TAE: Your parents had a racially mixed marriage. You have a racially mixed marriage. How has that affected your views on race?
STEELE: It has given me a profound advantage, because that entirely demystifies race.
My father was a poor black from the South, born in 1900, with a third-grade education. My mother was raised in Ohio with a decent amount of money, and earned her master's degree. I suppose my father was the more intellectual of the two--he certainly read more books--but I only knew them as my mother and my father. I didn't know them as emblems or representatives of a race.
So being raised by them gave me a profound secret that other people who have dealt with race don't have: I knew that behind the race, there's nothing other than human beings; that's why whenever I write about race, my point of departure has always been human nature.
I understand race, but I better understand the basics of humanity--human motivations, human incentives. No matter what the question is, if you look for answers in someone's race, you'll never get anywhere. That's one of the real advantages that my background has given me.