It’s a Royal Famous Friday!

Famous Friday: HRH Meghan Duchess of Sussex

There was clearly no other choice for this week’s Famous Friday. The whole world is talking about HRH Meghan, Duchess of Sussex! Her wedding! Her dress! Her carriage ride… and her race.

The last time we featured multiracial actress Meghan Markle on Famous Friday was in November of 2016 and at that time former PRT Co-President Lexi Brock wrote about Meghan’s “rumored romance” with Prince Harry. Well what do you know… the rumors were true! Fast forward a year and a half and we’ve got ourselves a Duchess!

We were visiting my sister in Chicago on Royal Wedding Day and set the alarm to be up to watch our multiracial princess (Yes, I know she is not officially given the title of princess, but I don’t care.) arrive at 6 AM. In many ways, this felt to us very much like Barack Obama being inaugurated President. Our people, those who look like us and have family histories that may mirror our own, reaching places we’ve never seen before impacts our hearts and minds more than we’d ever imagined. Like the White House, the palaces of British royalty were not known for being diverse or particularly inclusive, until now. This makes us believe that there is nothing we can’t do.

Twitter lit up with reactions to the many ways that Megan weaved her culture into the ceremony. The African American preacher, the gospel choir and the teenage cellist were all representative of the side of the bride’s heritage that is new to the royal family. And the fact that her heritage was celebrated and highlighted during the ceremony made this groundbreaking union even more wonderful.

At Project RACE, we really love advocates. One of the cool things we newly discovered about Meghan in all the wedding coverage was that she was an advocate from a very young age. As an 11 year old, she contacted Proctor & Gamble after seeing a commercial for Ivory dish soap that implied doing dishes was a woman’s job. Her efforts led to the company changing the commercial, swapping out “women” for “people.”  No wonder she has gone on to great position.

Many do not know that, as groundbreaking as this union is, HRH Meghan is not be the first biracial royal. That title likely belongs to Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who lived during the 18th century. Charlotte was married to King George III and was queen for nearly 60 years, until she died in 1818. She’s the grandmother of Queen Victoria, the great-great-great-great-grandmother of the current Queen Elizabeth and the namesake for the American city of Charlotte, North Carolina. She also shares a name with the latest addition to the royal family, Princess Charlotte.

Another interesting note, is that we have another wonderful wedding we are excited to share about as our very first PRT President, Ryan Graham has married his beautiful bride Shelby this past weekend!

– Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Teens Co-President

Photo Credit:   News.com.au

It’s Famous Friday!

James and Inja Yates

James and Inja have been married for over fifty seven years. Inja is Korean and was born in Japan. She identifies herself as “a country hick, an American through and through with Korean heritage. A true world citizen.”  James is of African American Indian heritage and was born in Philadelphia, PA. They have three children and seven grandchildren. James and Inja are the founders of Soul 2 Seoul scholarship foundation. Soul 2 Seoul’s primary mission is to provide assistance and options to mixed race students of African American and Asian ancestry, and multiracial students who actively promote racial unity. Their purpose is to encourage young people to build positive futures for themselves, to elevate their self image, facilitate their growth, and to become role models for their success. Soul 2 Seoul has been a dream of theirs inspired in the 1960’s by a promise to a young boy In Korea to help him find his father who was in the military and left Korea without knowing he had fathered a son. “As survivors of almost 50 years of marriage as an interracial couple we’ve come to see that mixed race kids are bright with big warm hearts but the emotional burdens put on them by society are tremendous. They throw bricks at them no matter the community they live in. Mixed race kids face the chaos of statistically unusual high divorce rate that brings on emotional problems. They can’t identify who they are and aren’t always sure where they fit in. We are fortunate to be able to bring our kids up in an educationally and emotionally supportive environment. At the time there was no support from the African American or Korean community. It was us against the world. Soul 2 Seoul wants to help give mixed race kids a chance.” Over the past 14 years they have awarded over 30 scholarships to students from across the country.  James and Inja have photos of the scholarship winners in the kitchen and living room alongside their children and grandchildren and proudly discuss all of their accomplishments. The Yates own a Beachwood Canyon home in California with a perfect view from their balcony of the iconic Hollywood sign. Airbnb did a wonderful article on James and Inja last June. Hosting on Airbnb has helped them expand the scholarship. James was one of four Airbnb hosts that were selected to run the Olympic torch during the 2016 Olympics in Rio. They love sharing their home and meeting new people from all over the world. Inja enjoys cooking breakfast for others. “I went through two wars: World War II, in Japan, and the Korean War. So I know what starvation was like. I used to say to myself, “One day, if I can afford to, I will never let anyone, especially in my home, go hungry.” Recently James and Inja called me to inform me that I have been chosen as one of the recipients of this year’s scholarship due to my work with the Project RACE and the multiracial population.  I am deeply appreciative and they have inspired me to hopefully one day be able to provide scholarships to impact future generations as they are doing. I hope I have the honor of having my picture in their home. Knowing people are waiting on me to accomplish great things is just another reason to continue striving harder for my dreams. Thank you for believing in myself and so many others.

