Important Article!

How Racial Data Gets ‘Cleaned’ in the U.S. Census

The national survey offers more identity choices than ever—until those choices get scrubbed away.

Copies of the 2010 U.S. census
The 2010 United States Census allowed 63 possible responses for race. Ross D. Franklin / AP

At a doctor’s visit, on a college-admissions application, or even in a consumer-marketing survey, Americans are regularly asked to classify themselves by race. Some protest this request by “declining to answer,” as forms often allow. After all, racial categories are social constructs. They don’t connote biological or genetic difference.

While early racial data were gathered to feed an obsession with racial purity, and were even used to locate Japanese Americans for internment during World War II, over time the Census Bureau settled on bureaucracy to explain its work. And yet, a simple count of the population remains ideologically loaded. These data are not neutral or objective information about the population. Instead they reflect changing political priorities and techniques to grasp how the country’s population is seen—and how resources are made available to them

* * *

Shortly after the country’s founding, the U.S. government began collecting data on the racial and ethnic make-up of every person in each household. Every decennial ushers in some new language meant to enhance the accuracy and reliability of the census as a measurement of the entire national population. There’s symbolic power in being represented on the census—in being counted. But as the political scientist Melissa Nobles shows in her book Shades of Citizenship, these data also track compliance with civil-rights legislation, particularly voting districts. They are linked to federal resources, intensifying public agitation around the categories.

During the years between each census, researchers, activists, politicians, and interest groups lobby for the rewording of a label, the addition (or elimination) of a category, or the disaggregation of another, such as Asian or American Indian or Alaska Native. In 2000, for example, “Hispanic or Latino, or Spanish origins” was reclassified from racial to ethnic data. Respondents were also allowed to select multiple boxes to reflect multiracial heritage for the first time. Additional changes that affect how the racial makeup of the country is represented are underway, including the creation of a separate category for people of Middle Eastern and North African descent (referred to as MENA).

Shifts in racial classifications raise questions about what exactly is being counted, how people interpret the same questions differently, and what to do about people’s changing perceptions of their racial background. In 2015, the Pew Research Center reported that at least 9.8 million people reported a different racial or ethnic background than they did in 2000. When someone appears to “change” races, the resulting data is sometimes construed as erroneous.

The statistical accounting used to correct such errors is commonly referred to as “data cleaning” or data cleansing. This process involves identifying and then editing data already collected—through modification, enhancement, or deletion of responses—when it does not conform to some predetermined rules that standardize the data set. Ostensibly, the goal is to improve data quality by correcting measurement errors generated by people who complete the questionnaires or enter responses into the database. Data cleaning hopes to make a final data set similar to other, related ones, such as the other national censuses and the American Community Survey.

Errors in reporting and recording certainly do happen. But if racial data must be cleaned, then some data is dirty. And that dirtiness is undeniably political. Some responses are more likely to be diagnosed as dirty. Given the goal of creating information that is comparable from one national census to the next, the data most under suspect are those that correspond to the categories most in flux: people who checked more than one box, for example, or those who saw themselves as members of different racial or ethnic groups at different times.

While data cleansing can raise ethical questions about altering people’s responses, it offers a bureaucratic solution to a difficult position for the Census Bureau. The bureau is under public pressure to modify its data-collection methods, on the one hand. But, on the other, it is also expected to provide reliable data that is comparable over time and across other government agencies at the local, state, and national levels. The desire for comparability prompts some of the most intensive or imaginative cleaning.

By 2010, the two major changes from the previous censuses—the treatment of Hispanic, Latino, and Spanish ancestry as an ethnicity and the ability to check multiple racial categories—had yielded 63 possible responses for race: the original six categories (white; black or African American; American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander; some other race), plus an additional 57 possible combinations of these responses. Given the new information, identifying one group and distinguishing it from another became difficult. This led to the creation of new categories, established after data collection, such as “black, not Hispanic,” or “white, Hispanic.” For the most part, people who selected more than one race were recoded as “two or more races,” regardless of the combination. However, because no actual multiracial category is offered, the official racial categories are still preserved in the record. That makes them traceable later, by cleaning individuals’ responses retroactively.

