This week’s Famous Friday features someone who has been in the headlines quite often lately, Colin Kaepernick. He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and he is of African American and European descent. From a young age he continually excelled in all sorts of sports. He is currently a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.
If you haven’t heard, Kaepernick began a silent protest during the NFL preseason. Instead of standing for the national anthem, he takes a knee. He doesn’t do this to disrespect veterans or our military, but to protest police brutality. When asked about the reasoning behind his protest Colin said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Several other NFL stars have joined in on his protest. Not only that, but athletes from college all the way down to pee-wee leagues are also taking a knee in protest. One of those protestors is Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall he said the following: “I’m not against the military. I’m not against the police or America, I’m against social injustice.”
This quote from Kaepernick really hit me, “You have people that practice law and our lawyers and go to school for eight years, but you can become a cop in six months and don’t have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetologist. That’s insane. Someone that’s holding a curling iron has more education and more training than people that have a gun and are going out on the street to protect us.” I understand that some people may have an issue with Colin’s method of protest, but I encourage you to look beyond the method and see the message Kaepernick is trying to get across.
Historic recognition: Washington’s family tree is biracial
ZSun-nee Miller-Matema poses for a portrait at Mount Vernon, the plantation home of former U.S
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — George Washington’s adopted son was a bit of a ne’er-do-well by most accounts, including those of Washington himself, who wrote about his frustrations with the boy they called “Wash.”
“From his infancy, I have discovered an almost unconquerable disposition to indolence in everything that did not tend to his amusements,” the founding father wrote.
At the time, George Washington Parke Custis was 16 and attending Princeton, one of several schools he bounced in and out of. Before long, he was back home at Mount Vernon, where he would be accused of fathering children with slaves.
Two centuries later, the National Park Service and the nonprofit that runs Washington’s Mount Vernon estate are concluding that the rumors were true: In separate exhibits, they show that the first family’s family tree has been biracial from its earliest branches.
“There is no more pushing this history to the side,” said Matthew Penrod, a National Park Service ranger and programs manager at Arlington House, where the lives of the Washingtons, their slaves and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee all converged.
President George Washington had no direct descendants, and his wife Martha Custis was a widow when they married, but he adopted Martha’s grandchildren — “Wash” and his sister “Nellie” — and raised them on his Mount Vernon estate.
Parke Custis married Mary Fitzhugh in 1804, and they had one daughter who survived into adulthood, Mary Anna Randolph Custis. In 1831, she married her third cousin — Lee, who then served as a U.S. Army lieutenant.
Outside the marriage, Parke Custis likely fathered children with two of his stepfather’s slaves: Arianna Carter, and Caroline Branham, according to the exhibits at Arlington House and Mount Vernon.
The first official acknowledgment came in June when the Park Service re-enacted the 1821 wedding of Maria Carter to Charles Syphax at Arlington House, the hilltop mansion overlooking the capital that Custis built (and Lee later managed) as a shrine to his adoptive stepfather. A new family tree, unveiled at the re-enactment, lists the bride’s parents as Parke Custis and Arianna Carter.
“We fully recognize that the first family of this country was much more than what it appeared on the surface,” Penrod said at the ceremony.
The privately run Mount Vernon estate explores this slave history in “Lives Bound Together,” an exhibition opening this year that acknowledges that Parke Custis also likely fathered a girl named Lucy with slave Caroline Branham.
Tour guides were hardly this frank when Penrod started at Arlington House 26 years ago. Staffers were told to describe slave dwellings as “servants’ quarters,” and “the focus was on Lee, to honor him and show him in the most positive light,” Penrod said.
He said no new, definitive evidence has surfaced to prove Parke Custis fathered girls with slaves; rather, the recognition reflects a growing sense that African-American history cannot be disregarded and that Arlington House represents more than Lee’s legacy, he said.
Scientific proof would require matching the DNA of Carter and Branham descendants to the progeny of his daughter and the Confederate general, because the Parke Custis line runs exclusively through the offspring of his daughter and Robert E. Lee.
Stephen Hammond of Reston, a Syphax descendant, has researched his family tree extensively. He said the Park Service’s recognition of the Custis’ paternity is gratifying. “It’s become a passion of mine, figuring out where we fit in American history,” Hammond said.
