It’s Famous Friday!

Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth is an Afro-Latina  Dominican-American poet and author. She was born to Dominican immigrants and raised in New York. She obtained a BA in Performing Arts from George Washington University and a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland.   At the age of 12 she decided she wanted to be a rapper and wrote her first lyric. At 14 she competed in her first poetry slam. In 2016 she became a National Slam Champion. She has performed at the Lincoln Center, Madison Square garden, the Kennedy Center as well as other places. She has delivered several TED talks and her videos have been featured in numerous magazines and articles.  Elizabeth went from slam champion to writing novels.

Elizabeth is the Author of three Young adult novels. She chose to focus on young adults because she was an eighth grade teacher and she believes that is an exciting group to write for because of the hope that young adults choose to have. She won the National Book Award, for The Poet X! It is also a New York Times’ bestseller. She is the Author of “With the Fire on High” and her third novel “Clap when you Land,” is set to be released on May 2, 2020. The upcoming novel is about two sisters growing up unaware of each other while living in different countries but who learn of each other when their father dies. One lives in the Dominican Republic and one in New York City. Elizabeth has stated “As a child of immigrants, as a black women, as a Latina, as someone whose accented voice holds certain stories, I always feel like I have to prove that I am worthy enough and there will never be an award or accolade that will take that away.”  The cover for Acevedo’s novel has recently been reveled and Elizabeth says “and then I saw the girls and the beautiful shades of brown of their skins. It’s not every day you see such a display of Caribbean beauty on a cover. But beyond that, the fact that both my birthplace I chose to live in are represented on the same cover, made me emotional. For once, most of my essence has been captured in one gorgeous book cover, and I’m sure the actual book will resonate with so many, not because they might have my same background, but because the story itself is not uncommon in most Latinx communities.”

Makensie Shay McDaniel

Project RACE Teen President Emeritus

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Multiracial Children

The share of multiracial kids is growing fast in the US


By Dan Kopf

In some ways, it can feel like the the US is getting more racialized. White nationalism is on the rise, and many Americans are concerned that politicians are playing to racial identity as a way to get elected. Yet, in one important way, race in the US is quickly becoming a more complex idea.

According to recently released data from the US Census, about 8% of children under 5 in the US were identified by their parents as having “two or more races.” This is up from about 6.5% in 2010, and 5% in 2000. The Pew Research Center found that the share of multiracial children is even higher if measured by looking at whether the parents are of two different races, rather than the race reported by the parents.

Another way to think about the US’s increasingly multiracial future is by looking at the median age of Americans of different racial and ethnic groups. The Census data shows that in the median age of non-Hispanic white Americans was 43.6 in 2018. That means just about half of all non-Hispanic white people are below that number and half are older. In contrast, the median age for those of two or more races was just 20.5.

Median age by race/ethnicity in the US in 2018

Race/ethnicity Median Age
White (non-Hispanic) 43.6
Asian 37.3
Black or African American 34.4
American Indian 33.5
Hispanic 29.5
Two or more races 20.5

Just as race has once again come to the center of the US politics and economics, racial identity is becoming ever more complicated. It’s unclear how future generations will think of their racial identities. With the ever-larger number of people who don’t fit into one category, it is likely to look very different from today.

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It’s Famous Friday!

FAMOUS FRIDAY: Kamala Harris

As a general rule, we here at Project RACE try to avoid Famous Friday stories on people we’ve featured before. But when we do, it’s because they deserve it! I last wrote about Kamala Harris nearly three years ago. My article began like this:

“Most of the world was expecting November 8, 2016 to mark the election of the first female president of the United States.  It did not. Many believe, however, that it was the day when America met the woman who could shatter that glass ceiling”… perhaps as early as 2020.”

And here we are! In three short years, Kamala Harris has gone from California’s Attorney General, to California’s new Junior Senator-Elect, to a top five candidate for President of the United States. On January 21, 2019, Harris announced her candidacy for President in the 2020 election, tying a record set by Bernie Sanders in 2016 for the most donations raised in the day following announcement. Since interring the race, Harris, who was both the second black woman and the first Indian-American ever elected to the Senate, has really stood out in a very crowded democratic field. To date, Harris, the multiracial daughter of an Indian-American immigrant mother and a Jamaican-American father, has raised $35.5 million overall in this campaign, from more than 850,000 individual contributions, including over $11 million in the third quarter of the year. She is a strong debater and has performed very well on the debate stage. Her support rose by between 6 to 9 points in polls following the first Democratic debate.

