For Your Information

For Your Information

 

I have recently come under scrutiny by two members of the “mixed race” community. They verbally attacked me on social media because I do not use the term “mixed.” I prefer the term “multiracial.” That is my personal preference. I feel that everyone should use the terminology with which they are most comfortable.

 

I was recently speaking with the mother of one of our Project RACE Teen members who told me her son used “multiracial” and “mixed” interchangeably and was that OK? I assured her that was absolutely fine and that he should use the terms in his comfort zone. I am hardly the mixed police.

 

However, I would like to clear up any misconceptions about terminology. I prefer “multiracial” for the following reasons:

 

  • In 1993 the federal government asked that the multiracial community choose one term that they could consider for the 2000 Census and federal forms. They could not accommodate more than one word. All of the multiracial organizations chose the term multiracial. Project RACE polled every one of our members to find out their preference. Multiracial was the preference with biracial second.

 

  • “Mixed” never felt right to me and to many other members of the multiracial community. When I thought about it, I realized that mixed was the opposite of “pure.” I did not want to go backwards historically into a division of pure and un-pure people. It would be wrong, I felt, for me to use that terminology, especially in today’s world.

 

  • Hundreds of articles in newspapers, magazines, and online, have titled their articles about multiracial children “Mixed Up” or some negative use of the word “mixed.” They were called “mixed nuts” in at least one movie. Why make it easy for them to do that?

 

  • When Barack Obama was President, if a news outlet referred to him as multiracial, they used the term “multiracial.” Did you ever ask yourselves why? Because it’s a respectable term and everyone deserves to be identified with respectable terminology.

 

  • Words are important and it is important to give multiracial children appropriate and respectable terminology to use, especially when asked the question, “What are you?” Whether this is multiracial, biracial, mixed, or something else is up to you and your family and remember that it’s about the children.

 

The two individuals who attacked me and Project RACE are somewhat known in the “mixed race” community. One is a librarian of other people’s writing and the other is a member of a local group, yet they felt the need to verbalize their apparent upset with us. I am not sure why they are attempting to discredit us. I am extremely proud of the work of the members of Project RACE, the only national organization advocating for the multiracial community for over three decades.

Susan Graham

What Biracial People Know

Credit Lynnie Z.

After the nation’s first black president, we now have a white president with the whitest and malest cabinet since Ronald Reagan’s. His administration immediately made it a priority to deport undocumented immigrants and to deny people from certain Muslim-majority nations entry into the United States, decisions that caused tremendous blowback.

What President Trump doesn’t seem to have considered is that diversity doesn’t just sound nice, it has tangible value. Social scientists find that homogeneous groups like his cabinet can be less creative and insightful than diverse ones. They are more prone to groupthink and less likely to question faulty assumptions.

What’s true of groups is also true for individuals. A small but growing body of research suggests that multiracial people are more open-minded and creative. Here, it’s worth remembering that Barack Obama, son of a Kenyan father and a white Kansan mother, wasn’t only the nation’s first black president, he was also its first biracial president. His multitudinous self was, I like to think, part of what made him great — part of what inspired him when he proclaimed that there wasn’t a red or blue America, but a United States of America.

As a multiethnic person myself — the son of a Jewish dad of Eastern European descent and a Puerto Rican mom — I can attest that being mixed makes it harder to fall back on the tribal identities that have guided so much of human history, and that are now resurgent. Your background pushes you to construct a worldview that transcends the tribal.

You’re also accustomed to the idea of having several selves, and of trying to forge them into something whole. That task of self-creation isn’t unique to biracial people; it’s a defining experience of modernity. Once the old stories about God and tribe — the framing that historically gave our lives context — become inadequate, on what do we base our identities? How do we give our lives meaning and purpose?

President Trump has answered this challenge by reaching backward — vowing to wall off America and invoking a whiter, more homogeneous country. This approach is likely to fail for the simple reason that much of the strength and creativity of America, and modernity generally, stems from diversity. And the answers to a host of problems we face may lie in more mixing, not less.

