It’s Famous Friday!

Cassie Ventura

Casandra Ventura, known as Cassie, was born August 26, 1986. She was born in New London, Connecticut to a Filipino father and an African American mother. She began modeling at 14, and by the time she was 16, was modeling for local department stores, fashion catalogs, and Seventeen. While she was still in high school, her producer encouraged her to take vocal lessons, learn modern ballet, and use her school’s performing arts program. Upon graduation, she decided to move to New York to take dance classes at Broadway Dance Center while she continued to model.

After continually keeping Cassie on his radar, famed recording artist and producer Ryan Leslie signed her to his label.  Their partnership resulted in Cassie becoming one of the fastest rising R&B acts of 2004. In 2006, she released her hit single ‘Me & U’ and then her first album labeled Cassie. In 2013, she released the RockaByeBaby mix tape which was named best mixtape of the year by Dazed & Confused. She has collaborated with artists such as Diddy, G-Eazy and Wiz Khalifa.

In addition to singing, Cassie has had acting roles in movies like Honey 3: Dare to Dance, Step Up 2: The Streets, The Perfect Match, and television show appearances.  She continues to model for companies like Victoria’s Secret, Target, Walmart, Abercrombie.  In 2013, she was the face of both Forever 21 and ASOS collections.

Nadia Wooten

Project RACE teen Vice- President

Source: Getty Images


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It’s Famous Friday!

J. Cole


J. Cole is a famous rapper, singer, song writer, and producer. He originally gained recognition from his first mixtape called The Come Up and continued on the fast track to fame with two albums, The Warm Up and Friday Night Lights. He then released his first studio album which was recognized as #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200. In 2014, J. Cole received his first Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Album.

Rapper J. Cole was born to a white mother and black father and raised in the military town of Fayetteville, N.C. The hip-hop artist says his biracial identity offers him a unique perspective because he’s “seen both sides.” He told XXL magazine, “I can identify with white people, because I know my mother, her side of the family, who I love. I’ve had white friends … But at the end of the day, I never felt white. I don’t know what that feels like. I can identify. But never have I felt like I’m one of them.” J. Cole has used his music as a way of expressing all the emotions he’s felt about his past and releasing how he feels about his present/future.

Although J. Cole has noticed color in his life, he was never ruled by it. Through his music, J. Cole has explained his experiences and his outlook on life because of them. When talking about his skin color Cole said, “I identify more with what I look like, because that’s how I got treated. Not necessarily in a negative way. But when you get pulled over by the police, I can’t pull out my half-White card. Or if I just meet you on the street, you’re not gonna be like, this guy seems half-white.”

Cole continues to produce music that connects with young people all over the United States sharing his message and life lessons.


Alexis Cook – Project RACE Teens Co-President

Photo by Scott Dudelson/Wireima

Why I’ll Fill Out My Census Form

It only happens once every ten years and it is one year away. April 1 is the one year out milestone for the 2020 Census. We will be inundated in the next 12 months with messages from the Census Bureau about how important it is for every American to be counted. There will be a major media blitz reminding us of the repercussions if we don’t do as we’re told. There is even a monetary penalty for not participating and every envelope says, “Your response is required by law,” but that won’t make us want to fill out our census forms. I’ll fill mine out because I’ll want to know what the numbers are for my community. I’ll want to know if we count.

Humans, by their very nature, love to count things. How many quarters do we have? How many steps does it take to get to the bathroom? The “how many?” question looms. There is even a disease called arithmomania, a disorder in which individuals have a strong need to count their actions or objects in their surroundings.

Filling out your census form is hardly obsessive behavior, yet so many of us are somewhat annoyed by it. We shouldn’t be. Knowing how many Americans there are and where they are is important to our society for things like funding of federal and state programs, congressional representation, and information about data like sex and race. A census ensures that we are represented in many important ways.

You may feel the census is intrusive. Why does the government need to know so much about us? What difference does it make if we’re White, Black, or somewhere in-between? Did our forefathers really care how many toilets our homes have? Is it anyone’s business? I remember a man telling me, “I’ll tell them where I live and that’s all they get!” Maybe you’re one of these people, but I implore you to get past the fear and fill in your 2020 census when it arrives. There is an old adage “We count people because people count.”