Picture Credit: airbnbcitizen.com

MaKensie Shay McDaniel

Project RACE Teens Co-President

Famous Friday!

FAMOUS FRIDAY: J. COLE

Rapper J. Cole is on fire! I told our Project RACE readers about how awesome and brilliant he was three years ago and he’s only gotten hotter since then. Just last month, his new album, “KOD,” was released, and on that very first day logged more than 36.5 million Spotify streams in the United States alone, a record breaking first-day for Spotify. “KOD” hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart, Cole’s fifth consecutive Billboard No. 1!

J.Cole is a German-American hip hop recording artist, producer, and writer from Fayetteville, North Carolina. He was born in Frankfurt, Germany in January 1985 as Jermaine Lamarr Cole when his African American father was serving in the United States Army. His Caucasian German mother worked as an actress. His father left the family when he was really young and his mother relocated the family to Fayetteville, NC when Cole was just eight months old. Cole began rapping at 12 and by15 had started keeping notebooks of beats and lyrics to create sounds and songs that evolved into the popular style we hear today. A straight A student in high school, he earned an academic scholarship to and graduated from St. John’s University in New York City. He chose to study and live in New York where he believed he would have a better chance of obtaining a record deal. His move to NYC proved to be a good move all around. He majored in communications, minored in business, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a 3.82 GPA . Then, soon after, he was the first artist signed by Jay-Z for the record label Roc Nation!

His career has been rising ever since thanks to his talent for making music full of raw and honest stories that resonate with the public. J. Cole has credited his great success, in part, to experiencing both sides of his race. He states that the perspective he brings is a side that’s aware of both of his races. He states he would not be able to say the things he does without seeing them from the “other side”. He makes it known he is proud to represent both races in his music. He has said that he identities more with what he looks like, because that’s how he is treated by the world.

Since our last Famous Friday on this talent, Cole  has gotten married and become a father to a little girl. The Cole family have returned to live in Cole’s hometown of Fayetteville. His wife, Melissa Heholt, attended St. John’s University with him and they dated for approximately 10 years before marrying. Mellissa is an event planner and also serves as the Executive Director of the Dreamville Foundation. The Dreamville Foundation is a non-profit that J.Cole created to “bridge the gap” between the worlds of opportunity and the urban youth of Fayetteville, NC. The foundation’s goal for the urban youth is to have a dream, believe in their dream, and achieve their dream. The Dreamville Foundation is dedicated to creating programs and events that will allow youth to be set up for success.

“I want to start the process of showing them there are other options besides what’s on the screen,” he explains,  “They don’t have to be a rapper of an athlete, there are people who manage the rappers, who book the shows. There are so many jobs you can do, this is about expanding their minds to those possibilities.”

-Karson Baldwin, President Project RACE Teens

Photo Credit: BET.com

Famous Friday!

Damselfly

For today’s famous Friday we are featuring Damselfly, a scholastic young adult novel which features a multiracial narrator. Damselfly arrived on March 27, 2018.  The author, Chandra Prasad, is half-Asian/half-Caucasian-with some Indian plus Swedish, English, and Italian. She has been committed to multiracial awareness for a long time. This is evidenced  by her having originated, edited, and contributed to Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience, which was published by W.W. Norton in 2006 and is still used in classrooms today (Mat Johnson, Danzy Senna, Rebecca Walker, and Ruth Ozeki  are among the contributors).

Since Chandra has transitioned into young adult fiction she has made it a point to create multiracial characters in her books because she felt there were almost none in the books she read while growing up. Her next novel will feature a multiracial protagonist. Multiracialism is also a subject Chandra Prasad brings up with the media to draw greater awareness to the exploding, but still misunderstood and misrepresented, population. Damselfly is a modern-day riff on Lord of the Flies, but with an American cast and a focus on gender, race, and class. The storyline is completely original. The book is already becoming popular in middle school, high school, and college classrooms. Teachers are pairing it with the Lord of the Flies, the classic by William Golding, as a “parallel read” or “companion novel.” Check out DAMSELFLY. www.chandraprasad.com

Damselfly Book video Trailer

It’s Famous Friday!