Consider this: By 3 months of age, biracial infants recognize faces more quickly than their monoracial peers, suggesting that their facial perception abilities are more developed. Kristin Pauker, a psychologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and one of the researchers who performed this study, likens this flexibility to bilingualism.

Early on, infants who hear only Japanese, say, will lose the ability to distinguish L’s from R’s. But if they also hear English, they’ll continue to hear the sounds as separate. So it is with recognizing faces, Dr. Pauker says. Kids naturally learn to recognize kin from non-kin, in-group from out-group. But because they’re exposed to more human variation, the in-group for multiracial children seems to be larger.

This may pay off in important ways later. In a 2015 study, Sarah Gaither, an assistant professor at Duke, found that when she reminded multiracial participants of their mixed heritage, they scored higher in a series of word association games and other tests that measure creative problem solving. When she reminded monoracial people about their heritage, however, their performance didn’t improve. Somehow, having multiple selves enhanced mental flexibility.

But here’s where it gets interesting: When Dr. Gaither reminded participants of a single racial background that they, too, had multiple selves, by asking about their various identities in life, their scores also improved. “For biracial people, these racial identities are very salient,” she told me. “That said, we all have multiple social identities.” And focusing on these identities seems to impart mental flexibility irrespective of race.

It may be possible to deliberately cultivate this kind of limber mind-set by, for example, living abroad. Various studies find that business people who live in other countries are more successful than those who stay put; that artists who’ve lived abroad create more valuable art; that scientists working abroad produce studies that are more highly cited. Living in another culture exercises the mind, researchers reason, forcing one to think more deeply about the world.

Another path to intellectual rigor is to gather a diverse group of people together and have them attack problems, which is arguably exactly what the American experiment is. In mock trials, the Tufts University researcher Samuel Sommers has found, racially diverse juries appraise evidence more accurately than all-white juries, which translates to more lenient treatment of minority defendants. That’s not because minority jurors are biased in favor of minority defendants, but because whites on mixed juries more carefully consider the evidence.

The point is that diversity — of one’s own makeup, one’s experience, of groups of people solving problems, of cities and nations — is linked to economic prosperity, greater scientific prowess and a fairer judicial process. If human groups represent a series of brains networked together, the more dissimilar these brains are in terms of life experience, the better the “hivemind” may be at thinking around any given problem.

Photo

Credit Lynnie Z.

The opposite is true of those who employ essentialist thinking — in particular, it seems, people who espouse stereotypes about racial groups. Harvard and Tel Aviv University scientists ran experiments on white Americans, Israelis and Asian-Americans in which they had some subjects read essays that made an essentialist argument about race, and then asked them to solve word-association games and other puzzles. Those who were primed with racial stereotypes performed worse than those who weren’t. “An essentialist mind-set is indeed hazardous for creativity,” the authors note.

None of which bodes well for Mr. Trump’s mostly white, mostly male, extremely wealthy cabinet. Indeed, it’s tempting to speculate that the administration’s problems so far, including its clumsy rollout of a travel ban that was mostly blocked by the courts, stem in part from its homogeneity and insularity. Better decisions might emerge from a more diverse set of minds.

And yet, if multiculturalism is so grand, why was Mr. Trump so successful in running on a platform that rejected it? What explains the current “whitelash,” as the commentator Van Jones called it? Sure, many Trump supporters have legitimate economic concerns separate from worries about race or immigration. But what of the white nationalism that his campaign seems to have unleashed? Eight years of a black president didn’t assuage those minds, but instead inflamed them. Diversity didn’t make its own case very well.

One answer to this conundrum comes from Dr. Sommers and his Tufts colleague Michael Norton. In a 2011 survey, they found that as whites reported decreases in perceived anti-black bias, they also reported increasing anti-white bias, which they described as a bigger problem. Dr. Sommers and Dr. Norton concluded that whites saw race relations as a zero-sum game. Minorities’ gain was their loss.

In reality, cities and countries that are more diverse are more prosperous than homogeneous ones, and that often means higher wages for native-born citizens. Yet the perception that out-groups gain at in-groups’ expense persists. And that view seems to be reflexive. Merely reminding whites that the Census Bureau has said the United States will be a “majority minority” country by 2042, as one Northwestern University experiment showed, increased their anti-minority bias and their preference for being around other whites. In another experiment, the reminder made whites more politically conservative as well.

