On February 25, 1976 Rashida Jones was born to Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton. Her mother is of Jewish descent, and her parents were shocked when Peggy chose to date out of her race and religion. At the time her father, Quincy, was a poor, struggling young man with a dream. Now he is a very successful media mogul, musician, and producer.
Ms. Jones has pretty much done it all. Rashida is a Harvard graduate, a phenomenal actress, comic book author, producer, singer, and screenwriter. She was recently nominated for Outstanding Writing in a Television Movie by the NAACP. Rashida is also open about how being multiracial plays a part in what roles she gets, “When I audition for white roles, I’m told I’m “too exotic.” When I go up for black roles, I’m told I’m “too light.” I’ve lost a lot of jobs, looking the way I do.”
She has also gotten real about other experiences linked to her ethnicity, “Finally I was leaving for college, for Harvard. Daddy would have died if I turned Harvard down. Harvard was supposed to be the most enlightened place in America, but that’s where I encountered something I’d never found in L.A.: segregation. The way the clubs and the social life were set up, I had to choose one thing to be: black or white. I chose black. I went to black frat parties and joined the Black Student Association, a political and social group. I protested the heinous book The Bell Curve [which claims that a key determinant of intelligence is inherited], holding a sign and chanting. But at other protests-on issues I didn’t agree with- wondered: Am I doing this because I’m afraid the black students are going to hate me if I don’t? As a black person at Harvard, the lighter you were, the blacker you had to act. I tried hard to be accepted by the girls who were the gatekeepers to Harvard’s black community. One day I joined them as usual at their cafeteria table. I said, “Hey!”-real friendly. Silence. I remember chewing my food in that dead, ominous silence. Finally, one girl spoke. She accused me of hitting on one of their boyfriends over the weekend. It was untrue, but I think what was really eating her was that she thought I was trying to take away a smart, good-looking black man-and being light-skinned, I wasn’t “allowed” to do that. I was hurt, angry. I called Kidada in New York crying. She said, “Tell her what you feel!” So I called the girl and…I really ripped her a new one. But after that, I felt insidious intimidation from that group. The next year there was a black guy I really liked, but I didn’t have the courage to pursue him. Sometimes I think of him and how different my life might be if I hadn’t been so chicken. The experience was shattering. Confused and identity-less, I spent sophomore year crying at night and sleeping all day. Mom said, “Do you want to come home?” I said, “No.” Toughing it out when you don’t fit in: That was the strength my sister gave me.”
Rashida inspires so many people to rise in spite of adversity,to overcome any challenges that come our way, and to succeed in whatever you set out to accomplish.
As we enter the holiday season, it is only fitting to feature one of the queens of holiday music, Mariah Carey. She moved to Manhattan the day after her high school graduation to pursue her career. Carey is an extremely talented singer, producer, songwriter, and actress. She even currently holds the record for most number one debuts on the Billboard Hot 100. She has sold over 80 million records and won several Grammies! Over the course of her career she has accumulated a net worth of over 500 million dollars.
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.
Kamala Harris is California’s new Junior United States Senator-Elect. Harris is both the second black woman and the first Indian-American ever elected to the Senate. Yes, she is multiracial, the daughter of an Indian-American Hindu mother, Dr. Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a breast cancer specialist, who immigrated from India, and a Jamaican-American father, Donald Harris, a Stanford University professor. Before this accomplishment, Harris was the first woman, the first African-American, the first Indian-American and the first Asian-American to become California’s Attorney General.
“My mother had a saying ― ‘you may be the first to do many things, make sure you aren’t the last,’” Harris told CQ Roll Call in June. “We need to work to ensure the leaders reflect the people they are supposed to represent, and until we achieve that full representation, I think we should understand we are falling short of the ideals of this country.”
People have compared Harris to President Obama, who himself is a Kamala Harris fan and endorsed her senate campaign, and many leading Democrats believe she could one day occupy the Oval Office. As Attorney General she has had the opportunity to advocate for the issues that are important to her. She has led on Black Lives Matter, rehabilitating first-time drug dealers, internet privacy issues. Following her election as senator, she vowed to protect immigrants from the policies of Trump.
“It is the very nature of this fight for civil rights and justice and equality that whatever gains we make, they will not be permanent. So we must be vigilant,” Harris said. “Do not despair. Do not be overwhelmed. Do not throw up our hands when it is time to roll up our sleeves and fight for who we are.”
Meghan Markle is a beautiful and talented multiracial actress. She has recently been in the headlines due to her rumoured romance with Prince Harry. While I understand that is what most major news outlets are talking about, it isn’t what I want to talk about.