Since becoming a Senator, she has supported single-payer healthcare, federal legalization of cannabis, support for sanctuary cities, the DREAM Act, and lowering taxes for the working and middle classes while raising taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

Just this past week she had another big honor when Maya Rudolph played her in a very popular satire skit on Saturday Night Live. Showing she is not afraid to poke fun at herself, Harris, who has over 3 million followers on Twitter, responded playfully to Rudolph’s depiction of her as the coolest candidate in the race in a tweet saying, “That girl being played by @MayaRudolph on @nbcsnl? That girl was me.”

Harris is married to California attorney Douglas Emhoff, who is Jewish and is stepmother to Cole and Ella, Emhoff’s two children from a previous marriage. Her background embodies the racially blended society that is increasingly common across the United States. She calls herself simply “an American,” and said she has been fully comfortable with her identity from an early age.

“We need to work to ensure the leaders reflect the people they are supposed to represent,” she said. “And until we achieve that full representation, I think we should understand we are falling short of the ideals of this country.”

President Harris would be the second multiracial president, after Barack Obama, and certainly a step in that direction!


– Karson Baldwin, President Project RACE Teens

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Federal Judge upholds affirmative action at Harvard

Federal judge upholds affirmative action at Harvard


FILE – In this July 16, 2019, file photo, people stop to record images of Widener Library on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs ruled, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019, that Harvard does not discriminate against Asian Americans in its admissions process. The judge issued the ruling in a 2014 lawsuit that alleged Harvard holds Asian American applicants to a higher standard than students of other races. Burroughs said Harvard’s admissions process is not perfect but passes constitutional muster. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

BOSTON (AP) — A federal judge Tuesday cleared Harvard University of discriminating against Asian American applicants in a ruling that was seen as a major victory for supporters of affirmative action in college admissions across the U.S.

In a closely watched lawsuit that had raised fears about the future of affirmative action, a group called Students for Fair Admissions accused the Ivy League college of deliberately — and illegally — holding down the number of Asian Americans accepted in order to preserve a certain racial balance on campus.

U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs, however, ruled that Harvard’s admissions process is “not perfect” but passes constitutional muster. She said there is “no evidence of any racial animus whatsoever” and no evidence that any admission decision was “negatively affected by Asian American identity.”

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Why I Won’t Watch Mixed-ish


I knew from the trailer that Mixed-ish, the spinoff from Black-ish would be trouble. But I decided to give the show a fair chance and watch the first episode that came out last week. It goes back in time in the life of Rainbow, a biracial woman. Way back to when she was growing up in a commune—actually a cult—which is hardly the same history as other biracial people in America in the 1980s. In fact, Tracee Ellis Ross, whose mother is Diana Ross and father is Robert Ellis Silverstein, didn’t have a “normal” upbringing. My own children were born in the 80s and they had none of the experiences of “Bow” and her two siblings.

Everything these three children went through was problematic, especially going to school. One other student called them weirdos and asked what they were mixed with. Oh, that again. But here they are made fun of, taunted and laughed at. Do we really need this kind of story about biracial children? What purpose does it serve? It certainly doesn’t right any wrongs done to multiracial people in the 1980s or in 2019. Perhaps it tries to teach a little history—with a bad attitude. I know you’re thinking “but this just a TV show,” but lots of people believed that Archie Bunker and everyone like him was racist, that Lucille Ball was just an airhead, and that Sanford was only a junkyard failure. Do we really need our biracial children to see themselves as exaggerated comedy characters?

Don’t even get me started on the show’s theme song by Mariah Carey, which mentions how mixed-up everyone is.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who plays the father, is also biracial: white and Asian, but no one even mentions that fact in the trailer or premier. I think it’s important in a show about biracial, excuse me, “mixed-ish” people. Children need to learn that multiracial and multiethnic backgrounds are important. What they don’t need to learn is that it means trouble at every mention of the word.

