It’s Famous Friday!

 

It is Friday once again, and today we will be highlighting the (former) interracial couple Sammy Davis Jr. and May Britt!  Sammy Davis Jr. was taking a huge risk in marrying May Britt.  It wasn’t until the Supreme court case of Loving vs. Virginia in 1967, that interracial marriages would become legal all throughout the United States.  Sammy Davis Jr. was African-American and Cuban, and May Britt is Swedish.

This couple’s marriage was definitely outside the norm for the time period.  The union of Sammy and May certainly contributed to the acceptance of interracial marriage here in the United States.  Davis and Britt faced a lot of discrimination during their marriage.  Not only did the discrimination hurt, it even affected their jobs in the arts.  As soon as Davis announced their engagement to the press while in England, the studio Britt was working with immediately canceled her contract with them.  The day after their engagement was announced, British fascists booing, shouting and holding signs with racial slurs, picketed the theater that Davis was performing at.  Sammy Davis Jr. and May Britt even felt their safety was in danger as well.  Davis had gotten many death threats, and was worried for his wife’s safety.  Because of this, the two didn’t go out much together.  However, when they did go out, Davis brought either a gun or a cane with a knife concealed at the tip.  In a book written by Sammy Davis Jr.’s daughter, Tracey Daivs, Sammy Davis Jr.: A Personal History with My Father, it reveals that because of their marriage, Kennedy refused to let Davis perform at his inauguration.  Despite the hardships that Davis and Britt faced, they persevered and even contributed to the Civil Rights Movement by joining many marches for freedom with Martin Luther King Jr.  Sammy has also been recognized for contributing many hours and lots of money to support this cause.  In May of 1963, the couple went to a mass civil rights rally at Los Angeles’ Wrigley Field and was greeted by Martin Luther King Jr. as well.

Sammy Davis Jr. and May Britt set a great example for generations of interracial couples to come!  Despite their trials and tribulations, the couple didn’t let other people’s opinions sway their love for each other.  Davis faced a lot of discrimination, yet he didn’t curl up and hide, while although it hurt, he fought for the rights many people have today. Sammy Davis Jr. and May Britt helped level the path for couples to have interracial relationships, just like my parents!

 

Madelyn Rempel

Project RACE Kids President

 

Picture Source:

https://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/jfk-refused-sammy-davis-jr-perform-white-house/story?id=23379345

Informational Friday

When “Mixed” Isn’t Enough

GETTY

Why We Need Better Terms For People Who Identify As Two Or More Races

by Nicole Holliday  When I was a kid, I always just assumed that everyone in the world called people like me “mixed,” because in the 1990s in central Ohio, where I grew up, mixed almost always referred to folks like me, who had one black parent and one white parent. The community I grew up in had very few people who identified as anything other than black or white, so I just thought that mixed meant “black and white” unless otherwise specified. This was comfortable for me, and it allowed me to have a way to describe my racial identity quickly and concisely.

As I got older, however, the nation’s demographics began to shift, and I started to hear all kinds of people who had parents of different races refer to themselves as mixed. Suddenly, it seemed like when I told people I was mixed, their follow-up question was “with what?” At this point, I began to wish that I had a specific term to describe people like me.

I knew that, for example, in South Africa, I’d be classified as coloured, which, despite its history as a term of oppression during the apartheid era, is still utilized as a demographic category. In the UK, people who are mixed-race typically come from black and white backgrounds, though as their population has diversified, they have some of the same struggles for meaning around the term mixed as people in the US have.

A population changing more rapidly than its language

So, how mixed is the US population? The 2010 Census Brief The Two or More Races Population: 2010 shows that the population reporting multiple races (about 9 million) increased by 32 percent from 2000 to 2010, compared with those who reported a single race (about 300 million), which increased by only 9.2 percent.

While this increase in people identifying as two or more races is often considered to be positive evidence of greater social integration, it also creates challenges around the language we use to talk about both individual and group-level racial categories. This is due, in no small part, to changes in the format of many demographic surveys, but especially in the decennial US Census.

The demographer’s version of “mixed with what?”

In the year 2000, the Census allowed for first time individuals to check more than one box in response to the question “What is your race?”

While this greater recognition of people who fall outside of unary racial categories has been hailed as positive by multiracial advocates, it seems that the Census has, for many intents and purposes, fallen into the same underspecified pattern that I personally experienced.

“Two or more races” is like the demographer’s version of “mixed with what?”: it doesn’t actually provide useful information about exactly how people identify, which becomes even more challenging with a massive dataset like the Census’s.

