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2006 Culture Awards

The Year in TV


Clockwise from top-left, Chris Tucker, Oprah Winfrey, host Henry Louis Gates (right), and Whoopi Goldberg.  

8. ‘African-American Lives’
Four hours into this PBS special, after following Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, and Chris Tucker into their ancestral pasts through photos, court records, genealogy, and gene sequencing, we learned that (1) the average African-American is 20 percent European, and (2) Whoopi is 8 percent and Oprah zero, whereas (3) Henry Louis Gates, our host and chair of Harvard’s African and African American Studies, is not only 50 percent European but the other 50 apparently spent lots of time in Dublin. An essential televised send-up of identity politics, all the more so for coming in an election year.


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