I really felt sorry for the kids when their parents insinuate that they will have to pick one race. The son chooses black and one of the daughters picks white, which makes the parents wonder if they should have spoken to the kids about race and prepared them for reactions from other people. We parents needed to do that in the 1980s and we still do now. There is absolutely no reason not to, unless you watch this show. If you don’t watch Mixed-ish, you may feel just fine about choosing as many as apply. Feel proud about it, and not forced into any identity.

The producers of the show feel as though they are making important historical information available for television watchers. The risk is when the historical information is wrong. Beware of what you learn from this show. In other words, do your own homework. This isn’t a matter of what’s important to learn, it’s a question of right and wrong.

Let’s take a quick look at another related issue. Another “mixed” organization is promoting Mixed-ish and reminding the crowd of its premier. They happen to be the same group who brought you a video on how to do hair recently. It makes sense that they would give both a heads up. Project RACE, on the other hand, is working closely with the U. S. Census Bureau on the 2020 Census, and preparing political videos. We have produced programs for children and teens so that they are better informed. I guess it just matters where your interests lie.

So be careful where you get your information and if its interests are the same as yours. You can change your hair every day, but things like voting, self-identification, being counted in the 2020 Census, and learning the correct history are no less important in your life or in this world.


Susan Graham for Project RACE


Photo Credit: TVInsider


Project RACE Grandparents

What Will My Grandchild Remember?

When we think about what we leave behind as grandparents, we hope we will have transmitted lessons about kindness, justice, strength and confidence, the boundless nature of love.

As we celebrated my granddaughter’s third birthday this summer, I made the following rough calculation: I’d trekked from my home in New Jersey to her Brooklyn apartment roughly 150 times to provide once-a-week day care, plus other times as needed.

I had taken Bartola (a family nickname borrowed from former Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon) to a toddler music class. We’d spent an hour or two at the park every Thursday if it wasn’t a) raining or b) over 92 degrees or c) below 20.

I refer to our time together as Bubbe Days, using the Yiddish for grandmother.

We’d sung, read, strolled, shared meals, exchanged viruses, occasionally squabbled, spent days each summer at the beach, played and played some more — the whole grandparenting gamut.

And she will remember virtually none of it.

Psychologists I’ve been talking to about kids and “autobiographical memory” — the recall of specific events of personal relevance — tell me that we retain very little of what happened before we turn 3. Childhood amnesia, Freud called it.

“Young children form memories early in life,” explained Patricia Bauer, a cognitive developmental psychologist at Emory University. “But they forget them so quickly, more quickly than adults, that they don’t hold onto them.”

When we think about legacy, what we leave behind as grandparents, probably values top the list: We hope we will have transmitted lessons about kindness, justice, strength and confidence, the boundless nature of love.

But we want to pass along more concrete things, too. I’ve called dibs on regularly escorting Bartola to theater performances, something I relish myself. We’ll probably start soon with the fine children’s theater available around New York City and, over the years, progress to more demanding fare.

If she takes to it, we’ll have something she may deign to do with Bubbe when she’s 13 and I’m 80.

Other grandparents have their own plans. When I asked around, I heard about efforts to encourage a love of books and reading, of singing and music. Grandparents draw and paint and plan museum visits with grandkids they hope will learn to cherish art.

Donna Bolls, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., wants her four grands to develop reverence for nature, so she takes them to forests and gardens and buys them Ranger Rick subscriptions.

Pass along the art of making a decent martini (“It’ll come in handy someday,” she predicted).

Happily for us, children’s memories do improve.

“They gradually strengthen from age 2 to 8,” said Nora Newcombe, a cognitive and developmental psychologist at the Temple University Infant and Child Lab. “They’re more detailed. They last longer.”

Their verbal ability increases too, allowing for fuller accounts. Four-year-olds can relate relatively rudimentary versions of an event. Ask the same children when they’re 6, and “if they remember the event — the big if — they can tell you more about it,” Dr. Bauer said.

