It’s Famous Friday!

Trevor Noah

 

Born in apartheid South Africa, comedian Trevor Noah was literally born a crime. Until the early 1990s, institutionalized racial segregation made it illegal for black and white people to interact. With a Xhosa mother and Swiss-German father, Noah couldn’t be seen with both parents. His mother was arrested several times for interacting with his father. He outlines this difficult childhood experience in his compelling autobiography entitled Born a Crime. In it he explains: “As a kid I understood that people were different colors, but in my head white and black and brown were like types of chocolate. Dad was the white chocolate, mom was the dark chocolate, and I was the milk chocolate. But we were all just chocolate.”

In 2011, Noah moved to the United States. After appearing on various talk shows and television series, while also doing stand-up comedy, Noah became a correspondent at John Stewart’s Daily Show in 2014. Less than a year later, he was named Stewart’s successor and took over the reins of the Daily Show.

Since then Noah has become a superstar. He has carried the Daily Show to the top of a highly competitive landscape of late-night talk shows. Each day, he addresses current political issues with humor, wit, insight, and passion. He manages to inform his audience on these important topics as well as make them laugh. His unique style, hilarious character, and diverse cast have earned him a Primetime Emmy Award and various other recognitions.

Trevor Noah is an influential and inspiring role model for all multiracial people around the world.

 

Ian Shen-Costello

Project RACE Teens Vice-President

 

Image source: http://www.vulture.com/2018/08/the-daily-show-trevor-noah-favorite-segments.html

 

It’s Famous Friday!

Lin-Manuel Miranda

 

Hamilton finally came to Cleveland and my family is now obsessed. The play, which has been acclaimed as a pop culture phenomenon, totally lived up to the hype and left me in awe of the brilliance of it’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda!

Lin-Manuel is an multi-award-winning composer, lyricist, and actor born on January 16, 1980. He’s best known (to me, at least) for creating and starring in Broadway musicals In the Heights and Hamilton. Hamilton has won a ton of awards. It was awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Drama and earned a record-breaking 16 Tony Nominations, winning 11 Tony Awards including two personally for Miranda. In 2016, Time magazine included Miranda in its annual Time 100 as one of the “Most Influential People in the World”. It was announced in June 2017 that Miranda would be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2018. Basically, he’s the man!

Miranda was born and raised in New York City, to psychologist Luz Towns and political consultant Luis Miranda, Jr. He has an older sister, Luz, who is CFO of the MirRam Group. Miranda’s mother is mostly Puerto Rican, but their ancestors include an interracial couple, Sophie, who was black, and David Towns, who was white; from the early 1800s, this couple spent their lives trying to “outrun slavery as laws and governments changed around them.” Most of the Towns family married Mexican spouses, and Miranda has described his ancestry as “a quarter Mexican”. His name “Lin-Manuel” was inspired by a poem about the Vietnam War, Nana Roja Para Mi Hijo Lin Manuel, by the Puerto Rican writer José Manuel Torres Santiago.

Miranda’s dad has said he knew his son would end up in show business from the time he was in third grade. As a child, Miranda wrote jingles and, as a student at Wesleyan University, he co-founded a hip hop comedy troupe. He wrote the earliest draft of In the Heights during his sophomore year of college in 2000.

While on a vacation in 2008, Miranda read a biography of Alexander Hamilton and it inspired him to write a rap about Hamilton that he performed at the White House in 2009. Miranda says he spent a year writing my Dad’s favorite Hamilton song, “My Shot”, revising it again and again until every verse reflected Alexander Hamilton’s intellect. The lyrics are brilliant! By 2012, Miranda was performing a set of pieces based on the life of Hamilton, the Hamilton Mixtape. In 2015 Hamilton: An American Musical premiered off-Broadway with Miranda starring as the title character. The show opened on Broadway in August 2015. On the first night of Hamilton previews over 700 people lined up for lottery tickets. The Hamilton ticket lottery evolved into “Ham4Ham”, a series of outdoor mini-performances for lottery participants hosted daily by Miranda and cast members for over a year.