Famous Friday: Martha Jones

I stumbled across an article by Martha S. Jones this week and was really inspired by the personal essay she had written about her enlightened racial identity. As a young activist, I particularly loved the way this woman allowed herself to be influenced by her students. So today’s Famous Friday will feature the second professor to be highlighted here on our PR blog.

Before I share excerpts of her article, let me tell you a bit about this accomplished academic. Ms. Jones is a professor of History at the prestigous Johns Hopkins University and previously taught history and Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan. Professor Jones’ areas of interest include race, law, citizenship, slavery, and the rights of women. She earned a Ph.D. at Columbia and a J.D. from the CUNY School of Law. Prior to becoming a professor, she was a public interest litigator in New York City. Professor Jones has written two books, All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture 1830-1900 and Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America.

Today, Professor Jones serves as Co-President of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and was recently elected to the Organization of American Historians Executive Board. She and her historian husband, Jean Hébrard,.split their time between their two homes, one in Baltimore, Maryland and the other in Paris, France.

So back to the article she wrote for CNN.com that really inspired me. It was fascinating to read about Ms. Jones’ epiphany moment about her multiracial identity. As a woman who grew up identifying as black, I felt myself cheering her on as she explained how she learned from her students to embrace her full racial identity.  Below are excerpts so you can enjoy it yourself:

“Now,” I prompted, “let’s go around. Tell us about yourself and why you chose this course.”

This introduction was routine. But what I heard was anything but the norm: “My mother is black and my father is white.” “I’m in an interracial relationship.”

Ordinarily, I am silent, listening and taking notes. But by the time I heard a third student say “I am mixed-race, from a mixed race family,” I had set down my notebook and was perched at the edge of my seat.

“Me, too,” I heard myself say. And with that, I knew that the class would be anything but routine. Until that moment, I had always told a neater story about my identity. I was, simply put, black. And about my mother being white? That had been irrelevant for me and my “one drop rule” generation.

My students had another perspective.

My mother was from the North, of the working class, and a German Catholic who only glimpsed Protestant kids across the lines of East Buffalo’s fractured terrain. My father was from North Carolina, a child of the black middle class and a Methodist with a bishop for an uncle who refused to preside over their interfaith nuptials. He was black and she was white, and their 1957 union was prohibited by law in North Carolina, where my father was raised.

I don’t recall the moment in 1967 when the United States Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws in Loving v. Virginia. My parents were in the midst of a trial separation, making celebrating our family difficult to do. But even in sunnier moments, my family rarely acknowledged the social fact of our biracial identity. It was the era of the one drop rule, a view of race that deemed a person with any African ancestry, however remote, to be black.

We were Negroes — later black, then African-American — and nothing about our mother’s whiteness or our own ambiguous bodies altered that.

“What are you?” schoolmates queried. I can’t say that we were asked this more often than other children, but I know that no response elicited more vitriol than the clarification that we were black. The moniker “Casper” (as in ghost or spook) stuck, some backyards were off limits and occasionally fists flew.

Still, we held fast to our one-drop identities. America largely believed itself organized around a racial binary. It was good to know where you stood, even if it was an awkward fit.

Much of my adult life was guided by the view that, however others might misapprehend me, I was black. Yes, we had a parent who was not African-American. But that was a quiet fact, one that our bodies might admit but our voices rarely uttered.

Why was that? Perhaps foregrounding a nonblack parent might lead to the charge that we were distancing ourselves from the stigma of blackness. Perhaps we’d be perceived as trying to pass for something that we were not. Perhaps we’d be viewed with suspicion, our loyalties questioned in a world that so often pitted black against white.

And under the regime of the one-drop rule, I never knew there was an alternative. Until I had that “me, too” moment in the classroom.

There, I was confronted with student stories that sounded not very different from my own. The mixed race origins of their families had also required a sorting out of identity. They talked about the dynamics of family estrangement but also of love that defied ideas about a color line. They wrestled with social scenes: friendship, dating, and dormitory life where race still seemed to matter. They fretted about checking boxes for college admissions.

But something was different.

