Book Review

Being Biracial

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Review by Susan Graham, President, Project RACE, Inc.

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Being Biracial: where our secret worlds collide is the best of both worlds. It is not academic, nor is it only commercial. Sarah Ratliff and Bryony Sutherland have indeed found a way to take a subject that will appeal to everyone, from interracial families, to the multiracial population, to non-fiction readers, and to academics. It is a book that needs to be read by anyone interested in diversity and the multiracial viewpoint.

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My collection of books about biracial and multiracial people began in 1991 with the ground-breaking book Who is Black? One Nation’s Definition. It appealed to the academics, and also to the advocates for the multiracial community. In 1995, a writer named Lise Funderburg wrote Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk About Race and Identity, which was the first commercial book that addressed the biracial population. But it just never rang true to me.

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The 24 people who write about their lives in Being Biracial are as varied as there are names for the multiracial crowd, which is getting larger every day. I was very surprised as I read about how much emphasis is placed on the physical traits of these people. I was delighted that there were no “poor multiracial me” stories, and that people came from everywhere with varied experiences, and that they all very clearly dealt with all of their racial combinations.

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It was exciting to get the perspective on being biracial from an Asian and Scandinavian man now living in Canada. Then we hear from a Black and White mother of a Black and White child living in the United States. Then, when you think you’ve read enough diversity, you turn the page to find a South African, Indian, Bantu, Mauritian, Scottish, and French man living in England and then an English and Indonesian teenager in Bali. How could this book not be an amazing read?

I was particularly drawn to the writings of a woman who is Australian and Thai. She wrote:

“…a lecturer made a point of how politically incorrect and intellectually lazy it is to lump all “Asians” into one category. Yes, when I was a kid growing up being “Asian” was a strongly unifying identity.”

That was more than an “aha moment” for me. It is what Project RACE has been telling our government for 25 years, but not in those perfect words. You’ll find many more gems like this one.

Being Biracial’s author, Bryony Sutherland, is the white mother of three Caribbean multiracial children, who lives in England. She tells us about her “aha moment” in the closing chapters:

“…I asked my eldest whether he considered himself to be Biracial, Black, or White. He said Biracial. He felt that if he said he was Black, he’d be discounting half of his family. If he said he was White, the same. Why would he do that, he asked, when he could have the best of both worlds?”

That is one of the messages of Being Biracial, but there is so much more. This is not only for the interracial family, the multiracial person, or the people who tell their stories. This book is for everyone who needs to understand more about race in the world today, and wouldn’t that be all of us?





Famous Friday!



Drake-Aubrey Drake Graham was born into a multiracial family in Toronto, Canada. His mother is White and Jewish and his father is African American and Catholic. Drake is a 29 year old Grammy nominated Hip-Hop artist and actor. Drake’s parents separated when he was five years old and his mother primarily took care of him. He lived in a large Jewish neighborhood and had his Bar Mitzvah at age 13, which is customary. The following year he became a star in a Canadian teen television show, Degrassi; The Next Generation.

Drake began his music career by releasing a few mixed tapes via the Internet and he then was given the opportunity to sign recording contract with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment.

Drake stated in a CBS interview that he attended an all Jewish school. He said being biracial and Jewish made him feel like an outsider because he was kind of connected but disconnected at the same time. He remembers children were mean and cruel by teasing him about being different but believed the kids did not understand how he felt at the time.

It was interesting reading Drake’s opinions on the difference of being biracial, living in Canada versus America. Drake described Canada like a melting pot, especially in Toronto. America he feels is more segregated “like when you go to LA and it’s like this area’s Mexican, and this area’s white.” In Toronto he described cultural areas, but they were not segregated because lots of people participate in other cultures. However, he implied that he gets a lot of love everywhere in the world for just being diverse. He feels people embrace his multiracial identity.

Makensie McDaniel

Project Race Teens President

Bone Marrow Donor Registry Drive

If you are going to be in the NYC area this Saturday, November 21, please consider saving a life by visiting the Bone Marrow Donor Registry Drive.  Find out more at their Facebook page!