On a large scale, this is a serious issue, because Census data on race is used for everything from enforcing the Voting Rights Act to allocating funding for community-based nonprofits, and thus inaccurate racial data can have tangible negative effects for majority-minority communities. However, breaking down the “Two or More Races” responses into every possible combination may also have the effect of making racial categories so small as to preclude generalization, causing a sort of demographic double bind.

Indeed, this issue of what to call and how to count people who don’t fit into neat racial categories has always been an issue for demographers. Multiracial individuals and communities, while they have recently increased in numbers in the US, are hardly a modern phenomenon. Though it is the case that the 2000 Census was the first time that individuals could select more than one racial category, it was not the first time that multiracial people were counted as their own Census category. The Census’s changing terms for multiracial people reflect some broader social trends over time.

Mulatto and other historical terms for mixed racial descent

The US once had specific terms in wide use to describe people of different types of mixed racial descent, though they mostly fell out of favor as the demographics and racial structure of the nation shifted.

According to the Pew Research Center’s Social Trends, from 1850–1880, the Census contained options for whiteblack, and mulatto (meaning black and white), which were important during the time of chattel slavery. In 1890, the Census kept those terms and added the now-offensive quadroon (one-quarter black) and octoroon (one-eighth black). Though they disappear from the Census by 1900, these two categories were presumably due to the fact that, in the post-Civil War era, percentage of black ancestry became important in the establishment and enforcement of Jim Crow segregation. By 1930, we have whitenegroother, and Indian, but mulatto was no longer an option.

Outside of the Census, the terms quadroon and octoroon were not only considered offensive, but also politically unnecessary by the 1930s. For much of the nation’s history and in most parts of the country, the “one-drop rule” classified any individual with a black or even partially black parent, as entirely black for legal purposes, eliminating the need for such specific terms. It is a uniquely American example of what’s called hypodescent—”assigning racially mixed individuals to the identity of the subordinate group”—and it has helped shape and reinforce the binary understanding of racial identity that persists in the US today.

The rise of broad terms

From the mid-20th century on, we have seen a dramatic increase in broader, more open-ended terms that reflect a society that sees more racial categories. There are still limitations, however, related to the many nuanced identities that compose these categories.

Google Books Ngram comparison of terms shows a steady increase of multiracial and biracial from the 1950s until about 2000. There is also a corresponding virtual disappearance of the antiquated terms quadroon and octoroon, indicating a trend toward more general terms. In the 1980s, we start to see a sharp rise in the occurrence of the term biracial children, reflecting the increase in children born in the 1980s to parents of different races.

Both multiracial and biracial have expanded in meaning since they first gained traction in American English. In the 1950–60s, both of these terms were primarily used to discuss groups where more than one race is represented, as in multiracial society and biracial committees. Over time, as the US became more integrated and rates of interracial marriage and children who could and did identify as two or more races went up, these words became useful for talking about individuals of mixed racial descent. Despite that shift, the broadness of these terms make them less useful for people simply trying to discuss their identity without explaining their family tree.

I believe that speakers are increasingly experiencing these terms as underspecified, and that some individuals and groups that identify as two or more races are sensing a lexical gap for terms they would like for their own their specific racial combination.

What’s next? Halfricanhafu, and blackanese

One piece of evidence for this lexical gap is the rise of the term hapa, “a person of mixed-race heritage who identifies racially and culturally as both white and of Asian descent,” especially in Hawaii and California. Originally a Hawaiian Pidgin term meaning “half,” hapa is now seeing broader use on the mainland, such as the Harvard HAPA, or the Harvard Half-Asian Person’s Association, one of the first such organizations for hapa students established in 1995.

Perhaps the best way to guess what terms might further fill these lexical gaps in English is to see what people are using in online spaces. On Twitter and Urban Dictionary, words that have been suggested to describe specific groups of multiracial people include halfrican (half African) and hafu (a person who is Japanese and something else, based on the the English half). Joining hafu are blasian and blackanese, and indeed, there are probably a dizzying array of other portmanteau words for every possible ethnic combination.”Some may remember the nationalist uproar when African American and Japanese Ariana Miyamoto won the 2015 Miss Universe Japan title… As hafu, it seems we are at once objects of fetish and scrutiny.”

As the proportion of people with ancestry from multiple racial and ethnic groups increases alongside greater societal recognition of self-identifications, I think that some of these highly specific terms may begin to increase in use. Personally, I haven’t stopped longing for a quick, intelligible way to describe my own racial background. Maybe I’ll just start saying “halfrican” and see if it catches on!