As I listened to their stories, it became clear that my students were not adherents to the one-drop rule that had given my generation its place in the national matrix of race. Their personal narratives were about lives spent moving back and forth and in between.

And they militantly refused to check just one box.

Our numbers are growing. During the 2010 census, more than 9 million Americans reported that they were more than one race, an increase of 32% from 2000.

It is the possibility that we can be black and be something else that my students urged me to confront. If I abandoned the one drop rule, who might I be? Both, neither, something else?

Today I agree with my students: All of the above.

– Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Teens Co-President

Photo Credit: Johns Hopkins University

It’s Famous Friday!

Famous Friday: Karson Baldwin

My awesome co-president was so sweet to use last week’s Famous Friday post to write about me! Well, guess what? It’s my turn to write the blog and I bet you can guess who I’ve decided to write about!

Three years ago, I joined Project RACE’s youth leadership team of high achieving, hard working teens who were passionate about multiracial advocacy. The youngest and the one with the longest history with Project RACE was Karson Baldwin! Karson was only 13 then, but he’d been working with Project RACE for as long as he could remember.

“Yes, I have worked with Project RACE for a long time,” Karson told me. “I look back at old videos and listen to interviews and laugh at how young and small I was.” (check out this 2009 Project RACE Teen video PSA on equality in healthcare for multiracial Americans and you’ll see exactly what he means! So cute!  https://youtu.be/Ila0AsDpyf8 )

Karson had the good fortune of growing up in a house full of social justice advocates. When he was just four years old, his oldest sister became Project RACE Teen President. When that sister went off to college, his other sister succeeded her as president. A couple years later, when his second sister followed the first to Harvard, our Executive Director Susan Graham, spoke to Karson about the possibility of taking the PR Teen torch. But rather than step in to the role of PRT president, Karson had an idea of his own. He told Susan that he would like to launch a new division of the organization, Project RACE Kids!

“Susan loved the idea,” Karson said, “not only because multiracial people are the fastest growing racial group, but also because multiracial people are the youngest racial group. All these younger multiracial people needed a safe place for their voice to be heard. I was fortunate to grow up in an amazing family with a supportive community, but not everyone has that.”

So at 13 Karson founded Project RACE Kids for multiracial youth ages 8 to 12! He established the “PRK Kids Krew” made up of a dozen young difference makers from across the U.S. to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences with the multiracial population and beyond. He held minority focused bone marrow drives, helped launch Multiracial Heritage Week, gave media interviews and so much more! Karson has done an awesome job with PRKids, so I was really happy when he stepped up this year to join me as Project RACE Teens Co-President!

“I intend to work with Project RACE for a long time because our work is important to me, to our country, and even the world,” Karson told me. “There are many nice organizations that focus on celebrating the growing multiracial community, and that’s cool, but none are committed to advocacy like Project RACE has been for all these years. ”

Karson’s long history of work with Project RACE is impressive, but it’s even more impressive when you understand that he fits that in with so many other meaningful pursuits. In addition to being a straight A student at the top all-boys school in his state and a two sport high school athlete, Karson is leading in a huge variety of areas. He helps lead singing at his church every Sunday, he was student body president of his school, he was selected to represent his school at the Student Diversity Leadership Conference and at the leadership meetings of the Cleveland Council of Independent Schools, just to name a few.

He has many passions. But along with multiracial advocacy, school and sports, he is passionate about service to the materially poor. He serves on the HOPE worldwide National Youth Advisory Council and designs and regularly leads youth service efforts in his community. He is currently working on an exciting partnership with a one-of-a-kind public school for kids that have been in the United States for two years or less. The 900 member student body at this school is from 47 different countries and they speak 28 different languages!

“It’s an amazing place, the only one of it’s kind,” Karson says. “A lot of the kids are refugees and who knows what they’ve been through to get here. I am really excited about the projects we’re working on and the relationships we’re building to help them feel at home here. Like at Project RACE, my work at the International Newcomers Academy is all about acknowledging each individual’s identity and fostering mutual respect among diverse groups of people.”

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that this guy is just 16.

Photo Credit: Baldwin Family

A Great Famous Friday!

Famous Friday: Makensie McDaniel

Each week our Project RACE youth leadership team features a multiracial person of interest here on our blog. Typically those featured are a celebrity, someone renowned in their field, and someone we consider to be a good role model for the multiracial community. This week, I chose for the first time to write about someone within our organization who fits that description, my awesome Co-President of Project RACE Teens, Makensie Shay McDaniel.

