As a Grammy Award-winning musician, Lenny Kravitz seems to transcend genres to create an indescribably cool sound. Though his musical style may escape clear-cut classification, Lenny has a strong sense of who he is -- something he admits he didn't always have as a biracial boy growing up in the 1960s and 1970s.
Lenny was born in 1964 to an African-American mother and a Caucasian father, and, in Sunday's episode of "Oprah's Master Class", says that he never thought much about race when he was a child. "I knew that my father physically looked different from my mother, but that wasn't an issue to me," Lenny says. "People look different."
But Lenny's outlook was challenged on his first day of first grade, when another child ran up to Lenny and his father, pointing at the duo. "He yelled, 'Your father's white!'" Lenny remembers. "I didn't understand what that was about and why that was an issue... That was the first day that I had to think about it. It just let me know, okay, this is how folks think."
From then on, Lenny became more aware of race and how being biracial affected him, especially in school. He specifically remembers feeling stumped when filling out the "race" section on school forms. "My great-grandmother's Cherokee Indian. My father's a Russian Jew. My mom's Bahamian," Lenny says. "[I thought], 'What the hell do I put on this thing?'"
Lenny says that his teachers always thought they had the answer. "The teachers came over and [said], 'Black. That's what you are,'" Lenny recalls. "And so, so many parts of your heritage are just squashed. 'That's it. You're that.' I didn't like that."