From the Director

Date: January 20, 2009
On this Inauguration Day in 2009, most people are looking at race in a very different way than on past presidential inauguration days. We have our first multiracial president, Barack Obama, and even if he does self-identify as black, he cannot deny DNA. Much is being said and written about how this presidency signifies a post-racial America.I think what “post-racial” means is that we have finally, gone beyond race, transcended it, and have become instantly color-blind. Wow. If only that were true, but it’s not. If that were true, racism would be outdated – a thing of the past – but unfortunately, it’s not. If “post-racial” means society now embraces everyone of every race as family or friend, looking completely past race, we know that is not true either.

In a post-racial America, we would not need to count people by race so we could get rid of all of those “experts” on racial and ethnic data in the US Census Bureau, and many government agencies could go. Commissions like the US Commission on Civil Rights, which never upheld multiracial rights anyway, could finally shut down. Academics who have made a career out of teaching courses about race – not to mention a lot of money from the books they have written – would be out of jobs. Those all-knowing journalists who have all become overnight experts in racial data could take on other beats. Demographers who specialize in race could finally retire.

In a post-racial America, we would be able to close down Project RACE. We would no longer need to advocate for a multiracial classification or for rights for multiracial children and adults. So, would someone please let me know if we really are in a post-racial America?

I think what we have now is truly a multiracial America and we may soon be able to acknowledge as a society, that people can and do want to embrace their entire heritage. It is time to make that a reality; yes, we can.

Susan Graham
Executive Director
Project RACE

Mixed-Up Media Madness
Date: December 17, 2008
Fact: The media is undergoing tough financial times; newspapers are laying off staff, magazines are ceasing their printing and only publishing online, television and radio stations are cutting corners.
Fact: Because of bad economic times, media outlets are turning to syndicated columnists and opinion writers instead of hiring their own. They are also carrying more stories by Associated Press (AP), Reuters, and similar content providers, therefore these stories have wide readership.
Fact: An AP or Reuters writer has no more credibility than any other journalist.
Fact: Project RACE was contacted on November 11, 2008 by Megan Scott, a “Lifestyle Reporter” for AP, who claimed to be doing a story on Barack Obama and how multiracial people felt about him.
Fact: Project RACE provided three lengthy interviews for Ms. Scott with Project RACE members. No article has appeared.
Fact: An AP article came out on December 14 by AP “Race and Ethnicity Writer” Jesse Washington.
Fact: The original story had this headline or title: “Is Obama Black, White, or Neither?”
Fact: America Online (AOL) changed the headline to: “Is Obama Black, White, Both, or Neither?”
Fact: The Huffington Post changed the headline to: “Many Insisting that Obama is Not Black.”
Fact: The story is riddled with the writer’s personal viewpoint of how confusing it is to consider our next president multiracial. In the first paragraph of the story he calls it “perplexing.”
Fact: The article is neither balanced nor correct, an example of which is his quote by a Dartmouth professor apparently about identifying as anything other than black, “it’s a ploy to sort of reclaim the presidency for whiteness, as though Obama’s blackness is somehow mitigated by being biracial.”
Fact: AOL conducted a poll with the story as a sidebar to the AP story and asked, “How do you see Obama?” The results are very encouraging despite the AP story. These are the results of the public opinion poll of almost 100,000 people:
How do you see Obama?
Biracial or multiracial
Black or African-American
Other/I don’t define it
White
60 percent
27 percent
11 percent
2 percentJesse Washington is the past entertainment editor for The Associated Press. Prior to that, he had been an editor of Vibe Magazine and founder of Blaze, a magazine focusing on hip-hop culture. He also founded the street basketball magazine Bounce. Washington used to write about Britney Spears and rap music; some called him “the celebrity bumbler.” That hardly qualifies him to be an expert on race and ethnicity. Jesse Washington’s appointment to the race beat was met with opposition and some called it a publicity stunt.I don’t personally know Jesse Washington. I do know that his bio states that he is the “son of an interracial marriage,” but not how he self-identifies racially. I do know that he quotes some guy who merely wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper, a black schoolteacher, a U.S. Representative, who he calls “a black man who by all appearances is white,” and an unnamed Fox News commentator. He did not use any interviews that AP reporters conducted with members of Project RACE or any other advocates for the multiracial classification. Had he done so, he could have learned more about the actual, factual history and what did go on in Washington DC. He also would have learned that we are not at all perplexed.

Susan Graham
Executive Director
Project RACE, Inc.

Dogs are Mutts; People are Multiracial
Date: November 21, 2008
My son has many things in common with president-elect Barack Obama; they both have a mother who is white and a father who is black, they are both dynamic and educated, and they have both been active in Washington. One difference is that my son chooses to identify himself as “multiracial,” and Obama chose “black” for his racial identification until he called himself a “mutt” in his first press conference.I realized when my son started kindergarten that there was no place for him under race/ethnicity on the enrollment form and we could only check one box. My children were being raised to honor the colors of both sides of their families; to embrace their entire heritage, and self-identify as they wished. At some point, we just naturally began using the words biracial and multiracial.

Suddenly, those little race boxes were everywhere; on school tests, employment applications, hospital admission forms, voter registration cards, etc. Of course, they had always been there, but I had always checked “white” and did not think about it. That changes when you have a multiracial child.

Some people opt to check one box, so they make a choice and usually stick with it through their lives. Often, people pick what they think other people see. In some families, the old one-drop rule – if you have one drop of black blood, you are black – passes down by generation. Some people choose “other” if they have that choice. Some think they are making a statement by not filling in a box at all, unaware that if they do not, someone may pick a race for them. Many people ask if my son is “mixed,” which doesn’t work for either of us. Isn’t “mixed” the opposite of “pure”? When my son went before congress at the age of eight, he told them, “Puppies are mixed, people are multiracial.” Mutts are also in the mixed breed category.

The one that hit me hard was the 1990 U.S. Census form. I called the Census Bureau, explained that my children were multiracial and asked how I should indicate that. It took a long time for the man to get the final answer: The children take the race of the mother. “Could that be right?” I asked, “Why arbitrarily the mother?” The government employee lowered his voice and said, “Because in cases like these, we know who the mother is and not the father.”

I was shocked and infuriated at our government. I vowed to do something about it. Little did I know what I was getting myself into when I began to advocate for multiracial children, and that three years later, my son and I would be testifying before Congress in Washington.

Now, almost 20 years after starting the fight to embrace one’s entire heritage, we have made some significant strides, and I have met thousands of mothers like me. We have shared similar stories of how our children’s teachers were told to pick a race for our child based on their “knowledge and observation” of our child on their first day of school, yet getting the Department of Education to enact the change isn’t on anyone’s election agenda. We wept when multiracial children died because we could not find a racial and ethnic match needed for bone marrow donation, and began to hold donor drives to enlarge the pool of donors, but donors must pay for the testing. That should be part of the healthcare plan for this country.

A mother in Wisconsin was recently told by a school principal that she could not register her child for public school if she did not pick only one race for him. Another feisty mother in Missouri has taken a stand. We went up against a school board member in Illinois when he called our kids mutts.

We forced the Census Bureau to allow people to check more than one race for the first time, but they would not allow the word “multiracial.” Our government has no name for my children; they officially call them “people who check more than one box.” I suppose we should just be glad that they don’t call them mutts. I have learned collecting that racial data is a political numbers game, which is not going to stop; I understand that on an intellectual level, but on a mom level, it is despicable.

Barack Obama has every right and opportunity to identify himself as whatever he wants, but now his choice, the freshly coined “mutt,” will be acceptable. The difference is that the federal government and all but a few states will not let my son choose to be multiracial. Many of us hope the next president understands the importance of that choice.

Susan Graham is executive director of Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally)

The Obama Racial Identity Factor and Saving Multiracial Lives
Date: June 7, 2008
Barack Obama can call himself black, white magenta, green, or whatever he wants, it really does not matter socially. However, genes are genes and his genes are multiracial. Barack Obama has a white mother and a black father, and to categorize him as only one race medically is just wrong, inaccurate, and likely to cost multiracial people their lives. The Obama Racial Identity Factor (ORIF), which has occurred since this biracial man self-identifies as black, overwhelms America.If you are a multiracial person, don’t you wonder about how your health risks are determined? If medical doctors assume you have two white parents, do they automatically rule out testing for something like sickle cell anemia? If you are the parent of a multiracial child, do you wonder – If you are the only parent accompanying your child to an emergency room, for example – how they identify and assess your child racially and ethnically? Do they look at you and assume your child is only your race? Some medications and dosages are given based on race – do they have yours right? Does it bother you that so many dollars are spent on monoracial people’s health needs, but not on multiracial people’s health risks? Did it ever occur to you that if there is no such thing as race, and race is a “social construct,” why medical agencies even bother to study racial factors an disparities at all?The good news is that Obama had a physical last week and was declared healthy by his doctor. The bad news comes in when you look at his risks: his smoking habit, his mother’s ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer on his father’s side. This is what the Associated Press reported from the the American Cancer Society:

Dr. Otis Brawley of the American Cancer Society said that family history isn’t strong enough to be of concern; doctors worry if a father or uncle had prostate cancer. But black men are at increased risk of prostate cancer overall…”

The American Cancer Society is basing their statistical data on black men. They do this because they have repeatedly refused to study multiracial people. My beef here is not with how Barack Obama self-identifies himself racially, but rather, how the American Cancer Society plays the eyeballing game by looking at someone and assigning them a race and medical risks based on their “look.” They should know better.

The American Cancer Society is basing their statistical data on black men. They do this because they have repeatedly refused to study multiracial people. My beef here is not with how Barack Obama self-identifies himself racially, but rather, how the American Cancer Society plays the eyeballing game by looking at someone and assigning them a race and medical risks based on their “look.” They should know better.

Who is Dr. Otis Brawley of the American Cancer Society?

This guy is a heavyweight in the world of cancer. He is the Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society. The following is right from his official bio:

Dr. Otis Brawley, a practicing oncologist, most recently served as professor of Hematology and Oncology and Epidemiology at Emory University, as medical director of the Georgia Cancer Center for Excellence at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, and as deputy director for cancer control at Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University. Previously, Dr. Brawley served in a variety of capacities at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), with his most recent NCI position as that of director of the Office of Special Populations Research. He is a renowned leader in the field of health disparities research. He led the National Cancer Institute Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial and also focuses his clinical research on breast cancer.

Dr. Bawley is a “renowned leader in the field of health disparities research.” Hmmmm. He was also director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Office of Special Populations Research, which only studies the following populations:

African American
American Indian and Alaskan Native
Asian Americans and Pacific Inlanders
Hispanics/Latinos

Even though the NCI has statistical data from the 2000 Census, which allowed people to check more than one race, they do not utilize this information for health disparity. Even though they could study multiracial children and adults and access their health risks, they do not. Something is very wrong with this picture.

What We do Know

FACT: There is a total lack of information about health risks and trends in public health statistics for the multiracial population.

FACT: In the United States a person who is multiracial can be easily misclassified as one race at birth and another at death.

FACT: The non-inclusion of multiracial people in clinical trials by every pharmaceutical manufacturer in the U.S. puts multiracial people at risk for drug overdosing and under-dosing every day.

FACT: The United States Food and Drug Administration has not acted on the critical need for the inclusion of multiracial people in clinical trials.

FACT: There is a shortage of bone marrow donors for the multiracial population.

FACT: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Cancer Institute can tell us nothing about health risks or trends in public health statistics for multiracial children and adults, although they have studied every other racial and ethnic group.

FACT: The health care system in the United States has rendered the multiracial population “invisible.”

FACT: We desperately need accurate classification for multiracial children and adults.

FACT: Multiracial people deserve an equal chance for medical care in this country.

Still, the media and some so-called activists for multiracial people continue to miss the point. They are far more interested in the “tragic mulatto” representation.

MSNBC had a series on recently about multiracial people, due to the apparent new Obama Racial Identity Factor interest generated by the presidential campaign. They said this: “Despite their growing numbers, multiracial Americans and their family members say society’s response to them often remains a mixture of ignorance, judgment and downright rudeness.” They had multiracial angst, they had biracial bliss, but they had nothing about health issues.

For example, they printed an interview with someone named “Gong,” who is the self-proclaimed new voice of new multiracial Americans. This is a quote from him, as reported by MSNBC:

“Despite the positive feelings from the Obama candidacy and other strides, ambiguity and confusion over racial identity will persist for many mixed-race Americans, said Gong, a fact experienced even in families such as his own that have been multiracial for generations. The palette of cultural diversity has often been smudged by outside influences like “all these federal policies that were designed to deconstruct native identity,” such as off-reservation boarding schools, the Indian Removal Act and urban relocation programs.”

One of the interviews on the MSNBC Web site concentrates on a multiracial woman who was raised in a home with a black mother, white father, and a biracial brothel with, “white prostitutes conducting their business in the basement.” Where do they find these families? This one was from Detroit. I am from Detroit, and I can tell you that a family with white prostitutes in the basement is not typical. I swear.

