The Birth of Baby Sussex!

Baby Sussex is the son of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and he will make history as the first biracial royal who will be in line to the British throne. He will be seventh in line for succession.

We don’t know a great deal about the royal birth because details have been closely guarded, which has not stopped the British tabloids from wild speculation. “The Duke and Duchess look forward to sharing the exciting news with everyone once they have had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

The baby will have American citizenship upon birth because the mother is American, but she could hold dual citizenship in the UK. Meghan remains a U. S. citizen while waiting for her British citizenship to be approved.

Baby Sussex will be at home at Frogmore Cottage on the grounds of Frogmore House. Harry and Meghan officially moved there earlier this month. It has been a royal residence since 1792 and was built in about 1680 by Charles II’s architect, according to BBC News.

Susan Graham, president and founder of Project RACE says, “Every biracial baby is cause for joy, but the birth of Baby Sussex is especially exciting historically.” In a totally self-promoting move, Graham will send the royal couple a copy of her new book Born Biracial.

Order Born Biracial to celebrate your prince or princess at Amazon or Barnes and Nobel.

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Shame on the Media

SHAME ON THE MEDIA

METRO.co.uk is a news outlet in the United Kingdom. I think of it as tabloid news for the English.

Using Terminology

I did warn you years ago that the terminology of “mixed-race” would lead to newspaper headlines of “mixed up,” which is exactly what a new METRO series is about. In fact, it’s called Mixed Up. A current headline is “Mixed Up: ‘Racism made me feel subhuman. I used to pretend to be anything but black.’” It’s about a poor woe-is-me woman who grew up confused about her multiracial identity, but finally found she could say she was black without any problem. These are some other titles in the series:

Mixed up: “I have been accepted by black people and distanced by white people.”

Mixed up: “I would ask my parents multiple times to prove that I wasn’t adopted.”

Mixed up: “Saying you love mixed-race babies is creepy.”

Can’t they say anything good about being biracial or multiracial? What’s so hard about telling both the positive and negative points of a story? With a new biracial baby due in the royal family very soon, you would think times have changed.

In the U.S.

But it’s not just England; it’s the United States, too. A story in BET has come out called, “Who is Black? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Erasure of Blackness in America Dismisses the Fight for Social Justice.” The sub-heading is, “Blackness is only blurry when beneficial.” Give me a break.

The writer, DeMicia Iman, reprimands U.S. Representative Ocasio-Cortez for her recent comments on reparations and asking who is black and who isn’t in this increasingly multiracial society. The writer says, “Of course, if reparations were to be enacted, tons of non-Black people would flock to DNA labs and ancestral records, claiming the one-drop rule to get their share of the metaphorical, “forty acres and a mule.”

Bad Reporting

What really infuriates me is that she quotes the late F. James Davis, author of Who is Black correctly about the one-drop rule, but I knew Davis and he liked what was happening with the Multiracial Movement in his later years. He must be rolling over in his grave. Who is Black was published in 1991 and certainly there have been and will be more current books written and people who can be quoted for more up-to-date eyes on race. Let’s not allow the media to get away with bad or inaccurate reporting and publishing.

 

Susan Graham for Project RACE

 

 

Photo Credits: mercurynews.com and enwikipedia.org

First Royal Biracial Baby Due!

Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019 came from Kensington Palace today. The baby will be the first biracial baby in line for the British throne.

 

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It’s a Royal Famous Friday!

Famous Friday: HRH Meghan Duchess of Sussex

There was clearly no other choice for this week’s Famous Friday. The whole world is talking about HRH Meghan, Duchess of Sussex! Her wedding! Her dress! Her carriage ride… and her race.

The last time we featured multiracial actress Meghan Markle on Famous Friday was in November of 2016 and at that time former PRT Co-President Lexi Brock wrote about Meghan’s “rumored romance” with Prince Harry. Well what do you know… the rumors were true! Fast forward a year and a half and we’ve got ourselves a Duchess!

We were visiting my sister in Chicago on Royal Wedding Day and set the alarm to be up to watch our multiracial princess (Yes, I know she is not officially given the title of princess, but I don’t care.) arrive at 6 AM. In many ways, this felt to us very much like Barack Obama being inaugurated President. Our people, those who look like us and have family histories that may mirror our own, reaching places we’ve never seen before impacts our hearts and minds more than we’d ever imagined. Like the White House, the palaces of British royalty were not known for being diverse or particularly inclusive, until now. This makes us believe that there is nothing we can’t do.