We can help the process along by the way we talk with our grandkids about shared experiences. What psychologists call a “high elaborative style,” using lots of details and emphasizing that an event felt emotionally significant, helps cement memories.

If I want Bartola, a fourth-generation beach lover, to recall summers on Cape Cod, the experts told me I should go beyond, “Remember when we went to the beach?” I should be describing the gulls overhead, that game where we buried her feet, the hermit crabs scuttling through tidal pools.

I should talk, in particular, about how much we liked spending time together at the beach and look forward to it again next summer.

“You’re co-constructing a shared history, and you can do it over the phone or on FaceTime,” Dr. Bauer said. “The secret is involving the child in the importance of it, to her and to you and to both of you together. Reflecting on its meaning, affirming that it matters.”

Grandparents could take this a step further, suggested Andrew Meltzoff, director of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington. Cognitive scientists know that so-called “distributed learning,” repeatedly returning to an idea or an experience, strengthens kids’ recollections.

“The child’s brain likes to encounter something, absorb it, and then re-encounter it,” Dr. Meltzoff told me. “It’s a powerful way to establish long-term memory.”

Thus, at the zoo with your grandchild, you comment on the cool giraffe. On the ride home, you talk about the giraffe. Back home, it’s “Tell Mommy about that giraffe we saw!” Later, on the phone or via Skype, you talk about giraffes using the same memorable words and phrases.

Dr. Meltzoff likes the idea of assembling photos of a visit or event — some taken by the child herself, ideally — into a digital or paper scrapbook. That provides a chronological, pictorial narrative that parents, reusing the same distinctive language, and kids can repeatedly look at together.

“It becomes a lasting, tangible record,” he said. “Human beings remember coherent narratives very well.”

I’m not making a scrapbook, but I think a lot about children and memory. The average age for an American to become a grandparent is 50, but it’s not uncommon for it to be much higher. Many of us reproduce at later ages and recognize that we may not see our beloveds become adults.

If I’m lucky, I might attend Bartola’s high school graduation; any milestone beyond that is questionable.

I won’t mind, much, if she doesn’t like the theater. I won’t be crushed if it turns out that she’s not so fond of beaches.

But I do want her to remember me, not specific events so much as my presence. I want her to know that I helped care for her, comfort her and celebrate her. That I was there, a part of her life, and loved her ferociously.

This has less to do with memory formation, perhaps, than with another psychological concept called attachment: feelings of trust that develop very early in infancy.

“It’s more a memory of positive relationships,” Dr. Bauer said. “A sense in the child that, ‘There are people in the world who love and understand me, even if I’m not my best self. Who I can turn to when I’m stressed. People support me; people will help me.’”

Each time we respond to our grandchildren with love and patience, help them feel secure and valued, we’re helping to build positive attachment. It will prove crucial to their well-being later in life, even if memories of incidents and rituals evaporate.

Bartola will remember far more about Bubbe Days in the coming years than in the three already past. But maybe she has already learned what I’ve hoped for.

A few weeks ago, we were sitting on a bench, watching passers-by. “Look at that bubbe,” she remarked, a term she thinks applies to any gray-haired woman.

I had no luck trying to explain that some bubbes don’t look like me, while some women with gray curls aren’t bubbes.

Because the thing was, Bartola already knew all about bubbes. “Bubbes play with you,” she said, launching into a short lecture developed from life, from picture books, possibly from “Moana” and who knows what else. “They give you good things to eat. They hug you.”

If I left this earth tomorrow, I would have to be content with that. And you know, I think I would be.

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Register to Vote!

Welcome to National Voter Registration Day. Yes, your vote matters. Please register to vote today!

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Participate in Study

Study of Childhood and Adolescent Experiences of Race and Ethnicity

Do you identify as bi-racial or multi-ethnic? 

Would you like to share your story?


We are conducting a study about the experiences of bi-racial or multi-ethnic individuals during childhood and adolescence and how those experiences have shaped how they view themselves and their sense of identity.