Can we get media, any federal health agency, anyone to focus on medical issues? Probably not, and trust me, we are dying to do so.

Susan Graham
Executive Director
Project RACE, Inc.

What now?
Date: July 8, 2007

I was wrong. Or was I? From the inception of Project RACE in 1990, I said this:”I favor no racial classifications at all, but I do not believe that will happen in my lifetime nor in my children’s lifetime. Until the time when it does happen, we need an appropriate classification for them and children like them, and that the membership of Project RACE has decided that classification should be ‘multiracial.'”The Supreme Court ruled on June 28, 2007 that schools can no longer use race as a determining factor in school placement for purposes of desegregation. They said “racial classifications are simply too pernicious to permit any but the most exact connection between justification and classification.” This is BIG. So, if racial classifications cannot be used, collecting racial information will cease! Yes? Maybe. If collecting racial information ceases, we won’t need a multiracial classification! No? Maybe.Confused? There’s more.

The Democrats fumed — no more races? How dare the Supreme Court rule this?! The Democratic forerunners for our next President were all aghast and lambasted the Republicans. We have always been led to believe the Democrats were for civil rights for everyone. Oh wait, the very Democratic NAACP only wants equal rights for multiracial people who call themselves “black,” like Barack Obama. Right. So the colorblind society sought by people like Rev. Martin Luther King wasn’t the Democratic dream that we thought.

The Republicans danced the happy dance — no more races? Great! No more entitlements for those blasted, greedy minorities! They had balanced the Supreme Court just right. Or had they? How would they know who was black anymore without racial classifications? Ohhh…maybe they could just go back to looking at people and classifying them. And maybe in certain cases they could kinda, sorta ask people for their race. “A district may consider it a compelling interest to achieve a diverse student population,” Justice Kennedy said. “Race may be one component of that diversity.” Oh, in that case, nevermind.

Yes, I’m confused. It’s just not possible for the black community to get their numbers as big as possible by reallocating people who check more than one box into the black box and have true equality if the court does away with the boxes. But then there is the woman appearing on national news shows who says Obama and other multiracial people are not black anyway because only oppressed people from Africa are black. Another woman has suddenly surfaced who calls herself a “biracial African-American,” which sounds a lot like the old one-drop rule. Wow. No wonder I’m so confused.

The one who really makes me scratch my head is a woman who claims her multiracial children were responsible for the multiracial classification on forms in Georgia and Florida. Hmmmm…and I thought that the members of Project RACE were responsible for that! I honestly just don’t remember this woman working with us for three years, day after day, at the Georgia State Capitol until we got our legislation passed. I can identify all the mothers at the photograph of the bill’s signing with then Governor Miller. I also have no recollection of her fighting the State of Florida until we got them to include “multiracial” on school forms. I know it wasn’t her name, but was that of a Project RACE member, who brought a lawsuit in the State of Florida on behalf of her multiracial children.

People who never fought the fight are suddenly taking credit. I’ll say it: it’s an insult to every single person who did fight the fight, who did spend amazing amounts of time and effort in their districts and states, who did go to Washington, and those who wrote letters, made phone calls, and visited their local, state, and congressional representatives for the same rights as other racial and ethnic groups. It’s an insult to those who wrote about the problem with factual information and were involved in the community via legitimate web sites while it was happening, not after the fact. People who are inactive have no right to call themselves activists. It’s an insult to those of us who have maintained a consistent message through almost 20 years of advocacy.

Will this ruling lead to truly race-neutral schools? It’s doubtful. Will it lead to a race-neutral society? Probably not. Will it mean racial classifications will cease to exist on all forms in America? I don’t think so, but I hope I’m wrong. Will it lead to the inclusion of multiracial people on all forms in this country. Are you serious?

What now? I have no idea. We will just have to wait to see how this Supreme Court ruling plays out. While we’re waiting, the entities that draft the forms we have to fill out are still very amused that our community cannot decide on terminology. The ruling hardly registered a blip in multiracial politics. If racial categories really do disappear, then that may be appropriate. If our children are still forced to choose only one race on any forms, then we are no further than we ever were. On the other hand, if all racial classifications are completely gone, our work is done.

Susan Graham
Executive Director
Project RACE, Inc.

Is Obama Multiracial? Part 1
Date: February 13, 2007

William Safire writes a Sunday column in The New York Times called “On Language.” I have always thought of him as a pretty smart guy who is generally right on about language usage. But, he’s suddenly gone very wrong about multiracial terminology.

Safire says in a recent column about Senator Barack Obama, “In this recent book, ‘Audacity of Hope,’ the senator identifies himself as ‘a black man of mixed heritage.'” Therefore, Safire concludes this:

“Mixed heritage, Obama’s usage following black, suggests ethnicity more than race–like the offspring of British and Russian parents–which is why mixed race is the compound adjective to keep your eye on.”

Huh? Because Barack Obama uses the term “mixed heritage,” we all need to use the term “mixed race”? British and Russian are nationalities, not races, so how does this make sense at all? In fact, the only ethnicity recognized on the United States Census is Hispanic, so how does this suggest ethnicity? The terms race, nationality, ethnicity, culture, class, identity, character, and religion are not interchangeable, and are often used incorrectly, which William Safire has done. Perhaps he was thinking of “mixed metaphors.”

If Safire had done the same amount of research on the term “mixed race” as he does on other terminology, he would have found that “mixed race” is offensive to some of us. He would have noted that the opposite of “mixed race” must be “pure race” and that many of us don’t wish to go there. Or perhaps that is exactly where Safire wants to go. He would have learned that “mixed race” lends itself to “mixed up,” “mixed nuts” and other terms found in Spike Lee movies. He also would have come across this definition of mixed: To mate so as to produce a hybrid; crossbreed. My son put it another way when he told a congressional subcommittee when he was 8 years old, “Puppies are mixed; people are multiracial.”

Mr. Safire also would have learned that there are better words to use like “multiracial” and “biracial.” If someone is of more than one culture, they are multicultural. If they are from more than one ethnicity, they are multiethnic. Then why is it that people of more than one race should be called “mixed”? Sorry, Mr. Safire, we just don’t speak the same language on this one.

Is Obama Multiracial? Part 2
Date: February 13, 2007

The Rev. Al Sharpton was a 2004 presidential candidate. He hoped to be the first black president in America. He lost. Rumor has it that he may be considering trying again in 2008.

Meanwhile, Senator Barack Obama announced his 2008 run. Sharpton said of Obama, “Just because you’re our color doesn’t make you our kind.” Apparently, he was referring to blacks who haven’t necessarily worked in the best interests of the black community. Still. The comment came directly after a question posed at a panel where the question was if Obama is black enough to effectively represent the interests of the black community. I don’t recall anyone asking if Condoleezza Rice was black enough to push a black agenda as Secretary of State. I don’t think it’s the job of the President of the United States to work in the best interest of any one community.

Yet, Sharpton came to Obama’s defense when Senator Joe Biden said of Obama, “You’ve got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice looking guy.” Sharpton apparently came to the aid of the “black” Obama, or at least the one black enough to be offended by the statement, which also offended me, and I’m not black.

Black Columnist Stanley Crouch said that Barack Obama has “not lived the life of a black American.” What does it mean to live the life of a black American? Does it mean living the opulent life of an Oprah Winfrey? Is it the same thing as the life of poor black person in what’s left of New Orleans? I know a black woman in her 90s whose parents were slaves in this country, yet she is the only black person in an otherwise all white church every Sunday morning. Does this make her white on Sundays?

Suddenly it’s not just about being a Democrat or a Republican; it’s about being black enough, or African enough, or from enough slaves or enough drops of black blood, or white enough, or multiracial enough. It’s enough already.

Is Obama Multiracial? Part 3
Date: February 13, 2007

Obama’s black African father was from Kenya. His white American mother was from Kansas. Obama was born in Hawaii. His heritage is truly African and American. He considers himself to be African-American. Although we could argue that he truly is multiracial, we won’t; we don’t. It’s not how we see him or how anyone else sees him that matters, it’s how he sees himself that matters.

I had a physician who would always ask me about Project RACE. He was white and from South Africa. He was also an American citizen. He had his own problem with forms in this country. He was truly African-American, but it would be misleading for him to check that box. In the United States, the term African-American is synonymous with black.

What shocked me was when I heard Obama on CBS’s 60 Minutes saying that he considers himself to be black because that is what people see when they look at him. That this man would allow other people to define him is…well, it’s just not what I expected. Most people know someone who is “black,” but looks “white” and someone who is “white,” but looks “black.” I am most impressed by those who don’t allow other people to define them. That is what I would expect from a presidential candidate. It’s taking leadership of your personal identity.

Barack Obama said something on the TV show about how if he’s driving down the street and people see him, they see a black man. It reminded me of something that happened with my son. When he turned 16 and was about to get his driver’s license, his father and I had the talk with him about other’s (including police officers) seeing him as black and how he should respond. We tried to prepare him for what other people might think, but not that it should or shouldn’t affect how he identifies himself. The term “driving while black” had come into usage recently and we explained that he could be seen as “driving while black.” He thought about that and replied, “I understand everything you’re saying, but I prefer to think of it as ‘driving while multiracial.'” Now that’s someone who owns his own identity.

Happy Holidays From Project RACE!
Date: December 17, 2006
At this special time of year we would like to thank the members of Project RACE and Teen Project RACE for your commitment to the multiracial community and our organization.We are especially grateful to those who help fund our work.

Contributions are tax-deductible. Donations are used to help us defray the minimal costs of maintaining the organization such as:

Web hosting
Postal box rental
Copies, postage, and other miscellaneous expenses
Stationary: letterhead, envelopes, organization cards, flyers, etc.
Phone and fax lines
Annual registration fees
Limited travel expenses, if necessary, to participate in state and federal advocacy work.

Project RACE is an all volunteer non-profit organization. We will never charge a membership fee so that anyone can afford to be a member without cost. No one is paid a salary and we keep our overhead costs to a minimum in order to best utilize our resources. We do not subject you to ads on our Web site. We do not solicit nor accept any government grants.

If you wish to donate, Project RACE now accepts payment through Pay Pal:

Checks can also be sent and should be made payable to Project RACE, and mailed to:

Project RACE
P.O. Box 2366
Los Banos, CA 93635

We have much work to do to ensure that multiracial children and adults are afforded their full civil rights. Our national and international membership continues to grow thanks to the generosity and commitment of our members.

We wish you and your families all the best in the New Year.
Susan Graham
Executive Director
Project RACE, Inc.
Kayci Baldwin
President
Teen Project RACE

What the heck happened in New York?!
Date: August 29, 2006
The facts:1. We were contacted by a third party in May, 2006 because an interracial family living in Staten Island, NY wanted to “get in contact with us” regarding a problem she was having with her biracial daughter’s racial classification in her school.

2. The parents of the 5-year-old were told they could not get reports on the girl’s performance unless they chose one of only five racial and ethnic options. Apparently, this had something to do with the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The parent’s refused to pick only one and were told if they did not choose, the principal would choose for them.

3.The parents received some local media attention. School personnel, state officials, and federal folks commented on the racial categories. The federal folks told them that the NY schools could put whatever racial categories they wanted on their forms and they were not limited to the federal categories, which is basically true.

4. When the third party failed to reach the family, I called the mother. She sent a message to me that the NY State Department of Education had decided to add “other” or “biracial” to the forms. I left several messages for the mother and finally sent her an e-mail telling her that we would have a problem with “other,” which we have managed to get rid of on forms.

5. The mother e-mailed to tell me she had done all she was willing to do and she didn’t mind if her daughter was referred to as “other.” The husband e-mailed me to say he would “see what transpires.” In other words, they were done with the whole matter.

6. A newspaper reported on June 26th that the NY State Education Department would add “mixed” or “other” on its student ID forms beginning in the 2006-07 school year. It said the mother was “tickled.”

7. I began calling the NY State Education Department in mid-August to verify the story. After getting transferred to over 25 people, I left a message for Ron Danforth, the person who I was told had the information. After several days without a return call, I called the same department and was told that the person I had to talk to now was Martha Musser, not Ron Danforth and she was “too busy to speak to me.” Not one to give up, I persevered and finally spoke to her. She told me The State of New York will NOT be adding a “multiracial,” “mixed,” “other” category or anything to accommodate interracial families on ID forms. In fact, if they do anything at all, they will follow the US Department of Education guidelines. They will not give students the option of a multiracial category, but they will not be an obstacle for it, whatever that means.

8. Ms. Musser, at the STATE Education Department also insisted that the New York CITY schools had added the classification of “multiracial quite some time ago.” Now I was tickled. I began calling the NY city schools. I also began looking at their student data online and did not see any “multiracial” category. After an hour of being transferred around, I was no closer to finding anyone who knew what racial categories the city uses. The departments of information reporting, elementary school admissions, middle school admissions, high school admissions, student enrollment, information technology, teaching and learning, accountability and assessment, and press relations had no idea. They still have not responded at all.

