Soledad O'Brien's new target: 'White in America'

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,CNN,Race and Diversity

CNN correspondent Soledad O'Brien, known for her "Black in America" documentaries that sometimes irk viewers, is now turning her cameras on whites.

She says in a statement to Secrets: "We're not just working on 'BIA,' but also developing a 'White in America.' Stay tuned for that one."

Her statement came in reaction to a Secrets story about her appearance in a short video posted by Harvard University's Institute of Politics, based in part on a speech she gave to the college about race and her "Black in America" series. She was just named a distinguished visiting fellow at Harvard's Graduate School of Education.

In he speech she said that some whites don't want to talk about race. "People would sometimes, when I give speeches, stand up and say, 'You know, I think your black America documentaries [are] divisive. I think like, you know, listen, we shouldn't think of ourselves as African-American. We're Americans, and everybody should stop separating themselves out.'"

She continued: "First of all, it's only white people who ever said that -- 'if we could just see beyond race.' " And she said her reaction goes like this: "OK, white person, this is a conversation you clearly are uncomfortable with, and I have no problem seeing race, and I think we should talk about race."

Those quotes were edited by Harvard into its video, part of the university's "3 with IOP" series that poses three questions to political and media figures.

O'Brien said that those quotes were a bit out of context and suggested that her whole comments be watched to get her full views on race. Harvard has that speech posted also.

"I remain infinitely proud of the honest conversations we have surrounding 'Black in America.' My comments on the importance of discussing who we are and where we come from are nothing new," she told Secrets.

Reacting to blog posts prompted by the initial Secrets story, she added, "What is new is our friends in the blogosphere taking the conversation out of context and ginning up headlines so we lose sight of the real issues. I would encourage those reporting on my work to listen to the conversation in its entirety, and this time, turn their mute buttons off. As a journalist, my job is to probe the uncomfortable topics to drive conversation. I'm happy to see that's still happening as a result of Black in America, and I look forward to continuing that conversation as we continue to tell the stories of who we are."