FAMOUS FRIDAY: Laila Ali

lailaMuhammad Ali was an amazing man. A world champion fighter, a civil rights activist, and a hero to many people. When he passed away this summer it was a great loss to the world. My mom worked for Muhammad for a number of years and was lucky to consider him a special friend. Below you can see pictures of some of the fun times they shared. But as much as my mom and people around the world will miss The Greatest, there are, of course, few people who will miss him as much as his children. Today’s Famous Friday is Laila Ali, Muhammad’s 8th, and probably most well-known, child.
Like her father, Laila was a boxer. Boxing among women was pretty new when she began the career, which earned her multiple middleweight and light heavyweight championships and ended without a single defeat! Laila graduated from Santa Monica College with a business degree. She is also a TV personality and an author of Reach! Finding Strength, Spirit, and Personal Power, a book written to motivate and inspire young people. Laila married Johnny McClain, who became her business manager but divorced after 5 years. In 2007, she married Curtis Conway who played for the Bears, Chargers, Jets and 49ers. Together they have a son and a daughter.

Laila was born in 1977, to Ali and his then wife, Veronica Porsche-Ali who is multiracial (Louisiana Creole). The picture above of Laila wearing a “Beautifully Blended” tshirt was posted by Laila recently on her Instagram account.  It received a ton of comments about her shirt and whether or not she is multiracial. Here are a couple of them:

You are true beauty, true inspiration. Love your t-shirt! I’m tri-racial 💕💜😊

I have this same shirt. It means whatever you are blended with created something beautiful. Does not mean you have to be “mixed” but that we live in a MixedNation 💜💙💚💛

-Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Kids President.

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FAMOUS FRIDAY: Coffey Anderson

bnjCoffey Anderson is a popular country and contemporary Christian singer. Since I do not usually listen to country music, except unwillingly when my sister Kendall is home, it is not a surprise that I had not heard of Coffey until recently. I have always found most country music a little silly, but the reason this country singer came to my attention is not silly at all.

With the recent officer-involved shootings of people of color, Coffey made a video giving advice on exactly how to behave if you are stopped by police to increase the odds that you will make it home safely. The video called, “Stop the Violence Safety Video for When You Get Pulled Over by the Police”, addresses stereotypes and is a very caring and respectful message. Before posting it he checked with a Texas sheriff to make sure the information in it was correct.

 

The steps, according to Anderson, are:

  1. Turn off the car.
  2. Put your ID on dash.
  3. Place both hands on steering wheel.
  4. Keep the radio volume low.

This video has gone viral with over 36,000,000 views.

Conversations of race and discrimination aren’t usually associated with the country music scene. But, Coffey grew up in Texas with a black mother and a white father. Interestingly, his father worked as a corrections officer. This background, as a multiracial individual and the son of an officer, must give him a unique perspective on this important issue.

Anderson agrees that people deserve respect but states that there is a larger issue at work.“At the end of the day the policeman wants to get home safely, we want to go home safely,” he says. “Even if the cop is having a bad day, you have to go home. You gotta make it home. You’re needed.”

Coffey has made eight albums so far and founded his own indie record label, Coffey Entertainment. Another thing I admire about him is that he was an All-American basketball player  at Howard Payne University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Ministry. He now lives with his wife, hip-hop dancer Criscilla Crossland, and child in Nashville and has performed on many shows including American Idol. His charity work has mostly focused on helping  veterans.

I may not be a huge country music fan, but I have become a Coffey Anderson fan.

–Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Kids President

“never too young to serve”

photo: icoffey.com

FAMOUS FRIDAY: KLAY THOMPSON

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Klay’s parents and brothers, both of whom are also pro athletes.

Klay Thompson is an NBA All-Star. He’s explosive! He does not get anywhere near the amount of attention that his teammate, and fellow Splash Brother, Stephen Curry receives. But then again, who does? Still, Klay Thompson is a huge contributor to the Golden State Warriors success throughout the past two seasons. Last year he scored an NBA reord 37 points – in a SINGLE QUARTER – going 13 of 13 from the field. GHEEEESH!

Basketball is clearly in his blood. Born on February 8 1990 to a Bahamian father, who played good ball for the championship Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s and 90s, and a white mother, Klay attended Washington State University.  After winning the NBA championship in 2015, Thompson and his father became the fourth father-son duo to each win a title as players, joining Matt Guokas, Sr. and Jr.; Rick andBrent Barry; and Bill and Luke Walton.

