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: James McBride

james-mcbrideJames McBride is a well-known multiracial writer and musician. He is of African-American and Jewish Ancestry. James was born in September of 1957 making him 59 years of age. James has an undergraduate degree in music composition, and also a journalism degree from Columbia University.
I am particularly intrigued by his memoir, The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute To His White Mother. While I have not personally read his book, I have heard nothing but good things. There is a part where McBride asks his mother whether he is white or black, and she says: “You’re a human being. Educate yourself, or you’ll be a nobody.” I couldn’t help but smile as I came across this excerpt as it reminded me so much of my own mother. I think it is so important to realize that we are all much, much more than the color of our skin.
Perhaps his mother’s advice is what drove McBride’s career, education, and work ethic. His memoir has sold over 2.5 million copies, and has also been translated into 15+ languages. McBride has collected countless accomplishments over the years, and is sure to achieve even more over the years.

 

  • Lexi Brock, President Projectr RACE Teens

FAMOUS FRIDAY: Colin Kaepernick

ckThis week’s Famous Friday features someone who has been in the headlines quite often lately, Colin Kaepernick. He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and he is of African American and European descent. From a young age he continually excelled in all sorts of sports. He is currently a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.

If you haven’t heard, Kaepernick began a silent protest during the NFL preseason. Instead of standing for the national anthem, he takes a knee. He doesn’t do this to disrespect veterans or our military, but to protest police brutality. When asked about the reasoning behind his protest Colin said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Several other NFL stars have joined in on his protest. Not only that, but athletes from college all the way down to pee-wee leagues are also taking a knee in protest. One of those protestors is Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall he said the following: “I’m not against the military. I’m not against the police or America, I’m against social injustice.”

This quote from Kaepernick really hit me, “You have people that practice law and our lawyers and go to school for eight years, but you can become a cop in six months and don’t have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetologist. That’s insane. Someone that’s holding a curling iron has more education and more training than people that have a gun and are going out on the street to protect us.” I understand that some people may have an issue with Colin’s method of protest, but I encourage you to look beyond the method and see the message Kaepernick is trying to get across.

  • Lexi Brock, Project RACE Teens President

Image courtesy of slate.com

FAMOUS FRIDAY: North and Saint West

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Today’s Famous Friday features two really young, but really popular multiracial kids. North and Saint West. They are the son and daughter of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Their daughter, North West, is only 3 years old. Their son, Saint West, is not even a year old yet! At such a young age, these tiny tots have already made some pretty awesome memories. North celebrated one of her birthdays with a ‘Kidchella’ party, which was a spinoff of the popular music festival Coachella. It was a star-studded event, and even featured her very own ferris wheel! Saint will be one year old in December, but he was already spotted in Mexico with his family on vacation. I can’t wait to hear about all the awesome things these two multiracial kids will do as they grow up.

 

Lexi Brock, Project RACE Teens President
photos courtesy of VH1 and intouchweekly

FAMOUS FRIDAY: Jessica Ennis-Hill

jessica ennisAs the world tunes into The 2016 Olympic Games, Project RACE wants to highlight all of the multiracial athletes who are competing. For this week’s Famous Friday we will be taking a closer look at the fabulous Jessica Ennis-Hill.

Jessica was born on January 28th, 1986, and she is of Jamaican and Caucasian ancestry. She is a British Track and Field athlete. At 29 year’s old she is a World and Olympic heptathlon champion!! In case you were wondering, a heptathlon is a track and field competition that consists of 7 different events. She also holds the British national record for this competitive event.

Jessica isn’t just an athlete, she is also a mother and wife. She is married to Andy Hill, and they have one son together. His name is Reggie, and Jessica says that he is ‘worth more than any gold medal.’ She acknowledges that having a child changed her body and made it hard to come back to the sports world. It is rumored that the track and field star could possibly retire in 2017.

As great as Jessica’s life is, she notes that it hasn’t always been easy. From injuries to bullies, not everyday was a walk in the park for her. Jessica has said, “I believe we all have a journey. I was once a small girl from Sheffield, dealing with bullies and normal teenage insecurities, but I always believed. And when you do that life can get unbelievable.” I think this advice is totally beautiful, and I encourage you all to never give up on your dreams.