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People Needed for Multiracial Study!


We are conducting a research project at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on ethnic-racial identity with a particular emphasis on personal relationships and self-concept. We would also like your ideas about what researchers should consider in projects such as this.  Our goal is to include a more diverse representation of ethnic-racial groups than what are traditionally included in this type of research. Thus, we are hoping for participation from individuals with a multiethnic-racial background. Therefore, participation in this study requires that you must be between the ages 18-30, you must have parents from multiethnic-racial background, and AT LEAST ONE parent must be from the following racial-ethnic groups in the United States: American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African-American, Asian/Asian-American, Hispanic/Latino, Pacific Islander, or Middle Eastern. Participation in this study requires completion of a one-on-one interview that takes 60-90 minutes and you will receive $30 compensation for your time. Interviews can be face-to-face, over the phone, or video chat.  To get more information about the study or to contact us about your interest, please email Dr. Jordan Soliz at
If you do not wish to participate but know someone who you believe would like to participate, please feel free to pass on this information.

Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down Report

Monthly Update: Making a Difference
Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down Report
October 2015
John Kasich, Candidate for President
and Governor of Ohio
Making a Difference thumbs down
Refused to sign a proclamation for Multiracial Heritage Week in Ohio. No thanks to staffer Dave Ward.
Lee and Low Books
Making a Difference thumbs up
Added Biracial and Multiracial to their book themes. Thank you to Hannah Erlich.
North Carolina DMV
Making a Difference thumbs down
Senator Harrington refuses to even consider it until 2017.
Harvard Journalists Resource, Harvard’s
Center on Media, Politics And Public Policy
Making a Difference thumbs up
Thank you to Dr. Thomas Patterson
DeKalb, IL School District 428
Making a Difference thumbs up
This school district disseminated its staff and student race numbers and included multiracial students in all areas.
Alex Barnett, Multiracial Family
and Comedian
Making a Difference thumbs up
Organized two community bone marrow donor drives in NY and NJ. THANK YOU, ALEX!
The New York Times
Making a Difference thumbs up
Used the term “multiracial” in the “Taking Steps Forward” story.
Making a Difference quetion mark
Discussions will resume Dec 1.
Pew Research Center
Making a Difference thumbs up
Making a Difference thumbs down
Used multiracial wording in report “Who is Multiracial? Depends on Who you Ask.” BUT they used unacceptable wording, too.
DeKalb, Illinois School
Making a Difference thumbs up
Reported on racial demographics of students and faculty and included multiracial data on every part of the report
Be the Match
Making a Difference quetion mark
Discussing utilization of terminology in online reports.
Making a Difference quetion mark
Follow-up letter sent.
American Federation of Teachers
Making a Difference quetion mark
Follow-up letter sent.
National Public Radio – KQED
Making a Difference thumbs down
Refused to allow any discussion of multiracial advocacy on show about racism, “So Well Spoken.” No thanks to Joshua Johnson.
Multiracial “activists” and “advocates”
(You know who you are)
Making a Difference thumbs down
Those who complain to us and then refuse to “get involved” in solving the problem.
The College Board (SAT)
Making a Difference thumbs down
Census Bureau
Making a Difference thumbs down
Refuses to use “Multiracial” No thanks to Nicholas Jones.
Refuses to add Multiracial on advice from the Census Bureau (NAC).

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Famous Friday!

Madison Pettis



For this week’s Famous Friday, I decided to shine some light on Madison Pettis. She was a very large presence during my childhood. She has had several leading roles in movies as well as television shows. My two personal favorites were “Cory in the House” and “The Game Plan.” Madison Pettis has done far more than acting in her career; she has also modeled, danced, sang, and worked in advertising.