It’s hard to know what to do about this except to acknowledge that diversity isn’t easy. It’s uncomfortable. It can make people feel threatened. “We promote diversity. We believe in diversity. But diversity is hard,” Sophie Trawalter, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, told me.

That very difficulty, though, may be why diversity is so good for us. “The pain associated with diversity can be thought of as the pain of exercise,” Katherine Phillips, a senior vice dean at Columbia Business School, writes. “You have to push yourself to grow your muscles.”

Closer, more meaningful contact with those of other races may help assuage the underlying anxiety. Some years back, Dr. Gaither of Duke ran an intriguing study in which incoming white college students were paired with either same-race or different-race roommates. After four months, roommates who lived with different races had a more diverse group of friends and considered diversity more important, compared with those with same-race roommates. After six months, they were less anxious and more pleasant in interracial interactions. (It was the Republican-Democrat pairings that proved problematic, Dr. Gaither told me. Apparently they couldn’t stand each other.)

Some corners of the world seem to naturally foster this mellower view of race — particularly Hawaii, Mr. Obama’s home state. Dr. Pauker has found that by age 7, children in Massachusetts begin to stereotype about racial out-groups, whereas children in Hawaii do not. She’s not sure why, but she suspects that the state’s unique racial makeup is important. Whites are a minority in Hawaii, and the state has the largest share of multiracial people in the country, at almost a quarter of its population.

Constant exposure to people who see race as a fluid concept — who define themselves as Asian, Hawaiian, black or white interchangeably — makes rigid thinking about race harder to maintain, she speculates. And that flexibility rubs off. In a forthcoming study, Dr. Pauker finds that white college students who move from the mainland to Hawaii begin to think differently about race. Faced daily with evidence of a complex reality, their ideas about who’s in and who’s out, and what belonging to any group really means, relax.

Clearly, people can cling to racist views even when exposed to mountains of evidence contradicting those views. But an optimistic interpretation of Dr. Pauker’s research is that when a society’s racial makeup moves beyond a certain threshold — when whites stop being the majority, for example, and a large percentage of the population is mixed — racial stereotyping becomes harder to do.

Whitelash notwithstanding, we’re moving in that direction. More nonwhite babies are already born than white. And if multiracial people work like a vaccine against the tribalist tendencies roused by Mr. Trump, the country may be gaining immunity. Multiracials make up an estimated 7 percent of Americans, according to the Pew Research Center, and they’re predicted to grow to 20 percent by 2050.

President Trump campaigned on a narrow vision of America as a nation-state, not as a state of people from many nations. His response to the modern question — How do we form our identities? — is to grasp for a semi-mythical past that excludes large segments of modern America. If we believe the science on diversity, his approach to problem solving is likely suboptimal.

Many see his election as apocalyptic. And sure, President Trump could break our democracy, wreck the country and ruin the planet. But his presidency also has the feel of a last stand — grim, fearful and obsessed with imminent decline. In retrospect, we may view Mr. Trump as part of the agony of metamorphosis.

And we’ll see Mr. Obama as the first president of the thriving multiracial nation that’s emerging.

Source: New York Times

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU’RE ALL MIXED UP

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU’RE ALL MIXED UP

NPR has a radio show called “Code Switch” about race and identity. They like cute sounding titles. The title of last week’s show and article was this: All Mixed Up. What do we call people of multiple backgrounds? Mixed…mixing…mixed up…you get it. Project RACE got it 25 years ago when we opted to go with the term “multiracial” instead of mixed, halfsies, bi, mulatto, and a whole lot more. We felt that the community deserved a respectable term with inclusive meaning.

Mixed was nixed for a variety of reasons.