Hammond said he and his cousins have yet to approach the Lee descendants to gauge their interest in genetic tests, and it’s not clear how they feel about the official recognition — several didn’t respond to Associated Press requests for comment.
Some family records are kept at Robert E. Lee’s birthplace, Stratford Hall, but research director Judy Hynson said she knows of none that acknowledge Parke Custis fathered slaves.
“That’s not something you would write down in your family Bible,” Hynson said.
The circumstantial evidence includes the Carter-Syphax wedding in Arlington House — an unusual honor for slaves — and the fact that Parke Custis not only freed Maria Syphax and her sons before the Civil War, but set aside 17 acres on the estate for her.
Indeed, after Mount Vernon was seized by Union forces, an act of Congress ensured that land was returned to Maria Syphax’s family. New York Sen. Ira Harris said then that Washington’s adopted son had a special interest in her — “something perhaps akin to a paternal instinct.”
Oral histories also argue for shared bloodlines.
Maria Carter’s descendants know, for example, that her name was pronounced “Ma-RYE-eh,” not “Ma-REE-uh,” said Donna Kunkel of Los Angeles, who portrayed her ancestor at the re-enactment.
“As a kid I would always tell people I was related to George Washington, but no one would believe me,” she said.
Branham descendants include ZSun-nee Miller-Matema of Hagerstown, Md., who said “my aunt old me that if the truth of our family was known, it would topple the first families of Virginia.”
She said she discovered her truth by happenstance in the 1990s, when she spotted a portrait with a family resemblance while researching at the Alexandria Black History Museum for a stage production. A museum staffer soon sat her down with records. Eventually, she traced her ancestry to Caroline Branham, who appears in documents written in the first president’s own hand.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” she said. “Gen. Washington was taking notes on my Caroline?”
As slaves, the women could not consent to the sexual advances of the plantation owner’s adopted son, but Kunkel said she tries not to think of the acts as rape.
“I try to focus on the outcome. He treated Maria with respect after the fact,” she said.
Incorporating these family histories into the nation’s shared story is particularly important at a time of renewed racial tension, Miller-Matema said.
“We’re all so much a part of each other,” she said. “It just makes no sense any more to be a house divided.”
Olivia Munn is an American actress and model. She has dated NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers since May of 2014. Olivia was born in Oklahoma City. Her mother is Vietnamese and was raised in Vietnam. Her father has English, German, and Scottish ancestry. Olivia graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a major in Journalism and a minor in Japanese and dramatic arts.
Munn stated in an interview ” my mom was raised in Vietnam. So we have Chinese and Vietnamese culture in my family. I grew up in Japan, mostly because my stepfather was in the air force. So far East Asia is where I feel most connected to… I don’t speak Chinese but I understand Vietnamese. Chinese and Vietnamese were my first languages growing up but by the time I was five years old I stopped. My mom says I was in school in America and I was embarrassed when (American Children) heard me speak it. Me being a first generation American my mom was always scared I was not going to fit in so she didn’t push it on me but the Japanese language I was able to pick up”. Munn states that during many auditions she’s been told she was either too Asian or too white. In February of 2015 the Modern Luxury magazine called Munn half Chinese and half American. Olivia Munn is a beautiful,talented, and Intelligent multiracial American.
Medical Monday is a service of Project RACE for the multiracial community. We seek, gather, and list health articles of interest to interracial families and people of all races. We welcome health information from outside sources as long as the original source is cited.
1. Multiracial people in Kentucky are 30 percent more likely to have asthma, according to a new report from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and the University of Kentucky released on Tuesday.
2. Racial Disparities in Melanoma Survival – The majority of patients diagnosed with melanoma are white, but non-white patients have worse overall survival and are diagnosed at later stages. Greater melanoma awareness is needed in non-white populations.
Many people believe that interracial families and multiracial people are a relatively new thing. But, while our numbers are growing really quickly these days, mixed-race families are definitely nothing new. There is tons of historical evidence that families like mine have been around for many centuries, long before the United States was even founded. Throughout Europe, African migration (some through slavery and some by choice) resulted in the birth of a multitude of multiracial people .