9.Then something very interesting happened. Two days after talking to the STATE personnel, I received a phone call from Mr. Danforth, who is in the same STATE office as Ms. Musser (who that had told me they were not going to accommodate any additional category for multiracial students). Mr. Danforth now told me that he indeed has added the “multiracial” category for students for the 2006-2007 school year and it will continue every year.” He confirmed it in an e-mail to me.

10. Before being overjoyed, I started thinking about what he had told me. He said they had “added the multiracial category,” but not exactly what forms they added it to. So, I e-mailed him and asked this:
Just for clarification, will the multiracial category appear on the forms that the students or their parents fill out? How will the general instructions read? We are concerned with what the children and their families will actually see, so I would appreciate your sending me one of the self-identification forms. Thank you. This was his response:
The State Education Department does not have and does not provide to schools and districts self-identification forms. We will be providing guidance to schools and districts. That guidance has not been drafted yet, but will indicate that for the paper forms, as in the sample sent to you, students should be reported in one of the six listed categories…How they actually get there will be left to local decision making. We would of course provide suggestion if the school/district was totally lacking in ideas of their own.

So, a category called “multi-racial” will appear on INTERNAL forms only, specifically something called the BEDS data forms. In other states, the state education departments do provide things like state testing, where they indicate racial identification. Apparently, New York does not do this.

So what the heck happened in New York? We’re not really sure, but we are certain (as of today) that all schools, public and private, will not be carrying the multiracial classification on all forms that require racial identification at the state level. They will be using it on internal forms, so that if a district wanted to use “multiracial,” they could; the State Department of Education will not stand in their way. For now at least.

Also, they will somehow specify that someone who is of Hispanic origin can not be multiracial.

Our best advice at this time is for students or their parents to give this information to their schools and insist that multiracial students can be reported to the state as multiracial and that you want the term “multiracial” to appear on all forms, identification, tests, etc. If you are in New York City, you can call David Cantor at 202-374-5141 and find out what your specific school is putting on their forms. We will keep Project RACE members informed on this issue in New York.

Susan Graham
Executive Director
Project RACE

What Happened in California?
Date: June 17, 2006
Legislation was introduced in California (SB 1615) on February 24, 2006 by Senator Joe Simitian. It was a bad piece of legislation from the start, and was made even worse by various amendments. The bill in its original form did not contain the word “multiracial” (not a good thing). It made it possible for state forms to allow people to check more than one box (a good thing if done without reallocation to one race and with the term “multiracial”). In other words, California forms would simply mimic federal forms and federal reallocation schemes.Project RACE suggested wording based on our experience with state legislation for multiracial people. Senator Simitian and his staff added the term “multiracial,” at our request, but not so that anyone would know. We pointed out that children don’t usually read legislation, so it would be meaningful only if “multiracial” was used on the forms themselves. Senator Simitian refused to further amend the bill so that it would actually mean something to our community.

Legislation usually goes through many changes and amendments before it goes to a floor vote; it’s part of the process. We have done this plenty of times before and other states seem to understand the give and take. We attempted to compromise. We tried to make this a win-win for everyone.

Let’s not mistake exactly who was behind this legislation: every Asian organization ever heard of (and some never heard of), Mavin (the organization that takes credit for everything everyone else does, anyway) and the Association of Multiethnic Americans (not multiracial Americans). Oh, and Mavin uses the terms “mixed” and “hapa” almost exclusively. They even have that multiethnic organization using those terms. Supporters included a California based man who wants to do away with race altogether (and we thought we would never see AMEA and him on the same side!), and a guy in Sacramento who wrote some very nasty e-mails to us telling us he was an internationally recognized “authority” on multiracial issues. Interestingly, the main supporter was one of Senator Simitian’s own legislative aides who has a history of support to exclusively Asian causes and caucuses like the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Staff Caucus.

The bill should also make historically black organizations happy, since it would allow them to hold fast to the one-drop rule and have the majority of multiracial people counted as “black.” Still, most state organizations that could have supported the bill took no position on it rather than to recommend it as it was written and amended.

In the early 90s when we started planning our strategy for the 2000 Census hearings in Washington, one of the high-up decision makers in the US Census Bureau made this comment to me: “We can’t do anything until your community picks one name for itself! Is it Multiracial? Interracial? Mixed? Hapa? Biracial?”

There was a need for consistency. We polled the membership of Project RACE and put out the question to the community at-large as well as the other organizations in existence at the time. They came back with the overwhelming (but not unanimous) consensus of “Multiracial.” It was more inclusive than “biracial” and comments were made about “mixed” bringing “mixed up” to mind and that it also lent itself to “racial purity” comparisons of people who were monoracial.

So what happened? The backers of SB 1516 (the same groups that played “Let’s Make a Deal” with the feds) and the egos of Senator Simitian and his aides got in the way. When the bill passed, the first subcommittee backers prematurely danced in the streets of Sacramento, held press conferences, and declared victory, certain that they would sail through committees and floor votes.

Meanwhile, we realized that Senator Simitian and his staff were closed to any further dialogue that might reach a compromise. Project RACE had no choice but to oppose the bill as it was written. SB 1516 died (it was put in the suspense file, which is the same thing) on May 25 in the Appropriations Subcommittee. This was partially because of our efforts to make the legislation meaningful, partially due to our contacting influential individuals and organizations that do not see why the multiracial community should merely follow what the current administration in Washington wants, and partially because Senator Simitian’s staff and backers of the legislation did not do their homework on important issues such as fiscal ramifications, progress of other states, legal implications, etc.

Here is a list of just some of the problems with SB 1615 as it is currently written:

The bill follows federal guidelines, which calls multiracial people “people of more than one race.” The United States Census Bureau published a series of “We the People” reports including: “Asians in the United States,” “Hispanics in the United States,” “Black Population in the United States,” and “People of More than One Race in the United States.” Why conform to federal guidelines that call multiracial children and adults “people of more than one race” and puts them back into single race categories when they are tabulated?
SB 1615 is also titled The Ethnic Heritage Respect and Recognition Act. Why just ethnicity? Shouldn’t it be titled The Racial and Ethnic Respect and Recognition Act?
With a few minor changes, California really could lead the nation in progress in classifications by properly using the term “multiracial.” Instead, the current bill is designed to hide the term on forms. If the term multiracial was really obvious in the bill, why would a newspaper use this headline “‘Mixed race’ option on state documents clears senate panel” the day after the first subcommittee vote? That’s how well SB 1615 hides the term “multiracial.”
SB 1615 is designed to uphold the one-drop rule (one drop of black blood and you are reassigned to the black category), which is dangerous on a federal level and would be equally dangerous on a state level.
SB 1615 has a companion bill, AB 2420, which may be what this is all about anyway. AB 2420 would do the following: Requires any state agency, board, commission, community college, or California State University that collects demographic data as to the ancestry or ethnic origin of Californians to use separate collection categories and tabulations specifically for Bangladeshi, Fijian, Hmong, Chamorro, Indonesian, Malaysian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese, Thai, and Tongan, other Asian, and other Pacific Islander. (Current law requires tabulation specifically for Asian Indian, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Guamanian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Native Hawaiian, Samoan, and Vietnamese).
Some groups and individuals that testified at subcommittee hearings used mental instability of people of more than one race as a reason to pass SB 1615. Honest. It’s public record. They cited “medical studies” that apparently found that multiracial people have a wide array of psychological problems because of…well, we’re not quite sure of exactly what. How is this in any way positive for our children? There are plenty of positive studies available. Anyone in this community who buys into the “mixed race is mixed up” mentality and then voices that opinion as our “leadership” is doing a great disservice to the multiracial population. We at Project RACE are still shaking our heads over this.
The deal that certain multiethnic groups made with the federal government in 1997 so that they would be put on government “working groups” for mono-racial people was that they would spread the same scheme to the states. They can’t very well disagree with federal policy when they are working for the federal government. Does this make it right for states to follow suit?

Senator Simitan, his staff, multiethnic groups, and individuals supposedly representing multiracial children and adults need to stop building walls and start building bridges of true compromise, not compromise with the federal government. Isn’t it interesting that the Senator’s Web site never even mentioned SB 1615? Isn’t it odd that the “supporters” pretend that it never even happened since it failed? Legislation for multiracial people in California has a long way to go and Project RACE will be there. We’ll see what happens.

Susan Graham
Executive Director
Project RACE

Dr. Phil, Get Real! Part 1
Date: October 14, 2003

 

At the end of a Dr. Phil show recently, Dr. Phil said, “Choose your words carefully.” He was talking about race. Dr. Phillip C. McGraw is a popular television talk show host who also has a few best selling books out. He has a doctorate in psychology and tries to give folks advice about their lives, which would lead you to believe he knows a lot about positive reinforcement and human behavior. Think again.

My daughter, Megan (president of Teen Project RACE), had noticed several weeks before on their Web site that the show was looking for parents of biracial children. She said, “Mom, let’s write to them and try to get on the show!” I explained to her that they were most likely looking for biracial kids and adults with negative identity problems. She said, “Then we can at least show them some positive role models.” Still doubtful, I agreed to send a letter to Dr. Phil and his producers. This is part of what we wrote:

Racial identity is a very personal matter. You and I do not have the right to tell anyone how to classify themselves. But it is vital that biracial children and adults have choice of embracing all of their heritage if that is what they choose. It’s also important for biracial children and teens to know that all of their racial and ethnic parts make up wonderfully whole beings, who do have people fighting for their rights.

Dr. Phil, please do not make this show about “poor biracial children who don’t know who they are.” It’s by and large a fallacy, and is perpetrated by the media. It’s fodder for Maury and Jenny Jones, not for Dr. Phil. Spare us the “tragic mulatto” story and give our multiracial kids the truth.

We tried, but Dr. Phil somehow managed to find the most screwed up biracial woman he could find. She cried huge tears and said things like, “There is no place for me,” “My father (who was black) hated white people and my mother (who was white) hated black people,” “I don’t know who or what I am!” and “It’s always been about my appearance.”

First, Dr. Phil assures this (gorgeous) woman that there is more to her than her appearance, but then goes on to tell her how attractive she is and tells his cameraperson to get a close up of her because he would give her an “A” in the looks department. Huh? He is reinforcing what seemed to bother her. Never mind that he didn’t understand that she was talking about people being confused about her racial identity by just looking at her. She didn’t think she was ugly at all. Some psychologists just don’t get it.

The worst was yet to come. Dr. Phil’s sage advice to this biracial woman was: “Pick a team and play for them; pick a black team or a white team.” Saying, in effect, “You must choose to be black or white, you can’t be both.” There is another alternative: She can embrace all of her heritage and be both. She need not deny either of her parents. Wouldn’t that be a mentally healthy thing to do? Some psychologists just don’t get it.

I’m disappointed in Dr. Phil. Obviously, degrees and public success do not ensure intelligence and knowledge about everything under the sun, but public access comes with a certain amount of responsibility. Stereotyping biracial and multiracial people as confused, pathetic people with no identity, who must choose to be just one race, is wrong, no matter who does it. Dr Phil needs to get real.

Susan Graham
Executive Director

Dr. Phil, Get Real! Part 2
Date: October 14, 2003

 

In part 1 I detailed the story of a biracial woman on Dr. Phil’s show on race. Now let’s look at the rest of the story.

Earlier in the show a mother of three white daughters had been on with her youngest daughter. The mother did not want her daughters to date outside of their race. Dr. Phil’s producers selectively picked and aired a segment (twice, in fact) in which the mother called black people names that should never, ever, be said in public, let alone on television. As Dr. Phil would say, “What were they thinking?!”

Before going to a break, Dr. Phil said that the daughter would have a “secret” to reveal to her mother when they came back. Isn’t that exactly what they do on the Maury Povich Show? Of course, the secret was that the daughter was dating a black man. As if no one could guess that.

Dr. Phil’s positive mental health solution was for the mother to learn to express her concern for the “fact” that the daughter will be subjected to “pain, ridicule, harsh judgment, and challenges” all her life for dating black men. What decade is Dr. Phil living in? Why does he think it’s positive to perpetuate negative attitudes about interracial couples? Attitude’s like Dr. Phil’s wrongly stereotype our families and should not be showcased on any public forum.

Another segment showed a white woman married to Benny, a Mexican man. The woman’s uncle was against interracial marriages. Yeah, yeah, heard all of that before. What surprised us was that Dr. Phil kept referring to Mexican as a “race.” It’s not. It’s an ethnicity. Kids know that by the time they are in middle school. Dr. Phil apparently doesn’t know.

Race is a very personal and complex subject. Organizations are devoted to racial and ethnic ideas or equity (Project RACE, NAACP, MALDEF, etc.) Entire books are written about race. Universities build curriculum around race (although some of the professors who “teach” those courses are as unqualified as Dr. Phil). Wars and riots have been waged over skin color.