Doubt in government is at an all-time high. We just don’t trust Washington, but is that a good enough reason to not be counted? Now a citizenship question is being debated, which if included, will cause even more distrust. That will lead to more and more people not filling out their forms. The Supreme Court will weigh in on this question soon. People bring up privacy concerns with every census, but census data are processed to obscure individual information.

Data are important. We fill out surveys and take quizzes. Buy anything on the internet and you’ll be almost assured of some kind of customer satisfaction survey that ask for our age, sex, and race. This is how companies truly understand the wants and needs of their customer base. Data show how we relate to others. We use data to make decisions about where we live, work, go to school, or play. Data can be extremely complex or simple. How you ask a question can lead to different answers. Data collection is a science and an art. Even though I’ve had my issues with them over the years, the Census Bureau does a good job of figuring out who makes up America. I’m not a researcher, I’m an average person (maybe statistically so) who has a need to be able to put information in perspective. Accurate data helps me do so.

We expect to see demographics reflected in news stories, whether by percentages or pie charts, we want to know the make-up of the people in a story, we may glaze over some of it, but we anticipate it. We should therefore be willing to supply it. Most of the data we see comes from the United States Census Bureau and they take their numbers from your census forms. Organizations like Pew Research also supply us with numbers that we see reflected around us every day. This will be the first census where we may be able to go online to fill out our forms because technology has advanced us to this new place. An enumerator could still be sent to your home if you don’t comply. It’s up to us to ensure there is not an over count or undercount in our neighborhood.

My organization advocates for the multiracial population, the fastest growing racial or ethnic group in America. I know that because the Census Bureau told me. We have only been included on the census since 2000 and only because we fought very hard for the right through the 1990s. The Census Bureau calls us “two or more races” people. It’s important for biracial and multiracial individuals to check as many boxes as necessary to make up their entire racial and ethnic heritage so that we can be counted by the Bureau in our entirety. We need to show that our numbers are large enough to be an important force to be reckoned with by retailers, organizations, and politicians. We fought for the right to be counted, so let’s go all in. We only have a year to get ready.

Susan Graham

It’s Famous Friday!

Nico Parker

Nico is a British actress. She stars in Disney’s reboot of Dumbo. She is fourteen years old and this is her first movie. Her mother is British actress Thandie Newton and her father is writer-director Ol Parker.  Nico’s parents are in the entertainment industry, but she told the Hollywood Reporter, “When it came to acting, I didn’t really want advice. It was very much my own experience.” Her father did help her with making her audition tape by videoing her on the kitchen floor and giving her a stuffed polar bear to stand in for Dumbo. She was raised in London. Nico and her siblings were on movies sets and she was able to learn a lot of the business by being around her parents because of their careers. Nico still visits her mom on the Westwood set. Nico was cast as Milly in Dumbo and says that they both love animals. Nico has two cats and two dogs. She continues to attend school in London. While filming Dumbo she did take some time off and had a private tutor. I believe this is the first of many lead roles for this talented young lady. Dumbo is set to be released in theaters on April 12th, 2019.

Makensie Shay McDaniel

Project RACE Teen President Emeritus

Picture Credit:

Bone Marrow Match Needed

7-year-old SoCal boy with cancer needs mixed-race bone marrow match to save his life

When a cancer patient is trying to find a stem cell donor, ethnicity is one of the determinants in finding that perfect match.

One local child is having a particularly challenging time and needs your help.

Seven-year-old Ryan knows it’s going to be a long while before he sees his cat again. The Redondo Beach boy is at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles preparing for his second battle with acute myeloid leukemia. It’s an aggressive form of leukemia that’s rare in children.

His father, Chris, said Ryan is having a hard time.

“He asks the gut-wrenching question of ‘why me?'” he said, “‘Why does this have to happen to me?'”

When Ryan was first diagnosed in kindergarten, his doctors searched every bone marrow registry for a match.

“Ryan is of mixed-race ethnicity. My wife is Vietnamese,” Chris said.