The 6’7″ 26 year old shooting guard, has been playing great basketball, on what is arguably the greatest team in NBA history and definitely the winningest team in NBA history, finishing the regular season with a all time best 73-9 record.

 

“Make your supporters proud and your haters jealous!” – Klay Thompson

Dec 8, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) takes a shot against Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Golden State defeats Indiana 131-123. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 8, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) takes a shot against Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Golden State defeats Indiana 131-123. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

— Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Kids, President

 

 

FAMOUS FRIDAY: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

FullSizeRenderRecently I was watching one of my favorite movies: “The Game Plan.” As I was watching for probably the hundredth time, a lightbulb went off in my head. I began to wonder if Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was multiracial. After doing a little bit of research, I found that the answer to my question was yes. Dwayne Johnson is of Samoan and African-Canadian ancestry. Mr. Johnson has a long list of accomplishments, and I believe that he is a perfect fit for this week’s Famous Friday.

Dwayne Johnson is not only well known for his acting, but also for his wrestling. Ironically his career in professional wrestling began with a college football career ending injury. He joined the World Wrestling Federation. Throughout his elite wrestling career, he won 6 WWF heavyweight titles.

Today you’re most likely to see Dwayne Johnson on the big screen. He’s recently starred in major films including Hercules, Furious Seven, and San Andreas. Mr. Johnson’s list of accomplishments goes on and on. It’s easy to see how the big guy with a rather soft side has captured the heart of so many individuals.

Lexi Brock, Project RACE Teens President

FAMOUS FRIDAY: 6 YR OLD HOOPS PHENOM JALIYAH MANUEL

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Have you seen this kid? Well, if you have, you’re not alone! Over 60 million viewers have watched in amazement as 6 year old Jaliyah Manuel shows off her incredible basketball skills! Jaliyah, who’s mother is white and father is black, says that Lebron is her favorite player, and earlier this week she actually got to meet him – and HE recognized HER! Not only that, but lots of people are calling her the next Steph Curry! Whether it be Lebron or Steph, it seems she works as hard as any NBA player, even going to the gym seven days a week. When she’s not playing ball or doing school work, Jaliyah, who lives with her family in Louisiana, loves being a big sister to her baby brother. As young as she is, she also spends time inspiring others. Jaliyah is already giving motivational speeches to students to encourage them to work hard and dream big!

If you have never seen this girl at work, check out this video! And if you have… I bet you want to see it again!
Meet Jaliyah

– Karson Baldwin, President, Project RACE Kids
Video via NBCNews.com

FAMOUS FRIDAY: My Friend, Sydney McLaughlin

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Not often you can write a Famous Friday on a good family friend you’ve known all your life, but this time, I can!

Meet my friend, Sydney McLaughlin. we grew up going to church together in New Jersey. Sydney is the third of the four amazing McLaughlin kids. Both of their parents were track sensations when they were young and the kids are following in their proud parent’s footsteps. Sydney’s list of state and national records and awards is a long one. She specializes in the 400 and 200 meters and from day one of her high school career, everyone knew she was the kind of super gifted athlete that does not come along very often. Sydney, who is reigning World Youth Champion in the 400 meter hurdles, and her older brother Taylor were named last year as the Fastest Siblings in High School Track and Field. Just two weeks ago, Sydney broke the state record in the girls 400-meter run with a time of 53.34! She has NEVER lost a 400 hurdles race. NEVER. All she does is win, win, win! Despite all this sucess at a young age, Sydney is a very sweet and humble girl.

My friend is only a junior in high school, but she has already become a legend. I am pretty sure we will get to cheer her on in the Olympics one day. GO SYDNEY!!!syd

– Karson Baldwin, President Project RACE Kids

Biracial Diversity in Animation

Thomas Astruc Scores Big with Miraculous Ladybug
BY @LITERATIGURL
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There’s nothing cooler than my daughter schooling me on what’s trending in her world. She’s an aspiring animator and video editor, and as a biracial teen, she takes note when other multiracial teens are represented prominently in those mainstream genres.

