Mark Whitaker

  • Aired:  12/13/11
  •  | Views: 11,539

Managing Editor of CNN Worldwide Mark Whitaker discusses growing up in a biracial family at a time when interracial marriage was illegal in most states. (6:11)

>> Stephen: WELCOME BACK,

EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT, THE MANAGING

EDITOR OF CNN WORLDWIDE HAS JUST

RELEASED A NEW MEMOIR "MY LONG

TRIP HOME."

GREAT, NOW I KNOW HOW IT ENDS.

PLEASE WELCOME MARK WHITAKER.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MR. WHITAKER, THANKS SO MUCH FOR

COMING ON.

YOU'LL BE ABLE TO ANSWER THIS

QUESTION BEFORE WE GO ON.

YOU'RE THE MANAGING EDITOR OF

CNN WORLDWIDE WHY DOES ANDERSON

COOPER HAVE SO MANY PHALLUSS ON

HIS SET?

YOU SAW THAT!

WELL, YOU KNOW HIS RATINGS ARE

UP.

>> Stephen: (LAUGHS)

OH, REALLY.

WILL THEY LAST FOR FOUR HOURS,

THOUGH?

(APPLAUSE)

>> Stephen: MANAGING EDITOR OF

CNN WORLDWIDE.

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN

CNN AND WORLDWIDE?

AREN'T THEY BOTH WORLDWIDE?

>> WELL, CNN WORLDWIDE IS THE

PARENT COMPANY OF THE DOMESTIC

NETWORK BUT ALSO THE

INTERNATIONAL NETWORK AND OUR

DIGITAL....

>> Stephen: WHY HAVE AN

INTERNATIONAL NETWORK?

YOU GUYS, MOST TRUSTED NAME IN

NEWS, RIGHT?

>> RIGHT.

>> Stephen: KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.

WHY GIVE OUR NEWS TO PEOPLE IN

OTHER COUNTRIES?

(LAUGHTER)

WHY NOT KEEP THAT PRECIOUS

RESOURCE FOR AMERICA SO WE STAY

A SUPERPOWER?

>> WELL, WE ALSO THINK THAT IT'S

IMPORTANT FOR AMERICANS TO KNOW

SOMETHING ABOUT WHAT'S GOING ON

AROUND THE REST OF THE WORLD.

>> Stephen: DEFEND THAT

STATEMENT.

(LAUGHTER)

>> WELL, LOOK WHAT'S HAPPENING

IN EUROPE RIGHT NOW.

>> Stephen: I DON'T KNOW.

I DON'T CARE.

>> THERE'S A FINANCIAL CRISIS

THAT IF IT WENT THE WRONG WAY IT

WOULD MEAN THE MONEY IN YOUR

SAVINGS ACCOUNT MIGHT DISAPPEAR.

>> Stephen: THAT'S WHY I USE KAG

RANDS.

>> THERE'S THE ARAB SPRING.

KRUGERRANDS.

IT MIGHT AFFECT OUR

VULNERABILITY TO TERRORISM.

SO I THINK WE'RE CONNECTED WITH

THE REST OF THE WORLD.

>> Stephen: NOT JUST CNN, YOU

USED TO BE THE MANAGING EDITOR

OF "NEWSWEEK".

>> I WAS.

>> Stephen: OKAY.

FOR SOME OF MY YOUNGER VIEWERS,

WHAT WAS A MAGAZINE?

(LAUGHTER)

>> A MAGAZINE WAS THIS THING

BETWEEN COVERS THAT YOU COULD

LEAF THROUGH WHERE WE DID

REPORTING ABOUT POLITICS, WE DID

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTINGS.

>> Stephen: LIKE A PRINTED I

HAD?

>> AND I'VE SAVED COPYS SO MY

GRANDCHILDREN WILL BELIEVE IT.

>> Stephen: YOU'VE MOVED ON TO A

MEMOIR.

YOUR BOOK IS CALLED "MY LONG

TRIP HOME.

A FAMILY MEMOIR."

YOU'RE THE PRODUCT OF A BIRACIAL

MARRIAGE.

YOUR MOTHER WAS A WHITE WOMAN

FROM FRANCE, YOUR FATHER AN

AFRICAN AMERICAN, A GIANT IN

ACADEMIA.

YOU... AIR SOME DIRTY LAUNDRY IN

HERE ABOUT YOUR FAMILY.

AS THE PRODUCT OF A BIRACIAL

FAMILY, DON'T YOU HAVE A

RESPONSIBILITY TO SAY EVERYTHING

WAS JUST HUKKY DORY?

(LAUGHTER)

>> FOR A LONG TIME PEOPLE WHO

KNEW MY PARENTS-- MY FATHER CAME

FROM SEGREGATED BLACK PITTSBURGH

BECAME AS YOU SAID A GROUND

BREAKING SCHOLAR OF AFRICA.