In 2010, the “some other race” category proved the dirtiest. This selection included a write-in box where respondents were expected to provide the name of the race to which they felt they belonged. The vast majority of the more than 19 million people (6.2 percent of respondents) who made this selection also identified themselves as having “Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish” origins for the ethnicity question asked prior to their race. In its document 2010 Census Redistricting Data, the Bureau states that it used “automated” and “expert” coding to recode write-in responses for compliance with the master files (or predetermined rules) of the database or system. For example, the document states that someone describing themselves as “Haitian” and “Moroccan” was recoded to “black” and “white.” This “some other race” also includes people who preferred to write in responses like “multiracial” in lieu of ticking multiple boxes.

Even with a shrinking budget and new leadership, the bureau’s search for tidier data continues. When interviewed shortly after her retirement in January, the former U.S. chief statistician Katherine Wallman acknowledged that politics were most likely behind recent budget cuts. Irrespective of the latest political jockeying, the bureau has been discussing ways to cut costs without compromising data quality for years. As a result, the 2020 census will test an online response option, and use administrative records such as federal tax returns and postal-service files to estimate individual characteristics like sex and race when information is not self-reported.

While these new measures might reduce costs, civil-rights groups like the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights are concerned that they will continue to undercount or otherwise misrepresent vulnerable populations and communities of color whose members are less likely to have reliable internet access. That might make them vulnerable to inaccurate identification in administrative records.

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The Census Bureau didn’t respond to a request for comment or clarification about its perception of dirty data. Nevertheless, the bureau likely finds itself in a cultural minefield, as it becomes a site where debates unfold about which individuals and groups are rendered invisible, as much as how finite public resources get allocated. The ongoing dispute over whether future censuses should or will include a question about sexual orientation or gender identity belie the simplicity of the current sex question, which only asks respondents if they are male or female. With more public pressure and social change, that data might also become disaggregated one day, and then recoded into categories like “cisgender male” or “female, not transgender.”

Some people bristle at being asked to reduce the complexity of their self-perceptions into a singular choice. The “check-this-box” mentality of the census is at odds with the more fluid and ambiguous self-perceptions of the population: people originating from outside the country, for example, or those habituated to customizable digital profiles, like those on Facebook, which appear to revel in the uncertainty of multitudinous identity. If anything, these digital tools have helped accelerate citizens’ willingness to self-identify in categories broader than those provided by the government—and even to demand to be able to do so.

Even so, some of the choices haven’t changed. Since the first census in 1790, one category has remained stable, or at least been modified the least on the national census and other official government forms: “white.”

Source: The Atlantic

Employment Discrimination

With the growth of a mixed-race population in the United States that identifies itself as “multiracial,” legal commentators have begun to raise concerns about how employment discrimination law responds to the claims of multiracial plaintiffs. The U.S. Census Bureau began permitting respondents to simultaneously select multiple racial categories to designate their multiracial backgrounds with the 2000 Census. With the release of data for both the 2000 and 2010 census years much media attention has followed the fact that first 2.4 percent then 2.9 percent of the population selected two or more races. The Census Bureau projects that the self-identified multiracial population will triple by 2060. Yet mixed-race peoples are not new. Demographer Ann Morning notes that their early presence in North America was noted in colonial records as early as the 1630s.

However, the presence of fluid mixed-race racial identities within allegations of employment discrimination leads some legal commentators to conclude that civil rights laws are in urgent need of reform because they were built upon a strictly binary foundation of blackness and whiteness. Building upon the social movement for recognition of multiracial identity on the census and generally, these commentators conclude that courts misunderstand the nature of discrimination against mixed-race persons when they do not specifically acknowledge the distinctiveness of their multiracial identity. Even U.S. Supreme Court litigation has begun to associate the growth of multiracial identity with the obsolescence of civil rights policies. Particularly worrisome has been the judicial suggestion that the growth of multiracial identity undercuts the legitimacy of affirmative action policies that have long sought to pursue racial equality.

The supposition that the multiracial experience of discrimination is exceptional, and not well understood or handled by present anti-discrimination law, is evident in the publications of multiracial-identity scholars like Ken Nakasu Davison, Leora Eisenstadt, Tina Fernandes, Nancy Leong, Camille Gear Rich, and Scot Rives. I coin the term “multiracial-identity scholars” to refer to authors whose scholarship promotes the recognition of the distinct challenges that multiracial identity now presumably presents for civil rights law.