  • You identify as bi-racial or multi-ethnic
  • You are over the age of 18


If you choose to participate:

  • you will be asked to complete an online survey. This survey will ask you to describe three specific events, one from childhood, one from early adolescence, and one within the last 2-years, in which your ethnicity was an important part of the experience.  You will also be asked questions about how you view yourself in terms of your ethnicity, as well as demographic questions.
  • Your participation in this survey is completely voluntary and you are not required to respond to any questions with which you are uncomfortable answering.
  • The survey, depending on how much you choose to write about your experiences, should take between 30 – 60 minutes to complete.


Use the QR code to participate at

For taking part in this research study, you will be paid for your time and inconvenience by being enrolled in a random lottery to receive one of four $50 visa gift cards.

If you have any questions about this study now or in the future, you may contact Ty Partridge, Ph.D. at the following phone number (313) 577-2813.

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Friday Facts

The number of students expected to attend public and private elementary and secondary schools this year—slightly more than in the 2018–19­ school year (56.5 million).

Overall, 50.8 million students are expected to attend public schools this year. The racial and ethnic profile of public school students includes 23.7 million White students, 13.9 million Hispanic students, 7.7 million Black students, 2.7 million Asian students, 2.1 million students of Two or more races, 0.5 million American Indian/Alaska Native students, and 0.2 million Pacific Islander students.

About 5.8 million students are expected to attend private schools this year.

Suicide by racial and ethnic groups

Suicide risk factors vary by ethnic group

Risk factors for suicide are not universal among ethnic groups, a new report reveals. Credit: University of Houston

Approximately 8.3 million adults in the United States reported thinking about suicide last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While thoughts and deeds are clearly different, University of Houston professor of psychology Rheeda Walker has examined both and finds that current approaches to suicide prevention are troubling, because they usually consist of a “one-size-fits- all approach.”

“It’s important to realize that in the United States twice as many people die by as by homicide, and as we talk more about suicide I want us to resist assuming that suicide risk is the same for everybody,” said Walker, who reported her findings on sociodemographic and mental health predictors of suicide thoughts and attempts in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

Walker and colleagues analyzed data collected for 336,482 adults who participated in the 2008-to-2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, dividing the list along ethnic lines to include whites, blacks, Latinos, Asian or Pacific Islanders (A/PI), American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN) and those who identify as multiracial.

Among the highlights from Walker’s findings:

  • 12-month depression was associated with suicide attempts in that time period for A/PI, AI/AN, Latinos, and whites, but not for black or multiracial adults
  • Alcohol abuse and dependence were associated with for AI/AN, black, and white respondents, but not for other racial/
  • Marijuana usage showed up as a factor in suicide attempts in both white and multiracial adult groups, but not for other groups
  • Low income A/PIs were three times more likely to attempt suicide compared to A/PIs who reported more income
Professor of psychology Rheeda Walker says the current approaches to suicide prevention are troubling, because they usually consist of a “one-size-fits- all approach.” Credit: University of Houston

“Risk factors are not universal among ethnic groups,” said Walker, who admits it is very common for mental health professionals to point to depression as the immediate reason for a death by suicide. “Depression was not a meaningful predictor of suicide attempts or thoughts for all of the groups.” Walker’s previous work identified protective factors among black adults as the reason depression may not rise as a precursor.

“Consistently across studies we see that African Americans are very religious compared to other groups and that may buffer the impact of depression in those groups,” said Walker.

Walker also reports that the predictors for suicide attempts and suicide ideation, or thinking of the act, are different.

“Overall, only psychological distress was consistently associated with suicide ideation and attempts. Other predictors were associated with suicide ideation or attempts and for some racial or ethnic groups, but not others,” said Walker.

Her research provides a window into new profiles needed for a rapidly changing America, she said. The U.S. Census Bureau projections reflect a racial and ethnic composition that is rapidly changing. These projections suggest that the majority of the American population will be composed of “minority” individuals by 2044.

“When we ask people if they’ve thought about suicide in the past, but we don’t note their race, or overemphasize depression and underplay their marijuana use, for example, we miss important opportunities to generate a risk profile that can lead to better prediction.”

More information: Soumia Cheref et al. Refining Psychological, Substance Use, and Sociodemographic Predictors of Suicide Ideation and Attempts in a National Multiethnic Sample of Adults, 2008–2013, The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (2019). DOI: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000001026