In earlier years, Miranda worked as an English teacher at his former high school, wrote for the Manhattan Times as a columnist and restaurant reviewer, and composed music for commercials. But he had a lot of show biz success before and after Hamilton. Miranda’s first Broadway musical, In the Heights, received four 2008 Tony Awards including Best Musical, with Miranda receiving a Tony Award. In the Heights also won a Grammy for its Original Cast Album and was a Finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Miranda has appeared in many TV and film productions including: The Electric Company, Sesame Street, The Sopranos, House, Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, Inside Amy Schumer, Saturday Night Live, DuckTales, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Moana.

In 2016 Miranda contributed music, lyrics and vocals to several songs in Disney’s Moana, earning him an Oscar nomination and Grammy Award for the original song, “How Far I’ll Go.” He is co-starring with Meryl Streep in the film Mary Poppins Returns, which is due to come out in December 2018. He’s also involved in Disney’s upcoming remake of The Little Mermaid. I’m really looking forward to seeing him in those! He will make his debut as a film director with an adaptation of Tick, Tick… Boom!, which he will also produce with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

Outside of entertainment, Miranda is also quite politically active. After a meeting with President Obama in 2016, Miranda joined Senators Gillibrand, Schumer, and Warren to call for a Senate bill for debt relief for Puerto Rico, and raised funds for rescue efforts and disaster relief after Hurricane Maria in 2017. He has spoken out he created a benefit single, “Almost Like Praying” that raised $22 million and released its Salsa Remix, benefitting the Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS Fund. He worked with Jennifer Lopez on the charity single, “Love Make The World Go Round” as a tribute to the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting. He powerfully responds to tragedy with music including creating “Found/Tonight” in support of the March For Our Lives anti-gun violence movement.

Miranda received an honorary degree in 2009 from Yeshiva University, becoming the youngest person to receive an honorary degree from that university. Former NYC mayor Ed Koch, presented Miranda with the degree. He received honorary Doctorates from his alma mater, Wesleyan University, and the University of Pennsylvania. Miranda married lawyer and high school friend Vanessa Nadal in 2010. At their wedding, he performed the song “To Life” and the video has been viewed more than 6 million times on YouTube. Miranda and Nadal live in NYC with their two sons, Sebastian and Francisco.

Miranda gave his last performance in Hamilton on July 9, 2016, but vowed to return to the show. I’d really love to be there to see that.

– Karson Baldwin, President, Project RACE Teens

Are You in an Interracial Family?

Project RACE is very pleased to announce that we have been asked to participate in a photographic project by the amazing photographer Ben Baker! He has photographed the Obamas, many other Presidents, entertainers, politicians, and other famous people.

He is looking for interracial families to photograph in New York this weekend or next. This could be any combination of backgrounds: black/white, Asian/black, Hispanic/white, African American/American Indian, etc. Please email me at susangraham@projectrace.com if you are interested. Let’s help Ben make this a huge success!

It’s Famous Friday!

Chelsi Smith

The pageant world lost an iconic and history making figure this past weekend.  Chelsi Smith, a Houston, Texas, native, succumbed to liver cancer at the age of 45 on Saturday, September 8, 2018.  Crowned Miss Texas, Miss USA and Miss Universe in 1995, Chelsi Smith became the first biracial woman to win all three pageantry titles in history.

Having been raised by her grandparents in southeast Houston, Chelsi was no stranger to wrestling with issues concerning her identity as a biracial woman.  Her mother was white and her father was African-American. While competing on the pageantry circuit, she objected to being identified solely as black. “If people are going to know me,” Smith told the Houston Post, “I just think it’s important for them to know I’m half-black and half-white and that it hasn’t been a disadvantage.”

Among the many things Chelsi Smith will be remembered for is her decision to use her notoriety to combat racism and her courage to call others to acknowledge all aspects of identity concerning biracial and multiracial individuals.

Nadia Wooten

Project RACE Teens Vice-President

 

 

Source for photo: Monty Brinton / CBS

 

 

Thank you!

Thank you!

Project RACE would like to thank Reuters, Business Report, Independent Online, and The Organization for World Peace for referring to Naomi Osaka as biracial in their news reports on the U.S. Open winner. Shame on AP writers and editors and CNN for using defamatory and outdated wording.