Nicole Holliday is an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Pomona College in Claremont, California. She received her Ph.D. in linguistics from New York University, where her dissertation focused on how individuals with one black parent and one white parent use linguistic variation to construct and perform their racial identities. Her scholarly writing has appeared in journals such as American Speech and Language in Society. She lives in Los Angeles with her dog, Dwayne “The Rock” Dogson.

Category: Blog · Tags: , , ,

Shutting Down the Rumor Mill

Charles Michael Byrd wrote an article for the very conservative Washington Examiner on July 31 about Kamala Harris. He wrote, “mixed-race Americans are rightfully concerned that the government might shelve the multiple box option altogether.” I had a long conference call with Census Bureau executives this week and they stated there are NO PLANS to do this and they have no idea where it came from. Indeed, when I wrote to Byrd and appealed to him on social media, he never answered. It’s true that you never know what will happen in Washington, especially with the current administration, but this was a surprise to the Census Bureau and they were adamant about the situation. Case closed.

Thank you!

 

We just want to thank everyone who made national Multiracial Heritage Week such a great success this year. We received written acknowledgment from 17 states and 4 mayors of large cities. Yes! We also had numerous new members sign up for membership and asking to be placed on our mailing list.

The media attention has been great, with television, radio, and podcasts. If you missed Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Teen President on WKYC, you can catch it here: https://www.wkyc.com/amp/article/entertainment/television/liveonlakeside/karson-baldwin-project-race-teens-gears-up-for-multiracial-heritage-week/95-c9a9fef6-6506-4589-920c-475f8beb719a

Project RACE celebrates being multiracial throughout the year, but our week is very special to us. Please consider being a part of it next year by going to our website and filling out a form here: http://www.projectrace.com/mhw/

Also, please let us know throughout the year what companies, hospitals, media outlets, etc. include “multiracial” on their forms and surveys. We encourage you to frequent those that include us like Aveda and Walgreen’s, and make your preferences known to those that don’t, like TheSkimm. Thank you.

 

Project RACE

Project RACE Teens

Project RACE Kids

Project RACE Grandparents

We interrupt our celebrations…

We interrupt our celebrations…

What do a seven-year-old boy in New York, a three-year-old girl in Baltimore, and an eight-year-old boy in Los Angeles have in common? Other than playing games and being with their pets, they are all living on borrowed time. And you may be able to save them.

During Multiracial Heritage Week, we do a lot of celebrating and talk about being multiracial, but we also remind people about becoming bone marrow donors for sick children and adults with blood diseases.

There is a blood cancer diagnosis every four minutes in the United States and every one of us could be the key to saving a life. Anyone between the ages of 18 and 44 can register with Be the Match, to potentially become a donor. Multiracial adults are in high demand.

Approximately 70 percent of patients do not have a fully matched donor in their own family, which leaves them to search the registry. And depending on a patient’s ethnic background, the likelihood varies for finding the perfect match. Most prospective donors are white.

“Caucasians are likely to match 77 percent of the time, African Americans are likely to match 23 percent of the time,” said Amy with Be the Match, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program. “There is no medical reason for that likelihood, it’s just the number of committed donors we have on the registry.” There are no statistics on multiracial patients.

So we interrupt our celebrations to ask you to register with Be the Match and help save lives. Thank you.

You can watch our video “Invisible in Healthcare” here: http://www.projectrace.com/teen-project-race/video/

Project RACE

Project RACE Teens

Project RACE Kids

Project RACE Grandparents

 

 

Photo Credit: ABC News Go.com

Ancestry.com Apologizes

Ancestry.com apologizes, pulls slavery-era ad after backlash

The ad drew widespread criticism on social media for whitewashing slavery, prompting the DNA testing company to remove it from TV and its YouTube channel. Ancestry started running the ad on TV on April 15, according to research firm iSpot.TV.

The ad is part of a campaign by Ancestry showing stories from the past to pique viewers’ curiosity about their ancestors. It depicts a white man holding up a ring and telling a black woman wearing Civil War-era clothing that they can be together if they escape to the North. The woman says nothing as the scene fades to black, with the line: “Without you, the story stops here.”

Critics pointed out that the ad ignores the fact that mixed race couplings during the slavery era were usually not romantic love stories but instead due to rape and violence against slaves.

Many took to Twitter to express complaints about the ad.

“I used this service a few years ago. And when I realized I was more than 10% European, I wept,” tweeted Brittany Packnett. “Not from shame for who I am, but from anger from the trauma of how it may have come to be. This commercial spits on the trauma in our veins and the fight of our ancestors.”