The crux of the multiracial-identity scholar critique of the emerging cases is that courts often reframe multiracial plaintiffs’ self-identities by describing mixed-race plaintiffs as “monoracial” minority individuals.  Specifically, in many cases, judges refer to mixed-race complainants as solely African American or black. These scholars take issue with this characterization, arguing it hinders the recognition of the racial discrimination that multiracial individuals experience. This essay disputes that premise because the cases themselves illuminate the disjuncture between the theoretical critique they make and the actual adequacy of the judicial administration of the claims.

A close examination of such claims indicates that in an overwhelming number of the cases scholars rely on, the facts present a complainant whose description of the alleged discrimination includes pointed, derogatory comments about non-whiteness and blackness in particular. The overarching commonality in the cases is the exceptionalism of blackness and non-whiteness, rather than multiraciality, as subject to victimization. Although the plaintiffs may personally identify as multiracial persons, they present allegations of public discrimination rooted in a specific non-whiteness and often black bias that is not novel or particular to mixed-race persons, nor especially difficult for judges to understand. For instance, the employment discrimination case of Marlon Hattimore in Richmond v. General Nutrition Centers, No. 08 Civ. 3577(LTS)(HBP), 2011 WL 2493527 (S.D.N.Y. June 22, 2011), presents a paradigmatic illustration of the adequacy of current law to address the racial discrimination that multiracial-identified persons encounter.

Marlon Hattimore was hired as a sales associate in 2004 for GNC (General Nutrition Center) in its Newburgh, N.Y. store. After Hattimore was hired, the regional manager visited the store and upon seeing Hattimore he told the store manager that too many black people worked in the store and that Hattimore should thus be fired. Only after the regional manager was informed that Hattimore was biracial, did he desist from firing Hattimore and begin to treat him with greater civility.

Hattimore was eventually assigned to work at a different GNC store location and promoted to a store manager position. However, while Hattimore’s biracial status somewhat insulated him from the regional manager’s hostility against black people as a group, Hattimore was still paid less than two subordinate, less experienced white employees and was subjected to a racially hostile workplace. Indeed, during his two-year tenure as a store manager Hattimore endured a relentless pattern of hearing racially charged statements from the regional manager. For instance, the regional manager referred to another employee who was black as “ghetto black trash” and remarked, “you can’t take a hoodlum and put him in a business suit.” Hattimore also indicated that the regional manager compelled him to terminate a black employee by threatening to fire Hattimore if he did not comply. Finally, Hattimore claimed he was terminated and replaced by a white individual and that the regional manager and GNC headquarters refused to tell him the reason he was fired.

Hattimore then decided to join three other GNC employees in filing a joint lawsuit for racial discrimination. Hattimore’s three co-claimants identified as black men from Jamaica and Ghana respectively. GNC requested that the claims be dismissed outright on a motion for summary judgment. The court denied GNC’s petition to have the disparate pay and discriminatory termination claims dismissed.  Here the judge denied the motion due to evidence in the record of unequal pay and the existence of a factual dispute as to whether the claimant was officially terminated. With the denial of the employer’s motion for summary judgment, the parties entered into a favorable settlement for Hattimore. Simply having a racial discrimination case “survive” employer requests for dismissal before a trial is scheduled is a victory in of itself given the phenomenon of disproportionate early dismissal of vast numbers of racial discrimination cases across the country.

Nevertheless, the significance of this legal victory for Hattimore is lost in the multiracial-identity scholar concern with the lack of a judicial elaboration of mixed-race identity.  For the multiracial-identity scholars, Hattimore’s case represents yet another court again treating a biracial claimant with African ancestry as solely black. However, the court’s references to Hattimore as being in the targeted group of blacks correlated with Hattimore’s claim of being treated poorly because of his black ancestry, not because he is racially mixed. In fact, his biracial status was at times a mitigating factor in the discrimination against workers the regional manager identified as solely “black.” More importantly, it was a workplace where “whiteness” was rewarded and blackness was ultimately penalized in whatever proportion it represented in an employee’s ancestry. In turn, the court focused on the salience of blackness that the claimant himself articulated and viewed the claimant’s allegations as warranting further judicial inquiry. The court treated his discrimination claim with respect and Hattimore was able to resolve the dispute directly with an out-of-court settlement. Multiracial-identity scholars do not articulate how Hattimore’s case would have benefitted from the court focusing on Hattimore’s personal identity as biracial when his allegations were rooted in the anti-black bias that he and other employees experienced.