Madison Pettis was born on July 22, 1998, and her ancestry includes African- American, Irish, French, and Italian. Although she grew up in the spotlight, she didn’t let that influence her in a negative way. She has used her fame to build her brand, and inspire other young people to do the same thing. Madison’s education has never come second.  When she is away on set of a movie or TV show, there is always a tutor around to teach her lesson of the day. “I love researching, that’s one of my favorite parts of school.” –Madison Pettis

To see someone my age, who has accomplished so much, all while getting an education and staying true to herself, is very inspiring. It’s a great reminder that no matter how young we are, we can positively impact the world around us. One of my favorite Madison Pettis quotes is, “I want people to realize that they can dream big.” By following her dreams and working really hard, Madison has been able to accomplish so many things. She is a great role model for multiracial teens everywhere.

Lexi Brock


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Oh Pew!

Oh Pew!


The Pew Research Center is the premier group that gathers and analyzes data in America. Many of us trust Pew. They have been good to the multiracial community. For example, they came out recently with a big report called “Multiracial in America.” Good times. We gave them big thumbs up.

Last week Pew came out with a report called “Who is Multiracial? Depends on How you Ask: A Comparison of Six Survey Methods to Capture Racial Identity.”

So far so good; but then they go into their six methods.

Method 1: Standard two-question Measure. Per the Census Bureau, Pew asks respondent to select one or more races, with a separate question measuring Hispanic identity. Nothing new there and the response was “3.7% of Americans are mixed race.” What happened to the wording “Multiracial”? OK, so they were establishing a baseline of sorts. Result was 3.7% of American adults were “mixed race.”

Method 2: Census Alternative Measure. Pew tested a question being considered for the 2020 census in which the Hispanic origin response is included with the racial categories in a “mark one or more” format. Not good. It lends itself to the Census Bureau calling us “MOOMs” (Mark One Or More). Result 4.8%

Method 3: Census Measure with Parents’ Races. Oh come on, Pewsters!?! This was brought up in the ‘90s. Multiracial identity is complex. The answer does not lie in the race of the parents because parents may differ from their parents in their identities completely. This is why self-identification is so important. Get it? Result 10.8%

Method 4: Census Measure with Parents’ and Grandparents’ races. See Method 3 plus what about people who were adopted and know nothing of their grandparents’ races. Result 16.6%.

Method 5: Point Allocation Measure. Multiracial adults were given 10 “identity points” to allocate themselves across racial or ethnic categories. What? Are we back to octoroons and quadroons of past slavery days? Let’s not forget that a fraction by any other name is still a fraction. I would call this an ineffective method that is an affront to the multiracial community despite the resulting 12%.

Method 6: Attitudinal Measure. They asked people directly “do you consider yourself to be mixed race: that is, belonging to more than one racial group?” We would change “mixed race” to multiracial,” because it is a more acceptable and respectable terminology. Results: 12%

We like Method 6 best, with our slight alteration, even though it doesn’t result in the highest number of multiracial responses it’s clear, simple, and probably the most accurate.

You can read the entire 32 page report at:​

Be sure you take a look at the “References,” which are mostly Census Bureau folks. It begs the question, “Who is multiracial? Depends on Who You Ask.”



Schools CAN do the Right Thing

This is exactly how we want to see school data. Good job, Dekalb, Illinois District 428! -Project RACE


DeKalb School District 428 to examine hiring practices, recruitment of minority candidates

DeKALB – Billy Hueramo wants his students to see teachers who look like them in the classroom, but the DeKalb School District 428 faces challenges as it tries to diversify the faculty at its 12 schools.

Hueramo, principal of Littlejohn Elementary School, said that about 50 percent of students at Littlejohn are white, 17 percent are black ,25 percent are Latino and the rest are made up of Asian and multiracial kids. But staff don’t mirror the student population, he said.

“There is a big disparity,” he said. “I would like to see it change. … It would be great for a student to be able to have someone in their classroom that looks like them and that can relate to them and their background from a cultural perspective.”

District 428 hired 51 new teachers this year. Of those new teachers, 92.2 percent were white. 2.1 percent were black and 5.9 percent were Hispanic. The district also hired six administrators, all white.

Districtwide, 86.1 percent of teachers are white, compared with the 53.7 percent of white students.

Throughout the district, 16.5 percent of students are black, while 3.7 percent of teachers are black. Hispanic students make up 22.9 percent of the population whereas 4.4 percent of teachers are Hispanic. Asian students represent 1.9 percent of the district and 4.5 percent students are multiracial. Some 0.3 percent of district teachers are Asian and 0.6 percent are multiracial.