A lot of people know Makensie as a beauty queen. She was named Miss Shelby’s Outstanding Teen 2015, Miss Queen City’s Outstanding Teen 2016, and Miss Charlotte’s Outstanding Teen 2017. She is smart and beautiful and passionate about her pageant platform. She is also an accomplished competitive dancer with aspirations of becoming an Atlanta Falcons Cheerleader. But these are not the things that impress me most about Makensie. I have had the pleasure of working with Makensie at Project RACE for about 5 years now and she is a force! She is a girl who know who she is and is proud of her entire heritage. But that wasn’t always the case. As a child Makensie struggled with her racial identity. Her mother is Caucasian and her father is African American and growing up she felt a lot of confusion. She was raised primarily by the white side of her family, attended majority white schools, and lived in a predominately white community. Her birth certificate says she’s white, because of a state law that says a baby’s race is determined by the mother’s race. For these reasons, she self identified as white in middle school, but was constantly told by society that she was black.

“In middle school I struggled more because boys started to say things like ‘you could be my girlfriend if you were not half black.’” Makensie said. “A group of girls at my school had a nickname for me. They called me “Nancy” because they said I acted white and dressed white.”

These experiences inspired Makensie to search the internet at the age of thirteen looking for information on other multiracial people like her. That’s when she came across our Project RACE website and found it both informative and encouraging. She followed us on social media for a year and then, at the age of fourteen, she joined us as a volunteer helping us reach out to government officials in an effort to launch Multiracial Heritage Week.

“I remember Executive Director Susan Graham sending me a box of multicultural crayons to thank me for my help and I was so happy because I thought it was so cool to have a crayon for every skin tone,” Makensie shared.

The President of Project RACE Teens was preparing to head off to college, so we looked for her successor by posting an ad for the Project RACE Teens president position and Makensie, then 15 applied. Her resume and essay really stood out from the other applicants and after a series of interviews, she was named PRT Co-President. Makensie started advocating for others and spreading awareness on social media.

“By sharing my own story, being authentic, expressing my feelings, others started sharing theirs,” she said.

She contacted North Carolina’s Governor and persuaded him to issue a proclamation in 2015 and 2016 so that multiracial people could have an official week to celebrate their heritage. She asked for North Carolinian’s to send her their pictures and tell her their heritage so she could create a video. Everyone was so proud of their multiracial heritage that it made Makensie even more proud and brought her to tears. She handed out t-shirts to anyone who wanted them to help us celebrate Multiracial Heritage Week. In 2017 Charlotte’s Mayor Jennifer Roberts and the state’s new Governor Roy Cooper issued a MHW proclamation. Nationally 12 states including Georgia and the District of Columbia celebrated Multiracial Heritage Week thanks to the efforts of Makensie and the rest of our Project RACE team.

Seeing others respond to these efforts fueled her advocacy more and made her dreams even bigger. She has spoken at churches, schools, and many other organizations to spread awareness of causes important to the multiracial community.

Now, as a high school senior in North Carolina, where she has earned a 3.9 GPA, Makensie’s term as TPR Co-President is nearing its end, but she continues to dream of making a difference.

“To me, denying any part of my race is not okay,” she says. “I have spent hours writing letters, making phone calls, and speaking with senators about this issue. They all have acknowledged there is a need for change, but the multiracial identity issue hasn’t made its way on anyone’s agenda as of now. I haven’t gotten a law changed yet; however, I was able to get all Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, the largest school system in our state, to change all school forms to include multiracial terminology. My goal is to graduate from East Carolina University with a political science degree and go on to pursue a law degree or master’s degree so that I can continue to serve others and create change in this and many other areas.”

I am very confident that Makensie will continue to be instrumental in multiracial advocacy and am honored to have partnered with her for these last 5 years.

-Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Teens Co-President

Photo Credit: Vika Photography

Important Update!

PROJECT RACE UPDATE – April, 2018

I have been asked some questions about Project RACE recently, so an update is in order. I have chosen to do this in a question and answer format. Please feel free to send your comments to me at SusanGraham@projectrace.com

Q. Why doesn’t Project RACE use the terms “mixed” or “mulatto”?

A. The term “mulatto” is outdated and offensive; the literal meaning is small mule. We don’t like to use “mixed” because it is the opposite of “pure,” and we don’t want to go there. Also, “mixed” lends itself to “mixed up,” “mixed nuts,” etc. We’ve all seen those headlines. Project RACE advocates for multiracial and biracial because they are respectable, properly descriptive terms. We applaud organizations like the Brookings Institute and Pew Research for using the term “multiracial.”