The case then is inappropriately labeled by multiracial-identity scholars as illustrating a judicial confusion about the nature of multiracial discrimination or the inadequacy of the existing antidiscrimination legal framework. Instead, the case demonstrates the coherence of judicially focusing on blackness when the claimant articulates a factual pattern enmeshed in anti-black bias. Like Hattimore’s case the vast majority of multiracial stories of discrimination entail allegations of non-white or specifically anti-black bias rather than prejudice rooted in hostility towards racial mixture itself.

In short, the increase in the number of individuals identifying as mixed-race or multiracial does not present unique challenges to the pursuit of equality inasmuch as the cases are mired in a long existing morass of bias against non-whiteness and its intimate connection to white privilege. Well-meaning but misplaced critiques of how multiracial claims are processed should not serve as a basis for questioning the formulation of traditional employment discrimination law. Rather than point to a need for a shift away from the existing civil rights laws, the cases instead indicate the need for further support of the current structures. The multiracial discrimination cases highlight the continued need for attention to white supremacy and for fortifying the focus of civil rights law on racial privilege and the lingering legacy of bias against non-whites. Multiracial persons and all other victims of discrimination are better served when judges hone in on the direct source of discrimination. Our current climate needs such judicial clarity now more than ever.

Tanya Katerí Hernández is the Archibald R. Murray Professor of Law at Fordham Law School and author of a forthcoming book from NYU Press called “Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination.”

Source: New York Law Journal

Corn Pops!

Kellogg’s to replace racially insensitive Corn Pops boxes following Twitter call out

Kellogg’s was called out on Twitter for having racist art on their Corn Pops box and say it will be replaced. Veuer’s Sam Berman has the full story. Buzz60

Kellogg’s will be redesigning Corn Pops cereal boxes after a complaint about racially insensitive art on the packaging.

The Battle Creek, Mich.-based cereal and snack maker said on Twitter Wednesday it will replace the cover drawing of cartoon characters shaped like corn kernels populating a shopping mall. The corn pop characters are shown shopping, playing in an arcade or frolicked in a fountain. One skateboards down an escalator.

What struck Saladin Ahmed was that a single brown corn pop was working as a janitor operating a floor waxer. Ahmed, current writer of Marvel Comics’ Black Bolt series and author of 2012 fantasy novel Throne of the Crescent Moon, took to Twitter on Tuesday to ask, “Why is literally the only brown corn pop on the whole cereal box the janitor? this is teaching kids racism.”

He added in a subsequent post: “yes its a tiny thing, but when you see your kid staring at this over breakfast and realize millions of other kids are doing the same…”

Kellogg’s responded to Ahmed on the social media network about five hours later that “Kellogg is committed to diversity & inclusion. We did not intend to offend – we apologize. The artwork is updated & will be in stores soon.”

Ahmed noted that he appreciated “the rapid response” from Kellogg’s.

In a statement to USA TODAY, spokesperson Kris Charles said Kellogg respects all people and is committed to diversity.

“We take feedback very seriously, and it was never our intention to offend anyone,” he said in a statement. “We apologize sincerely.”

He confirmed that the package artwork has been updated and will begin to appear on store shelves.

The Kellogg’s Corn Pops incident follows some other recent marketing snafus.

Earlier this month, Dove apologized for a three-second video posted on Facebook that many found racially insensitive. The clip showed a black woman removing a brown T-shirt to reveal a white woman underneath, who then with another T-shirt removal became an Asian woman. An image showing just the black woman and white woman spread virally on social media, causing additional outrage.

The initial clip “was intended to convey that Dove Body Wash is for every woman and be a celebration of diversity,” the company said in a statement.

In April, Shea Moisture apologized over an online video ad about its hair products being on sale at Target. The commercial featured white women, but the hair product company has long catered to women of color.

Credit: USA Today

2020 Census Problems

Accurate 2020 Census count facing obstacles

/ 01:20 AM October 19, 2017

CENSUS.GOV

LOS ANGELES — Participation in the 2020 Census will play a critical role in guiding the distribution of billions of dollars in annual federal spendingome community leaders are acting now to encourage as many people as possible to take part, because budget limits and modernization efforts may create problems for respondents as well as information collectors in 2020.