For the producers of a talk show to think that they are qualified to represent biracial people is the epitome of misdirected egotism. Dr. Phil and his staff are out of their league when it comes to knowledge of racial identity and the ability to dole out “strategies” for interracial families. It is unfair to our community when a talk show host portends to know what is best for us, and let’s face it, Dr. Phil is a talk show host first and psychologist second.

I have a new Dr. Philism for Dr. Phil: If you go looking for bad news, you’ll find it, but you’ll serve your audience better with some positive balance. As for the audience in my home, I have a new ProjectRacism: We’re gonna kick Dr. Phil to the curb.

Susan Graham
Executive Director

Aetna & The Multiracial Community
Date: April 16, 2003
To: Project RACE Members:It started on March 5, when Aetna announced they would collect racial and ethnic data from its members. Aetna is a provider of health, dental, life, disability, and long-term care insurance. Aetna will also collect racial and ethnic data on its network of participating physicians. Spokespersons for Aetna say the collection of such data will reduce the risks associated with racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare.

What population is more in need of health data than the multiracial population? We have no idea of the health risks to our children because “biracial,” “multiracial,” or even “check all that apply” have not been options on health forms in this country. I know that hypertension and diabetes are more prevalent in my husband’s racial population than in other populations, but we know nothing about the health status of our children because they have never been included in studies. Or if they were included, it was as a single-race person. Just think how a company as big as Aetna could help us!

A few days after the announcement, I sent this e-mail to Aetna’s “Office of Diversity”:

Regarding Aetna’s press release of March 5 announcing initiatives to collect racial and ethnic data of its membership, please explain how the race and ethnicity questions will be structured. If your members are instructed to choose from a list of racial and ethnic classifications, what are those classifications and how will the question(s) be worded. Thank you in advance for your timely response.

When I got no response from them, I e-mailed the Vice-President of Corporate Public Relations. Again, no answer. I e-mailed him again on March 22. This was his reply on March 23:

Thanks for your note. I was under the impression a colleague of mine was going to get back to you weeks ago. I apologize for the delay. Let me check on it.

That was several weeks ago. I have not heard back from them since then. How long could it take to check on this?! The bigger question is this: if the multiracial community can’t trust Aetna to give us basic information on their race and ethnicity questions , can we trust them to use their information in a positive way? Why is Aetna hiding from us on this issue?

There are pros and cons to the question of Aetna’s collection of racial data. The pro is that better medical information will result in better medical treatment of minorities. The con is that when insurance companies collect such data, it will enable them to make it difficult for certain minority individuals to get coverage. Let’s face it, this is a self-interest issue for Aetna. This is big business, and they are in business to save money.

Either way, if they do not allow multiracial members to fully and completely self-identify their racial and ethnic heritages, we lose. If better medical information is, indeed, the goal of Aetna’s collecting this data, then they should be very interested in full and complete data. It’s called accuracy. Without it, the multiracial community will not gain a thing. On the other hand, if they are going to discriminate using inaccurate information, everyone loses.

This is the statement of Aetna’s Diversity Department:

“Diversity is a brand imperative that helps to bring Aetna’s health and related benefits to the attention of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. population – the African-American and Hispanic/Latino markets, as well as the Asian market.”

And this from their “Mission Statement”:

“We will deliver on Aetna’s brand promise by valuing and respecting the strengths and differences among our employees, customers and communities because they reflect our continued future success. Our customers, suppliers and strategic partners are increasingly diverse and multicultural.”

“Brand imperative” is a marketing term that means “what we want our customers to think of us.” It’s the factor that conveys an image. So, it’s not that Aetna’s diversity team necessarily believes that diversity is important, it’s that they want to convey that image to its members. Hmmmmm. And given that, isn’t the multiracial community important to the “image” of diversity that Aetna wishes to convey?

Perhaps it’s that Aetna’s diversity team doesn’t understand our need for an end to the disparities in healthcare. We’ve invited them to get to know us, and they ignored the invitation. It’s not as though they don’t get race altogether. The National Medical Association (NMA) represent the “collective interests of physicians and patients of African descent” applauded Aetna’s efforts to collect racial information. Did I mention that the Aetna Foundation gives sizable contributions to the NMA?

Aetna Chairman and CEO John W. Rowe, M.D., said. “Reducing the gap in health care among minority populations is one of the most obvious targets for health care improvement in the United States.” Rowe just needs to enhance and enlarge his definition of “minority populations.” We can help him, if his “diversity” and “public relations” staffs would just give us the chance.

Until the multiracial population is recognized by Aetna, I hope you will join me in telling your employers you don’t want them to buy Aetna products; asking your physicians not to provide services to Aetna; and talking to your extended families of every race and ethnicity, and encouraging them to challenge Aetna representatives to include us or lose our business. Take action. It’s what Project RACE does.

Susan Graham
Executive Director

What did we do to THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE?
Date: February 28, 2003
I love New York. I was just there a few weeks ago. I also love my Sunday New York Times newspaper. I live in a city that has a terribly slim Sunday newspaper, so reading the entire Sunday New York Times, which can take a few hours, is something I look forward to each week. Then I get to the magazine section and I hold my breath. What will they say this week about multiracial kids?It started a few months ago when a question appeared in the magazine for Randy Cohen, who publishes his answers to ethical questions in his “The Ethicist” column. Sometimes he’s glib, sometimes funny, and often just plain wrong, as reader response points out. He received a letter from a 17-year-old who was “half Hispanic and half Caucasian” who wanted to know if it was unethical for him to list his race as Hispanic on college applications. I wrote to Cohen and explained that Hispanic is an ethnicity and not a race, and his answer advising the writer to just pick one was not exactly correct and how that affects a multiracial person. He did respond to my e-mail, although the editors chose not to print my letter. His response was…well…disappointing.

Then on December 9, Randall Kennedy (he wrote the controversial book titled Nigger), was interviewed for the question and answer section of the magazine. Kennedy recently deemed himself the guru of interracial families. Here are a few things Kennedy said in that interview:

“Oreo is a term that white people can use and they are not frowned upon, whereas the n-word used by a white person is never acceptable.”

“I’m married to a black woman…in elite, primary white institutions, there are many blacks who have white wives. So much so that sometimes there is almost the assumption that I would be married to a white woman.”

Again, I wrote to the magazine (I’m sure some of you did, as well) and advised them that the term “Oreo” is never acceptable, whether used by a black, white, or anyone else. And that white women don’t marry black men because they are “elite,” and being “elite” does not ensure a black man of attracting a wife of any particular race. I also clued them in to the fact that interracial couples marry for the same reasons other people do — we fall in love.

The editors have not printed any letters pointing out the offensiveness of Kennedy’s interview. They did print 13 letters to the editors on other stories that appeared in the same issue.

The very next week, in the February 16 issue, the cover story was about a woman who is disabled and about a Princeton professor who advocates that the parents of babies born with disabilities should have the option of terminating their lives at birth. It’s a moving article that goes through the logical arguments of the advocates and protestors. But, in a section about adoption, the writer offers a hypothetical comparison: “What about mixed-race babies, especially when the combination is entirely nonwhite, who I believe are just about as unadoptable as babies with disabilities?” Huh? Multiracial babies are often twice as adoptable, not somehow “worse off” than monoracial babies. Had this same argument been directed to a black, Hispanic, Asian or American Indian baby, the editors would have certainly removed it. Someone needs to educate this person, but it won’t be through the New York Times Magazine editors.

I don’t know how many times we have written to the New York Times and asked them to use the term “multiracial” instead of “mixed race.” Nevermind the preferred terminology by our group, they just can’t seem to change it. Racism usually starts at the top of an organization, although this is the only magazine I’ve ever read that doesn’t have a masthead, so we have no idea who is really at the top. Perhaps it’s acknowledged privately (I doubt it), but not publicly in their letters from readers.

I won’t be writing any more letters to this newspaper. I’ll be canceling my subscription and I urge you to do the same.

Susan Graham
Executive Director
Project RACE, Inc.

Busy Summer for Project RACE
Date: August 1, 2002
We’ve had a very busy summer at Project RACE. In the month of July, alone, we added members to Project RACE and Teen Project RACE from the following states:Arkansas
California
Colorado
Florida
Kentucky
Massachusetts
Michigan
Missouri
Nebraska
New York
North Carolina
Ohio
Pennsylvania
South Carolina
Texas
Virginia
Washington State

Welcome to all our new American Project RACE members, as well as those in the province of Ontario and the emirate of Dubai, and the country of Brazil, who also joined during July. We continue to grow!

Susan Graham
Executive Director

The Problem With The “Mixed” Label
Date: May 2, 2002
A Project RACE member gave me a newspaper article to read. It is from a newspaper with a good reputation, and a large circulation area. The two-part article is about interracial marriages and multiracial children. These are the terms used interchangeably throughout the article:Mixed
Mixed-race
Mulatto
Biracial
People who check more than one box
Interracial
Interethnic
Intergroup
Multicultural

Never once did the writer use the term “multiracial,” even though he interviewed many people who I know, for a fact, use only that term. In the early years of Project RACE, we polled the membership of the organization, and spoke with other organizations in the interracial community and asked what the preferred terminology would be for a child of parents of two or more races. Hands down, “multiracial” won. It is the term we used for legislation. It is the term you’ll see all over our Web site, and it’s the term we use-period.

I especially dislike the term “mixed.” First, it lends itself to references in Spike Lee movies, where he calls “mixed” people “mixed up” and “mixed nuts.” It also makes for not so cute newspaper and magazine headlines. One day I really thought about why “mixed” annoys me so much. I realized that if a person isn’t “mixed,” what is he or she — pure? Wow. It sounds pretty neo-Nazi-Hitler-like to me. Do we really want to separate Americans into those who are pure and those who are mixed? Personally, I don’t want to even go there. When my young son testified in Washington, he told the lawmakers, “Puppies are mixed, people are multiracial.” Another good reason not to use it.

It’s true that the US Census Bureau and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) did not accept a stand-alone or umbrella category of multiracial, but so what? Is that a reason for journalists to refer to our children as “mixed”? No. Some government forms still carry the term “Negro,” but would it be appropriate for today’s journalists to use it? Racial terminology changes, just ask the group that was once “colored” then “Negro” then “black” and now “African-American.” The same journalists who are so careful to use the term “African-American,” still refer to multiracial people as “mixed.”

In the popular book The Multiracial Experience, editor Maria Root gives an extensive glossary of terms, and notes the following, “Multiracial refers to people who are of two or more racial heritages.” The glossary doesn’t even list “mixed.”

Tiger Woods refers to himself as “Cablinasian,” which is a word he made up for the combination of all of his heritage. I think it’s creative and meaningful for him. For the rest of us, let’s stick with the term preferred by our community — “multiracial.”

A Good News/Bad News Story
Date: April 23, 2002
The New York Times Magazine published an interesting cover story about Florida in its April 21st issue. Writer Michael Paterniti delved into racial and ethnic statistics in the state and how they compare with national numbers. This is what he wrote:”Furthermore, the state offers a close reflection of the nation’s ethnic breakdown. Where 75 percent of Americans today are white, in Florida 78 percent are white. Where nearly 13 percent are Hispanic, in Florida 17 percent are. And where 12 percent are black, in Florida more than 14 percent are. (The United States census numbers here include persons representing themselves as multiple races.)”

The good news is that Paterniti even mentioned that the figures include multiracial people. But the bad news is that the multiracial numbers were aggregated back into the white, black, and Hispanic numbers, as the government loves to do. As Project RACE representatives warned in 1997, that is the exact reason (and the harm) in multiple check-offs instead of a true multiracial category.

Actually, we know that the number of persons who checked off two or more races in the 2000 census was 2.4 percent nationally. We also know that ironically, 2.4 percent of Floridians chose to check off two or more races. That’s the kind of information that would have been more useful and interesting than to have the single categories inflated somehow by the multiracial numbers. Even more important, it would have been more accurate.

Susan Graham
Executive Director
Project RACE, Inc.

From The Director
Date: March 26, 2002
Dear Project RACE Members:It seems that everyone watched the Academy Awards Sunday night. We gawked at the dresses and jewelry, laughed with Whoopi, and cheered Randy Newman when he finally won an award. Most people probably remarked about what a fine person Sidney Portier is and how much he’s done for black actors. Many cried along with Halle Berry, as she acknowledged herself as the first black actress to get the best actress award. It’s all so wonderful for blacks, but what about multiracial people and interracial families? Judging from the letters members sent to us following the awards, there is much concern.