  • It lends itself to mixed up, mixed nuts, etc. as perfectly shown by the NPR title. Why would we want that?
  • Mixed doesn’t quite mean the same thing as whole and multiracial people are whole entities.
  • Mixed morphed into “mixie” at some point, which is just too cutesy.
  • Academia has coined the phrase “Critical Mixed-Race Studies” when they put us under the microscope to study us. :::shiver:::
  • My personal best reason to nix the mix is that mixed is the opposite of pure and let’s just not go categorizing ourselves into pure and impure. Think about it. It’s happened before historically and I, for one, did not like the implications or results.

 

Let’s look one step further. President Obama recently addressed the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. He said this: “My grandparents knew these values weren’t reserved for one race; they could be passed down to a half-Kenyan grandson, or a half-Asian granddaughter….” Half. Would it have been so difficult for him to use the term “multiracial”? Is he, the son of a white mother and a black father, exactly half and half? That makes gray and we don’t have to even go to the historic connotations of the word “gray.” It’s interesting that when the media refer to President Obama’s multiple racial heritage, they almost always call him “multiracial.” Yet, he can’t seem to bring himself to use the term. So God bless you, Mr. President and God bless the United States of America.

 

 

 

 

IMPORTANT Medical News!

Public Release: 

Health care, research failing to adapt to US’s growing multiracial population

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

IMAGE
IMAGE: Data collection methods in research and health care settings have lagged behind in adapting to the rapidly growing population of multiracials, according to studies led by University of Illinois social… view more

Credit: Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Multiracial people who change their racial identity from a single race to multiracial over time may be healthier than their minority peers who consistently identify as monoracial, new research suggests.

Despite the U.S.’s rapidly growing population of multiracial individuals, researchers and health care systems continue to use outdated approaches to racial categorization that force people to classify themselves as monoracial, which may be masking the incidence of health conditions and obscuring disparities in health care access and utilization among multiracial populations, a University of Illinois scholar said.

Social work professor Karen M. Tabb Dina is the lead author of two recent studies that explored issues of racial identity and its impact on health care access and utilization among nearly 8,000 U.S. young people.

The subjects in both of Tabb Dina’s studies were participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, one of the first surveys to allow respondents to identify themselves as multiracial using two or more racial categories, Tabb Dina said.

Participants in the Adolescent Health survey were asked about their racial background during the first wave of data collection in 1994 and again during the third wave, conducted in 2002.

Of the 7 percent of participants identified as multiracial at either wave, only 20 percent of these people selected the same racial categories both times, Tabb Dina found.

The remaining 80 percent of multiracials were either diversifiers – who switched from monoracial initially to multiracial later – or consolidators, who selected multiple racial categories originally, but switched to a single category later.

While the overwhelming majority (92 percent) of respondents consistently identified as monoracial, 2 percent of this group switched from one racial category to another, Tabb Dina found.

Diversifiers were more likely to rate their health status as “good,” “very good” or “excellent” compared with their minority monoracial peers, Tabb Dina and her colleagues found in a related study, published recently in Ethnicity and Health.

When comparing these same samples’ access to and utilization of health services in 2008, when participants’ ages ranged from 24-33, Tabb Dina found that multiracial individuals of black-white or black-Native American ancestry were significantly less likely to utilize primary care health services – disparities that remained even when Tabb Dina adjusted for health insurance status.

Co-authors on that paper were Christopher R. Larrison and Shinwoo Choi, both of the University of Illinois; and Hsiang Huang, of Harvard Medical School.

Although the Pew Research Center recently reported that the U.S. population of mixed-race adults is growing three times faster than the rest of the population as a whole, health care providers and researchers have been slow to adapt their data-collection methods to this racial diversity, Tabb Dina said.

“Even now, in 2015, medical record systems only allow patients to identify themselves using one racial category,” Tabb Dina said.

Health researchers automatically recode mixed-race patients into the least-status group, Tabb Dina said. For example, patients who indicate they are black and Native American are recoded as Native American.

“By recoding race, we’re probably masking the actual health patterns that we need to uncover,” Tabb Dina said. “We’re not tapping into these patterns and not thinking creatively on how we can address racial and ethnic health disparities. Looking carefully at how people identify themselves can give us more insight into what the underlying problems are and how they differ across racial and ethnic groups.”

Developing more nuanced approaches to racial categorization is essential to learning how multiracial individuals interact with the health care system and to addressing usage and outcome disparities, Tabb Dina said.