School board President Victoria Newport said she doesn’t think the demographics within the district are diverse enough and wants the board to make a bigger effort on the recruitment end of hiring.

“We are going to look at having job fairs, going out to universities in the area and talking about the DeKalb School District and encouraging minorities to apply,” she said.

Newport said that, in her view, it was important for the teacher population to mirror the student population.

“It’s important that a minority child can be taught by someone else that is a minority,” she said. “Learning from different minorities can give you a different perspective and other views on a subject, too.”

District 428 will also enact a committee, led by Newport and Human Resources Director Jim Bormann to recruit more minority teachers to the district.

“The first task is to pull data together to find trends in our applicant pool, where we are seeking applicants and look at what others are doing to see what is working elsewhere,” Bormann said. “It’s a very challenging situation.”

The hiring issue District 428 faces is twofold, Bormann said.

District 428 uses a lot of student teachers from Northern Illinois University and Aurora University. Of the 39 student teachers used in the fall of 2015, only three identified as a minority ethnicity, Bormann said.

“The educational programs near us simply aren’t putting out minority candidates,” he said. “And it’s an obstacle to get candidates to come to DeKalb [from Chicago colleges].”

This year, at NIU’s College of Education, 72 percent of graduate students identified as white, 12 percent identified as black, 4.8 percent identified as Asian, 3 percent identified as Hispanic and 6.7 percent identified as multiracial, according to department statistics.

The issue isn’t confined to DeKalb, according to statistics from the Illinois Department of Education.

In Illinois, 82.5 percent of teacher identify as white and 49.3 percent of students are white. Hispanic students make up a quarter of the state’s student population while 5.7 percent of state’s teachers are Hispanic. Some 17.5 percent of students identify as black while 6.4 percent of teachers are black. And 3.1 percent of students are multiracial, whereas less than 1 percent of teachers are multiracial. Statewide, 4.6 percent of students are Asian, and about 1.4 percent of teachers are Asian.

Hueramo said he tries to make sure the curriculum and events held at Littlejohn represent different cultural perspectives, regardless of the demographic makeup of the school.

“We try to do our best,” he said. “We celebrate Latino heritage month and Black History Month. We teach different lessons about people like [civil rights leader] Cesar Chavez and things like that.”

In addition to curriculum, Hueramo said that the school utilizes intervention systems designed to build rapport so that students have at least a few staff members or teachers they know they can come to with any problems.

“I think it’s a learning process,” he said. “This year in particular, I am focusing on how to build rapport with students from diverse backgrounds.”

Famous Friday!

FAMOUS FRIDAY – Svante Myrick #winning!
Michael Jordan has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated 50 times!

The Beatles have been on the cover of Rolling Stone 30 times!

Richard Nixon was on the cover of Time Magazine 55 times!

Since O Magazine started 15 years ago, Oprah has appeared on the cover of EVERY issue!

So even though I wrote a Famous Friday piece on the 28 year old mayor of Ithaca, New York a few months back, I hope no one will mind if I use this Famous Friday post to celebrate the landslide reelection victory this week of one of my multiracial heroes, Svante Myrick!

The term “landslide election” is used to describe an overwhelming political victory, generally when a candidate beats his opponent by at least 15 percent. So a landslide would occur when the winner in a 2-way election receives 58 percent of the vote. Well this multiracial role model won reelection with an incredible 89 percent of the vote! #winning

Svante, first elected at 24, is known for being one of the youngest mayors. But with those reelection results, he is clearly also known for being a really good one! Many people have even compared Svante to multiracial, President Barack Obama. He is definitely an up and coming rock star in the Democratic Party and some think he will be asked to speak at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, which is one of the ways our current President gained national attention.  I will definitely be watching as his career continues and before he retires, he may be on the Project RACE site more times than Michael Jordan’s been on the cover of SI!

– Karson Baldwin, President Project RACE Kids
— Never too young to serve!