THE FIRST BLACK Ph.D. IN

POLITICS FROM PRINCETON.

MY MOTHER CAME FROM FRANCE

DURING THE NAZI OCCUPATION ON A

BOAT 14 YEARS OLD WITH FIVE

YOUNGER SISTERS, REFUGEES.

HER FATHER, MY FRENCH

GRANDFATHER, HELPED HIDE

THOUSANDS OF JEWS FROM THE NAZIS

DURING THE WAR.

AND THEY WOULD SAY, YOU KNOW,

YOU SHOULD WRITE A BOOK ABOUT

THIS.

BUT, YOU KNOW, I ALSO KNEW THERE

WAS AN UNHAPPIER PART OF THE

STORY THAT HAPPENED AFTER MY

PARENTS GOT DIVORCED, MY MOTHER

HAD TO STRUGGLE AS A SINGLE

MOTHER, MY FATHER BECAME AN

ALCOHOLIC.

I BECAME OBESE.

>> Stephen: YOU BECAME OBESE?

>> I BECAME OBESE.

>> Stephen: SO YOU'RE AIRING

ENORMOUS DIRTY LAUNDRY.

(LAUGHTER)

>> BUT THE STORY IS ABOUT HOW WE

ALL RECOVERED FROM THAT AND WE

EVENTUALLY REACHED

RECONCILIATION AND FORGIVENESS.

IT'S INTERESTING, NOW THAT THE

BOOK IS OUT IT'S THAT PART OF

THE STORY THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE

ARE CONNECTING TO.

>> Stephen: DID YOU FEEL LIKE AS

A CHILD OF PARENTS WHO PERHAPS

WERE NOT PERFECT, DO YOU FEEL

LIKE YOU ARE BETRAYING THEM IN

SOME WAY?

BECAUSE I WOULDN'T WANT MY KIDS

TO WRITE THINGS ABOUT ME THAT...

IN WASN'T IN THE MOST GLOWING

TERMS.

AND I WANT TO BE VERY CLEAR

ABOUT THAT.

(LAUGHTER)

>> I CONSIDER A BOOK TO A

TRIBUTE TO MY PARENTS.

MY MOTHER WAS THE SOURCE.

MY FATHER... I STARTED WRITING

THIS BOOK AFTER MY FATHER

PASSEDED AWAY.

IN FACT, IT WAS A YEAR AFTER HE

PASSED AWAY TO THE DAY TO THE

HOUR THAT I WOKE UP IN THE

MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT AND DECIDED

THAT I WANTED TO WRITE THE

STORY.

I WROTE TO ENTIRE BOOK WITHOUT

HAVING AN ADVANCE OR ANYTHING

LIKE THAT.

I JUST FELT THAT I HAD TO DO IT.

BUT MY MOTHER WAS A SOURCE FOR

THE BOOK AND SHE WILLINGLY

TALKED ABOUT ALL THESE THINGS

AND WHEN I SENT HER THE THIRD

DRAFT SHE FINALLY SAID "WELL,

THIS ISN'T BADLY WRITTEN,

EITHER."

(LAUGHTER)

>> Stephen: YOU SAID "YES,

MOTHER, I HAPPEN TO BE ONE OF

THE LEADING LIGHTS OF AMERICAN

JOURNALIST."

>> SHE'S A FRENCH LITERATURE

PROFESSOR SO IT'S HIGH PRIZE FOR

HER.

>> Stephen: DO YOU FEEL GROWING

UP... I WANT TO GET BACK TO THE

IDEA OF BEING THE SEWN OF A

BIRACIAL COUPLE.

DID AWFUL SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITY

TO BE A GOOD OR EXCEPTIONAL OR

TO BE REPRESENTATIVE OF

SOMETHING?

>> I FELT-- AND I THINK MY

YOUNGER BROTHER FELT-- LIKE

ALIENS.

WE DIDN'T KNOW ANYBODY ELSE WHO

WAS MIXED RACE BUT I... YOU KNOW

IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE I THINK

YOU SEE... THE STORY OF THE

FAMILY UNFOLDS BUT YOU ALSO SEE

THE STORY OF AMERICA UNFOLD.

FROM A POINT WHERE AT THE

BEGINNING OF A BOOK THESE TWO

PEOPLE MEET AND MARRY AT A TIME

WHEN INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE IS

STILL ILLEGAL IN MOST STATES IN

NEW YORK THE END OF THE BOOK

WHERE JUST BEFORE MY FATHER HAS

DIED A MIXED RACE MAN IS ELECTED

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

SO IT'S A FAMILY STORY BUT ALSO

THE STORY OF THE COUNTRY.

>> Stephen: THANK YOU SO MUCH

FOR SHARNG.

MARK WHITAKER, THE BOOK IS

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