“I am, personally, worried that there’s not going to be enough dollars for the partnership, multilingual media and outreach that needs to be done for our hard-to-count communities,” California Census Coordinator and chair for the committee advising the Census Bureau on race and ethnicity, Ditas Kitague, told the INQUIRER.net following a panel discussion in Los Angeles hosted by New America Media on Friday, October 6.

Privacy worries

Aside from language barriers, Kitague shared anecdotal reports of growing privacy concerns fueling apprehensions about census participation. Ironically, she noted that some people freely divulge more about themselves via social media than they would on a census form.

In light of the executive branch’s hardline stance on immigration, immigrant communities may be especially hesitant to hand personal information over to the government, according to Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of the nonprofit Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (AAAJ-LA),

“A number of immigrants, particularly undocumented ones, really are afraid of government, so to have them fill out census information is not easy,” said Kwoh during a phone call with the INQUIRER on Thursday, October 12. “I think r community leaders and legal experts need to provide confidence and vital information.”

Data can’t be used vs. respondents

Kwoh and Kitague pointed out that federal law prohibits private data collected by the Census Bureau from being published or used in legal proceedings against respondents. Kwoh added that groups like AAAJ-LA would be prepared to challenge any unfair use of census information against immigrant communities.

Census-based data derived from people’s responses will be used to direct several hundred billion dollars in federal spending.

“It affects the schools, hospitals, the road repairs that you get,” said Kitague. “These are real impacts on your community.”

The George Washington Institute of Public Policy (GWIPP) reports that in 2015, the distribution of nearly $312 billion to Medicaid and over $64 billion to Medicare relied on census-derived data.

Decisions based on census information also guided the allocation and use of almost $13 billion in Title I education grants, $11 billion in special education programs and $8 billion in funding for Head Start programs for children under 5.

Key in redistricting

Census data are also essential to the redistricting process, which decides how many congressional seats each state gets.

An accurate snapshot of the American population may be especially valuable in the face of shifting national demographics.

The Pew Research Center (PRC) reports that the Asian American and Pacific Islander population grew by 72% between 2000 and 2015, exhibiting the highest growth rate among major ethnic groups in the country.

Meanwhile, Latino communities have been growing steadily for several decades and are projected to make up 24% of the U.S. population by 2065.


In addition, the PRC predicts that the working-age population in the United States would shrink without future immigration.


Far-reaching ramifications

If those changes remain consistent in 2020 Census data, it could have far reaching ramifications for immigrant communities, according to Kitague and others conducting outreach for census participation.

“If we do get an accurate count, it will probably show that the AAPI community is growing,” said Kitague.  “Not getting the AAPI community to respond accurately [means] we can lose political representation.”

People working to promote an accurate census are cautiously optimistic that they will be able to overcome a number of obstacles. However, the U.S. Census Bureau (USCB) is confronted by cost constraints, uncertainties surrounding untested tools and a leadership vacuum at the top of the organization as it prepares for 2020.


Cost worries

On Thursday, October 12, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross reportedly told members of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that the Census would cost $15 billion, 25 percent more than what had been initially predicted by the USCB. He asked Congress for an additional $3.3 billion in “urgently needed” funding.

Budget restrictions have already delayed testing for paperless collection methods and other updates intended to save the Bureau money and reach more people.

Meanwhile, in California, preparations for census support operations are lagging behind a state recommended timeline, according to the Manager of Political Voice for the advocacy group Advancement Project California (APCA), Dr. John Dobard. However, he said that outreach efforts are in better shape now than they had been leading up to the 2000 and 2010 census.

“Compared to what’s been done in the past, the state is early. But, based on the recommended timeline from the California Complete Count Committee in 2010, the state is behind,” said Dobard on Friday, October 6. “We’re not where we ideally should be, but there is still time to do things right.”

An Interracial Marriage

An Interracial Marriage: Seeing life through the eyes of the other

by Guest Contributor Michael Dobson

Dobson Christmas

It’s hard to write about your spouse or your marriage, but easy to write about love. When writing about both, it’s a story of humanity, of our world and the lens through which we see and experience our journeys.