In the early 1990s, not long after the formation of Project RACE, I met Sidney Portier’s daughter Pamela. She came to my home. We “clicked” as friends. She was very excited about Project RACE and told me she was certain her father would help us, after all he was married to a white woman and they had two biracial daughters-Pam’s half-sisters. She called her father and asked him to speak out and help the multiracial movement. He turned her down cold. He said he would not get involved; it wasn’t his problem and it certainly wasn’t her problem. Pam sighed, said she was sorry, and then told me she would be going to Africa for a while. That was the last time I heard from her.

I remember wondering at the time how a father could not view the misclassification of his daughters as not his problem. How does a parent do that? Yes, I was naïve. I forgot that if your last name is “Portier,” you don’t have the same problems as the rest of us. I didn’t realize then that if your father had fought race-based discrimination, he would not necessarily be understanding of the discrimination placed upon his children.

Then came Halle Berry, who considers herself to be black, not biracial. She told Barbara Walters that this is because her mother insisted she identify as black, since she would be “looked at” as black. Wow. Maybe her mother would have liked the “skin gradation chart” the U.S. Census Bureau was considering in the 1990s (yes, the 1990s), that would have really classified us all by skin color. I bet Halle has done everything her mother told her to do. Of course she has every right to classify herself as black. In fact, we stress that this is all about people having a choice of how they want to racially identify. What I have a problem with is her mother’s reasoning that it matters more how other people view you than how you view yourself. That’s the biggest buy-in to the “one-drop rule” (the belief that if you have one drop of black blood, you are black) that there can be. I’m starting to call it the “one-drip rule,” because a drip is an annoying sound made by falling drops, and famous multiracial people one-by-one falling for the one-drop rule is certainly an annoying sound to my ears. It also annoyed me years ago when Lenny Kravitz said, “mixed people should realize we are all black and get over it.” Again, he can choose what he wants, but he shouldn’t place his choice on other people.

Famous multiracial people have been asked for years to become involved in the movement for a multiracial classification, and they have refused for years. Steve and Ruth White (whatever happened to them?) used to give some kind of award to multiracial celebrities, when they threw their own Hollywood party, but none of those celebrities agreed to become a spokesperson for our cause. They took the award and ran. This is just too volatile a cause for them. Too risky. They could alienate one of their races, and therefore risk losing some fans.

Even Tiger Woods declined involvement, and I really admire him in many other ways. I admire that he came out and told the media, fellow golfers, and fans that he’s not only black, but he’s “Cablinasian,” (his term for “multiracial”) and proud of it. Tiger was asked to testify about the importance of being allowed to claim more than one race on government forms, by the same congressional subcommittee my son and I testified before in 1997. He refused, but not because he was keeping his multiracial identity a secret. His name was bought up repeatedly in the hearings because he claims all of his heritage, which really did help the cause. Thank you, Tiger.

This isn’t solely about racial classification. I think we all know that. The one-drop rule is not going to go away if we are “allowed” to check as many boxes as we want, or if we abolish all racial categories. Would that have stopped Denzel Washington or Halle Berry from calling themselves “African-Americans” at the Academy Awards? No.

Then what is this about? It’s about getting the message through to parents, children, extended families, educators, politicians, the media, the medical community, other so-called advocates for multiracial children and adults, and many others that it’s OK to classify yourself as multiracial. It’s knowing that it’s your right to reject basing your racial identity on what other people think you are. It’s being aware that you can refuse to check the term “other,” on forms. And it means that you are wise enough to know that when you use the “check all that apply” scheme, you will really be reallocated back to the minority box, and usually the black box.

It’s also about knowing that Halle Berry doesn’t determine the one-drop rule for my children no matter how many awards she wins.

Susan Graham
Executive Director

Multiracial Life After Newt
Date: November 9, 2001

 

He was on our side. The Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, was in our corner. Now he has resigned. What does this mean for the multiracial movement?

I waited two years for a meeting with the Speaker. I was told I had TEN MINUTES to talk with him. At our first one-on-one meeting I quickly outlined the problem of multiracial children and adults without a racial classification. I handed Newt a bound report with the history of the movement and statistics. He quickly flipped through the report, put it aside and said, “This is the right thing to do for the children.” He outlined what he would do to help—it was an impressive list.

Newt Gingrich sent a personal letter to the Director of the U.S. Bureau of the Census on our behalf. Newt Gingrich repeatedly included us in speeches. Newt Gingrich spoke to educators about the multiracial classification. Newt Gingrich tried to come out to testify for us in Washington, but the budget talks prevented that at the last moment. His testimony was read and entered into the record.

Newt’s downfall was that he surrounded himself with the wrong people. His advisors gave him bad advice. He underestimated the power of the “competition.” Three men on Newt’s staff advised Newt about a year ago to not pursue the multiracial issue: Krister Holliday (Legislative Director), Arne Christenson (Chief of Staff for the Speaker), and Jack Howard (I never was able to get a title out of him). Three white men who knew very little about what we were about. Howard had tried to nix the multiracial classification years ago, when I first met with Newt. One by one, Howard turned the Speaker’s staff against us. The white, male, self-imposed “experts” on race relations negated our efforts.

Why would they do that? Jack Howard expressed his racist beliefs to me directly. Arne Christenson feared that if the Speaker was FOR the multiracial category, it would jeopardize the black vote that the Republicans were out to get. Krister Holliday got cold feet after Congressman Thomas Petri folded and withdrew his multiracial legislation.

Dealing with Newt’s staff was an endless experience in frustration, but through it all, the Speaker stayed with us—he just could not do the day-to-day work on our issue that his staff was supposed to be doing. Newt Gingrich’s failing was in surrounding himself with the wrong people.

Support sometimes comes from unexpected corners. It is NOT in our best interest to roll over and play dead to the OMB and Census Bureau, as some of the other so called “check all that apply advocates” have done. The last time I met with Newt I told him about the OMB’s decision to disallow multiracial, but allow multiple check-offs. He looked at me and said, “That’s not a compromise! It only makes it worse!” He was right.

So, what does this mean for the multiracial movement? First, like him or not, the multiracial community has lost an important supporter; a person who could have assured us of getting legislation PASSED. Second, it’s not the end of our world. Ten years in the political realm of Washington has taught me never to put all of our eggs in one basket. We have worked relentlessly on gaining more and more support in Congress. Every member of Project RACE has to become involved in this if we are to gain enough support to make a difference for our children.

Membership Update
Date: November 18, 2001

 

The last few months have been very busy at Project RACE. On October 29th, our Web site was mentioned on “The Ananda Lewis Show” and new memberships poured in. Teen Project RACE membership has doubled in the past few months. I would especially like to welcome our new members from many countries, including Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Brazil. Our family of Project RACE members continues to grow, as does the multiracial population.

Our work for multiracial children and adults continues as we head toward the 2010 United States Census. But this is not only about the census. We are working with individual school districts, universities, hospitals and organizations to update their forms and we continue to educate the media about using the term “multiracial” in their reporting. I’ll have a more detailed update on our activities after the first of the new year. Until then, have a happy and healthy holiday season.

Susan Graham
Executive Director

Dear Project RACE Members
Date: July 13, 2001
Now that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has made it’s recommendation on the multiracial classification, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about it and where we go next.
The OMB recommendation is NOT to have a multiracial classification. BUT, they are recommending a “check all that apply” format on the U.S. Census and federal forms. It is the first time in the history of this country that the “check one” mandate will disappear. It is definite PROGRESS! We got HALF of what we asked for.We have come a very long way. Project RACE was founded in 1991 to do things differently than our predecessors. We saw the wisdom (and the very hard work!) in passing state legislation to “bubble up” to Washington and force them to pay attention to the dilemma of checking only one box. Our strategy worked! The Federal Register notice of July 9, 1997, states, “Legislative activity at the State level generates further impetus for considering a modification to the Federal Standard to provide reporting of more than one race.” In other words, they had to respond to what we had DONE, not just what we talked about. I am extremely proud of the members of Project RACE.

The Board of Directors of Project RACE has unanimously voted to NOT stop with “half a loaf.” It IS important to be recognized as multiracial children and adults, not just as “check all that apply” persons. I have received calls, e-mail and faxes from Project RACE members who agree and say multiracial children should have an appropriate label, as does every other racial group.

I have been asked to testify again in Washington on JULY 25. I would like to take as many comments from Project RACE members and their children as possible to show to the subcommittee.

PLEASE E-MAIL SHORT STATEMENTS TO ME AT projrace@aol.com or fax to (770) 640-7101 BY JULY 23 AT THE LATEST. YOUR VOICES NEED TO BE HEARD IN WASHINGTON!

When I return from Washington I will draft an “ACTION ALERT” so that we may all respond to the Federal Register notice by September 8, 1997. Please check our WEB site at for further updates. Thank you.

Susan Graham
Executive Director

Ward Connerly: Confused
Date: April 5, 2001

 

To be fair about this, maybe I’m the one who is confused and not Ward Connerly. I just don’t understand his recent actions. I cheered when his organization drafted the Racial Privacy Initiative, which if passed, will prohibit the state of California from classifying individuals according to race, ethnicity, color or national origin. I’m all for it. But then he recommended keeping the Standardized Assessment Test (SAT) for all students applying to the University of California, where Connerly is on the Board of Regents.

In the words of Ward Connerly, “those divisive little boxes on state forms will have to go.” However, the College Board, which owns the SAT and refuses to stop using race on its forms, should be allowed to continue. Sure sounds confusing to me. Is it OK to have those race boxes if you use them nationally, but not on only a state level? Should any university system be able to pick and choose when to use racial classifications or does Ward Connerly really want to do away with all of them?

When my son took the Preliminary Scholastic Achievement Test (PSAT) last year, there was no adequate racial box for him. He was told to check “other.” He refused, and told the test administrator that “other” means “different from my peers.” He was told he had to check a box, and only one box. He wrote in and checked his own box: multiracial. This caused a flurry of correspondence, since we were told that his test might be invalidated.

Some interesting things came out of that correspondence. We learned that:

* Students do not have to check race at all on the test forms.

* The College Board will not indicate that the race question is optional on the forms, so students do not know it’s optional.

* The College Board still will not allow students to check more than one race.

* Although the ACT test added a multiracial category many years ago at the request of Project RACE, the College Board will not.

* The College Board may eventually add the ability to check more than one race, but will not divulge how they will tabulate the responses.

Why is the College Board so interested in race, anyway? Because they sell the racial data they collect. It’s a little money maker. A few weeks after my son took the PSAT, he received a magazine in the mail. It had five teens on the cover who all looked like minorities. Inside was information on colleges looking for minority students. A few days later, we received the same magazine with five different teens on the cover who all looked white. Can you guess what kind of students they were appealing to?

The SAT is a vehicle that keeps classifying and separating by race. How could Ward Connerly be for something like that if he wants to do away with racial classifications? Perhaps he can use his influence to appeal to the College Board to do away with their “silly little boxes” that Connerly professes to loathe so much.

Interesting Month of March for Project RACE
Date: April 11, 2001

 

Dear Project RACE Members:

March was quite a month for Project RACE. The Census Bureau slowly released the race and ethnicity results from the 2000 Census. A few of the highlights are:

2.4% of Americans (about 6.8 million people) picked more than one race; the bureau had expected 2 percent.

42% of those who chose more than one race were under the age of 18.

Some population areas in the United States have multiracial populations much higher than the national average, Hawaii, for example, has 21.4 percent.

The bureau still prefers to call multiracial people “people who check more than one box.”

Regardless of what the bureau calls us, many major newspapers and television networks use the term “multiracial” at the request of Project RACE.

Project RACE members were interviewed for many articles and broadcasts across the United States regarding the Census and the number of multiracial responses. This resulted in the busiest March ever in the history of our Web site! Our wonderful Webmaster, Jay Fubler Harvey (we couldn’t have done it without you, Jay!) reported that in March over 2500 people visited our site, generating over 21,000 hits.

Most important, all this attention generated increased memberships for Project RACE and Teen Project RACE. I would like to welcome the new members to our growing family and thank the current members for your continued support.

Susan

Where Have All the Activists Gone?
Date: March 9, 2001
Things are heating up again for the multiracial community. Racial and ethnic data are due out any day from the Census Bureau. In his last days in office, President Clinton cemented the one-drop rule by sanctioning the reallocation of the multiracial population by the Office of Management and Budget for the Census 2000 figures. Then he allowed the Department of Justice to jump in and authorize those bogus figures for purposes of civil rights actions. Those political moves were as suspect as…well…as a Presidential pardon.Were these moves made public? Sort of, if you read the Federal Register daily. Even then, they were hidden amid legalese and governmentese. Even a bad activist would know to watch for such things and where to find them.

But where have all the activists gone?

Some of them gave up. Some of them gave up and still have “activist” in their names. Some of them gave up, but somehow consider themselves a “voice” of the multiracial community. Some of them gave up and are planning cute sounding conferences instead of doing something for the children. Some of them never really were in this battle, and are merely selling subscriptions and t-shirts on Web sites. Some of them are still “bridging the divides” with groups like the NAACP who came out completely against us with the help of those “activists.”

