage should have the right to include his or her COMPLETE ethnic background when identifying themselves. Period."

In other words, Diggs doesn't feel that his little boy needs to align himself with one race — and he hopes that he will be just as proud of his African-American heritage as his Caucasian one.

Thankfully, many on social media came to his defense.




As a dad raising two mixed daughters, this hits very close to home for me as well — and I'm thankful Diggs started this important conversation.

Photo by Doyin Richards.

Frankly, I'm less concerned with how outsiders (police, teachers, people on social media, etc.) view my kids and more concerned with how they choose to identify themselves.

In a perfect world, they'll be grateful for being black, white, and Japanese instead of choosing one "team" while ignoring the rest.

The racial narrative is in desperate need of a rewrite. Seriously, if you think about it, aren't we all mixed with something?

In many ways, checking color boxes only helps to further divide us by focusing on our differences instead of our similarities. Life shouldn't be a schoolyard where we have to pick between Team Black, Team White, or whatever. It's should be a school where we teach our kids (and ourselves) to embrace and celebrate everything that makes us unique.

Diggs gets it. The message of "Mixed Me" is on point, and I like the chances of Walker growing up into a solid young man because of his upbringing.

But hey, if you don't want to listen to me, maybe the King of Pop and a young Macaulay Culkin will convince you instead.

GIF from Michael Jackson's "Black or White" video.

Hee hee.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less