June 28, 1999 12:00 PM

>Farai Chideya

ABC News correspondent Farai Chideya remembers watching the Gulf War on TV back in 1991 and saying to her roommate about the Iraqi soldiers, “They all look alike.” As an African-American, Chideya might have known better but admits the remark came “straight out of my id.”

Even in an increasingly diverse America, Chideya says in The Color of Our Future (Morrow, $23), there’s plenty of consciousness left to raise. The 1990 Harvard grad spent 2½ years crisscrossing the U.S. talking to young people about race and ethnicity. In one chapter, she tells about B.J., an 18-year-old white kid in rural Indiana who has become a pariah because of his taste for hip-hop music and culture. In another chapter, she relates the story of Bubba and Jaime, an interracial couple in Thomasville, Ga. She also interviews Steve Mohebi, an Iranian immigrant who defends a university fraternity system that discriminates against minorities. “Steve was a surprise to me,” says Chideya, 29. “On college campuses, a lot [of students] feel pressure to say the right thing. Steve was so frank about his prejudices.”

Chideya, who was raised in Baltimore, hopes her book will provoke a dialogue in which every-one comes clean. “The reality is people have a hard time talking about race,” she says. “But it is still going to be the biggest issue of the 21st century.”

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