Nearly 20 years ago I called my eldest daughter Mia and told her that her dad was about to do something radical, that I was about to marry a white women. She was happy for me. There were few interracial marriages then. When we married In Leon County those 20 years ago, to some, we were pioneers of some sort. We were radical   “cool”… the interracial couple, not just living together, but married and raising a family. With the Tallahassee community being more  “liberal” than some others,   we never thought of any backlash.

For us, the issue of race was never a  concern. That’s not how we were reared.  My wife and I are children of the 1960s , but by living in completely different worlds, we saw those years through starkly different lenses.  She was reared in the white suburbs of Chicago, while my early years were mostly in Jim Crow era Florida, with annual sabbaticals to Elizabeth New Jersey.. only to keep returning to Florida. We both saw the 1960’s riots on TV, when  Watts and Detroit burned. Being black and white then, meant living in completely different worlds. We saw America come of age with the assassinations of JFK and  Bobby Kennedy,  and of   Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.   We viewed, from different racial camps, America’s struggle to reform itself  after the passage of the civil rights act.

In the intervening years, we’ve all seen race relations harden and change for the worst. At the same time, paradoxically,  we’ve  seen the number of interracial families quadruple along with a spike in  interracial dating, paralleling the changing attitudes about sexual orientation. We have also witnessed an uptick in  interracial and multiracial couples  in film and on television.  In the early days of our marriage, whenever my wife and I left our safe enclave of Tallahassee to travel the back roads, we’d invariably find ourselves at a restaurant or store…. whereby someone may look at us sort of askance, or stare just a little too long. At store checkout counters in Tallahassee, we often had to correct the cashier to advise them that we were together.. apparently, not an assumption easily  made in those days. That’s changed. But, there are a few actions by others toward us, which still elicit some pain, once remembered.

Despite having to withstand occasional displays of bigotry, my wife and I are  ordinary people in an ordinary marriage.  When my wife is upset with me, which may be today, it is never about race. Our marriage is like any other. Ordinary.  It requires constant work, is dependent upon patience, commitment, love, understanding and forgiveness.

What I can say is this:  The experience of walking through life with the women I married and  love (through good and bad times), who just so happens to have a different pigmentation than I, has provided a view of our  humanity not shared by many. It’s  a unique gift. As a black man, I get to see the world through the eyes of my wife.. a white women. I get to understand her and those of similar backgrounds whose family’s journeyed to America from Ireland, and their struggles to get their footing in the Midwest; me know their family  tragedies, their loss, heartbreak, grief and celebration;  the loss of dear relatives over time ( cousins, aunts and uncles), and  knowing the tapestry of her life.. her white life in America. Through her eyes, I get to better  know the struggle for equality for white women, just as I also know of the   struggles faced by my mother and the other strong  black women in my life, of  their humiliations, the  physical brutality overcame from their oppressor and the accompanying bondage,  and their dreams for their sons and daughters.  I got to see my wife fiercely protect our children from the rare teacher who practiced their own version of bigotry and racism ..not quite feeling this whole interracial thing. Through my eyes, she knows that  Dr. Benjamin E Mays is correct when he said “He who starts behind in the  great race of life must forever remain behind, or run faster than the man in front” meaning a black man has to work twice as hard to make the same dollar.  Through my eyes she saw the way society sometimes reacted to my skin color, that  black men are indeed treated differently than their white counterpart.

Through each other’s eyes, we understand the world and people better.  What we have been privileged to see through each other’s eyes, while warring  communities  struggle on the issue of race,  is that God does not have a favorite, that trials and tribulations are visited on the comfortable as well as the afflicted,  that people are good, that they have great hearts , that everyone has a story and a worry… that we are the walking wounded..  a part of our shared humanity. Through each other’s eyes, we’ve learned that our hearts and what breaks them does not change based on race or religion. We’ve learned that we endure each day with bright sunny smiles, with exclamation points on Facebook … i.e.  “Congrats”, with a “Awesome”,  or  an simple “Great” when asked how are you, even while some  are dying inside. We’ve learned that tragedy strikes us all and with the same intensity of grief regardless of race. Through my wife’s eyes and the experiences shared with the blending of our extended families; we have learned that regardless of race ethnicity, culture or sexual preference, we all want the same things out of life and care about the same things. Together, we’ve seen that irrespective of race, we all love our children, wanting them to have opportunities that escaped us; we want them to be healthy,  all have personal freedom to pursue our dreams,  have health care, a job that pays a living rage; we all  want a place to live, respect, food to eat.. just the basics, and to have those we love out of harms way.