I recently came across one of the best articles I have ever read when it comes to being Multiracial. The star of the article was none other than, Meghan Markle. My heart was stolen from the first paragraph where she said, “’What are you?’ A question I get asked every week of my life, often every day. ‘Well,’ I say, as I begin the verbal dance I know all too well. ‘I’m an actress, a writer, the Editor-in-Chief of my lifestyle brand The Tig, a pretty good cook and a firm believer in handwritten notes.’ A mouthful, yes, but one that I feel paints a pretty solid picture of who I am. But here’s what happens: they smile and nod politely, maybe even chuckle, before getting to their point, ‘Right, but what are you? Where are your parents from?’ I knew it was coming, I always do. While I could say Pennsylvania and Ohio, and continue this proverbial two-step, I instead give them what they’re after: ‘My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African American. I’m half black and half white.’” The whole article is pure gold, and I will leave the link so that you all can read it in its entirety.
I STRONGLY recommend that you take the few minutes to read this. To me, it is beautiful to know that so many multiracial people share similar experiences. I think that it makes our community that much more awesome!
— Lexi Brock, Project RACE Teens President
Photo courtesy of ELLE.
Dak is currently a quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. He is a 23 years old. He is the son of Nathaniel and the late Peggy Prescott. He has two older brothers and an older sister from his father’s previous marriage. Dak’s parents split when he was very young and he was raised with his two older brother by his mother Peggy who worked long hours at the Huddle House. Dak learned to throw the football in the field behind his trailer in Pine Creek Estates Mobile Home Park in Princeton, LA.
Dak’s brother, Tad, stated “No stage has been too big for him, it’s his upbringing. It’s being multiracial.” They are Caucasian, African American, and Native American. His brother stated “We see all sides of everything, and we know what there is really nothing to be upset about. Our mom taught us the difference between the need and the want.”
Dak was extremely close to his mother and she was hard on him. They struggled financially growing up and he never had a car while in high school, but she made sure he got back and forth to practice every day. His mother set a good example about working hard and she was his toughest critic. Past coaches have said she instilled in him an indescribable work ethic. Dak’s mom was diagnosed with colon cancer during his freshman year at Mississippi State. On November 20, 2013 she lost her battle with cancer. Dak wears a blue bracelet with the number 4 on it and the acronym M.O.M which stands for what his mother taught him. Mind. Over. Matter. It also says “Prescott Pride.” He chose the jersey number four because his mother’s birthday was September 4th. He still continues to text’s her before each game.
Peggy’s brother explained how tough she was, he stated “I mean, she was dating a black man in the deep south in 1979.” She was the daughter of a high school principal and she was shunned when she dated Nate Prescott who was black. People made jokes behind her back and some friends became enemies. She received whispers and dirty looks when she took her multiracial children in the grocery store. Peggy’s brother said Peggy didn’t care. She preached kindness and acceptance to her children and she got joy from helping others. Dak’s brother states that he believes his moms confidence in who she was gives them confidences in who they are. Dak has stated “I am who I am, what you see is what you get. I don’t care what anyone says. I am who I am.”
On the day he got his letter of intent from Mississippi State his mother showed him the scholarship papers from LSU. Dak choose Mississippi State because he said “I want to go where I’m the difference, I want to make something out of nothing. I want to be the reason someone is great.” During his career at Mississippi State he set 15 career records, 15 season records, and eight game records. He led his team to a No. 1 overall ranking in 2014 and an Orange Bowl appearance.
Dak said “From a little kid, the moment I picked up a football, I’ve been a Cowboy’s fan and I wanted to play in the NFL.” Dak now has his opportunity and he is shinning. The Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reports, “He’s better than anybody thought he was.” I am sure we will be hearing much more about Dak Prescott.
- Makensie Shay McDaniel, Project Race Teens President
Yesterday, I got to spend some time with Cleveland’s 56th mayor, Frank Jackson.
I can not share all the details about the off the record conversation that a small group of African American and multiracial students from University School had with Mayor Jackson. I can tell you it was deep and he was very open about his thoughts and feelings on some really important issues.
How do you feel about the allegations of excessive force by Cleveland Police?
How do you feel about the Cleveland Police Union endorsing Donald Trump for President?
What are your views on immigration?
How do you feel about Stop and Frisk?
What is your view on what Colin Kaepernick did?
And he thoughtfully and wisely responded to each question. It was awesome to hear the views of a multiracial political leader on these difficult topics.
Mayor Jackson was elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009 and 2013, making him just the second Cleveland mayor to serve three terms. Clearly, he is a very popular mayor and has led the City of Cleveland to a really great era. This year the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship, Cleveland hosted the Republican National Convention and now, the Cleveland Indians are headed to the World Series! Go Tribe! Go!