In an emailed statement, Ancestry said the ad was intended to be part of its effort to tell “important stories from history.”

“We very much appreciate the feedback we have received and apologize for any offense that the ad may have caused,” the company said in the statement.

M.J. McCallum, creative director of Muse Communications, called the ad “thoughtless,” but said it could happen to any company that doesn’t prioritize having diverse representation in its ranks.

“I believe it’s the responsibility of brands and their agencies to foster inclusive environments,” he said. “They must encourage their team members to be open, honest and vulnerable to topics like race and culture.”

The Ancestry ad joins a long list of missteps by marketers that are at best tone-deaf and at worst racist.

In 2017, Dove stopped using a Facebook GIF that showed a black woman removing a brown shirt and transforming into a white woman. The ad was meant to show different types of people can use Dove but many saw it as saying the black woman was “dirty” and the white woman was “clean.” Dove apologized .

In 2018, a Heineken ad with the tagline “Sometimes, Lighter Is Better,” showed a bartender sliding a bottle of Heineken down a bar where several people of color were sitting before it stops in front of a light-skinned woman. Heineken apologized and pulled the ad after an online outcry in which many people, including Chance the Rapper, called the ad racist.

And in February , Gucci pulled a sweater off the market after complaints that the oversized collar designed to cover the face resembled blackface makeup. Italian designer Prada, Katy Perry’s fashion line and H&M have also pulled similar racially insensitivity items.

“The idea that an ad won’t be offensive simply because no one who approved it was offended is just not acceptable anymore,” McCallum said. “Yes, there is always a chance that even the best of intentions will be misinterpreted, but there are reliable resources and skilled professionals available for brands to tap into.”

Category: Blog · Tags: ,

It’s Famous Friday!

QB Patrick Mahomes

“Mahomes’ talent is as good as anybody who has ever played the game.” – Brett Favre

Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has captivated football fans this year and become the most exciting player in the NFL. Mahomes, in just his second NFL season, has led his team to a thrilling 8-1 start and, with eight 300 yard passing games in a row, has found himself as the current MVP favorite! The frenzy over this new superstar reminds me of the way fans react to LeBron! This guy is obviously a very special athlete.

The 23 year old was born in Tyler, Texas to Pat Mahomes Sr. and Randi Martin. His interracially married parents divorced when he was young, but the family remained close. Pat Mahomes Sr. had a long career as an MLB pitcher when young Patrick was growing up, playing with the Twins, Red Sox, Mets, Rangers, Cubs and Pirates. His father’s career made for a fun childhood for Patrick, allowing him to regularly hang out on the road with superstars like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

“It helped out that I went to private school when I was younger so they let me skip a few weeks at a time,” Mahomes said. “I would miss school for about a week or two get my work in advance and I’d go up and just hang out with him (dad). He’d still stay on me about doing my school work, but it was good experience to be around him and travel with him. I remember riding buses from stadium to stadium.”

When he wasn’t on the road with his dad, Patrick was raised in Whitehouse, Texas with his younger brother, Jackson, and a little sister, Mia. Patrick is a great big brother, known to be very protective of his sister and a role model for his brother. He didn’t play football until middle school, and even then, played safety, not quarterback. He was a three sport standout athlete (football, baseball, and basketball) at Whitehouse High School, where he was named a 3 star prospect by Rivals, ESPN and 247 sports.

Patrick started dating soccer player Brittany Matthews in high school and they are still together today. In his junior year of high school he first established himself as a quarterback and led his team to the district championship. Even then, he was a classic dual threat QB who could throw or run the ball with the best in the country and was named Maxpreps 2013-14 Athlete of the Year. He also continued to excel in baseball, throwing a no-hitter as a senior. He was so good, that he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers, but having decided on football, did not sign a contract.

It is no surprise, then, that he was heavily recruited by colleges. He decided on Texas Tech and as a freshman, continued to play both football and baseball. After setting the Big 12 freshman record for passing yards in a game, with 598 against Baylor, it became pretty clear that football was his game. During his pre-draft pro day in 2017, he threw a pass that was almost 80-yards.The man has a strong arm and the NFL took notice. He was drafted 10th overall by the Chiefs, who traded up to get him. His four-year contract is worth more than $16 million plus he got a signing bonus of more than $10 million! Not bad for a 23 year old. Mahomes played backup his first year in the league and didn’t get on the field until the final game of the season. But apparently that’s all it took. This year he has not only started every game, but set the league on fire. He is breaking all kinds of records and leading his team to weekly decisive victories that leave people in awe of his abilities.