A Few Words to AP

A Few Words to the Associated Press

Several months ago, the Associated Press (AP) changed their stylebook to read:

<<The AP Stylebook states the following about the terms biracial, multiracial, and mixed:

“Acceptable, when clearly relevant, to describe people with more than one racial heritage. Usually more useful when describing large, diverse groups of people than individuals. Avoid mixed-race, which can carry negative connotations, unless a story subject prefers the term. Be specific if possible, and then use biracial for people of two heritages or multiracial for those of two or more on subsequent references if needed.”>>

Yet, a story appeared by AP on February 10th that repeatedly used the term “mixed” and “mixed-race” instead of multiracial or biracial. What happened to their own stylebook usage?! I wrote to them pointing out the error and asking what would happen in the future. I did not receive a reply, but did get a confirmation of our request. Then tonight, two days later, yet another story appeared with the same problem and never once used the preferred terminology. Obviously, the sports writers and editors at AP have different stories. We’d like to know why.

 

Happy Grandparents Day!

HAPPY GRANDPARENTS DAY!

The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is undeniably important. But is it even more important when the child is multiracial? We think so.

We know that interracial families are on the rise. We know that the multiracial population is the fastest growing group in America. The social support of grandparents is important in early identity of children. Most of us can fondly remember spending time with our grandparents, which led to memories we still have today.

As grandparents to multiracial children, we can enrich their experiences by talking about our own childhoods and lives and give them a wider perspective on other people’s race and ethnicity. We can contribute to their well-being as children of more than one race.

How do we do this? Project RACE Grandparents provides wonderful resources for our grandparent members. Join us today! Membership is free. Meanwhile, here are some ideas:

 

  1. Read books together about interracial families and multiracial children. New and wonderful books are coming out all the time. Project RACE Grandparents provides suggestions and reviews of new books. Books like People by Peter Spier are wonderful to use to point out that people come in various colors and physical attributes. We also welcome book reviews by our members and their grandchildren of all ages.

 

  1. Introduce your multiracial grandchildren to the wonderful world of coloring using Multicultural Crayons and markers by Crayola. They come in different skin tones of the world. Explain to them that people come in different colors and that they can blend the crayons to get their unique color.

 

  1. Seek out dolls with a variety of skin tones, physical attributes, hair styles, etc. American Dolls has a line of dolls that are very diverse. Look for Pattycake Dolls, too.

 

  1. Cook together! Teach your multiracial grandchild some of the specialties of your own background, race, ethnicity, and nationality.

 

  1. Talk about different cultures and show your multiracial grandchildren your understanding and interest in their background. And listen, too.

 

 Enjoy your day as a grandparent to multiracial children!

 

Image Source: The Root.com

 

 

It’s Famous Friday!

Bob Marley 

“My father was white and my mother black, you know. Them call me half-caste, or whatever.  Well, me don’t dip on nobody’s side.  Me don’t dip on the black man’s side nor the white man’s side.  Me dip on God’s side, the one who create me and cause me to come from black and white, who give me this talent.” Bob Marley-1975

Nesta Robert Marley more commonly known as Bob Marley was born February 6, 1945 in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica. He would grow to become the most successful Caribbean recording artist of all time selling over 135 million total albums in his career.  But despite his becoming a global superstar, most are unaware that he was born to a white father, Captain Norval Marely and a black mother, Cedella Booker.Because of his mixed-race heritage, Bob was bullied and nicknamed “White Boy” by his neighbors in the desperately poor slums of Jamaica. The teasing was relentless, and Mr. Marley would eventually find out that no amount of money or fame could erase the psychological aftermath of being an abandoned child of an interracial marriage in the 50’s and 60’s. This persistent mentality of resentment and embarrassment sculpted Marley’s youth and eventually influenced his music.

Although is musical talent was obvious, it would take almost two decades (1962-1980) before he would reach the status as a music icon. His song “One Love” was designated Song of the Millennium by the BBC.  His 1977 album “Exodus” was named Album of the Century by Time Magazine and he was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. His compilation album “Legend” has sold well over 15 million copies since its release in 1991 and continues to sell over 200,000 albums per year. In 2001, Marley was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammy’s and his continued popularity keep him annually on the top 10 Highest-Earning Dead Celebrities in the world (He earned 21 million dollars in 2017!) His greatest achievement in my opinion was in his receiving The United Nations Peace Medal which commemorates those around the world whose life and work promote peace.

Marley’s music certainly continues to inspire and influence music, fashion, politics and culture around the world. Noting this fact at Mr. Marley’s funeral, Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Searga declared in his funeral eulogy, “His voice was an omnipresent cry in our electronic world. His sharp features, majestic looks, and prancing style a vivid etching on the landscape of our minds. Bob Marley was never seen. He was an experience which left an indelible imprint with each encounter. Such a man cannot be erased from the mind. He is part of the collective consciousness of the nation.”