Q. It’s acceptable to use the term “mixed race” or “mixed” in the UK, so why not here?

A. This is an easy one. This is the United States, not England. It reminds me of a discussion I had with a group of writers who were coming up with company writing guidelines. The subject came up of how to use a period or comma with quotation marks. I stated that in the US, periods and commas go inside of the quotation marks. Someone said, “But in the UK, they go outside!” I said, “That’s absolutely true, but you are writing for an American audience.” Case closed.

Q. What is going on at the federal level?

A. Things are in a holding pattern since the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) opted to keep things as they are on the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity, which is sometimes referred to as the Standard for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. It is not called “Directive 15.” The Census Bureau has made their recommendations to Congress.

Q. What is the “citizenship” question and why should we be concerned about it?

A. The current administration has decided that everyone who gets a census questionnaire should be asked if they are a United States citizen. Project RACE is against this because adding a citizenship question could result in reduced response rates and inaccurate answers on the 2020 Census, according the experts and demographers, including several former directors of the census. We can assume that a sizeable number of immigrants and other people who are multiracial will not answer the census because of the question. This could reduce the numbers of the multiracial population and other minority groups. In other words, the push to add the question will likely risk a significant undercount of immigrant, minority (including multiracial), and low-income populations.

Q. Is it true that the recommendation to make Hispanic people a race has been turned down?

A. Yes. People can choose to be Hispanic as an ethnicity, but not a race. They can choose to be a race or races from white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American/Alaska Native, or “some other race.” You can check as many races as you want.

Q. Is Project RACE in favor of a Hispanic racial category and a MENA (Middle Eastern North African) classification?

A. Yes, Project RACE has made the Census Bureau and OMB very aware of our favoring both of these categories.

Q. A group called MASC is recommending that people contact their congressional representatives in the House of Representatives. What’s that about and is Project RACE also recommending this?

A. MASC (Multiracial Americans of Southern California) and Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally) are two very distinctly different organizations. MASC is a local, Southern California group and Project RACE is a national organization with representation in 48 states. We at Project RACE do not agree with the apparent “Urgent Call to Action” by MASC to make changes to Directive 15, which has not existed for the past 20 years (see above).

The deadline for comments has passed. Congressional representatives are unlikely to make any change in the Hispanic question, which is what MASC is going after, because of any local multiracial group. If any change is made, it will be because of lobbying by the national Hispanic and Latino organizations, like MALDEF and UnidosUS (formerly the Council of La Raza), which is as it should be. Cutting and pasting canned phrases to OMB or Congressional Representatives is an ineffective action for this type of situation.

MASC has also suddenly stated that (surprise!) the Census Bureau does not make public policy. That should not be a surprise to anyone who has done any work in this area. However, the Census Bureau is responsible for national testing of census questions as well as recommendations on wording, which Project RACE has been involved with since 1990. They may not set public policy, but they do influence it.

Q. Are Project RACE and MASC at odds?

A. MASC has publicly called Project RACE ineffective and something about being an organization that only holds a public party once a year.

Project RACE is the national advocacy organization for the multiracial community. Our primary focus is advocacy and public policy change. We work for the multiracial population in Washington, DC and in 48 states. We work with national diversity personnel at national corporations and organizations to utilize appropriate terminology for the multiracial community. We don’t just blow our own horn, we work very hard to let the community know what is going on with others communities as they relate to ours, in other words, we get the word out via our blog, emailings, our web site, social media, etc. We promote and coordinate bone marrow donor drives. We hold national Multiracial Heritage Week every year from June 7 to 14 to honor the multiracial community. Yes, people are welcome to participate with parties or in any other positive way.

MASC is mostly a social organization for a limited area of the multiracial community. There is a definite need for social organizations and we commend them for what they provide. We appreciate their work. We communicate and work with local multiracial organizations around the country and have no idea why the Board of MASC has chosen to become so hostile towards our work and our community. Their hostility does not influence our work in any way.

Q. Shouldn’t all organizations or groups that represent a community all be in agreement?

A. No. Historically, we can look at the NAACP and Urban League, both of which represented the black community although they did not agree on many issues. MALDEF and UnidosUS do not always agree. The two national Portuguese organizations have different policy statements. There are many more examples. Although we all represent communities, we all primarily represent our members.