The 6’3” phenom is incredibly talented yet obviously works really hard at his game. But he does still like to relax and have fun sometimes. His favorite TV shows are Game of Thrones, Westworld and, Power. But, he’d much rather use his time off, staying both active and competitive.

“My favorite hobby especially this offseason was probably golf,” Mahome said. “I really tried to get into golf. My dad played so it’s something else I compete against him in. He is definitely better, but I did beat him when he came to Kansas City one time. That was my only time I’ve ever beat him though.”

That competitive spirit is serving him well and I am one of millions who are happy to be here to see it in action.

  • Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Teens Co-President

 

 

Photo Credit: centerfieldmaz.com

 

About Project RACE

Project RACE is a non-profit NATIONAL organization advocating for multiracial individuals. We advocate for “multiracial” or “check two or more” classifications on forms. We hold schools, business, the media and other institutions responsible for treating multiracial people fairly, especially children. We do this by speaking directly with them, providing materials, writing opinion pieces, sharing experiences, etc. We are proactive. We also provide information on medical issues and hold bone marrow donor drives. We have very active divisions: Teens, Kids, and Grandparents, which hold Multiracial Heritage Week every year from June 7 to 14. I have testified three times before congressional subcommittees at their invitation, as have other Project RACE members. We have ongoing discussions and meetings with Census Bureau personnel, OMB representatives, and state political representatives. Project RACE advocates for the right for multiracial individuals to have appropriate and respectful terminology used for our racial and ethnic identity. Please visit our website at projectrace.com for more information and read our blog, which provides updates on important issues for the multiracial community. You can also sign up for our email blasts, visit our Facebook page, or email me at susangraham@projectrace.com –Susan Graham for Project RACE

Are You in an Interracial Family?

Project RACE is very pleased to announce that we have been asked to participate in a photographic project by the amazing photographer Ben Baker! He has photographed the Obamas, many other Presidents, entertainers, politicians, and other famous people.

He is looking for interracial families to photograph in New York this weekend or next. This could be any combination of backgrounds: black/white, Asian/black, Hispanic/white, African American/American Indian, etc. Please email me at susangraham@projectrace.com if you are interested. Let’s help Ben make this a huge success!

Important Update

Project RACE Update

August, 2018

Census Undercount of the Multiracial Population – IMPORTANT!

The US Census Bureau does not want multiracial or biracial people to be counted as multiracial. Numerous organizations both non-profit and governmental do not want the multiracial population counted as two or more races. They want to count us, but as single-race individuals.

Outreach programs have been started that systematically omit the multiracial community. This will continue until the 2020 Census. Every community has been asked to be a part of the efforts to count their population with the exception of ours. Why is this happening? They want us to deny our identities and that of our children in an effort to boost their own numbers.

They will be happy if multiracial people use the “some other race” space on the 2020 census form or choose only one racial category. Don’t do it. Our numbers get lost if you do. We can only show how much our community is growing if data are counted and allocated correctly.

The only way to obtain everything the multiracial community deserves is by checking more than one race on your census form. Let’s show them we know exactly who we are. We will have more about this important issue as we move closer to the 2020 Census.

A NEW PROJECT RACE TEEN CO-PRESIDENT!

We are very excited about our new co-president, Alexis Cook! She is a leader at her high school and very active in her community in Aurora, Colorado. When asked about her multiracial heritage, Alexis replied, “Growing up in an interracial family was a blessing because I got to learn from two cultures instead of just one.”

Alexis is a high school senior and is the Student Body President. She is in the top one percent of her class and embodies the Project RACE emphasis on education. She will be a great role model with another wonderful teen, Karson Baldwin, as co-presidents of Project RACE Teens. You can read more about Alexis at www.projectrace.com/blog. Welcome, Alexis!

WEB GURU NEEDED FOR OUR WEBSITE

We need help! A web guru is desperately needed on a volunteer basis to keep our site updated. Just a few hours a month would be perfect to update our WordPress site at www.projectrace.com The need is urgent and is a great community service. Please email us at susangraham@projectrace.com Thank you!

THE SEARCH IS ON FOR A NEW PROJECT RACE GRANDPARENTS PRESIDENT

We thank Patti Barry who began Project RACE Grandparents for us several years ago. She has done a tremendous job, but her busy life means that Patti must give up her leadership responsibilities. We are looking for that special grandparent who can help us with meaningful programs for our Grandparents Division. It’s fun and rewarding! Please email susangraham@projectrace.com if you or someone you know is interested.