She gave me the heads up as Disney Animation released Big Hero 6 in 2014, with the first ever biracial lead character (Hiro Hamata) in a feature-length animated film. Big Hero 6 would go on to win the Academy award for Best Animated Film set against a backdrop of #OscarSoWhite controversy and lack of diversity within other major motion picture categories. For young biracial teens like my daughter, it offered an opportunity to see a bit of themselves celebrated with the Academy’s highest honor – The Oscar.

Meanwhile in France, a female superhero had also come to life for french concept creator, Thomas Astruc. A (French/Chinese) teenage girl named Marinette Dupain-Cheng, also known as Ladybug, would lead the series. Top animation studios in three countries – South Korea, France and Japan worked together to co-produce, with Zagtoon and Method Animation participating from France, Toei Animation from Japan, and SAMG Animation from South Korea.

Set in modern day France, Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir follows Marinette (Ladybug) and her classmate and super-crush Adrien Agreste (Cat Noir). Oblivious to each other’s true identities, the two work together to protect Paris from the villainous Hawk Moth, who covets and attempts to steal their powers by using his akumas, butterflies made of black energy, to influence and transform everyday citizens into supervillains

The series first premiered in South Korea on September 1, 2015 on EBS under the title Lady Bug. In France, it debuted on October 19 on TF1. In the United States, the series made its way over to Nickelodeon in December. The concept for the show was originally targeting teens and young adults, but later retooled for a younger target audience when it failed to gain enough support from networks.

Even though stations may have felt the show belonged with younger viewers, teens and young adults are still creating their own edgier Miraculous remixes through social media on a daily basis.
South Korea is about to release new “origin” episodes for Miraculous Ladybug on March 1, and fans are concerned about spoilers ruining the story-line for viewers still catching up on the series in other countries. Astruc, referred to as Hawkdaddy by followers on social media addressed his take on the spoiler issue earlier this week. “Watch it however you want. I’m not the boss of you. But just think about your fellow miraculers who’d like to enjoy it the best way possible.”

As my notification feed lit up after posting my daughter’s clip (Yes, that’s hers), I quickly realized there was a far cooler and broader Miraculous movement underway which led me to a little homework of my own about this series. I love that! Many thanks to all the “Miraculers” for schooling me too!

And special thanks to Cami, for keeping me in her loop.

Image Credit: Zagtoon | METHOD | TOEI ANIMA

Why Are There So Few Biracial Dolls?

By Gretchen Gales via Bustle.com

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10 years ago, my obsession was American Girl everything. The dolls, the books, anything I could get my hands on. I still have my own customized doll with green eyes and hair close to the brown-ish blonde hair I had at the time. I wasn’t only interested in their current-day dolls, however — the historical dolls inspired me to be the best I could be as well, because no matter what time period or culture the girls lived in, all of them learn to be brave through adversity and hard changes in their lives. For example, Kit Kittredge, the 1930’s Nancy Drew-esque aspiring news reporter, lives during the Great Depression and must learn how to adjust to life when her father loses his job, becoming thrifty and working hard to achieve her goals. She taught me that working hard will result in success, even if it is not immediate.

A couple years ago, on a trip with my mother to Tyson’s Corner mall, just outside of Washington, D.C., I saw it: The American Girl Store. It had been a while since I anxiously waited for the next historical character to read about (or lusted after the $100+ merchandise in the catalogs). But when I went into the two-story American Girl utopia, I was 10 all over again (being 20 means you’re just 2 whole 10 year-olds, by the way).
And while it was one of the most beautiful moments in my life, I couldn’t help but wonder why, after all of these years, there was still no biracial historical doll?

American Girl’s product diversity section pledges that they have a doll available for “every girl to love” and when it comes to the customizable personal dolls, that pledge is upheld. As per their product diversity statement, American Girl prides itself on “the most inclusive and diverse selections of dolls today” and “giving girls an opportunity to see a direct reflection of themselves or a chance to learn about a life or culture that may be very different from their own.” Indeed, modern-day dolls are completely customizable, with options pertaining to everything from skin and eye color to style of hair (they’re even available without hair). Accessories such as glasses, hearing aids, wheelchairs, and service animals are also available to make sure that every girl can create a doll that looks just like them.