Twitter lit up with reactions to the many ways that Megan weaved her culture into the ceremony. The African American preacher, the gospel choir and the teenage cellist were all representative of the side of the bride’s heritage that is new to the royal family. And the fact that her heritage was celebrated and highlighted during the ceremony made this groundbreaking union even more wonderful.

At Project RACE, we really love advocates. One of the cool things we newly discovered about Meghan in all the wedding coverage was that she was an advocate from a very young age. As an 11 year old, she contacted Proctor & Gamble after seeing a commercial for Ivory dish soap that implied doing dishes was a woman’s job. Her efforts led to the company changing the commercial, swapping out “women” for “people.”  No wonder she has gone on to great position.

Many do not know that, as groundbreaking as this union is, HRH Meghan is not be the first biracial royal. That title likely belongs to Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who lived during the 18th century. Charlotte was married to King George III and was queen for nearly 60 years, until she died in 1818. She’s the grandmother of Queen Victoria, the great-great-great-great-grandmother of the current Queen Elizabeth and the namesake for the American city of Charlotte, North Carolina. She also shares a name with the latest addition to the royal family, Princess Charlotte.

Another interesting note, is that we have another wonderful wedding we are excited to share about as our very first PRT President, Ryan Graham has married his beautiful bride Shelby this past weekend!

– Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Teens Co-President

Photo Credit:   News.com.au

Meghan Markle Engaged to Prince Harry!

Meghan Markle Engaged to Prince Harry!

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Pop the champagne. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are engaged. Now, the American actress will be the first biracial princess the British royal family’s ever had. They’re planning on making it a short engagement. They’re set to get married next year, which is also when Princess Kate is due to give birth to baby no. 3. Cheers.

Famous Friday

Meghan Markle 2

Meghan Markle

Meghan is an American Actress who was born in Los Angeles, California. Her biggest role is in the television show Suits, where she plays Rachel Zane. She has also starred as an FBI agent named Amy Jessup in sci-fi thriller Fringe. She has had parts on CSI: Miami and appeared on some TV movies.

Meghan’s mother is African American and her father is Caucasian. She recently penned a letter detailing the racism she’s faced throughout her career and the “countless black jokes people have shared in front of me, not realizing I’m mixed.” She said the first time she realized she was different “I took an African American studies class where we explored colourism; it was the first time I could put a name to feeling too light in the black community, too mixed in the white community.”

Meghan became a target in late November 2016 thanks to her high profile royal romance with Prince Harry. Prince Harry released a highly unusual statement confirming his relation with Meghan and defending her from rude attacks. Markle is proud of her multiracial heritage: “To say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman, I am enough exactly as I am.”

Meghan was recently interviewed by ELLE to share her story about being biracial and she stated “I am more than other.” A statement multiracial people, including myself, can absolutely understand. We are proud of our entire heritage and will continue to draw our own box until multiracial is included.

Project Race Teens President

Makensie Shay McDaniel

Meghan Markle: I’m More Than An ‘Other’

‘What are you?’ A question I get asked every week of my life, often every day. ‘Well,’ I say, as I begin the verbal dance I know all too well. ‘I’m an actress, a writer, the Editor-in-Chief of my lifestyle brand The Tig, a pretty good cook and a firm believer in handwritten notes.’ A mouthful, yes, but one that I feel paints a pretty solid picture of who I am. But here’s what happens: they smile and nod politely, maybe even chuckle, before getting to their point, ‘Right, but what are you? Where are your parents from?’ I knew it was coming, I always do. While I could say Pennsylvania and Ohio, and continue this proverbial two-step, I instead give them what they’re after: ‘My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African American. I’m half black and half white.’

To describe something as being black and white means it is clearly defined. Yet when your ethnicity is black and white, the dichotomy is not that clear. In fact, it creates a grey area. Being biracial paints a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating. When I was asked by ELLE to share my story, I’ll be honest, I was scared. It’s easy to talk about which make-up I prefer, my favourite scene I’ve filmed, the rigmarole of ‘a day in the life’ and how much green juice I consume before a requisite Pilates class. And while I have dipped my toes into this on thetig.com, sharing small vignettes of my experiences as a biracial woman, today I am choosing to be braver, to go a bit deeper, and to share a much larger picture of that with you.

It was the late Seventies when my parents met, my dad was a lighting director for a soap opera and my mom was a temp at the studio. I like to think he was drawn to her sweet eyes and her Afro, plus their shared love of antiques. Whatever it was, they married and had me. They moved into a house in The Valley in LA, to a neighbourhood that was leafy and affordable. What it was not, however, was diverse. And there was my mom, caramel in complexion with her light-skinned baby in tow, being asked where my mother was since they assumed she was the nanny.