Others have become groupies of Ward Connerly, the California guy who wants to do away with racial preferences under the misnomer “American Civil Rights Institute.” Ward was wooing the multiracial community when his book came out. Coincidence? I think not. Now that the book tour is over, Ward has suddenly forgotten about the multiracial community. The latest addition of his newsletter, The Egalitarian doesn’t even use the term “multiracial” and in fact, it has this quote in it:

“No wonder Al Gore thinks he is president-this is a most confusing time. The leading rap singer is white, the world’s best golfer is black, and Bill Clinton just got back from Vietnam.”

Paul Harvey

Sorry, Paul and Ward, but the world’s best golfer is multiracial, not black. Bet you just forgot that.

Project RACE still believes that as long as our government is going to count by race, multiracial children and adults should be counted and tabulated accurately. Project RACE still monitors federal agencies and will continue to take action for our community. Project RACE is still actively pursuing legal remedies. Project RACE is still talking with people in Washington who can make a difference for our children. We just won’t go away. Thank you, Project RACE members.

Susan Graham

Project RACE responds to Reader’s Digest
Date: December 10, 2000
You Said It
Reader’s Digest
Box 200
Pleasantville, NY 10572-0200Also via e-mail: letters@readersdigest.com and fax: 914-244-7599

Dear Editors:

I remember when she screamed. I was trying to untangle the braids from my biracial daughter’s hair. I, her white mother, was clueless. In “Talking Heads” (December, 2000), you published an article by Susan Straight about how she lovingly takes care of her biracial daughters’ hair. She tells of girls being “rescued” by “other” people when their mothers can’t do their hair. My daughter was, thankfully, “rescued” at an early age by someone who professionally cares for hair of all different types and textures.

Straight concludes that white women are somehow rejecting our biracial daughters if we don’t spend hours caring for their hair. Reader’s Digest actually printed her racist comments! Would you print an article that concluded that a Hispanic mother who couldn’t make tortillas was a bad mother? Do white mothers (with curly hair) of adopted Chinese daughters (with straight hair) somehow love them less if they don’t cut their daughters’ hair?

Straight writes about how she has talked with her daughters while braiding their hair; how this is quality time that the rest of us don’t have. If I was too busy to braid my daughter’s hair, it may have been because the two of us were in Washington, DC, working for something important-the rights of multiracial children to be able to check more than one box on forms. Trust me, we were bonding.

Sincerely,

Susan Graham
President
Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally)
2910 Kerry Forest Pkwy, D4, #129
Tallahassee, FL 32308
E-mail: ProjRACE@aol.com
Web site: www.projectrace.com

Project RACE encourages readers to send letters to Reader’s Digest on this issue.

Letters to publishers from Project RACE
Date: June 21, 2000
June 11, 2000Mike Pate
Publisher
Tallahassee Democrat
Via e-mail: Mpate@taldem.com

Dear Mr. Pate:

“Improving the racial climate” (Sunday, June 11) insults multiracial children and interracial families. Once again, your newspaper becomes part of the problem instead of contributing to the solution. I spoke to Gerald Ensley last week at the request of a member of the Multicultural Group at the Unitarian-Universalist Church. She was concerned that Mr. Ensley was getting the wrong spin on the group. He kept referring to it as a “support group,” which it is not.

I also tried to explain to your reporter that the group gets together to be with people with similar interests, in the same way you go to the church of your choice, join a tennis team, book club or bridge club. This is what Ensley wrote:

“For some, it’s a support group. But its main purpose is to provide a social setting for people whose differences often set them apart.”

People whose differences often set them apart? Give me a break. Ensley also insisted on calling multiracial children “mixed race kids.” The proper terminology is “multiracial.” I gave Ensley our Web site to look at, which clearly explains the necessity of proper terminology. In her January 16th editorial “Multiracial Americans deserve a voice, too” Erika Peterman correctly gave our children the respectable title they deserve.

Things have certainly changed under John Miller. At the end of this letter is a letter to the editor I sent several weeks ago. It was never printed. I personally know of several people who also wrote letters and/or called Karla Scoon Reid and also complained about that story. All of our letters have been ignored. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

What do we need to do to ensure that the interracial and multiracial communities receive the same respect given to other racial and ethnic groups by the Tallahassee Democrat?

Sincerely,

Susan Graham
Executive Director
Project RACE, Inc.
E-mail: ProjRACE@aol.com
Web site: www.projectrace.com

cc: Gerald Ensley Webmaster, Project RACE Tallahassee Multicultural Group

Letter to the Editor dated May 27, 2000

Via E-mail: tdedit@taldem.com

Dear Editor:

I am disappointed in Democrat writer Karla Scoon Reid for her report on one child’s “coming to terms with his racial identity” in the story “Grads beat life’s tough tests” (May 27). No doubt, SAIL student Rusdy White Jr. had to adjust to his parent’s divorce and a move from Philadelphia to Tallahassee. He was shy and wouldn’t wear his glasses. Was the fact that he was biracial really to blame for all of his troubles? Ms. Reid chose this quote for her story, “At least, nobody could call me white anymore (in Tallahassee).” Huh?

Would the Democrat had printed this kind of quote if he said, “At least, nobody could call me black anymore.” Let’s stop the stereotyping of biracial children as not being able to choose between their races. The beauty, for most of them, is that they can happily move between all of their races and embrace all of their heritage.

What you can do to help the cause!
Date: May 31, 2000
Dear Project RACE Members:This morning, while having my morning coffee, I came across a story on the front page of my city newspaper. The story was about four high school graduates who had overcome rough times to go on to graduate. This paragraph caught my eye:

“One student lost her parents in an accident; another bounced back from a devastating disease; a third had to grapple with poor grades while coming to terms with his racial identity; and a fourth watched his family fall on hard economic times.”

The student who had the “race problem” was biracial. His story went on to talk about the facts that his parents had divorced, he had gone from living in a big city in the north to a small town in the south, he was painfully shy and chose not to wear the glasses he needed in order to see. Yet, the story painted the picture that all of his problems centered around the fact that he was biracial, and therefore confused. He solved his problem by choosing to identify as black, and therefore his life was good again.

I grabbed my coffee cup, sat down at my computer wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper, explaining my disappointment with the paper for stereotyping biracial children. I explained that the beauty for most biracial children is that they can happily move between all of their races and embrace all of their heritage. Not every multiracial person has to choose to be one race.

Last year this same newspaper ran a story in their lifestyle section about a family-type issue. The drawing of the family depicted people of different races. The story was not about race or ethnicity, it was a story of general interest to all families. We thanked them for showing that not all families are made up of people of the same races, and doing it in a way that was very matter-of-fact.

Project RACE heard about a news story that was scheduled to air last week about an interracial family who was publicly making an issue out of racism against biracial children in their community. It turned out that all they had to say, in the end, was that people looked at them a lot. Is that racism? Hardly. A Project RACE member appealed to the television station to pull the story. They did and the story never ran.

Project RACE members often ask me what they can do to help the cause. This is a perfect example of what every one of us can, and must do. These guidelines may help:

Scan your local and state-wide print publications, radio and television broadcasts.

Send letters or make phone calls of protest immediately, before it becomes “old news.”

Check the editorial pages of newspapers and the mastheads of magazines to find the appropriate addresses. Call radio and television stations.

Keep your letter short and to the point. Most newspapers have word limits and they will edit your letters.

If you would like a letter sent from Project RACE, please send us an e-mail or fax to (850) 894-8540.

Thank the media when they do positive stories about interracial families and/or multiracial children.

It is up to each and every one of us to help educate the media so our families are represented properly. Let the media know we are reading, watching and holding them accountable.

Susan Graham
Executive Director
Project RACE, Inc.

Project RACE vows to continue the fight for the multiracial community!
Date: April 14, 2000
Dear Project RACE members:People have written to me asking what will become of Project RACE since some members of the multiracial community met on March 31 and decided to abandon the multiracial movement. The short answer is: Project RACE will remain working for a multiracial classification on the state and federal levels, just as it always has. Yes, the joint decision of the other organizations and individuals will hurt us, as would losing anyone who once pledged to advocate for a multiracial category and then changed their minds, but that in no way means we should give up the fight.

Why did those individuals and organizations do this? The simple answer would be that they are choosing instead to work toward doing away with all racial categories, but it just isn’t that simple. First, they are tired. It’s been a long battle, but that doesn’t mean quitting is the right thing to do. Some of them merely have web sites. Some put on social events. Some throw press conferences. They don’t actually DO the work of an organization dedicated to making a difference. If they are tired, think of how WE feel.

Second, being tired and frustrated, they chose to turn their support over to a man named Ward Connerly, whose sole thrust is getting rid of affirmative action. Mr. Connerly, a Conservative Republican, has never been about equality for the multiracial population or the doing away with racial categories unless it will abolish affirmative action-period. Project RACE members have always differed on how you view affirmative action, and as an organization made up of people with different viewpoints, we just can’t take one stand on this issue. Simply stated, some of us might agree with doing away with affirmative actions, but this organization was not built on that issue.

The federal government has tried for years to separate the multiracial community and some of us keep playing right into their hands. People keep getting sidetracked from their goals. An individual sets up a web site on a free internet service and suddenly they are not only speaking for the movement, but they are convincing others to leave the movement! Organizations that sold us down the river are suddenly silent.

Meanwhile, Project RACE weathers each storm. We have members in 42 states and 5 countries and we are growing. Membership increases each week. We now have an active teen division. Our goals are the same as they always have been. We have a mission statement and it has not changed in ten years.

I believe the people who are abandoning the multiracial movement are being short-sighted. They are being as politically naïve as those who locked arms with the NAACP and thought THEY would come to our aid. They didn’t. The only bridges that were built were ones that went in one direction-that of the single race organizations, who lobbied the current administration to give our numbers to them.

I personally agree with doing away with racial categories. I think that will happen eventually. Our country is not ready for it. There have been entire organizations that have been working for over 20 years to do away with race. It is not a new concept. It is a worthy goal, BUT it does not mean we should stop fighting for multiracial children and adults in the meantime! I have always stated that WHILE we have racial categories in this country, we should accommodate our families by having a multiracial classification. That has not changed.

Is it any less important now that multiracial children have the respect of an appropriate racial label? Do we really want to be known as the “people who checked more than one race” ? Think of how hard that will be to erase while we wait for Ward Connerly to do away with racial classifications. What if it takes him 50 years? It is simply wrong to sacrifice the gains we have made for multiracial children betting on the remote possibility that the government will do away with racial categories.

Our children still lack any acknowledgement in the health field. The Office of Minority Health refuses to even mention the need for multiracial participation in clinical trials. “The Initiative to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health” of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services addresses everything BUT multiracial individuals. Ward Connerly is not going to hold bone marrow donor drives for the multiracial community or meet with HHS to try, as we have, to convince them of the need for health data for multiracial children.

I’m afraid there are things that I don’t understand about the “new goal” of no racial categories. One by one, the people who abandoned the multiracial category for no category, stood up on March 31 and told what racial categories they had picked on their 2000 Census: some protesting racial categories by checking American Indian, others choosing one, two, three or four races. Huh? How does that action show they don’t believe in racial categories? If they are truly for no racial categories, why do their web sites titles and organizations names contain the words “interracial,” “multiracial,” and “multiethnic”? If they are truly for a “colorblind society,” why are they promoting specific racial things like interracial dating services?

Several people who represented themselves on March 31 as leaders of the multiracial community suddenly appeared out of nowhere. For example, at the meeting was a person who walked away from the movement more than five years ago during a critical time, and only recently resurfaced selling products geared to interracial families.

Project RACE does not sell products. We do not send people to sites like Amazon.com so that we can get a percentage of book sales. We do not promote for profit speakers. Our web site is free from promotional banners. We do not promote our own books. We can not be bought.

Project RACE members have fought for ten years. We have passed state legislation, worked with boards of education, fought in our own backyards, worked tirelessly in Washington, appeared numerous times before Congressional committees, met with OMB, Census Bureau representatives, healthcare agencies and others. We have held numerous blood marrow donor drives across the country to increase the pool of donors for multiracial children with blood disorders. We answer hundreds of requests for information each month and process new memberships daily. We work with diversity trainers to include multiracial children in school curriculum.

Our work will not be minimized by those who have changed their minds about fighting for multiracial children. We will not walk away from the multiracial community under the auspices of backing those who want to use our community to do away with affirmative action. THAT is not in our mission statement. Never was and never will be, for that is not what Project RACE is all about.

Susan Graham
Executive Director
Project RACE, Inc.

Behind The Masks
Date: February 13, 2000
Project RACE participated in “Unity in the Community” recently in Tallahassee, Florida. We had an area where we could put out information about Project RACE. We shared the space with the Tallahassee Multicultural Support Group and a representative for foreign exchange students. “Skin tone” crayons had been donated by Hunt-Scanlon Publishing and Laura Kangas, Executive Director of the Institute for Corporate Diversity. We sincerely thank them both. Our children sat at a table, making faces with different skin tones on paper plates. A stick attached to the bottom made them into masks. We are a poor nonprofit with nothing to give away and only volunteers to help. All we can do is talk to people and let them know we can help them understand how multiracial people still face discrimination.In contrast was the area just two spaces from us.

