Republican and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, born in Jim Crow-era Birmingham, Alabama, already stands out from the typical Bush-era conservative, but adding to her impressively eclectic résumé is her training as a classical concert pianist.
No matter what talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey says (or does), her legion of mostly white female fans hang on her every word. Winfrey even had the big, bad beef industry worried about sales when she exclaimed on-air that she'd never eat meat, again. Sheesh, what's a billionare mogul to do? And what will women everywhere do when she's off the air in 2011?
Comedian Aisha Tyler did a comedy special with the theme of her being a black woman with no butt. She was also the only recurring black female character on the long running, lily-white sitcom Friends.
Try as he might to sound black, Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, hasn't been too successful in convincing his skinfolk that he's their kinfolk, too.
Comedian Wayne Brady of Lets Make a Deal and Whose Line Is It Anyway?--is able to poke fun at his milquetoast, family-friendly image. In a memorable Chappelle's Show sketch, he promptly turned his happy-go-lucky persona on its head with a single utterance: "Is Wayne Brady gonna have to choke a bitch?"
Retired four-star general Colin Powell was the first black person appointed to the position of secretary of state. He remains the only black person to have been a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
As a stellar pro golfer and self-described "Cablinasian," Woods defies stereotyping. His former pristine multiculti image helped him land deals with Nike, Gillette, Accenture and other big-name sponsors. He also identifies as a Buddhist.
Multi-instrumentalist and trilingual vocalist Esperanza Spalding is a critically acclaimed musician whom President Obama personally selected to perform at the ceremony during which he received the Nobel Peace Prize.
TV on the Radio
Gerard A. Smith, Kyp Malone, Tunde Adebimpe and Jaleel Bunton-Drums are the black members of rock band TV on the Radio. They may not fit your preconceived notion of rock stars, but we've already established that the term "black rock" is redundant. Rolling Stone and Spin magazines have both shown the entire band love, dubbing its latest release Dear Science - Album (not Rock Album) of the Year.
Way before Lupe Fiasco stamped skateboarding as cool, Stevie Williams was already on the streets riding his board. You can check out this professional street skateboarder and Philadelphia native making moves and doing tricks here.
Not only is she one of few black opera singers, but she is also one of the genre's most celebrated sopranos of all time. She released her latest CD, Roots: My Life, My Song, a celebration of her cultural heritage, last month. In 2009, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. And Ms. Norman refuses to believe in limits: "Pigeonholing is only interesting to pigeons."
Andre Watts was a child prodigy. At 4 years old, he picked up his first instrument, the violin, and by 6, he settled on the piano as his instrument of choice. At just 16, he played with the New York Philharmonic, which led his gaining the attention of Columbia Records, and recording The Exciting Debut of Andre Watts. He is now a professor at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.
In 1967, he became the first black person to earn a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering in the United States. And his invention, the gamma-electric cell, was patented in 1971. But of course, as with many inventions, there's controversy about claims that his gamma-electric cell led to the cell phone.
Charles F. Bolden Jr.
Homeboy in outer space? Well, not exactly. Charles Bolden was selected as the administrator of NASA after more than 30 years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps and four missions in space.
You've probably never heard his name before. But you know his music. James DePreist, the director of conducting and orchestral studies at the Julliard School, arranged the fifth-season opener of The Cosby Show. He's won many awards, including the National Medal of Arts in 2005, and the Chicago Tribune called him "one of the finest conductors this nation has ever produced. His family tree? He's Marian Anderson's nephew.
Harold Jones has been a member of the faculty of the Music Conservatory of Westchester for more than 35 years. A classically trained flautist, he attended Juilliard on a full scholarship. Jones has performed nationally and internationally with organizations such as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem.
Don't know any black hockey players? Well, meet Jarome Iginla, the first black hockey team captain in history. Iginla, a five-time NHL all-star, leads the Calgary Flames in goals, points and games played. Soul on ice, indeed.