Q. Is Project RACE an organization for academics?

A. No, our membership exists primarily of multiracial adults, parents and grandparents of multiracial children, and multiracial teens. We do have academics on our advisory board and fully cooperate and communicate with the fine academics who do important work on behalf of the multiracial community.

Q. Is Project RACE doing some kind of partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau?

A. The Census Bureau has formally asked Project RACE to be their partner in the national 2020 Decennial Census program and we have accepted the invitation. What this means is that we will help people understand the importance of filling out the census questionnaire and to check as many races as they want. The goal is to get as many multiracial people as possible to be active in the 2020 Census.

Q. Does Project RACE charge membership fees?

A. Project RACE never charges fees, as do some other multiracial organizations. We are an all-volunteer organization, unlike some others. We feel that anyone anywhere who wants to be a member of Project RACE should be able to, regardless of location or ability to pay. However, we do welcome donations, which are tax-deductible, since we are a 501(c)(3) corporation!

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IMPORTANT! Project RACE Update

PROJECT RACE UPDATE – April, 2018

 

I have been asked some questions about Project RACE recently, so an update is in order. I have chosen to do this in a question and answer format. Please feel free to send your comments to me at SusanGraham@projectrace.com

 

  1. Why doesn’t Project RACE use the terms “mixed” or “mulatto”?

 

  1. The term “mulatto” is outdated and offensive; the literal meaning is small mule. We don’t like to use “mixed” because it is the opposite of “pure,” and we don’t want to go there. Also, “mixed” lends itself to “mixed up,” “mixed nuts,” etc. We’ve all seen those headlines. Project RACE advocates for multiracial and biracial because they are respectable, properly descriptive terms. We applaud organizations like the Brookings Institute and Pew Research for using the term “multiracial.”

 

  1. It’s acceptable to use the term “mixed race” or “mixed” in the UK, so why not here?

 

  1. This is an easy one. This is the United States, not England. It reminds me of a discussion I had with a group of writers who were coming up with company writing guidelines. The subject came up of how to use a period or comma with quotation marks. I stated that in the US, periods and commas go inside of the quotation marks. Someone said, “But in the UK, they go outside!” I said, “That’s absolutely true, but you are writing for an American audience.” Case closed.

 

  1. What is going on at the federal level?

 

  1. Things are in a holding pattern since the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) opted to keep things as they are on the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity, which is sometimes referred to as the Standard for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. It is not called “Directive 15.” The Census Bureau has made their recommendations to Congress. You can read more information here: https://www2.census.gov/library/publications/decennial/2020/operations/planned-questions-2020-acs.pdf

 

  1. What is the “citizenship” question and why should we be concerned about it?

 

  1. The current administration has decided that everyone who gets a census questionnaire should be asked if they are a United States citizen. Project RACE is against this because adding a citizenship question could result in reduced response rates and inaccurate answers on the 2020 Census, according the experts and demographers, including several former directors of the census. We can assume that a sizeable number of immigrants and other people who are multiracial will not answer the census because of the question. This could reduce the numbers of the multiracial population and other minority groups. In other words, the push to add the question will likely risk a significant undercount of immigrant, minority (including multiracial), and low-income populations.

 

  1. Is it true that the recommendation to make Hispanic people a race has been turned down?

 

  1. Yes. People can choose to be Hispanic as an ethnicity, but not a race. They can choose to be a race or races from white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American/Alaska Native, or “some other race.” You can check as many races as you want.

 

  1. Is Project RACE in favor of a Hispanic racial category and a MENA (Middle Eastern North African) classification?

 

  1. Yes, Project RACE has made the Census Bureau and OMB very aware of our favoring both of these categories.

 

  1. A group called MASC is recommending that people contact their congressional representatives in the House of Representatives. What’s that about and is Project RACE also recommending this?

 

  1. MASC (Multiracial Americans of Southern California) and Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally) are two very distinctly different organizations. MASC is a local, Southern California group and Project RACE is a national organization with representation in 48 states. We at Project RACE do not agree with the apparent “Urgent Call to Action” by MASC to make changes to Directive 15, which has not existed for the past 20 years (see above).

 

The deadline for comments has passed. Congressional representatives are unlikely to make any change in the Hispanic question, which is what MASC is going after, because of any local multiracial group. If any change is made, it will be because of lobbying by the national Hispanic and Latino organizations, like MALDEF and UnidosUS (formerly the Council of La Raza), which is as it should be. Cutting and pasting canned phrases to OMB or Congressional Representatives is an ineffective action for this type of situation.