Bright red balls, pins, posters, cup holders, refrigerator magnets and rulers were being given out by the U. S. Census Bureau to get people to fill out their census forms. They have a 180 million dollar plus advertising budget. At most times, at least four government employees staffed the booth-most likely drawing overtime pay.

Diverse America is the theme of the Census 2000 Advertising Campaign. It is designed to reach all English-speaking media consumers. These targeted campaigns include messaging to the African American community, Spanish-speaking populations, Asian audiences (Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino, Asian Indian, Hmong, Thai, Cambodian, Laotian), and emerging communities such as Arabic, Russian, Polish, Haitian, Jamaican, Ghanaian, Nigerian, Pan-African, and Pan-Caribbean.

In all their “diversity awareness” the Census Bureau has left out one group: the multiracial community. The U. S. Department of Commerce has established the following Census Advisory Committees: The African American Committee, the American Indian and Alaska Native Committee, the Asian and Pacific Islander Committee, and the Hispanic Committee. Gee, they left out the multiracial community again!

A representative of the Census Bureau wandered over to our display and we began to talk. I asked for her interpretation of how the “check two or more” responses would be tabulated. “They are still working on that, ” was her answer. I asked how the enumerators will handle the race question and whether they will be allowed to check more than one race. She didn’t know. I gave her my card and asked her to let me know when she finds out. I don’t expect to hear from her again.

The term “multiracial” does not exist to the U. S. government. If they make the multiracial population numbers available, they will most likely be “the people who checked two or more boxes,” or something similar. We are thought of as merely parts of the other communities, but those communities have always been against any form of counting multiracial people. Are they really going to go to bat for us? Never. Are they going to suddenly set up a Multiracial Advisory Committee? Not likely.

So, we have the Census Bureau handing out free merchandise, covering the news media with their hype and telling people that Census 2000 is “our future.” Some leaders of the multiracial community have not been heard from since they rejected a multiracial classification with sub-identifiers and embraced the “check two or more” scheme. They claimed total victory and went home, leaving the mess of tabulation of data to others and remaining “friends” with the Washington bureaucrats. Some jumped on different bandwagons, and others sat back and became philosophers and pundits without doing any of the actual work. But our job is not done. It will take more of us than ever before, working harder to gain recognition for the multiracial community. Let me know if you’re up to the challenge.

Susan Graham
Executive Director
Project RACE, Inc.

From the Executive Director
Date: August 1, 1999
Letter to:Richard Foard
President
Interracial Family Alliance-Atlanta
P.O. Box 450473
Atlanta, GA 31145

Dear Mr. Foard:

I read with interest your “Notes and Commentary” column in the April/May 1999 issue of the IFA newsletter. I apologize for taking so long to write to you about your commentary, but I have been getting settled in my new home.

You wrote the following in your conclusion:

“…It seems to me that this (the bridging plan, which retrofits multiracial people back into one single racial category) is a subtler question than the Project RACE report makes it out to be. Perhaps “check one or more” even if it comes with some peculiar transitional baggage, should be regarded as an early, positive step in a journey to more universal embrace of multiracial identity.”

I am quite honestly, shocked that anyone in the multiracial community would feel that way. You are the only person I know who even hints of approval of it. You refer to the “peculiar transitional baggage.” Baggage? More like a huge civil wrong against the multiracial community. Perhaps you need to go back and read the ramifications in the Project RACE summary and how the counting method will cement the one-drop rule in this country. It would not be a positive step forward at all, but a giant step back.

Project RACE is an educational organization. Perhaps our attempt to educate people about the current situation in our response to “Draft Provisional Guidance on the Implementation of the 1997 Standards for Collecting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity” was not as clear as we thought. Our response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we have even heard from some bureaucrats who have told us that our response was “right on the money.” However, if we have failed to explain the ramifications of the government counting scheme to even one person, we have still failed and I apologize for this and will take steps to improve our communications.

You go on to say “On the other hand, consider what some of these poor bureaucrats are up against…” What? What about the multiracial people of America who have been forced for years and years to claim only one heritage? What about the hate crimes and discrimination against interracial families and multiracial people? You must understand that for one thing, our multiracial children can never prove any type of discrimination if their numbers cannot be tracked. If, for example, a child is discriminated against in a school (yes, it does happen frequently), that injustice can never be righted because there is no count of multiracial children; they only exist as monoracial children in the system and if they don’t exist, there can be no discrimination against them.

There is a an old saying: What is right is often forgotten by what is convenient. The Office of Management and Budget and the US Bureau of the Census wish to take the convenient road and turn multiracial numbers back into monoracial numbers. Yes, it’s convenient-and wrong. Do you think that any other racial or ethnic group would stand for the government redistributing their numbers? Why should we?

Mr. Foard, with all due respect, you have not been in this battle. Where were you when we spent three years at the Georgia legislature? I have a photo of the signing of our Georgia legislation by Governor Zell Miller. Out of 20 supporters, only one IFA member and her family were there, although the entire IFA was invited. Did you help us and the many other interracial organizations that helped in 9 other states? Where were you all of the times we went to Washington to testify? Where were you when we held bone marrow donor drives to save the lives of multiracial children?

The IFA members who received e-mail messages from Project RACE are on our mailing list, at their request. Project RACE has members in 42 states and in five countries. They are members by choice and they believe in a classification for multiracial Americans. The last thing we need is sabotage by our own community. We don’t need second guessing by people who have remained on the sidelines. Too many people have worked too hard toward the goal of equal recognition for multiracial people to have our own community remain ignorant about this issue. Project RACE takes individual memberships. We do not want any individual or family to not have the opportunity for education about government matters. Please inform your members that if they do not wish to receive future e-mails from Project RACE, they should contact us.

I am in total agreement with your advice to your members to read, think and write about this issue. I suggest that people not only read the 215 page draft, but also the 1993 Congressional hearings (296 pages) and the 1997 hearings (702 pages). Then read the web sites dedicated to the multiracial category. Follow that with books like The Multiracial Experience, American Mixed Race and about 50 others on the subject. Finally, peruse the hundreds of news articles about our work over the past ten years.

I can tell you from my past ten years in the movement for a multiracial classification that I am proud of all of the interracial families who have been and will always be a part of the quest for equal rights for multiracial children and adults.

Sincerely,

Susan Graham
President
Project RACE, Inc.

From the Executive Director
Date: 1998
On May 30, 1998, I was a guest speaker at the National MultiCultural Institute conference in Washington, DC. One of the panelists was Harold McDougall of the NAACP (formerly the Director of the Washington Bureau). McDougall has testified AGAINST the multiracial classification time and time again. This time he went too far. Below is my answer to him and his attacks on our community.Dear Mr. McDougall:

Your attack on multiracial children and adults has now escalated to include interracial families and specifically the parents of multiracial children. When you have no valid argument against the multiracial classification you resort to joking about the notion—the notion of doing AWAY with the racist one-drop rule. Shame on you.

You also stated the term “multiracial” is NOT important to racial justice, and that terminology has nothing to do with discrimination. I find that irrational take on nomenclature fascinating coming from a man who represents a racial group that was “colored” then “Negro” then “Black” and now “African-American.”

You went too far when you stated that “Project RACE is the extreme right wing of the multiracial movement.” Huh? I’m afraid some type of racial paranoia has come over you. Your statement infers that we are somehow connected to white right wing conservative groups. Think about this, Harold: My children and millions like them were classified as “white” by the U. S. Census in 1990 (the Census Bureau took the race of the mother—and about twice as many mothers of multiracial children are white, rather than some other race). So, if “white” was what we wanted, why are we doing this? We already HAVE that!

The accusation that Project RACE is a right wing organization is completely absurd. Project RACE is not affiliated with any political group. Project RACE takes no money from any political group—period. Let me share some definitions with you:

RIGHT WING: the more conservative or reactionary section of a political party or group.

CONSERVATIVE: tending to preserve established traditions and to resist or oppose any changes in these. Adheres to traditional methods or views.

LIBERAL: Favoring political reforms tending toward democracy and personal freedom for the individual. A political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties.

Now, who is the conservative and who is the liberal? You want to preserve established traditions, i.e. the one drop rule. We favor personal freedom for the individual, i.e. the ability of multiracial persons to be counted as they desire, not the established way the government is erroneously counting them now. Harold McDougall, happens to be the extreme conservative right wing on this issue. The NAACP is trying to define my children, and it is really no business of theirs or yours.

You could be basing your misinformation on the fact that House Speaker Newt Gingrich has publicly stated he is for the multiracial classification. He happens to be my congressman. The headquarters of Project RACE is in his district. Your congressman is who you go to when you have problems in Washington—Americans have been doing that since there was a congress. There is nothing sinister about it. Let me also remind you that we have also talked to Democrats and Independents. The scope of our work only excludes groups like the NAACP and the KKK, whose racially regressive words and actions threaten our basic right to self-identification.

This is a true BIPARTISAN issue. Look below at the Governors and their political affiliations who have supported us:
DEMOCRATS REPUBLICANS
Governor Miller, Georgia Governor Voinovich, Ohio
Governor Bayh, Indiana Governor Engler, Michigan
Governor Glendenning, Maryland Governor Edgar, Illinois
Governor Hunt, North Carolina
Governor Chiles, Florida

On behalf of multiracial children and adults and interracial families, I challenge you to offer proof of your accusations.
Susan Graham
President
Project RACE, Inc.

Do You Have Something To Say?
Date: 1998

 

Project RACE will now publish commentaries from members on our popular web site. Contributions will be edited for clarity, length, and relevance to the multiracial community. Please send in e-mail (do not attach files) to ProjRACE@aol.com. Please include author’s full name, and daytime and evening phone numbers. Put Commentary in the subject line.

From The Executive Director
Date: October 29, 1997
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) held a briefing this morning to announce its decision on racial categories.As we predicted, the “Mark one or more” format has been adopted. It is a bittersweet VICTORY for us. Multiracial children and adults will have the ability , for the first time in the history of this country, to check as many of their races as apply. However, they can NOT officially be called multiracial. At the briefing, Sally Katzen of the OMB, who made the decision stated that they will not use the term multiracial, which she claims is different from a “multiple racial American.” Franklin Raines, Director of OMB is the father of three multiracial children. At the briefing Raines denounced a “multiethnic” or “multiracial” category. OMB is trying to erase the term multiracial from the public’s vocabulary. Why? Because some of the advocates for other racial groups do not like it, notably the black caucus. Without a multiracial identifier what will our children be called? Check all that apply kids? Half and halfs? John Hope Franklin, Chair of President Clinton’s Commission on Civil Rights calls them “half-white Negroes” and “half-black whites.” This is offensive to me, my children, and Project RACE families across the United States and in four countries.

OMB is allowing the NAACP and others to define our children. It’s politics as usual in Washington. Some of the other so called multiracial activists have also aided OMB in their decision by acquiescing to their desires in order to claim total victory. I am proud of the members of Project RACE who forced the hand of the federal government by working hard in the states to implement passage of the multiracial classification in seven states. THAT is the reason OMB was forced to make a change, ANY change on the federal level.

Some problems remain. OMB will not address how a person who checks more than one box will be counted. Will they be retrofitted back in to ONE box? We are certain the NAACP will have a hand in this, as well. As one NAACP official said, “Let those mixed people check all the boxes they want—but COUNT them as black.” Is this fair and accurate? No. Is this racist and discriminatory? Yes. OMB will issue guidelines next year.

Also, the OMB has NOT done away with the arbitrary and discriminatory practice of “observer identification.” We call this eyeballing. A school administrator, federal agency employee, employer, etc., can LOOK AT YOU AND DETERMINE YOUR RACE. The OMB has been very clever about observer identification—THE METHOD OF CHECKING MORE THAN ONE RACE DOES NOT APPLY TO OBSERVER IDENTIFICATION. OMB makes it very, very clear: “When self-identification is used, a method for reporting more than one race should be adopted.” We will begin to see more and more federal agencies adopting the observer method of identification over the self-identification, thereby putting multiracial people into one arbitrary single racial category. This is one of the most unfair and prejudiced of all racial injustices. OMB has decided NOT to cease this practice. Shame on them.

The complete summary will be published within the next few days.

Susan Graham
President
Project RACE

From The Executive Director
Date: October 7, 1997

 

TO: Project RACE members:
We are awaiting the decision from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regarding a multiracial classification. I doubt we will get exactly what we want. We may get “check all that apply” with no mention of the word multiracial. Why? Because the OMB is most apt to bow to political pressure from minority groups who fear the term “multiracial.” But isn’t that an appropriate term?

