The Multiracial Advocacy


What’s in a Name?


Susan Graham

Executive Director

Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally)

Talking about race is difficult for many people. One reason is terminology. What’s right, what’s wrong, what’s politically correct and does any of it matter? For people who are of more than one race it matters greatly.

Changes in nomenclature for racial and ethnic groups change often. A group that over time went from Colored to Negro to Black to African American should understand the significance of proper names. In the 1990s, the U.S. government agreed to change Alaskan Native to Alaska Native—yes, they dropped the “n” in Alaskan. Why? Because it is their identity and they wanted it changed. I bet you didn’t even notice.

Also in the 1990s, Project RACE was told that if we wanted our group’s name to be considered on government forms, including the U.S. Decennial Census, we had to agree on a name. Through surveys, talking with other organizations, and really listening to our membership, the winner stood out—Multiracial. Not mixed, not other, not mutt, not people of more than one race, not mulatto, not quadroon, but Multiracial. Biracial was the next most favored name.

Multiracial pride is no different from pride in any other group. Some examples are Americans, women, Asians, and seniors. Incorrect terminology can hurt. One wrong or misused word can indeed cause emotional pain. Project RACE and others have fought for the word multiracial for many years. We have worked with lawmakers, journalists, writers, medical facilities, schools, and others to educate them about the proper word for our group—a word that invokes respect and takes no effort at all. Won’t you help us?


Susan Graham

Executive Director

Project RACE





Leave A Comment