Through each other’s eyes, we see our sameness. Through each others eyes,  we see the unfathomable ridiculousness of bigotry and racism; we see it for what it is.. its fear.  We know that what passes as racial indifference or bigotry is not based on any thing rational, but instead fear .. fear of what is different. Seeing life through each others eyes, we are more humane, and forever have our hearts and our minds open to live in wonder, not fear. Through each others eyes, our love and respect for all things in us and things that are different, is strengthened.

Michael Dobson, is a long time Tallahassee based governmental relations professional and columnist; President/CEO of Dobson, Craig and Associates (aka Dobson and Associates), and renewable energy policy leader as founder of Florida Renewable Energy Producers Association. Can be reached at michael@michaeldobson.org or Michael@dobsonandcraig.com

This article first appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat and USA Today. Michael Dobson has given Project RACE his permission to reprint the original essay.

Famous Friday

Seth DeValve

seth and erica devalve

 

My last Famous Friday was on Cleveland Browns QB, DeShone Kizer, who two weeks ago was dreaming of winning the starting role. Since that time he has not only secured the starting position, but he’s achieved hero status here in Cleveland. Today’s Famous Friday features another kind of Browns hero (even though his wife asks that he not be viewed in that way), Seth DeValve.

Yes, my Dad played most of his NFL career with the Browns and, yes, I am still a fan despite their streak of losing seasons, but the choice of Seth DeValve really has nothing to do with those things. I chose to feature Seth DeValve because he took a bold stand against racism. Last week Seth was the first white player to join the social-consciousness protest started by Colin Kaepernick last year. Seth joined with several of his black teammates during the anthem to kneel in prayer for our country,

“And also to draw attention to the fact that we have work to do,” the 24 year old player who is in his second NFL season out of Princeton University said. Explaining that he didn’t want to offend anyone, Sean said, “It saddens me that in 2017 we have to do something like that, I personally would like to say that I love this country. I love our national anthem, I’m very grateful to the men and women who have given their lives and give a lot every day to this country and to serve this country, and I want to honor them as much as I can. The United States is the greatest country in the world. It is because it provides opportunities to its citizens that no other country does. The issue is that it doesn’t provide equal opportunity to everybody.”

Just a week ago Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett asked white players to join in the protests and Seth was the first to take a knee.

“We wanted to draw attention to the fact that there’s things in this country that still need to change. I myself will be raising children that don’t look like me, and I want to do my part as well to do everything I can to raise them in a better environment than we have right now,” DeValve said.

Some people have chosen to focus on the fact that DeValve has a personal interest in this issue because he is recently married to African-American woman, his college sweetheart, Erica Harris. And Seth did point out that the couple, who met at a Princeton church group, will one day have multiracial children. But Erica penned a response this week that asserts that her husband would stand up for what’s right no matter what race his wife was.

My sisters both won the Princeton Prize in Race Relations when they were high school juniors. That award was instituted by the Princeton class of ’66, which was almost entirely white. My family has always been inspired by that class and their selfless focus on racial justice. People like those in that class and like Seth and his wife understand that racial justice is just, and no matter what race you are that is something to work for.

Thanks, Seth for taking a stand… while taking a knee.

Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Teens Co-President

Photo Credit: Heavy.com

Commentary

Commentary in The Orlando Sentinel by Susan Graham, president of Project RACE:

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-ed-biracial-conundrum-over-which-box-to-check-20170814-story.html

Living AFTER Loving

Living After Loving

by

Susan Graham

June 12 is the 50th Anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the landmark decision by the Supreme Court that made interracial marriage legal in the United States. We were legally able to marry someone of another race, which I did in 1981. Life didn’t change much for my husband and me in those days. No one taunted or insulted us and we rarely got those crazy stares that some interracial couples report. Then we had children.