I was too young at the time to know what it was like for my parents, but I can tell you what it was like for me – how they crafted the world around me to make me feel like I wasn’t different but special. When I was about seven, I had been fawning over a boxed set of Barbie dolls. It was called The Heart Family and included a mom doll, a dad doll, and two children. This perfect nuclear family was only sold in sets of white dolls or black dolls. I don’t remember coveting one over the other, I just wanted one. On Christmas morning, swathed in glitter-flecked wrapping paper, there I found my Heart Family: a black mom doll, a white dad doll, and a child in each colour. My dad had taken the sets apart and customised my family.

 Fast-forward to the seventh grade and my parents couldn’t protect me as much as they could when I was younger. There was a mandatory census I had to complete in my English class – you had to check one of the boxes to indicate your ethnicity: white, black, Hispanic or Asian. There I was (my curly hair, my freckled face, my pale skin, my mixed race) looking down at these boxes, not wanting to mess up, but not knowing what to do. You could only choose one, but that would be to choose one parent over the other – and one half of myself over the other. My teacher told me to check the box for Caucasian. ‘Because that’s how you look, Meghan,’ she said. I put down my pen. Not as an act of defiance, but rather a symptom of my confusion. I couldn’t bring myself to do that, to picture the pit-in-her-belly sadness my mother would feel if she were to find out. So, I didn’t tick a box. I left my identity blank – a question mark, an absolute incomplete – much like how I felt.

When I went home that night, I told my dad what had happened. He said the words that have always stayed with me: ‘If that happens again, you draw your own box.’

I never saw my father angry, but in that moment I could see the blotchiness of his skin crawling from pink to red. It made the green of his eyes pop and his brow was weighted at the thought of his daughter being prey to ignorance. Growing up in a homogeneous community in Pennsylvania, the concept of marrying an African-American woman was not on the cards for my dad. But he saw beyond what was put in front of him in that small-sized (and, perhaps, small-minded) town, and he wanted me to see beyond that census placed in front of me. He wanted me to find my own truth.

And I tried. Navigating closed-mindedness to the tune of a dorm mate I met my first week at university who asked if my parents were still together. ‘You said your mom is black and your dad is white, right?’ she said. I smiled meekly, waiting for what could possibly come out of her pursed lips next. ‘And they’re divorced?’ I nodded. ‘Oh, well that makes sense.’ To this day, I still don’t fully understand what she meant by that, but I understood the implication. And I drew back: I was scared to open this Pandora’s box of discrimination, so I sat stifled, swallowing my voice.

I was home in LA on a college break when my mom was called the ‘N’ word. We were leaving a concert and she wasn’t pulling out of a parking space quickly enough for another driver. My skin rushed with heat as I looked to my mom. Her eyes welling with hateful tears, I could only breathe out a whisper of words, so hushed they were barely audible: ‘It’s OK, Mommy.’ I was trying to temper the rage-filled air permeating our small silver Volvo. Los Angeles had been plagued with the racially charged Rodney King and Reginald Denny cases just years before, when riots had flooded our streets, filling the sky with ash that flaked down like apocalyptic snow; I shared my mom’s heartache, but I wanted us to be safe. We drove home in deafening silence, her chocolate knuckles pale from gripping the wheel so tightly.

It’s either ironic or apropos that in this world of not fitting in, and of harbouring my emotions so tightly under my ethnically nondescript (and not so thick) skin, that I would decide to become an actress. There couldn’t possibly be a more label-driven industry than acting, seeing as every audition comes with a character breakdown: ‘Beautiful, sassy, Latina, 20s’; ‘African American, urban, pretty, early 30s’; ‘Caucasian, blonde, modern girl next door’. Every role has a label; every casting is for something specific. But perhaps it is through this craft that I found my voice.

Being ‘ethnically ambiguous’, as I was pegged in the industry, meant I could audition for virtually any role. Morphing from Latina when I was dressed in red, to African American when in mustard yellow; my closet filled with fashionable frocks to make me look as racially varied as an Eighties Benetton poster. Sadly, it didn’t matter: I wasn’t black enough for the black roles and I wasn’t white enough for the white ones, leaving me somewhere in the middle as the ethnic chameleon who couldn’t book a job.