Jackson was born in Cleveland in 1946 to a black father and a white mother. After graduating from High School, he served in the Army. When he returned, he went to Cleveland State University to study Urban Studies and History. He also earned his master’s degree in Urban Affairs. He became an attorney, working as an assistant city prosecutor, after putting himself through law school also at CSU. Soon he won a seat on the Cleveland’s City Council where he was involved in creating a lot of positive change in an area of the city that had many problems. He is the first sitting member of Cleveland City Council to become mayor since 1867.
During his mayoral campaign, Jackson said that if he didn’t restore hope to the ailing city within 200 days of taking office, he would consider himself a failure. I have only lived in Cleveland for a year and a half, but this city is full of hope and excitement.
Shortly after winning the election he appointed his former opponent Triozzi as law director. This is really interesting because the law director would become mayor if the elected mayor is out of the city, resigns or becomes incapable of serving. Try to imagine Donald or Hillary appointing the other to a position like that! Many consider Mayor Jackson to be a unifier. An advocate for regionalism for Cleveland-Cuyahoga County, Mayor Jackson, in his Election Day 2005 speech, said, “We are one Cleveland, we no longer have the luxury of city and suburbs separate.”
Soon after his inauguration, Jackson began working with the Cleveland Police Department. He introduced a new use of force policy that states: “Excessive force shall not be tolerated.” It is very interesting that Cleveland has been a prominent city in this discussion of excessive force and police gun violence against black men since the shooting of 12 year old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland Police officer in 2014 and it was good to hear the Mayor’s views on it.
Thank you, Mayor Jackson, for spending time with the Junior Pembroke Society and #GOTRIBE
- Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Kids President
James McBride is a well-known multiracial writer and musician. He is of African-American and Jewish Ancestry. James was born in September of 1957 making him 59 years of age. James has an undergraduate degree in music composition, and also a journalism degree from Columbia University.
I am particularly intrigued by his memoir, The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute To His White Mother. While I have not personally read his book, I have heard nothing but good things. There is a part where McBride asks his mother whether he is white or black, and she says: “You’re a human being. Educate yourself, or you’ll be a nobody.” I couldn’t help but smile as I came across this excerpt as it reminded me so much of my own mother. I think it is so important to realize that we are all much, much more than the color of our skin.
Perhaps his mother’s advice is what drove McBride’s career, education, and work ethic. His memoir has sold over 2.5 million copies, and has also been translated into 15+ languages. McBride has collected countless accomplishments over the years, and is sure to achieve even more over the years.
- Lexi Brock, President Projectr RACE Teens
Salma is a film actress, producer, and former model. She was born on September 2, 1966 in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. Her father is of Lebanese descent and her mother is of Mexican/Spanish ancestry. She began her career in Mexico before moving to the United States in 1991. She landed her fist major role in Desperado in 1995 after venting her frustrations on a late night Spanish talk show about the roles given to Latino’s. Robert Rodriquez and his producer wife were watching and loved the intelligent, opinionated woman. Hayek’s movies have included: Frida, Puss In Boots, Desperado, Dogma, Across the Universe, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Wild Wild West. Hayek is a naturalized United States Citizen; however she has stated she tries to represent her Mexican roots loud and proud. She married French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault in 2009. She has reported she is trying to keep her daughter immersed in all three cultures: Mexican, American, and French. Salma’s activism has included increasing awareness on violence against women and discrimination against immigrants.
Project RACE Teens President
Makensie Shay McDaniel
Muhammad 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.
Many people believe that interracial families and multiracial people are a relatively new thing. But, while our numbers are growing really quickly these days, mixed-race families are definitely nothing new. There is tons of historical evidence that families like mine have been around for many centuries, long before the United States was even founded. Throughout Europe, African migration (some through slavery and some by choice) resulted in the birth of a multitude of multiracial people .
This week’s Famous Friday is one of those prominent multiracial people from the 1500s! Alessandro de’ Medici was believed to be the child of a famous Florentine banking family heir Lorenzo de’ Medici and an Afro-European woman named Simunetta. Some believe that Simunetta da Collevecchio was a slave to Alessandro’s grandmother Alfonsina Orsini de’ Medici who lived in Naples, Italy. His nickname was “Il Moro”, which means “the Moor”, due to his dark features. In 1532, at only 19 years old, Alessandro became the Duke of Florence. Many believe that made him the first “black” head of state in the Western World. I assume that means he may have been the first multiracial head of state. That is a pretty cool accomplishment, especially for a teenager, but many do not believe that he was a great leader.
In 1536, Alessandro married the daughter of Charles V Margaret of Austria. His only children were not had born to his wife, however. His children Giulio di Alessandro de’ Medici andGiulia de’ Medici were born to his mistress, Taddea Malaspina.
Alessandro is the subject of a new book by Catherine Fletcher, The Black Prince of Florence, and I really look forward to reading it to learn more about him and race during the Renaissance era.
Featured image: “Medici Chapel roof” via Flikr.
Karson Baldwin – President, Project RACE Kids