Behind the Scenes: Keith talks with teens about their experience of being black in America

By Keith Kocinski 04.14.2015 blog

Hey Everyone,

When putting together this interview with Charkiyah, Kiyadh, and Theron I admit the idea of talking about what it is like to be a black American wasn’t the most comfortable. How would they perceive my questions, would they know I am actually being genuine, would they actually want to talk to me (a white guy) about black issues? I didn’t know what to expect but knew it was important especially with everything going on in the news from the shooting death of Michael Brown to the racist chants from University of Oklahoma’s SAE fraternity members. I wanted to know honestly know what it is like to be a Black American in 2015, 150 years after slavery was abolished following the Civil War and 50 years removed from the Civil Rights Movement. Instead of being afraid to ask questions, I knew it was important to show courage and curiosity and talk about uncomfortable issues with a united goal to make things better.

It turned out to be a great experience and one that I will never forget. These great students taught me a lot about their lives and provided me with new perspective. Although, I didn’t live during the times of slavery or even the Civil Rights Movement, I’ve come to realize it wasn’t that long ago and many pains and trauma experienced during those times still live on and in some cases from firsthand experience.

I am thankful to have been part of this discussion and for the new friends I made in Mississippi. I have to say it was one of my greatest experiences as a reporter.

Sometimes a little open-minded and genuine conversation goes a long way. I encourage all of you to do the same and invite other perspectives into your life. You just may enjoy it.

Here is an extend version of the interview with Charkiyah, Kiyadh and Theron.


  1. Diana

    Some of yall a ‘let it go’ idiot. Why would you even tell some one to let it go . that makes no sense to me how someone who is not a POC can ever tell a POC what is and what isn’t offensive. Then you wanna blame social media for bringing up issues that blinded privileged people want to ignore. But imam just give yall side eyes

  2. Mallory

    I think it is crazy that some people don’t treat African Americans with respect. They have just as right as we do to be called an American. All Americans came from different places to start off with anyways. Treat everyone with respect we are all created equal.

  3. sandycornpoop

    whites should be nice to blacks.

  4. racism is not ok

    we need to all get along and make peace in the world.

  5. racism is not ok

    all off us need to really let it go. we need to get along with each other and make peace.

  6. shadow123

    Some people need to let go. Not the song Let It Go from frozen.Like real life.Not to be races but black people need to forget the past. What if they did shoot at the cops and did not show that part.So the cops have their jobs to keep us safe.You guys are just mad because it was a white dude.Guys it is time to let the past go.Some people might die what if it is good.What would you say if the black guys shot the white guy first.What if the black men killed the cops or was stealing from you.You have a brain use it please.You never know when your own kind is going to kill YOU.I am bored that is why i wrote this.

    • Kionna

      Dude, that comment is a mess. Point blank period. How can you talk someone to stop being their race, their identity? It makes no sense to me how the only thing we have is our race and our culture left and you tell us to forget them. People like you make it seem like black America is so problematic like we are causing or bringing up these issues that have honestly been there for centuries. You sir are ignorant. Telling us to forget our skin color is like me telling you to forget your name, or your social security number. Telling us to forget our past is like me telling you to forget where you came from.

    • sandycornpoop

      I think that whites should stop treating us without respect

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