My children are multiracial. You might also call them biracial, mixed-race, or other terms. Terminology is important. We choose to use “multiracial” because it is inclusive and covers people who are not only two, but even more races. A Pew Research Center analysis recently found that one-in-seven infants were multiracial or multiethnic in 2015—that’s a whopping 14% of the population and is nearly triple the number in 1980. That’s huge. In Hawaii, 44% of infants are multiracial or multiethnic. Our children’s population will only continue to grow. What we call them—and what they answer to—will be vital to their future. I personally do not like the term “mixed.” It just hits me the wrong way, so I really thought about it one day. Why do I find the word so distasteful? I think it’s because “mixed” is the opposite of “pure,” and do we really want to separate people by purity? Perhaps it’s my Jewish heritage that puts me at odds with that terminology.

Multiracial Heritage Week (June 7 to 14) is also celebrated to coincide with the anniversary of the Loving Decision. It is a national celebration of multiracial children, not interracial marriage. We hold this annual event because inclusion also matters and there are real benefits to seeing yourself represented. At 14 percent of the population, you bet multiracial people matter. They matter to elections, advertisers, corporations, media, and the United States Census Bureau, which tracks them as “two or more races,” over the preferred terminology of “multiracial.” Our families have to live with that for now, but certainly not forever. Diversity starts with the decision makers, and the bigger the multiracial population gets, the more they will listen to us—at least that’s the hope.

 

NEWSFLASH!

NEWSFLASH! AARP becomes part of the federal government!  Thumbs Down

If you thought the American Association of Retired Persons was going to stand up for the rights of senior citizens, you were wrong. In an email dated 5/18/2018, AARP wrote to Project RACE that they must use the federal government’s racial categories. That applies to federal agencies; therefore, AARP has determined they are a federal agency. That also means they will sanction whatever the federal government decides is the best for the elderly population when it comes to healthcare, social security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Further, AARP has stated that “there are now more grandparents in the U.S. than ever before—some 70 million, according to the latest census.” The U.S. Census Bureau is part of the federal government and is sacrosanct to the AARP. AARP wants to follow whatever the census folks do. They have made that very clear to us.

AARP refuses to even recognize multiracial children and grandchildren, according to their letter to Project RACE. In addition, they wish to hyphenate multi-racial. Multiracial children are not hyphenated Americans. They are whole people.

AARP is a huge organization. They are a non-profit, but they have a massive lobbying arm and use your money for their lobbying activities. Because of AARP’s vast membership, it is able to generate its own income without being dependent on government grants or private donors, though it does receive both of these for specific programs.  How can they lobby against legislation and executive orders that will harm older American citizens if they are part of the federal government? Yet, they apparently consider themselves a federal agency. It does not compute. Incidentally, Project RACE does not apply for nor accept government funding, as it would be a conflict of interest. Take note, AARP Board of Directors.

AARP does not understand that multiracial children need appropriate names for their races: multiracial or biracial are the two most respectful terms that are used. Would they want us to refer to seniors as “OLD PEOPLE”? No, because words are important. They just want us to use their words.

Project RACE Grandparents has actively tried to appeal to AARP. We have not been successful. OK, so maybe AARP is not really a federal agency and they just act like one, but do you really want to back any organization or program that will not respect multiracial children? Think about it.

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Famous Friday

tam adam

Tamera Mowry and Adam Housley celebrated their 6-year wedding anniversary this week, and they are also the perfect candidates for this week’s Famous Friday. The perfect pair tied the knot on May 15th, 2011. Since they have brought two beautiful multiracial children into the world. Their eldest child is a sweet boy named Aden, and their youngest is a bubbly baby girl named Ariah.

Tamera Mowry was born in Germany in 1978. She is a self-proclaimed ‘army brat’ due to her family’s militaristic background. She is also a very talented actress and talk show host. You may remember her and her twin sister Tia from their hit show Sister, Sister. She is currently working as a talk show hosts on one of my favorite shows, The Real. On the show, she often speaks of her family and the highs and lows of their interracial journey.

Adam Housley was born in 1972 in Napa, California. Since graduating from Pepperdine University he has won many awards for his journalism. He is also a former professional baseball player, and he currently works as a senior correspondent for FOX news.

The couple has a combined net worth of 11+ million dollars. More importantly, Tamera and Adam are phenomenal parents. I am so excited to see the leaps and bounds that their children make in the multiracial community in the future. Don’t forget that you too can make an impact in the multiracial community by celebrating the upcoming Multiracial Heritage Week in June! Visit projectrace.com for more information.

 

 

 photo courtesy of OK magazine