Alexis Cook

Project RACE Teens Co-President

Photo: Getty Images

New Faces at Project RACE!

NEW FACES AT PROJECT RACE

 

New Project RACE Kids President!

 

Madelyn Rempel is 12 years old and the oldest of three siblings.  She was born in NJ and has lived in Durham North Carolina and now resides in upstate NY with her family.  Madelyn is part of a multiracial family.  Her mom was born in the Dominican Republic and her dad is from Minnesota (Danish and German) “I get to discover different types of cultures because I am multiracial and I get to learn about different parts of the world through my family.”

Madelyn is an excellent student.  Her favorite subject is social studies; she loves to learn about people.  She loves to sing, act and dance.  She recently shined in her role as Scuttle off from the Little Mermaid Junior in her 6th grade school play.  Madelyn loves to help others.  One of her greatest joys has been to start her own business (Helping With a Cup Cake) she bakes cupcakes and sells them to give the money to a non for profit organization to help the poor.

Madelyn wants to bring awareness to her community about being a part of a multiracial family and is excited to join the Project Race youth leadership team as president of Project RACE kids.

 

New Project RACE Teens Vice-President!

 

My name is Nadia Wooten, and I am a senior attending Klein High School located in Spring, Texas. While attending Klein High, I have been an officer in two organizations, such as Bringing Exceptional Students Together, also known as B.E.S.T. and National Honor Society; however, when I heard about Project RACE, I was extremely excited to be a part of an organization  that addresses the issues and concerns of multiracial young people such as myself.  Currently, I am ranked among the top 2% of my graduating class.

Although I am heavily involved in my academics, I also enjoy playing the cello, honing my skills in various disciplines of art like photography, drawing, painting, laughing, traveling, and fashion.  In addition, I play tennis for recreation.  Using my enjoyment of tennis and my involvement in B.E.S.T., I am currently in the process of starting a program, called Love All in the fall.  This program will include basic skills clinics taught by tennis professionals to children with intellectual disabilities.  My objective in starting this program is to help establish a connection with this particular population of students along with their parents with those in the community.

It’s Famous Friday!

Famous Friday – Lana Condor

“To me, a modern American girl doesn’t look like any one thing,” the author of the book-turned-movie explained. “And when I look at the people I know, so rarely is anyone just one thing and I wanted to acknowledge that and honor it in this story.”

 To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a popular new teen romance film that debuted on Netflix this month. It is based on the novel by Jenny Han. The film stars 21-year-old actress and dancer Lana Condor as Lara Jean Song Covey. Lara Jean is the middle of three sisters. The story is about Lara Jean writing love letters to her secret crushes. She does not send these letters, but somehow, they find their way to the boys’ mailboxes.

I chose to feature Lana Condor for this week’s Famous Friday both because of who she is in real life and the character she plays in this film. Lana is biologically Vietnamese but transracially adopted by American parents. The character she plays, Lara Jean, is multiracial, specifically hapa, with a white father and a Korean mother who has previously passed away. While the characters’ ethnicity is a part of who they are it is not a crucial part of the plot. Condor’s costar, Janel Parrish is quoted as saying, “Our lead just happens to be Asian American.” While I agree that our race doesn’t define us, a point of note to the Project RACE community, however, is that the three sisters in this story refer to themselves as the “Song Sisters,” even though their actual last names are Covey. They do so because they say the world sees them as Asian. We know that, despite what some may believe, it is not the world who gets to decide how we identify.

Lana Condor grew up in Chicago but her family moved to Los Angeles when she was 15. She has a brother who is also adopted. She made her big screen debut as Jubilee in the 2016 superhero film X-Men: Apocalypse, but this is her first lead role. Condor must be an amazing dancer because she studied ballet with some of the best, the Joffrey Ballet and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She took acting classes at the New York Film Academy and Yale Summer. As a high school freshman, Condor attended the Professional Performing Arts School in New York. She has been accepted to Loyola Marymount University but has several film projects lined up, including the coming-of-age romantic comedy Summer Nights so we will have to see if she ends up going.

-Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Teens, Co-President

Photo credit: Bustle.com