This is precisely why Suits stole my heart. It’s the Goldilocks of my acting career – where finally I was just right. The series was initially conceived as a dramedy about a NY law firm flanked by two partners, one of whom navigates this glitzy world with his fraudulent degree. Enter Rachel Zane, one of the female leads and the dream girl – beautiful and confident with an encyclopedic knowledge of the law. ‘Dream girl’ in Hollywood terms had always been that quintessential blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty – that was the face that launched a thousand ships, not the mixed one. But the show’s producers weren’t looking for someone mixed, nor someone white or black for that matter. They were simply looking for Rachel. In making a choice like that, the Suits producers helped shift the way pop culture defines beauty. The choices made in these rooms trickle into how viewers see the world, whether they’re aware of it or not. Some households may never have had a black person in their house as a guest, or someone biracial. Well, now there are a lot of us on your TV and in your home with you. And with Suits, specifically, you have Rachel Zane. I couldn’t be prouder of that.

At the end of season two, the producers went a step further and cast the role of Rachel’s father as a dark-skinned African-American man, played by the brilliant Wendell Pierce. I remember the tweets when that first episode of the Zane family aired, they ran the gamut from: ‘Why would they make her dad black? She’s not black’ to ‘Ew, she’s black? I used to think she was hot.’ The latter was blocked and reported. The reaction was unexpected, but speaks of the undercurrent of racism that is so prevalent, especially within America. On the heels of the racial unrest in Ferguson and Baltimore, the tensions that have long been percolating under the surface in the US have boiled over in the most deeply saddening way. And as a biracial woman, I watch in horror as both sides of a culture I define as my own become victims of spin in the media, perpetuating stereotypes and reminding us that the States has perhaps only placed bandages over the problems that have never healed at the root.

I, on the other hand, have healed from the base. While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that. To say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman. That when asked to choose my ethnicity in a questionnaire as in my seventh grade class, or these days to check ‘Other’, I simply say: ‘Sorry, world, this is not Lost and I am not one of The Others. I am enough exactly as I am.’

Just as black and white, when mixed, make grey, in many ways that’s what it did to my self-identity: it created a murky area of who I was, a haze around howpeople connected with me. I was grey. And who wants to be this indifferent colour, devoid of depth and stuck in the middle? I certainly didn’t. So you make a choice: continue living your life feeling muddled in this abyss of self-misunderstanding, or you find your identity independent of it. You push for colour-blind casting, you draw your own box. You introduce yourself as who you are, not what colour your parents happen to be. You cultivate your life with people who don’t lead with ethnic descriptions such as, ‘that black guy Tom’, but rather friends who say: ‘You know? Tom, who works at [blah blah] and dates [fill in the blank] girl.’ You create the identity you want for yourself, just as my ancestors did when they were given their freedom. Because in 1865 (which is so shatteringly recent), when slavery was abolished in the United States, former slaves had to choose a name. A surname, to be exact.

Perhaps the closest thing to connecting me to my ever-complex family tree, my longing to know where I come from, and the commonality that links me to my bloodline, is the choice that my great-great-great grandfather made to start anew. He chose the last name Wisdom. He drew his own box.

Originally published in ELLE Magazine in 2015.

FAMOUS FRIDAY: Meghan Markle

meghan-markleMeghan Markle is a beautiful and talented multiracial actress. She has recently been in the headlines due to her rumoured romance with Prince Harry. While I understand that is what most major news outlets are talking about, it isn’t what I want to talk about.
I recently came across one of the best articles I have ever read when it comes to being Multiracial. The star of the article was none other than, Meghan Markle. My heart was stolen from the first paragraph where she said, “’What are you?’ A question I get asked every week of my life, often every day. ‘Well,’ I say, as I begin the verbal dance I know all too well. ‘I’m an actress, a writer, the Editor-in-Chief of my lifestyle brand The Tig, a pretty good cook and a firm believer in handwritten notes.’ A mouthful, yes, but one that I feel paints a pretty solid picture of who I am. But here’s what happens: they smile and nod politely, maybe even chuckle, before getting to their point, ‘Right, but what are you? Where are your parents from?’ I knew it was coming, I always do. While I could say Pennsylvania and Ohio, and continue this proverbial two-step, I instead give them what they’re after: ‘My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African American. I’m half black and half white.’” The whole article is pure gold, and I will leave the link so that you all can read it in its entirety.

http://www.elleuk.com/life-and-culture/news/a26855/more-than-an-other/
I STRONGLY recommend that you take the few minutes to read this. To me, it is beautiful to know that so many multiracial people share similar experiences. I think that it makes our community that much more awesome!

— Lexi Brock, Project RACE Teens President

Photo courtesy of ELLE.