This week’s Famous Friday is one of those prominent multiracial people from the 1500s! Alessandro de’ Medici was believed to be the child of a famous Florentine banking family heir Lorenzo de’ Medici and an Afro-European woman named Simunetta. Some believe that Simunetta da Collevecchio was a slave to Alessandro’s grandmother Alfonsina Orsini de’ Medici who lived in Naples, Italy. His nickname was “Il Moro”, which means “the Moor”, due to his dark features. In 1532, at only 19 years old, Alessandro became the Duke of Florence. Many believe that made him the first “black” head of state in the Western World. I assume that means he may have been the first multiracial head of state. That is a pretty cool accomplishment, especially for a teenager, but many do not believe that he was a great leader.
In 1536, Alessandro married the daughter of Charles V Margaret of Austria. His only children were not had born to his wife, however. His children Giulio di Alessandro de’ Medici andGiulia de’ Medici were born to his mistress, Taddea Malaspina.
Alessandro is the subject of a new book by Catherine Fletcher, The Black Prince of Florence, and I really look forward to reading it to learn more about him and race during the Renaissance era.
The 22-year-old’s victory marks the second year in a row a biracial person has won the beauty pageant
A half-Indian woman has been crowned Miss World Japan, the second year in a row a biracial person has won a beauty pageant in the country.
Priyanka Yoshikawa, 22 and who also has an elephant training licence, said she would use her win to “change perceptions”.
Last year, Ariana Miyamoto was the first mixed-race person to win the Miss Universe pageant.
Critics complained then that a “pure” Japanese should have won.
Only about 2% of babies born every year in Japan are biracial, or “haafu”, the Japanese word for half.
“We are Japanese,” Ms Yoshikawa told AFP news agency. “Yes, my dad is Indian and I’m proud of it, I’m proud that I have Indian in me. But that doesn’t mean I’m not Japanese.”
She credited her win to Ms Miyamoto, saying she had helped show “mixed girls the way”.
“Before Ariana, haafu girls couldn’t represent Japan,” said Ms Yoshikawa. “That’s what I thought too. Ariana encouraged me a lot by showing me and all mixed girls the way.
“I know a lot of people who are haafu and suffer,” she said. “When I came back to Japan, everyone thought I was a germ.”
“Like if they touched me they would be touching something bad. But I’m thankful because that made me really strong.”
A few years ago, a woman of Indian descent, Nina Davuluri, faced Twitter abuse after being crowned Miss America. Some called her an “Arab”, some a “terrorist”, and some an “Arab terrorist”. Indians, in large numbers, came to her defence.
Now, Ms Yoshikawa is being criticised for having an Indian father and some Indians have taken to social media to advise the Japanese to “get over it”. One Twitter user said she won because she “must have deserved it” while another said “after Gautam Buddha, Ms Yoshikawa is the only Indian to make it big in Japan”.
In Ms Yoshikawa’s case – as in Ms Davuluri’s before her – the biggest complaint seems to be the “lack of purity”. But some are wondering whether this debate over purity has any relevance in today’s globalised world.
As one Twitter user said: “Talent cannot be controlled or ruled by caste, colour, gender or country of origin.”
The pageant winner, also an avid kick-boxer and qualified elephant trainer, said that she hoped to change perceptions.
“When I’m abroad, people never ask me what mix I am. As Miss Japan, hopefully I can help change perceptions so that it can be the same here too.”
‘I feel Japanese’
Ms Yoshikawa’s win did not trigger the backlash that Ms Miyamoto received on social media.
There were however, several on Twitter that expressed unhappiness.
I don’t read Essence, Ebony, or any of the other popular lifestyle magazines for black females. I am not in their demographics in any fathomable way. But, every so often they publish something so offensive that it gets my attention. Once in a while they have a commentary that casts multiracial people or parents of multiracial children in uncomplimentary light. The dis pisses me off.
Quite often, they take the self-identity of a multiracial person and make them black. It’s bad journalism, not to mention that it’s just a false thing to do—a lie. What’s the point of stretching racial truth into a lie?
A perfect example is a story titled “Standing With Kaepernick: America Has An Ugly History Of Rejecting Black Athletes” in Essence by writer Feminista Jones, who is a social worker. I won’t even go into the long, ugly history of black social workers sanctioning calling multiracial children black, so they will be adopted by black families, since I don’t know if Feminista holds that belief and I’d hate to make anything up about her. The article starts like this: “San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, is protesting police brutality and the mistreatment of people of color in America by refusing to stand during the National Anthem before his team’s football games.” You already know this.
