Famous Friday!

Madison Keys
Madison Keys
You may have heard about the “Black Girl Magic” at the 2017 U.S. Open Women’s Singles Tournament last week. Among the four semi-finalists, the excited media chatter reported, were three black women! This is a first for a sport that has historically been predominately played by white athletes. Well for this week’s Famous Friday, we are going to take a look at one of those women – Madison Keys, who is actually multiracial and pretty magical!!
When asked about the significance of three of the four women in the semi finals being African American, Madison replied, “I’m very much right in the middle,” she said. “I don’t really think of it. I don’t really identify myself as white or African-American. I’m just me. I’m Madison.”
Madison and her three sisters, Sydney, Montana, and Hunter are the children of Christine (white) and RIck (black) who are both attorneys. Keys’ interest in tennis started very young because she liked Venus Williams’ white tennis dress. She participated in the Chris Everett Academy beginning at age 9 and joined the WTA tour at age 14. When she won a match in that tourney she became the youngest woman ever to do so. She was the first American woman to debut in the top 10 since Venus’ sister Serena did it in 1999. But Venus is not her only tennis inspiration. She says her idol is Roger Federer because she likes the way he stays so calm even when things are going badly.Now at age 22, Madison has become one of the very best in the world.  The 2017 US Open was her first Grand Slam final. She beat Elise MertensTatjana Maria, 17th seed Elena Vesnina, 4th seed Elina Svitolina, qualifier Kaia Kanepi and 20th seed CoCo Vandeweghe advancing to the finals. Madison lost to her close friend Sloane Stephens in straight sets. The award presentation following their match showed both their friendship and their class.
Madison, who currently lives in Boca Raton, Florida, has been a tennis star since she was just a kid, but in many ways is just like other girls her age. She likes Taylor Swiftmusic and has a thing for polar bears. She loves to bake desserts and says if she were not a tennis phenom she would consider owning her own bakery! Her specialty is M&M cookies. She also really wants a BMW!
– Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Teens Co-President
photo: Getty via www.express.co.uk

Famous Friday

Ne-Yo

NeYo

Ne-Yo was born in Camden Arkansas as Shaffer Chimere Smith. He is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and actor. His parents were both musicians. His father is of African American and Chinese descent and his mother is African American. When he was younger his parents separated and he moved with his mother to Las Vegas, Nevada where he was raised and given more opportunities.  Ne-Yo has had great success in the entertainment industry evidenced by hit songs that have topped the charts from all over the world. He was a featured artist on Beyonce’s Irreplaceable song and Rihanna’s Take a Bow.  Ne-Yo has won three Grammy Awards. He was recently a judge on Jennifer Lopez’s new NBC show, World of Dance.

 

Makensie Shay McDaniel

Project RACE Teens Co-President

(Photo Credit: Rap-up.com)

Famous Friday

Famous Friday: DeShone Kizer

Deshone Kizer and Family
Last week my hometown Cleveland Browns played their 2017 preseason home opener against the New Orleans Saints and, man was I excited to get a look at our second round draft pick, DeShone Kizer. He did great. In June, Kizer signed a four-year, $4.94 million contract with the Browns that includes $2.42 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $1.73 million. But the starting QB slot for the Browns is still very much up for grabs.

The strong-armed 6’4″ Kizer is working hard to grab it and his performance last week may go a long way! He has been trying to show his grasp of Hue Jackson’s offense. He’s returning to the field following practice for extra work. He has run additional sprints and simulated plays he didn’t get to run in practice all by himself. Bud Shaw of Cleveland.com said, “If there were a bucket and a squeegee, he’d turn his attention to the practice facility’s windows.”

“[The coaches] have a good idea of when a quarterback is ready to go out there,” Kizer said. “I think the way that they’ve thrown me into the fire in the last couple months has allowed me to grow quickly and to become comfortable pretty fast.”

Kizer grew up in nearby Toledo, Ohio with his parents, Mindy and Derek, brother, Dayven and sister, Maelyn. Both of his siblings are still in high school. Dad Derek was a college basketball player and DeShone followed in his father’s footsteps by playing basketball in high school, but he also played baseball and football, which kept him busy year round. His high school coach thought he could have been a top collegiate basketball player, but thankfully for Cleveland fans, he chose to pursue football at the next level. DeShone played college ball at Notre Dame and as he began his career in the NFL said, “I will forever be Irish at heart.”

And, one of the youngest players on the team, at just 21 years old he surely has a bright future ahead in pro football. Many believe he’s going to be one of the great ones! After last week, I’m a believer. And I sure hope so, because the Browns have been waiting a long time.

— Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Teens Co-President

Photo Source: heavy.com

Famous Friday

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys

Alicia Augello Cook was born in New York City, NY in 1981. She is professionally known as Alicia Keys. She is an American Actress, pianist, singer, songwriter, and record producer. Keys father is half African American and half Jamaican; her mother is of Italian and Irish decent. Her parents separated when she was two and she was primarily raised by her mother. At four Alicia got a part in The Cosby Show as one of Rudy’s sleepover friends. Alicia began piano lessons at the age of seven. During her teenage years, Keys would hang out with her friends in Harlem. She has reported she had a diverse group of friends growing up in New York. Her friends were of diverse backgrounds including: African American, whites, Asians, Dominicans, and Hispanics. “I felt I could talk to all of them, my mixed race background made me a broad person, able to relate to different cultures.” At twelve she attended Manhattan’s prestigious Professional Performance Arts School and she majored in choir. She attracted the attention of record companies while in high school and signed with Arista Records in 1998. Keys debut album, Songs in A Minor, went platinum five times over. Keys married hip hop producer Swizz Beatz in 2010 and they have two sons. Alicia Keys has won many awards including 15 Grammy awards. She continues to self identity as “black”. “Any woman of color, even mixed color, is seen as black in America, so that’s how I regard myself.”

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Famous Friday!

Shemar Moore

Moore

Shemar is a forty-seven year old American actor and model. He is best known for his role in the Young and the Restless, Malcolm Winters. His father is African-American. His mother is white with Irish and French-Canadian ancestry. Shemar has stated his birth name was taken from his parent’s first names which were Sherrod and Marilyn, Shemar. He explained that in his parents were very proud of their interracial relations however, it was still socially inacceptable in the sixties and seventies. His parents wanted his name to be a remembrance of the love they had for each other. Shemar’s parents allowed him to embrace both his white and black side and did not want him to have to pick a side.  Shemar has stated he does not see himself as a black actor. He stated “I am very proud to be black but I’m as much black as I am white.” “I am very aware, especially in this country, that I am perceived and viewed as a black man because of the color of my skin. I am extremely proud to embrace the white side of me. In a perfect world, my wish is for people to see past color stereotypes and simply look at the character and personality of a person.”

Makensie Shay McDaniel

Project RACE Teens President

Jessica Alba – Famous Friday

Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba is an actress and entrepreneur born in Pomona, California. Her father is Mexican American and her mother, Danish French Canadian. As an actress she has stated that she was told at times she was not Latin enough to play a Latina role or not Caucasian enough to be a leading lady. So they encouraged her to play the exotic one. She was 17 when she began auditioning for roles and has stated she has never let racial stereotypes hold her back. For her people’s thoughts and comments motivated her to become a leading lady to show that girls can look like her and have leading roles. She founded the Honest Company and stated she faced a lot of the same criticisms. People would say to her “you are an actress, what do you know about business? Go be a face somewhere.” Again, this made Alba more determined. Her business is extremely successful and she created a skin care line in hopes that it will help women of color love the skin that they are in. She stated it was always very difficult for her to find the right make up tones growing up and she wanted to help with enhancing who you are instead of covering you up and trying to look like someone else.

Makensie Shay McDaniel

Project Race Teens President

Famous Friday

Ryan Gosling

This week’s Famous Friday features interracial power couple – Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling. According to US Magazine, The dynamic duo quietly tied the knot in early 2016 after being together for over 5 years. They have two beautiful multiracial daughters, Esmerelda and Amada.

Eva Mendes was born in Miami, Florida, and she is of Cuban-American descent. She is a singer, actress, model, and designer. You have probably watched her in major films like Hitch, Training day, and Stuck on You. She has also been the face of several advertisement campaigns for huge companies including: Revlon, Cartier, and Calvin Klein.

Ryan Gosling is of English, French Canadian, and Scottish descent. He is an actor most famously known for his role as Noah in The Notebook. You may also recognize him from his role in La La Land, Crazy Stupid Love, or my personal favorite Remember The Titans. Over the course of his career he has racked up multiple Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations.

One time when asked about his family Ryan said, “It’s heaven, it’s like walking through a field of flowers everyday – I live with angels.” I love that we are beginning to see more and more interracial power couples in Hollywood. I also love that I am seeing more interracial couples on sitcoms and commercials. It is awesome, especially considering that not even 100 years ago interracial marriage was illegal. Remember to take time to celebrate interracial couples and multiracial people everyday, and especially during Multiracial Heritage Week which is coming up soon.

Photo courtesy of US Weekly

Rashida Jones

Rashida-Jones-(23)

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.

 

FAMOUS FRIDAY: Mariah Carey

mariah-carey-rockafeller-center-christmas-tree-lightingAs 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.

Mariah is 46 years old now and primarily focused on parenting her two children. However, she is still expanding her career. Mariah Carey’s collaboration with MAC Cosmetics recently released, and has already proved to be a fan favorite. Some may argue that there aren’t many things that this woman can’t do! I personally find these words from her particularly inspiring, “You really have to look inside yourself and find your own inner strength, and say, ‘I’m proud of what I am and who I am, and I’m just going to be myself.’” May we always remember to believe in our true, authentic selves and who we are becoming! Happy Holidays!
Lexi Brock, Project RACE Teens President
Photo courtesy of popbuzz

FAMOUS FRIDAY: Kamala Harris

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 Hakamala_harris_official_attorney_general_photorris 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.”

 – Karson Baldwin, President Project RACE Kids