The search came up empty. Only 4 percent of the registry is mixed race. So his doctors tried a stem cell transplant with Ryan’s brother Matt, who is a half match. It worked for 18 months, so Ryan was thrilled. He went back to school, and his family posted the news on YouTube.

But a few weeks ago, Ryan started getting headaches. Tests revealed that the cancer had returned.

Ryan is back to square one in need of a matching donor. His best chance? Someone who is half Vietnamese and half white.

“We’ve got more donors than ever before, more success in finding donors than ever before, but there are certain subsets that are being left out,” said Dr. David Freyer with the CHLA Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases.

The recruitment group, A3M is making it easier than ever before to become a donor. All you have to do is get online and register.

“Once you’re done, a swab kit is mailed to you within three to seven days. So you can do it from the comfort of your own home,” said Auimi Nagata, recruitment manager for A3M.

Registrants place the swab back in a vial and ship it for free. If you’re a match, donating can be as simple as the process of giving blood.

“Any donor will be in good hands and you need not worry about the safety of it,” said Freyer.

Ryan needs people to register now.

“To be the one person, I can’t think of very many situations to be truly a hero,” his father said.

Won’t you Help?


We need volunteers in the following states to request proclamations from their governors

for Multiracial Heritage Week 2019

It’s easy!







New Mexico

Rhode Island

West Virginia

Washington, D.C.

Go to, click on MHW, fill out a submission form and click submit. You will receive a small packet with exact instructions. Won’t you be the person from your state that gets things done?

Shame on the Media

SHAME ON THE MEDIA is a news outlet in the United Kingdom. I think of it as tabloid news for the English.

Using Terminology

I did warn you years ago that the terminology of “mixed-race” would lead to newspaper headlines of “mixed up,” which is exactly what a new METRO series is about. In fact, it’s called Mixed Up. A current headline is “Mixed Up: ‘Racism made me feel subhuman. I used to pretend to be anything but black.’” It’s about a poor woe-is-me woman who grew up confused about her multiracial identity, but finally found she could say she was black without any problem. These are some other titles in the series:

Mixed up: “I have been accepted by black people and distanced by white people.”

Mixed up: “I would ask my parents multiple times to prove that I wasn’t adopted.”

Mixed up: “Saying you love mixed-race babies is creepy.”

Can’t they say anything good about being biracial or multiracial? What’s so hard about telling both the positive and negative points of a story? With a new biracial baby due in the royal family very soon, you would think times have changed.

In the U.S.

But it’s not just England; it’s the United States, too. A story in BET has come out called, “Who is Black? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Erasure of Blackness in America Dismisses the Fight for Social Justice.” The sub-heading is, “Blackness is only blurry when beneficial.” Give me a break.

The writer, DeMicia Iman, reprimands U.S. Representative Ocasio-Cortez for her recent comments on reparations and asking who is black and who isn’t in this increasingly multiracial society. The writer says, “Of course, if reparations were to be enacted, tons of non-Black people would flock to DNA labs and ancestral records, claiming the one-drop rule to get their share of the metaphorical, “forty acres and a mule.”

Bad Reporting

What really infuriates me is that she quotes the late F. James Davis, author of Who is Black correctly about the one-drop rule, but I knew Davis and he liked what was happening with the Multiracial Movement in his later years. He must be rolling over in his grave. Who is Black was published in 1991 and certainly there have been and will be more current books written and people who can be quoted for more up-to-date eyes on race. Let’s not allow the media to get away with bad or inaccurate reporting and publishing.


Susan Graham for Project RACE



Photo Credits: and

Becoming a Grandparent to a Multiracial Baby


My first multiracial grandchild was born recently and I am in the throes of falling in love again. I’m remembering the thrills of having a new baby all over again as I listen to my son talk about his new daughter. I also remember the questions about racial identity and children. I’ve learned a lot about the subject since my own biracial children were born and I was clueless.

Are things different when you have a multiracial child instead of a single race one? Yes and no. A child is a child and we should treat them all the same, but some people will treat your multiracial grandchild differently. We have to have patience with them. I remember some people looking at me and then at my own children with a quizzical look on their faces as they tried to figure out what race or races they were and what our relationship was. Thirty years ago I had no idea how to handle it.

