Tracee Ellis Ross: I’ve Never Known I Wasn’t Black

Tracee Ellis Ross is starring in a new sitcom about a black family dealing with issues of race identity, but the actress said she had no uncertainty about her own identity while growing up.

The ABC show, Black-ish, features a middle-class family living in Los Angeles. The show has earned solid early reviews, not only for its sharp writing but also its deft ability to address racial issues in a genre that normally takes a more superficial view.

For Tracee Ellis Ross, who plays the family’s mother, the premise is a fresh one.

“It’s one of the things I think is interesting on the show, we’re not a family that happens to be black, we are a black family, but it’s about a family dealing with their ish,” she said in a recent interview. “Although the show is not about being black, within the ish a lot of cultural-identity race, all those things come up.”

Tracee Ellis Ross grew up in a mixed household of her own. Her mother is music legend Diana Ross and her father is music business manager Robert Ellis Silberstein. Though she grew up with a Jewish father and an African-American mother, Tracee said she only saw herself one way — black.

She noted:

“First of all, I’ve never known that I wasn’t black. [In a negative moment] I’ve had moments; I had moments where the cab has pulled up and pulled away, especially if my hair is out. They get a little closer and keep on moving. For some reason, I can’t think of stuff now but I’ve always known I was black. In an interview recently, someone said, ‘So as a mixed woman, why is it that you identify with a black woman?’ If I thought I could try being a white woman for a day and say that maybe I would. I was like, ‘I don’t know if anyone would buy it. No, no, no I’m white. I’m very tan…very tan. I get a perm.'”

Tracee Ellis Ross has plenty of room to address these issues in Black-ish, the Los Angeles Times notes. In the show, her character Rainbow is also steadfast about her racial identity. When her husband accuses her of not acting black, Rainbow responds, “Tell that to my hair and my a**.”

[Image via The Huffington Post]