What does it mean be to black or mixed-race if everyone is already mixed?

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Ta-Nehisi Coates and Alex Wagner have an engaging and probing discussion on what it means to be black or mixed race today—while discussing Alex’s new book, Futureface.

“Barack Obama is a mixed race person. But for all intents and purposes, he’s our first black President,” Wagner said in the clip above. “We never talk about the fact that he’s half white,” she continued. “We never acknowledged that he has mixed heritage…Black people are either black or they’re not black.”

“This part [of racial identity] is really interesting to me,” Coates told her. “If there is no pure black in America, how do we refer to something as mixed race if the thing that we’re saying was mixed in is in fact, mixed?”

Watch the full talk here.