I testified before the Congressional Subcommittee on this issue on July 25, 1997. They asked me to return to Washington at that time and give them my views on the Interagency recommendation to OMB. I told them, “Under the current recommendation, my children and millions of children like them merely become “check all that apply” kids or “check more than one box” or “more than one race persons.” They will be known as “multiple check-offs, or half and halfers.” Or as John Hope Franklin, Chairman of President Clinton’s Race Relations Commission referred to them, “half-white Negroes” and “half-black whites.” They are none of the above—they are multiracial children.”

Project RACE stands firm in its advocacy for a true multiracial category. Some of the other advocacy groups that once claimed to be “multiracial/multiethnic advocates” have been persuaded by OMB, The Census Bureau, and the “traditional minority groups” to give up the fight for a multiracial category and settle for check all that apply. They formerly advocated for a multiracial classification. They have compromised their values and bought into the hindsight of Washington instead of the true future needs of multiracial children and adults.

James Landrith, Project RACE member and publisher of “The Multiracial Activist” has written a wonderful article called “Daddy’s House,” which he is allowing us to reprint here. I urge you to read it.

Susan Graham
Executive Director

Daddy’s House
(or Knowing Who Your True Friends Really Are)
by James A. Landrith, Jr.

Also printed in Interracial Voice’s Contributing Writers and Their Essays.

Those of us involved in the movement towards adding a multiracial category with racial sub-identifiers to the census and other forms that collect racial data are parents of multiracial children, multiracials ourselves or just dedicated to ending the oppression levied by the government and civil rights organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the National Council of LaRaza (NCLR).

These civil rights organizations have taken a hard line approach against multiracials and don’t want to see a multiracial category. Their attitude is rooted in the one-drop rule, an old standby of racial separatists like the Ku Klux Klan, that states that if you have any black ancestors, then you are black and only black, so get over it. These organizations use the one-drop rule to “stack the deck” or artificially inflate their numbers. But they are not alone. Another participant in the racial Jihad on multiracials are white Members of Congress with apologetic attitudes for actions committed by their ancestors. This attitude is fine as a personal choice, but to force multiracials into one-drop compliance based on self-guilt for things their ancestors may or may not have done is disgusting and revolting. Yet another combatant in the war on multiracials are certain black Members of Congress who wish to keep in the good graces of the NAACP by telling multiracials to grow up and just be black. Jim Crow is alive and well in America and he has an NAACP membership.

On May 22, 1997, Harold McDougall, the Washington Director of the NAACP testified at a Congressional hearing on this topic and went on record about feeling uncomfortable about a 12-year old multiracial child (who also testified at the hearing) having the right to self-identify, because his own son could be mistaken for multiracial. Ah, we get to the heart of the matter, or let the black cat out of the bag, so to speak. An overwhelming portion of this campaign of resistance has been fueled by black elitists and their discomfort with accepting their own multiracial heritage and by Latinos who don’t admit their African roots. The basic underlying reason for this opposition stems from the fact that most black Americans have white ancestors and that is an uncomfortable thing to think about. Acknowledging multiracials means coming to grips with a heritage they may want to leave buried. If multiracials get the category, then a basic belief of many in the black community will be shattered. Better to leave that white ancestors thing alone, than admit the truth. So the Office on Management and Budget (OMB) and the Interagency Committee for the Review of the Racial and Ethnic Standards (tasked with providing a recommendation for the collection of racial data for the next census) decided to ease their discomfort and instead stick it to the multiracial community. Who’s gonna know? After all, only black people are qualified to discuss matters of race in this country, so no one else cares. Right?

It’s time brothers and sisters. It’s time to go all out against this racial onslaught against our families and ourselves. The longer we roll over and take it, the longer it will continue. The NAACP and NCLR are rejoicing in the knowledge that they got their way with the Interagency Committee and the OMB. This can be remedied, but you have to start getting vocal and stop treating the civil rights community like strict parents who are going to punish you for stepping over the racial line. They already have.

You are of age. Declare your racial independence and move out of Daddy’s house. He’s only keeping you around for the tax deduction anyway. Sure, he might get angry, he’ll certainly call you names, he already has, but in the end you’ll be able to call yourself by your own name – multiracial.

Dear Project RACE Members
Date: July 13, 2001
Now that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has made it’s recommendation on the multiracial classification, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about it and where we go next.
The OMB recommendation is NOT to have a multiracial classification. BUT, they are recommending a “check all that apply” format on the U.S. Census and federal forms. It is the first time in the history of this country that the “check one” mandate will disappear. It is definite PROGRESS! We got HALF of what we asked for.We have come a very long way. Project RACE was founded in 1991 to do things differently than our predecessors. We saw the wisdom (and the very hard work!) in passing state legislation to “bubble up” to Washington and force them to pay attention to the dilemma of checking only one box. Our strategy worked! The Federal Register notice of July 9, 1997, states, “Legislative activity at the State level generates further impetus for considering a modification to the Federal Standard to provide reporting of more than one race.” In other words, they had to respond to what we had DONE, not just what we talked about. I am extremely proud of the members of Project RACE.

The Board of Directors of Project RACE has unanimously voted to NOT stop with “half a loaf.” It IS important to be recognized as multiracial children and adults, not just as “check all that apply” persons. I have received calls, e-mail and faxes from Project RACE members who agree and say multiracial children should have an appropriate label, as does every other racial group.

I have been asked to testify again in Washington on JULY 25. I would like to take as many comments from Project RACE members and their children as possible to show to the subcommittee.

PLEASE E-MAIL SHORT STATEMENTS TO ME AT projrace@aol.com or fax to (770) 640-7101 BY JULY 23 AT THE LATEST. YOUR VOICES NEED TO BE HEARD IN WASHINGTON!

When I return from Washington I will draft an “ACTION ALERT” so that we may all respond to the Federal Register notice by September 8, 1997. Please check our WEB site at for further updates. Thank you.

Susan Graham
Executive Director

From the Executive Director
Date: March 27, 1997
Friends,
I have recovered from the trip to Washington. Below is a report on the hearing. It is a brief synopsis of a very, very long day on the Hill.First, I want to sincerely thank all of you for your support. The letters to Chairman Horn made a HUGE difference!

We were thrown a curve at the onset of the hearing. Usually those who are advocating one position are on a panel together to present their testimony. The subcommittee decided to put advocates for the multiracial category on SEPARATE panels, which made it much more difficult for us. This, coupled with the fact that they did not allow our legal experts or psychologists to testify, put us at a definite disadvantage.

Panel 1

Senator Daniel K Akaka (D-Hawaii) – advocating for reclassification of Native Hawaiians in the same category as American Indians and Alaskan Natives, rather than in the current Asian or Pacific Islander category. Senator Akaka was not against the multiracial classification, but was not advocating for it.

Panel 2

Susan Graham, President, Project RACE (FOR): presented myths and realities about the multiracial classification, state legislation and other updates, statistical issues, presented proposed model for OMB Directive 15, associated costs for change, and political issues.

Ryan Graham, my son (FOR): Explained that he testified when he was 8-years-old, and was back four years later, gave a child’s view of having to choose between races, talked about the “other” category and why it does not work for him. Ryan ended his testimony with, “It is not how YOU see me, it is how I see myself that is important.”

Harold McDougall, Director of the Washington Bureau of the NAACP (AGAINST): Discussed his view that a multiracial category would adversely effect enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, dilution of benefits to the African-American community, and spoke about the confusion that a multiracial category would cause. Mr. McDougall holds the belief that in order to have a multiracial classification, it must do away with segregation, discrimination, and hate violence. He claims, “There is no evidence they (multiracial people) have ever suffered discrimination.” He states in testimony, “The proposed multiracial category poses such risks, as it would make the collection of useful data on the effects of societal segregation and discrimination more difficult, if not impossible.”
(My note: Mr. McDougall was challenged on most of his assertions by Chairman Horn, and failed to come up with concrete answers.)

Eric Rodriquez, Policy Analyst, National Council of LaRaza (AGAINST): Basically, Rodriquez said that the Hispanic community needs data to assess and analyze the social, health and economic status of their community, but that information is not needed by the multiracial community. “The proposed addition of a multiracial category among the current racial categories threatens the accuracy, quality and utility of all federal race/ethnic data-collection efforts, and would undoubtedly hinder civil rights and other policy initiatives that rely on such data for Latinos. This is particularly troublesome.” Rodriquez also testified to some kind of subversive plot by people who oppose civil rights initiatives who he actually believes are advancing the multiracial cause.

Panel 3

Ramona Douglass, President, Association of MultiEthnic Americans (FOR): Spoke about the “one drop rule,” the inaccurate comparisons to Brazil and South Africa, important medical issues and discrimination.

Helen Samhan, Vice-President, Arab American Institute (NEUTRAL): testified on need for ancestry data.

Jacinta S. Ma, Esq., Legal Fellow, National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium (AGAINST): “As the tests have shown, there is not adequate time left before the 2000 census for the government to fully determine the extent of the potential effects of a new multiracial category on the integrity of the collected data. Also, we believe it would require a massive expenditure of money and resources, even in the best case scenario, to educate the public to eliminate confusion and prevent inconsistencies, undercounting, and other adverse effects. Therefore, we oppose the addition at this time.”

JoAnn K. Chase, Executive Director, National Congress of American Indians (AGAINST): Opposed for reasons of potential loss of numbers of American Indians and funding. “The Indian Health Service (IHS) has concluded that from a multiracial option, there would be a loss of Indian count in the census and on vital event records of approximately 25 percent. IHS believes this diminishment in Indian counts would translate to a total annual funding lost of $500 million and that Tribal health contacts would be curtailed to the degree that the data are diminished. IHS stated that overall, this would severely impair its ability to advocate for the interests of Indian people to the Administration and Congress.”

Nathan Douglas, Interracial Family Circle of Washington, DC. (FOR): Spoke of his son, Anthony, and his need for a multiracial classification. Talked about the “one-drop” rule, identity, discrimination, and respect and acknowledgment of the multiracial community.

Panel 4

Professor Mary C. Waters, Department of Sociology, Harvard University (AGAINST): Professor Waters mostly quoted herself and studies she has done on racial identity. “What are the implications of these findings for multiracial reporting? One is that to the extent that lobbying groups pressing for a multiracial category are composed of interracially married parents who do not want to choose a race for their children, this does not necessarily mean those children will in fact want to report all of those races when they leave home. Parents report more detail on their children’s ancestries than the children do themselves as they age and especially after they leave home. To the extent that the multiracial movement is led by parents who are concerned about having to choose a race for their children, there may not be much of an issue if the children themselves will merely simplify to one race when they leave home. So one question to ponder is whether this movement is a result of parental preferences or whether there are large numbers of people who would like to self-identify as multiracial.”
(My note: Professor Waters has negated all of the multiracial adults involved in the movement.)

Balient Vazsonyi, Ph.D, Senior Fellow, The Potomac Foundation and Director, Center for the American Founding: Against all racial categories

Harold L. Hodgkinson, Center for Demographic Policy: Against all racial categories

IN ATTENDANCE

Chairman Steven Horn (R-CA)
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) Ranking Minority Member
Pete Sessions (R-Texas)
John E. Sununu (R-N.H.)
Danny Davis (D-Ill)
Eleanor Holmes Norton District of Columbia, Shadow Senator

THE BOTTOM LINE

In my opinion, it was a very tough hearing, although I think we did well. Congressman Davis was vehemently against the multiracial category. He made racist remarks against our community and went so far as to intimate to my 12-year-old son that he should identify as Black. Maloney, while trying to appear neutral, clearly was not—she is against the classification. Norton, who used to be with the EEOC gave a speech that set the multiracial community back 200 years in its vile contempt of multiracial people who do not identify as Black. Chairman Horn was extremely fair to both sides and gave us the opportunity to fully explain our position. Congressmen Sessions and Sununu were, I think, leaning toward our side. It is obvious that party lines are being drawn, with Democrats against and Republicans for, even though I gave examples of bipartisan support on this issue.

Further, the Democrats and opposing minority groups kept saying that the time is NOT RIGHT to add a multiracial category, even though three conclusive tests have been completed, and this is the second time hearings have been held. I feel they would like to drag this out for as many years as necessary until we go away.

Ramona Douglas met with the minority Census groups on Friday. They unanimously voted AGAINST the category.

I met with Sally Katzen of the OMB on Friday. The decision is in their hands, and will be made in July. We talked about the “nuts and bolts” of how a category would work, as well as the issues we have as a community. Ms. Katzen seemed to also feel that the classification may require more study.

Time is running out!!! The leadership of the multiracial community is meeting on June 7 to discuss further immediate strategy. We would welcome your ideas and input. Please e-mail me at projrace@aol.com and I will present your ideas at the meeting. I will issue a report after the meeting.

THANKS AGAIN FOR YOUR SUPPORT

Susan Graham
Project RACE