But in the historical doll collection, the same level of diversity isn’t present. Every couple of years or so, American Girl introduces a new character from a different period in American history. Once known as “The American Girls Collection,” what is now called the “BeForever” collection features the company’s historical characters, which cover over 200 years of brave female role models between them. Every character faces unique challenges related to their era, ranging from the impact of historical events to identity. And a majority of these dolls are white, even though people of color are expected to soon comprise the majority the U.S. population, according to trends seen in the 2010 Census.
The number of Americans who identify as biracial or mixed race is especially important to note. According to research gathered by National Geographic, the number of people who checked off multiple races on their census forms has increased by 32 percent since 2000. The Pew Research Center released a similar study called “The Next America” that also agrees that populations of people of color, including biracial and mixed race Americans, are growing. So again, why is it so difficult to find biracial dolls?

Don’t think I’m about to bash American Girl (not a chance of that, ever). American Girl offers a much more diverse selection of dolls than nearly every other doll label, though many other major toy companies are also making great strides in releasing more racially diverse lines of toys. Barbie (which is produced by Mattel, the company which also produces American Girl) has increased its product diversity with recent releases including the Barbie Careers line, which includes African-American dentist, doctor, optometrist, and veterinarian dolls; a line of dolls modeled on the band Fifth Harmony which includes Latina, African-American, and Tongan members; and their gorgeous Zendaya doll, as well as their new curvy, petite, and tall Barbies with multiple skin tones and eye color options. Mattel also produces dolls based on Dora the Explorer, the popular cartoon show about an adventurous young girl of Mexican heritage. Disney has released toys tied to Doc McStuffins, a wildly successful cartoon about a young African-American girl who aspires to become a doctor.

And American Girl has done an excellent job including girls of many different ethnicities in the BeForever collection, including Mexican-American Josefina Montoya; Addy Walker, an African-American girl that escapes slavery; and Kaya’aton’my (Kaya), a Native American girl of the Nez Perce tribe. Cécile Rey, another African-American doll, was released alongside Marie-Grace in 2011 as part of a story set in 1850’s New Orleans, but was discontinued in 2014. Ivy Ling, a friend of 1970’s historical doll Julie, is Chinese-American (though her doll was retired in 2014, causing an uproar). There is even a Jewish doll named Rebecca Rubin.

But there are very few biracial and mixed race dolls commercially available. A quick Amazon search only revealed 12 results for “biracial dolls” ( ).

It is worth noting that American Doll did offer a biracial doll for a limited time — in 2006, American Girl released Jess McConnell, a half Japanese-American and Irish character as their annual “Girl of the Year” doll.

But as the honor suggests, it’s just for the year, and the company has never produced a biracial doll for their historical collection. I applaud American Girl for their efforts towards diversity, and understand that to have a historical role model character for each and every girl’s unique background would be impossible. But I think the importance of having biracial dolls widely available — from American Girl as well as other companies — cannot be overstated.

The benefit of having at least one permanently available biracial doll is giving girls of mixed ethnicities someone to relate to, someone that has heard the same questions and has the same concerns as they have. And including a biracial girl in a historical collection would show that mixed race and biracial women play an important role in American history.

And this isn’t just theoretical concern — a biracial friend told me, when I asked if he had trouble finding biracial dolls for his younger sister, that “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a mixed doll.” He may have never come across a biracial doll while shopping because the options for mixed race and biracial dolls often come from smaller companies, like The Pattycake Doll Company(which sells African-American, Asian, Latina, and biracial dolls, ranging in price from $15 to $50) whose products are not as widely stocked in toy stores as those from larger companies.

At this time, American Girl has not commented on the future of a biracial historical doll. But I believe there’s still hope for a biracial American Girl doll in the near future. To truly live up to their name, their dolls should reflect allof America’s girls — and to do that today, some of them must be biracial.

Images: InSapphoWeTrust/ Flickr; Giphy;

FAMOUS FRIDAY: HRH Prince Alfons Constantin Maria

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Prince Alfons photo: Ann Dandridge PR

Here at Project RACE, our youth leadership takes turns writing about famous multiracial people. A few weeks ago, when it was last my turn, I wrote about college basketball sensation Ben Simmons and referred to him as “The Prince”. But this week, I am here to tell you about a real-legit-modern day-noble born-aristocratic-heir to the throne of a country, kind of prince!

Meet 14 year old Prince Alfons Constantin Maria of Liechtenstein!