 

– Lexi Brock

ProjectRACE Teen Co-President

FAMOUS FRIDAY: Beautiful & Talented Alexis Bledel

Alexis BledelThis week’s Famous Friday features the beautiful and incredibly talented Alexis Bledel. Alexis has a very intriguing ethnic background. Her mother, Nanette, is of Danish and French ancestry. Martin, her father, is of spanish descent and spent a hefty portion of his life in Argentina. Alexis Bledel’s mother also has mexican heritage, so Alexis strongly identifies with the latina community.
Alexis is a phenomenal actor. She has starred in Tuck Everlasting, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and other top films. I am personally familiar with her acting on the hit tv show, Gilmore Girls. Alexis was also a model prior to her acting career, and she even got to travel to various diverse locations for photoshoots. When Alexis isn’t on set she enjoys writing, reading, and taking pictures.
I had no idea that Alexis was of multiple races until recently, and I was actually quite shocked. I think that a very cool part about the multiracial community is that we are all so very different, but still identify with the same issues.

– Lexi Brock, Project RACE Teens Co-President

photo courtesy of IMDB.com

FAMOUS FRIDAY: Actress Paula Maxine Patton

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Photo courtesy of IMDB.com

For this week’s Famous Friday I chose Paula Maxine Patton. Paula has African American and Caucasian ancestry. Paula’s mother was a school teacher, and her father was an attorney. She was born in Los Angeles, California on December 5, 1975. Paula attended USC film school and has since starred in several major motion pictures. She actually grew up across the street from 20th Century Fox Studios!

One of Paula’s first roles was in the movie Hitch, where she co-starred with the infamous Will Smith. She has also starred in some of my personal favorite movies, like “Jumping the Broom” and “Baggage Claim.” Besides acting, Paula has also tested the waters in music. She has even done background vocals for Usher!

Paula has admitted that she at first struggled with being biracial. However, she eventually overcame her insecurities and blossomed into the beautiful and talented actress that people across the globe know and love.  My favorite Paula Patton quote is, “The older I get, the more I accept and appreciate myself.” I think this is a phenomenal and very true statement for all of us. I believe that when famous multiracial individuals like Paula accept themselves, it makes it easier for other awesome biracial people to do the same.

-Lexi, Co-President Project RACE Teens

Teen Voices

Teen Voices

 Multiracial Teens Talk About Their Identity Rip Tides

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The pressures and rejections come from within, from peers, from different sides of their families. “No matter how hard I tried I was always too white for the black kids and too black for the white kids,” says one girl. The second in a three-part series on multiracial teens.

 Geier-Lexi-BrockLexi Brock is co-president of Project RACE’s teen initiative.Credit: Courtesy of Lexi Brock
WOODSIDE, N.Y. (WOMENSENEWS)–In middle school, Allyson Gonzalez thought befriending white girls would stop the other Brooklyn public school students from teasing her about her thick eyebrows and hairy arms.

However, her new friends acted outright, “horribly” racist to certain students. Gonzalez went along with them, but would be nice to the other students in private. After witnessing this behavior, she then decided “if anything was bad, it was being white.”

Now a college freshman at Hunter College, Gonzalez, who is German, Irish and Puerto Rican, identifies as a “multiracial white-Hispanic woman.” She blames “social pressure” for the delayed acceptance of her mixed background, she said in an email interview.

Young people who are multiracial are four times more likely to switch their racial identity than to consistently report one identity, sociologists Steven Hitlin, J.Scott Brown and Glen H. Elder found in their 2006 research, cited by sociologists Kerry Ann Rockquemore, David Brunsma and Daniel J. Delgado in their 2009 piece published in the Journal of Social Issues.

This is part of the multiracial “journey,” according to freelance writer Hannah Gomez, who also works with the advocacy organization We Need Diverse Books. In her 2013 paper “This, That, Both, Neither: The Badging Of Biracial Identity In Young Adult Realism,” she combined evidence from modern fiction and scientific research to identify a three-step process in multiracial identity development. First, individuals are confronted with a situation causing them to reject one side of their race. They then seek a community that does not pressure them to disconnect with one of their sides. Finally, they achieve a sense of empowerment that successfully leads to identifying with a mixed label.

“Structural, systemic racism says that people must be easily defined and sorted into groups, and race is an easy way to do that,” said Gomez in an email interview.

