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)

 

 

 

Ebony Cover?

Multiracial Déjà vu?

Ebony Cover

 

Three multiracial people are on the cover of December’s Ebony magazine. A very inaccurate article has been circulating on the Internet about it. I usually just stay away from this craziness, laugh it off, and go on with my life. But this one made me curious enough to chime in. It was dreamed up by @Literatigurl.

Her article is called “The Biracial Backlash: Zendaya, Alicia Keys, and Other Activists Targeted over Mixed Race Heritage” referring, I suppose, to the front cover photo of Ebony magazine. The cover also included Jesse Williams and Harry Belafonte, a very famous actor whose mother was white Jamaican and whose father was black. Ebony readers probably don’t even remember him.

Not all famous people in interracial marriages or who are multiracial themselves want to jump onto the biracial cause. When I lived in Atlanta, I met Pam Portier, one of Sidney Portier’s daughters. Pam is an offspring of Sidney and his first wife, who was black. Two of Sidney’s younger daughters were biracial and from a white mother. Sidney Portier loved all of his children, and when Pam and I got to talking, she had an idea. Pam had a media production company in Atlanta, which was where I lived. Her idea was for a documentary of the multiracial movement.

Pamela Portier knew how much her father loved all of his children and had no question that her father would donate money to get the documentary done. She called him. He told her that he did not want to get involved in the “multiracial thing” and to leave him out of it. Pam was shocked and very disappointed. I was not shocked, but was disappointed.

Twenty-five years went by and we have had unbelievable successes in Washington, in individual states, in corporate America, and in black and white social circles. Yet, the black community as a whole and in part, rejected us. Our children are no more or no less accepted in 2015. The federal government still will not give us a stand-alone meaningful classification. The black community did not want us, but they did still want our numbers! Oh, we get that.

We were told we were not black enough by black advocates. But now there is a “Black Lives Matter” Movement and guess what? They want higher numbers, so we are suddenly black enough for so many things, including saving black lives. Imagine that. They want and need our numbers again. They want our 17 million plus multiracial members.

Trust me on this: When a cop has to make that split second decision to pull the trigger, he doesn’t ask the bad (or good) guy if he checked more than one race on his Decennial Census form.

The new “thing” confuses matters for me. Does the black community want the biracial community to stand up for them after they threw us under the bus of “who is black enough” in the 90s” I would rather stand up for biracial and black and white and brown lives because they all matter.

Susan Graham