I distinctly recall shopping with my son when he was little and going from one size group to another. When a salesperson offered to help me, she commented, “I think it’s so nice when people adopt!” My son was not adopted, but I had no idea what to reply. That would be very different now.

We can help by educating people, including family, friends, and salespeople. We can explain that our children are biracial or multiracial and that it means that they are two or more races. We can give them our preferred terminology. We can talk about racial identity and the need to self-identify. We can explain that our grandchild will, at some point, decide on their own racial identity, but that we are raising them to embrace their entire heritage.

My first gift package to my new granddaughter included a book called More, More, More said the Baby, which depicts a white grandmother and multiracial grandchild playing together. There are many more books about interracial families than ever before and we can gift our grandchildren with them and build their libraries.

We can be honest and educate. Tell people about Project RACE and encourage other grandparents to join our growing Project RACE Grandparents Division. Most important, we can love being grandparents to our wonderful multiracial grandchildren. It’s a great gig!

Susan Graham

It’s Famous Friday!

Jamila Wideman was born October 16, 1975 to an African American father, John Edgar Wideman, and white mother, Judith Ann Goldman.  Jamila Wideman, is an American lawyer, activist and a former professional basketball player. American.  I love that “American” is used to describe Jamila.  It just shows that multiracial people truly make up the United States.

In her 4-year basketball career, Jamila played for the Los Angeles Sparks, Cleveland Rockers and Portland Fire.  Wideman also attended New York University School of Law for her J.D. Wideman not only can kill it on the court and the courtroom, but she also speaks out for women in sports.  Jamila believes it is her duty to speak for women and girls in sports, she states “People invested time to teach me and give me a chance to play on a team and now that I can be a voice for women’s sports, it would be irresponsible of me not to try to repay my debts to them.”  She has most certainly done this by starting a program called “Hoopin’ with Jamila.” This program combines Wideman’s passions of writing, basketball and helping underprivileged girls.

Jamila is a natural born leader, especially on the court. “Leadership is taken, not given, and she’s got it. She’s an excellent player who encourages her teammates to play better, more positively,” says Chuki Nir, Wideman’s coach when she played in Ramale.

Wideman personally inspires me on multiple levels.  This is why I am so glad to have found her to be the focus of my article this week.  Seeing someone who is able to do everything that they love throughout their career is truly encouraging.  I have so many interests and could see them all being careers in the future, I wonder which one I should pick. Although the decision is far away, I also know that I don’t have to pick just one career!  Wideman had great athleticism, pursued her desire of becoming a lawyer and still used her talents and passions to help others. Being a female athlete myself, Jamila encourages me to be a better leader while on my court.


Project RACE Kids President

Madelyn Rempel


Picture Source:



Medical Matters


There is much controversy about race and medicine. Some people and medical scientists feel there are inherent differences in races that cause medical concerns and need to be addressed. Others feel there are no differences. We at Project RACE call for more study into this highly emotional issue. We have recently seen several calls for more study, as outlined below and are pleased to know that progress is being made.

We recently received a notification of a diabetes study. To qualify, it specified you must have Japanese Heritage (being born in Japan or having at least 1 parent or 1 grandparent born in Japan).

I also received a request from 23 and Me because they did my DNA testing and I have a percentage of African descent. They stated that less than 3%* of participants in research studies on genetics of disease are of African descent. More representation from people of African ancestry could lead to advancements in conditions like lupus, type 2 diabetes, and more for this population. They asked me to “Support advancements in genetic discoveries for individuals with African ancestry by completing an online survey.”

Also in the news is that a team of Mayo Clinic researchers found Hispanic-American patients with Alzheimer’s tend to survive significantly longer than other ethno-racial groups. The principal investigator of the study said, “As the field works towards Alzheimer’s therapies, ethno-racial differences should be taken into consideration.”

I recently read an excellent article about race-based medicine by Evelyn Elias that dives deep into population-level genetic differences and their implications for medicine. You can read the entire article here:


Susan Graham for Project RACE


Photo Credit: Triple Helix Online