Feminista goes on to say this, “As the news of his bold move spread, Kaepernick has been repeatedly called the “N-word” and has been told to leave the country.” Then she states that Kaepernick’s (white) mother says he brought shame to his family. Sigh.
Colin Kaepernick is multiracial. He identifies as multiracial. He’s not a black athlete. Feminista contends that he is facing such horrible treatment from the public because he is a Black Athlete. He’s not. He has, meanwhile taken flack from black athletes for not being black enough to have taken a stand on this issue.
Stop already! Kaepernick could be purple and should only be judged—if people like Feminista Jones wish to judge—on his actions, not on his color. His team is the human race and he is not a member of any black athlete’s special club.
Ironically, the word “essence” means the basic, real, and invariable nature of a thing. In philosophy it means the inward nature, true substance, or constitution of anything, as opposed to what is accidental, phenomenal, illusory, etc. It’s time for Essence to get real and honest about the existence of the multiracial population.
In the article, Feminista Jones goes back to events that happened in 1936 to black athletes, but this is 2016 and we’ve come a long way in recognizing the existence and contributions of multiracial people. Now it’s time for the black media’s recognition or honesty, at the very least. You can do this. Time is of the essence.
Today’s Famous Friday features two really young, but really popular multiracial kids. North and Saint West. They are the son and daughter of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Their daughter, North West, is only 3 years old. Their son, Saint West, is not even a year old yet! At such a young age, these tiny tots have already made some pretty awesome memories. North celebrated one of her birthdays with a ‘Kidchella’ party, which was a spinoff of the popular music festival Coachella. It was a star-studded event, and even featured her very own ferris wheel! Saint will be one year old in December, but he was already spotted in Mexico with his family on vacation. I can’t wait to hear about all the awesome things these two multiracial kids will do as they grow up.
Lexi Brock, Project RACE Teens President
photos courtesy of VH1 and intouchweekly
NPR has a radio show called “Code Switch” about race and identity. They like cute sounding titles. The title of last week’s show and article was this: All Mixed Up. What do we call people of multiple backgrounds? Mixed…mixing…mixed up…you get it. Project RACE got it 25 years ago when we opted to go with the term “multiracial” instead of mixed, halfsies, bi, mulatto, and a whole lot more. We felt that the community deserved a respectable term with inclusive meaning.
Mixed was nixed for a variety of reasons.
It lends itself to mixed up, mixed nuts, etc. as perfectly shown by the NPR title. Why would we want that?
Mixed doesn’t quite mean the same thing as whole and multiracial people are whole entities.
Mixed morphed into “mixie” at some point, which is just too cutesy.
Academia has coined the phrase “Critical Mixed-Race Studies” when they put us under the microscope to study us. :::shiver:::
My personal best reason to nix the mix is that mixed is the opposite of pure and let’s just not go categorizing ourselves into pure and impure. Think about it. It’s happened before historically and I, for one, did not like the implications or results.
Let’s look one step further. President Obama recently addressed the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. He said this: “My grandparents knew these values weren’t reserved for one race; they could be passed down to a half-Kenyan grandson, or a half-Asian granddaughter….” Half. Would it have been so difficult for him to use the term “multiracial”? Is he, the son of a white mother and a black father, exactly half and half? That makes gray and we don’t have to even go to the historic connotations of the word “gray.” It’s interesting that when the media refer to President Obama’s multiple racial heritage, they almost always call him “multiracial.” Yet, he can’t seem to bring himself to use the term. So God bless you, Mr. President and God bless the United States of America.
Ann Curry was born on November 19, 1956. Ann Curry is a Journalist. You may have seen her on the Today Show or Dateline NBC. She is married to Brian Ross and has two children. Curry’s father is Irish, Scottish, German, French and Cherokee. Her mother is Japanese. In a interview to People’s Magazine Curry expressed her thoughts on being Multiracial ” If you’re of mixed race in this country, it’s hard to embrace the idea of being beautiful. But what I love about how I look today is that so many from all races think I’m a part of there group”. Which I agree with Ann Curry, being multiracial does makes me feel ambiguous.