Huh, Trevor Noah?!

TREVOR NOAH TURNS BLACK!

Trevor Noah 3

I watched “The Daily Show” last week with Trevor Noah taking over from Jon Stewart. I have watched Trevor’s stand-up comedy for a few years. I’ve really liked him: young, talented, handsome, funny, and multiracial! Perfect!

Then I watched Noah’s opening monologue on the first night of The Daily Show. Sure he was a bit nervous, who wouldn’t be? He assured viewers that he would not try to make Stewart seem like “some crazy old dude who left his inheritance to some random kid from Africa” and then added, “It must seem like dad has been replaced by a new stepdad and he’s black.” Trevor Noah went from years of being multiracial in his comedy act to suddenly being black on American television. I’m so disappointed.

There are almost 17 million multiracial people in the United States. That is almost 7 percent of the entire population and we need all the numbers we can get. Of course, some multiracial people prefer to claim to be of only one race (President Obama comes to mind), but this guy always seemed rather proud of his dual-racial identity. He liked being hyphenated. What happened?

The change in Noah is curious. He is from South Africa. Africans of black African backgrounds are called “black.” Those who have parents from two or more groups are called “colored.” They are a very small part of the population. Trevor Noah has, in his comedy routine, always referred to himself as “mixed race.” Did he turn black in America? Does he now identify as black to relate better to the black population? Did they poll his audience? Did the Comedy Channel decide his identity? Either way, he’s now black.

Coming from South Africa and being multiracial would certainly give him a unique perspective on race. I recall a doctor of mine who was white and from South Africa. He was always lamenting that he truly is African-American, but can’t identify that way in America, where he has to identify as white. It’s never easy.

I’m not mad at Trevor Noah, it feels more like a close family member who decided to defect and chose another family. I am sad. I won’t stop watching him, although I know I will shudder whenever he calls himself black. Perhaps we will see some interesting “Moments of Zen.”

Susan Graham

 

 

 

 

I am not an Other

“Biracial Cool”

 Kevin Noble Maillard is trying to read into the significance of New York City mayor-elect Bill de Blasio being part of an interracial marriage:

Enter the domestic hipsterdom of racially mixed family, a multivalent Rorschach for political campaigns. It appeals to multiple demographic groups. It demonstrates that race doesn’t matter. It demonstrates that race does matter. Its mere existence is politically suggestive, even when the family members aren’t doing anything. It’s race baiting and race trading, with little effort on the family. Biracial cool: the newest electoral asset.

If you are waiting for articles on the “domestic hipsterdom” and “biracial cool” of Phil Gramm’s marriage to Wendy Lee Gramm and how his election to statewide office was an act of progressive racial openness by the conservative voters of Texas (in 1984 no less), then I suspect you should keep waiting. You should also ignore Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s marriage to Elaine Chao, because Maillard reminds us that “Even today, in the age of Obama, interracial marriage and partnership in public office is extraordinarily rare”. That is why Bill de Blasio’s election to municipal office is such a big deal. So forget about Columba Bush and her marriage to the former Republican governor of Florida.

Are we supposed to be celebrating that the most liberal Democratic voters of New York City have (decades later) caught up to the electorates of Texas, Kentucky and Florida? Or are we supposed to be pretending that certain “interracial marriage[s] and partnership[s] in public office” never happened?

Source: First Things

– See more at: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/postmodernconservative/2013/11/09/the-liberal-media-and-the-limits-of-biracial-cool/#sthash.YEYbkyEP.dpuf

Multi-Racial Americans’ Biggest Challenge: Explaining Themselves To Others

Be sure to check out this very pertinent video from Huff Post Live:

 

http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/archive/segment/multi-racial-americans-biggest-challenge-explaining-themselves-to-others/524f11e178c90a74fa0002b8

Multiracial Voting to Begins TOMORROW

                                  IT’S ALMOST TIME! 

Project RACE is one of the non-profit organizations in the Chase Community Grant program. We can win this with YOUR help! 

VOTING BEGINS THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, so please check back here tomorrow.