While she added that no one needs to embrace all of her background, individuals are often told to embrace just one, resulting in “a lot of undue stress.”

Peer Pressures

Not fitting into one easy category led Lexi Brock, who is white and African American, to Project RACE, where she is co-president of its teen initiative. The 16-year-old Georgia native grew up in the predominantly white suburb of Toccoa and did not realize she had a blended background until middle school. The adversity she faced there toward multiracial people lowered her self-esteem and increased her need to “blend in,” she said in a phone interview.

Every morning for three years, Brock would spend two hours straightening her thick curly hair to conform to the sleek thinner hairstyles of her white peers.

“I did not want to bring to light my African American features,” Brock said. “I would look in the mirror and think ‘I don’t look like the other girls.’ I tried losing weight to make my hips not be so protruding.”

“I remember people saying ‘oh you can’t date her, she’s mixed’ as if having tanned skin affected my character,” Brock said in a speech this spring at an event celebrating people in Toccoa who overcame personal obstacles. “No matter how hard I tried I was always too white for the black kids and too black for the white kids.”

Like Brock, 18-year-old Raina Salvatore from Queens, N.Y, faced peer pressure that made it feel hard to embrace her Italian, Portuguese and Indian heritages.

“When I was younger, I’d have peers who’d tell me, ‘you’re not Indian’ or ‘you’re not Portuguese,'” she said in an online interview. “I have friends who make jokes about it, but truth be told, it’s really rude.”

She was often told she was “too white” to be Indian or couldn’t be a certain race because she wasn’t “culturally proficient in any.” Thus, until seventh grade, she identified more with her Italian heritage.

While teenage sisters Angela and Julie Lavarello never rejected their background, some members of their cultural community did make them feel self-conscious about being mixed at weekly Polish classes in Queens and Brooklyn. The girls, who have a part-Polish mother and Peruvian father, recalled students asking them why they were there.

“Nobody [at Polish school] really takes you seriously,” said Angela Lavarello during an interview in the Bronx, N.Y. “I feel like every time you come upon somebody who thinks you’re an oddity . . . you have to explain why you’re there.”

Family Pressures

Still other multiracial teens have felt uncomfortable with their identity due to familial rather than peer pressures.

Sarah DeFilippo, 16, felt more pressure from her family than her friends when it came to her mixed heritage. DeFilippo, who is from Queens, N.Y, has a Trinidadian mother and Italian-German father.

She said in an online interview that her mother’s side of the family treats her differently.

“They assume we can’t handle pepper in our food, that we don’t know what anything is, and that’s hurtful because it’s like ‘here’s my family,’ but I don’t think we’re much alike,” she said.

Her Italian-German aunt “acts really confused” whenever DeFilippo plays soca music, a highly rhythmic genre of Caribbean music originating in the 1970s from a subculture in Trinidad and Tobago. She remarked, “I think it’s harder for her because that whole side of the family was pretty racist against people of color, so there was a lot of culture shock for her.”

Others have experienced more explicit familial pressure.

Stephanie Surjeet, 22, who is Punjabi and Haitian, said being multiracial was “kind of like a curse” because her family wanted her to follow differing cultures.

“I could never really relate to my father’s side because I just felt ostracized. They would talk about my hair being too curly,” she said in a phone interview from her home in Brooklyn, N.Y. “They would say we would act too African American.”

Thus, she felt more at home with her Haitian family, who accepted her race.

Surjeet’s predicament is an issue that Gomez touches on in her paper. People, she writes, tend to perceive certain mixes “as a sort of betrayal” on the part of the individual for identifying, or appearing to identify, with just one race and rejecting the other.

Despite these struggles, Surjeet acknowledges that being multiracial also leads to more open-mindedness. “Sometimes it’s hard to fit in, especially as a kid,” she said, “so you have to start kind of figuring out your identity early on.”

Tatyana Bellamy-Walker provided additional reporting for this story.

This story is part of Teen Voices at Women’s eNews. In 2013 Women’s eNews retained the 25-year-old magazine Teen Voices to continue and further its mission to improve the world for female teens through media. Teen Voices at Women’s eNews provides online stories and commentary about issues directly affecting female teens around the world, serving as an outlet for young women to share their experiences and views.

Source: Stephanie Geier is a freshman at Hunter College in New York City. She was the editor of her high school newspaper