It’s Famous Friday!

Jesse Williams

Best known for his TV roles, Jesse Williams is an outstanding actor and advocate for equality among all races. As the youngest member of the board of directors of The Advancement Project (a civil rights think-tank and advocacy group), Jesse does all he can to help prevent racial injustice. In 2016, Jesse Williams won the Humanitarian Award at the 2016 BET awards. He gave a speech focusing on racial injustice, police brutality, and the invention of “whiteness.” “It’s kind of basic mathematics – the more we learn about who we are and how we got there, the more we will mobilize.”

Jesse Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois. Growing up, Jesse experienced two very different communities and cultures. His mother is Swedish and his father is African American. From the hoods of Chicago to the suburbs of Massachusetts, Jesse has lived in every community. Jesse and his two brothers spent a lot of time at school, as their parents both became teachers in the public school system. Though race didn’t seem like a big deal, he did notice a shift in diction from the places he lived. “We all use similar vocabularies but mean very different things. I started to pick up on that as I reached adolescence,” Jesse says. Jesse graduated from Temple University with a double major in African American Studies and Film/Media Arts.

Jesse Williams’ acting career began in 2005 when he was chosen to participate in the New York Actors Showcase presented by ABC Television. From there, his acting career flourished and he began getting casted left and right. He played various roles such as “Kwame” in Law and Order and “Leo” in The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants. He’s most known for his role as “Doctor Jackson Avery” in the show Grey’s Anatomy. Even in the show, he advocates for the rights of fictional characters who have experienced racial inequality. In addition to acting, Jesse Williams has launched two mobile apps, hosted a basketball podcast, and filmed a remake of the 1990 thriller, Jacob’s Ladder.

Jesse Williams’ heart for others is truly phenomenal. His work continues to inspire others and help bridge unity across races through the United States.

Alexis Cook, Project RACE Teens, Co-President

 

(Photo Credit: PR Photos)

 

 

 

Dr. Meredith Grey vs Actress Ellen Pompeo?

 

I admit my favorite TV Show is “Grey’s Anatomy” and one of my favorite actresses is Ellen Pompeo, who stars as Dr. Meredith Grey. Yes, I know Ellen is not a real doctor, she’s an accomplished actress and for that she needs a certain degree of intelligence.

I recently found out that Pompeo, who is white, is married to a black man. So far, so good, but then she said that she is a “white lady with a black husband and black children.” She has also been outspoken about race and diversity. I would think in this day and age of so-called race and diversity, she would acknowledge that her children are biracial or multiracial. Instead, she apparently embraces the one-drop rule.

In a recent article in ENews, called “How Ellen Pompeo Deals with Being Called a ‘White Bitch,’” Pompeo “credits her compassion with being able to withstand racially charged criticism.” What exactly does that mean? Is she compassionate because she married a black man? Does she take racially charged criticism for having black children? Ironically, on her television show, she adopted a black, not biracial child. Is she confusing real life with her acting life?

Ellen then explained it this way: “So I suffered trauma at an early age. My mother died when I was 4,” Pompeo responded. “And I think that when you suffer any kind of trauma, especially as a child, I think you learn compassion, and I think that that makes you a more compassionate person. At the root of it, compassion is a great practice.”

I am astounded by the number of people I see who talk about race “just” being a “We-All-Are-One” syndrome. Maybe we aren’t. Maybe there are important differences in those crazy genes that everyone is talking about like they know them personally. Maybe there really is something to Sickle Cell Anemia and blacks. Perhaps we need to know more about Tay Sachs and the Jewish Population. Maybe Cystic Fibrous really is more prevalent in whites. This is not a medical television show; it’s real life and could be a matter of life and death.

Marrying interracially and having multiracial children is not like winning an award for acting. It doesn’t take people with great people skills, intelligence, pain, suffering, or even compassion. It takes falling in love.

 

Susan Graham

President

Project RACE

 

 

Photo Credit: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Refinery29

Famous Friday: Ellen Pompeo

image1 (1)Ellen Pompeo is an American actress and producer. Pompeo married Chris Ivey in November 2007 after years of dating. Chris is a music producer and he and Ellen met in a grocery store in Los Angeles before she was “Meredith Grey”. They welcomed their first child Stella in Sept of 2009. In Sept of 2014 the couple had their second child named Sienna with help from a surrogate mother.

Pompeo recently was quoted in People Magazine “my daughters are black so it’s very important to me that they see a lot of images of beautiful, powerful, strong black women. Every time there is a black woman on a magazine cover, whether it is Kerry Washington or whoever it is, I make sure that magazine is in my house and on my table. For me that’s super important. Every time Venus and Serena Williams play tennis, I make sure my daughters watch them.”

I am not sure if Pompeo always refers to her daughters as black or if she did only in this interview. It will be very interesting to see how her multiracial daughters choose to identify as they get older and multiracial advocacy continues to grow. I know from being multiracial my identification has changed over the years because I had never heard of people identifying as multiracial, and on most  forms  there was a check for only black , white, or other. I always checked black and white even if it said check one. I knew I was both. Now that I identity as multiracial I have never been so proud of both of my races. I am sure Pompeo’s multiracial daughters look up to their white mom as one of their biggest role models. I know I look up at Pompeo and love her as Meredith Gray on Grey’s Anatomy.  After hours of watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix I feel for certain I could perform some surgeries.

 

Makensie McDaniel

Project Race Teen President