Alfons is the only child of His Serene Highness Prince Maximillian Nikolaus Maria of Liechtenstein, son of Sovereign Prince Hans Adam, and Her Serene Highness Princess Angela (born Angela Gisela Brown). He is fifth in the line of succession to the throne of the Principality of Liechtenstein, which is currently ruled by Alfons’ grandfather, Prince Hans-Adam II. Princess Angela and Prince Alfons are said to be the highest ranked members of color in a reigning European dynasty.

credit: poetsandprinces.com

All I can say is WOW

The family is very private and I guess that’s why was unable to find a picture of Alfons that looks recent. I can certainly imagine what his life must be like, and I can show you this picture of the lucky kid’s house… or should I say CASTLE! But since there is not a lot of info available on him, I will tell you a bit more about his mom and dad.

Alfons’ father, who is called Max because Maximillian Nikolaus Maria of Liechtenstein is a lot, was born in Switzerland. He is the second son of Prince Hans-Adam II and Princess Marie. He studied Economics at the European Business School in Frankfurt, Germany and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Alfons’ mother, Princess Angela, was born in Panama and traveled to New York with her parents when she was a young child. She studied at Parsons School of Design and was awarded the “Oscar de La Renta Golden Thimble Award” for graduating with honors. Angela worked as a fashion designer in NYC, where she met Prince Maximilian at a reception in 1997. They became good friends, and two years later got engaged. In 2000, they were married at St. Vincent Ferrer Church in New York.

Max is 11 years younger than Angela. I guess being a prince is not really a full time job, even as an adult, because Max has served as CEO of the LGT Group, the largest family-owned private wealth management firm in Europe, since 2006.

If you are not familiar with Liechtenstein (I know I wasn’t), it is a really small but VERY rich principality! It has the highest gross domestic product per person in the entire world! Besides being ridiculously beautiful, Liechtenstein may be best known for its tax-haven status. The country is located in the Alps of Central Europe between Austria and Switzerland.

Maybe one day I can go check it out! And with only 33,000 citizens, who knows… I might run in to my man Prince Alfons!

 

  • Karson, President, Project RACE Kids

Project RACE Helps Welcome New U.S. Surgeon General

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PR Kids President, Karson Baldwin (that’s me!) with my new hero, the new U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy!

Fort Myer, VA –

Yesterday was a day I will never forget. It was an awesome honor to be invited to the Swearing-In and Change of Command Ceremony for the 19th Surgeon General of the United States, Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA.

The Surgeon General is considered “America’s Doctor” and his job is improving personal and public health for the USA. Dr. Murthy gave a really inspiring speech about his childhood and what made him decide to become a doctor. In his speech he also talked a lot about health care being a basic civil right for all and not a privilege for some and he talked about racial and economic health disparities.  At Project RACE, one of the main things we care about is equal rights in health care for multiracial people.  I think Dr. Murthy is now one of the most important people in our country, because he has the power to help with that.

But he was not the only big time government person there. Health and Human Service Secretary Burwell introduced Vice President Biden who was there to read the commission and lead Dr. Murthy in the Oath of Office. There were lots of other officials in the ceremony and in the crowd and I got to talk to three pharmacists at the FDA about including multiracial people in medical research!

The ceremony was at Fort Myer in Virginia and included all kinds of military activities because the Surgeon General leads the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps of 6,700 uniformed health officers “who serve around the world to promote, protect and advance the health and safety of our nation and our world.” There were bells, medals, frocking, marching and more. One of the coolest moments was when the Deputy Surgeon General announced to Dr. Murthy that they were “awaiting his command” and the new Surgeon General declared, “POST MY COLORS!” (like a BOSS!)

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Dr. Murthy went to Harvard for undergrad and Yale for Med School so we had to talk a little Harvard-Yale sports rivalry.

The highlight, of course, was when my mom and I got to talk with Dr. Murthy and his fiance, Dr. Alice Chen, after the ceremony.  All that Dr. Murthy has accomplished is crazy impressive. Being the youngest Surgeon General ever is crazy impressive. Being the first Indian Surgeon General ever is crazy impressive. But welcoming a 13 year old advocate to share in such a special day and taking the time to be so warm and humble is most impressive of all!

 

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Mom, Dr. Murthy, Me and Dr. Chen

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Dr. Murthy started his first non profit when he was 17 years old!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Makensie McDaniel