 

MASC has also suddenly stated that (surprise!) the Census Bureau does not make public policy. That should not be a surprise to anyone who has done any work in this area. However, the Census Bureau is responsible for national testing of census questions as well as recommendations on wording, which Project RACE has been involved with since 1990. They may not set public policy, but they do influence it.

 

  1. Are Project RACE and MASC at odds?

 

  1. MASC has publicly called Project RACE ineffective and something about being an organization that only holds a public party once a year.

 

Project RACE is the national advocacy organization for the multiracial community. Our primary focus is advocacy and public policy change. We work for the multiracial population in Washington, DC and in 48 states. We work with national diversity personnel at national corporations and organizations to utilize appropriate terminology for the multiracial community. We don’t just blow our own horn, we work very hard to let the community know what is going on with others communities as they relate to ours, in other words, we get the word out via our blog, emailings, our web site, social media, etc. We promote and coordinate bone marrow donor drives. We hold national Multiracial Heritage Week every year from June 7 to 14 to honor the multiracial community. Yes, people are welcome to participate with parties or in any other positive way.

 

MASC is mostly a social organization for a limited area of the multiracial community. There is a definite need for social organizations and we commend them for what they provide. We appreciate their work. We communicate and work with local multiracial organizations around the country and have no idea why the Board of MASC has chosen to become so hostile towards our work and our community. Their hostility does not influence our work in any way.

 

  1. Shouldn’t all organizations or groups that represent a community all be in agreement?

 

  1. No. Historically, we can look at the NAACP and Urban League, both of which represented the black community although they did not agree on many issues. MALDEF and UnidosUS do not always agree. The two national Portuguese organizations have different policy statements. There are many more examples. Although we all represent communities, we all primarily represent our members.

 

 

  1. Is Project RACE an organization for academics?

 

  1. No, our membership exists primarily of multiracial adults, parents and grandparents of multiracial children, and multiracial teens. We do have academics on our advisory board and fully cooperate and communicate with the fine academics who do important work on behalf of the multiracial community.

 

  1. Is Project RACE doing some kind of partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau?

 

  1. The Census Bureau has formally asked Project RACE to be their partner in the national 2020 Decennial Census program and we have accepted the invitation. What this means is that we will help people understand the importance of filling out the census questionnaire and to check as many races as they want. The goal is to get as many multiracial people as possible to be active in the 2020 Census.

 

  1. Does Project RACE charge membership fees?

 

  1. Project RACE never charges fees, as do some other multiracial organizations. We are an all-volunteer organization, unlike some others. We feel that anyone anywhere who wants to be a member of Project RACE should be able to, regardless of location or ability to pay. However, we do welcome donations, which are tax-deductible, since we are a 501(c)(3) corporation!

 

 

Category: Blog · Tags: , , ,

It’s Famous Friday!

Naomi Osaka


Naomi is bringing more diversity to tennis with her heritage. Osaka recently won her first pro
tennis title. She is a 20 year old Haitian-American-Japanese professional tennis player. Naomi
was born in Osaka, Tokyo. Her father is Haitian and her mother is Japanese. Her parents and
older sister are tennis players too. Naomi and her sister have played together in doubles tennis.
Osaka has been living in the United States since she moved to Florida at the age of three. She
has dual Japanese and American citizenship. Her father registered her with the Japan Tennis
Association at the beginning of her career. She was asked why she chose to represent Japan.
She stated “I feel more, like, I grew up with Japanese culture, and I feel a little bit more, like,
that’s how my personality is. I feel comfortable when I go to Tokyo, too.” Osaka told USA Today
“I can understand way more Japanese than I can speak, and when I go to Japan people are
confused, from my name, they don’t expect to see a black girl.” On March 18, 2018 she
defeated Daria Kasatkina, of Russia which moved her singles ranking to #22 in the world and
she left with a $1.3 million check, which almost doubled her career earnings. Naomi said after
she won “ I feel like I just started winning, It’s a new feeling for me to be this consistent, so I’m
just trying to be happy about that.” I am sure this is the beginning of a very long tennis career for
Naomi Osaka.
Makensie Shay McDaniel
Project RACE Teens President

Pic Credit: wtatennis.com

Meet our Presidents


Makensie McDaniel