UC Berkeley must redesign data practices to give visibility to mixed-race students

Every mixed-race person is familiar with this moment — you fill out some sort of form, and it asks for your race. You check one of them, and then when you attempt to check another, it either unchecks the first or tells you you are unable to select more than one. So you begrudgingly either choose just one or click “Other.”

This dilemma relates to a common complaint of multiracial individuals — being forced to “choose a side,” as if one of our races should automatically carry more weight than others. And in data collection and aggregation, choosing a side becomes ever more important, as it could determine resource allocation for diversity and inclusion work.

Diversity and inclusion is trending in higher education at the moment. But it is difficult to envision being inclusive of a group as diverse as multiracial students when race data collection hardly recognizes our existence.

The U.S. Census did not allow for checking more than one box until 2000. Neither the UC Office of the President’s website nor the UC Berkeley Office of Planning and Analysis data site lists a category for multiracial folks. The UC application did not even allow for the checking of more than one box until 2010.

As there is no unique category for students who check more than one race, the UC system reports multiracial individuals by their “primary race/ethnicity,” which is determined by a ranking order of “African American/Black,” “Hispanic/Latino(a),” “American Indian/Alaskan Native, “Asian” and “White.” For example, a Black and Asian individual would only be reported as Black, while a white and Asian student would only be reported as Asian.

The idea of assigning a “primary race/ethnicity” to a mixed-race person is problematic in and of itself. The way mixed-race folks identify with our different racial and ethnic groups is fluid and ever-evolving, and to assign every one of us our most “underrepresented” race in the UC’s eyes is a disservice to our own ideas of identity. This insidious statistical model is biased towards bolstering the numbers of underrepresented minorities. Lumping mixed students who may have more privilege than their monoracial peers can ignore the structural inequity that monoracial people of color in those categories face.

For example, to the UC system I am only Chinese, as “White” comes after “Asian” on the list of racial groups. But the struggles that I face with my person-of-color identity are vastly different from those of a monoracial Chinese womxn. To the outside world, I am rarely ever read as Chinese, and I do not face the perpetual foreigner stereotype in the workplace or academic environments that Asian Americans often struggle with. As a result, I don’t feel justified in claiming resources geared towards dismantling oppression that Asian Americans face. While my experiences are not the same as a white person either, I would not consider myself the same as an Asian American for diversity and inclusion purposes.

This issue is further complicated at the federal government level. To the U.S. Department of Education, mixed-race individuals are our own category entirely: “two or more races.”

But lumping all mixed-race individuals into “two or more races” doesn’t quite cover it either. The experience and resource needs of a Black and Latinx individual, compared to mine — as a white and Asian individual — are entirely different. We may share common concerns due to our multiracial backgrounds, but the interlocked oppressions of being a part of two underrepresented groups is something I will never know. Not to mention that this separate box could lead to the undercounting of mixed-race individuals who belong to underrepresented minorities and fully deserve to receive diversity-driven funding.

For decades, multiraciality was entirely erased on race/ethnicity data collection forms. But once we had the autonomy to check as many boxes as we identified with, the system found different ways to classify us that doesn’t do justice to our complex, multitudinous identities. The UC system, and UC Berkeley specifically, must address the needs of its multiracial population and, at the very least, start to consistently display a “two or more races” category in its public statistics.

The UC system needs to allow mixed students to be fully seen through their statistics. It might be hard for the UC system to find a way to record the specific ethnicities that mixed-race students identify with. But it’s a complicated issue worth tackling because as an institution that prides itself on diversity, the UC system must ensure each of its students is validated for all of their identities. UC Berkeley can, and should, take initiative to pioneer this change.

Gen Slosberg is a former columnist for The Daily Californian and the current executive director of Mixed @ Berkeley Recruitment and Retention Center.

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

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

Mixed ancestry might affect our mitochondria

I don’t even know what to say about this. See article below. -Susan Graham for Project RACE

Differences in the geographic origin of genes may affect the function of human mitochondria—energy-generating organelles inside of cells—according to a new study.

Mitochondria have their own genome, separate from the nuclear genome contained in the nucleus of the cell, and both genomes harbor genes integral to energy production by mitochondria. The study explores whether these “mito-nuclear” interactions, which natural selection fine-tunes over deep evolutionary time, could change when genes of different geographic origins are brought together within a genome.

The study, which appears today in Nature Ecology and Evolution, could have implications for public health and for medical procedures that replace mitochondria in human cells.

“Genomes that evolve in different geographic locations without intermixing can end up being different from each other,” says Kateryna Makova, professor of biology at Penn State and an author of the paper. “Nowadays, there is so much mixing that pretty much everyone’s genome is made up of bits and pieces of DNA that evolved in different locations around the world, which can result in ancestry variation within the genome.

“For example, many of us carry pieces of the Neanderthal DNA alongside modern human DNA. This variation has a lot of advantages; for example, increased variation in immune genes can provide enhanced protection from diseases. However, variation in geographic origin within the genome could also potentially lead to communication issues between genes, for example between mitochondrial and nuclear genes that work together to regulate mitochondrial function. Understanding this process could have implications for human health.”

Mitochondria and mixed ancestry

The researchers focused specifically on genes that mitochondria use. To perform their functions, mitochondria rely on genes encoded in the DNA of the mitochondria itself and on genes that are encoded within the nucleus of the cell. Because mitochondrial and nuclear DNA are inherited in different ways—nuclear DNA is roughly equally passed on from mother and father, but mitochondrial DNA is exclusively maternal—there are greater opportunities for differences in origin of mitochondria-related genes in the nuclear genome compared to genes in the mitochondrial DNA itself.

The researchers first investigated whether discordance—the degree of difference in geographic origin between the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes—can affect a trait. They found that increasing amounts of discordance were related to decreasing numbers of copies of mitochondrial DNA in a cell, which could imply reduced efficiency of mitochondrial DNA replication.

“We observed this pattern across six groups of Americans with mixed ancestry. The specific origin didn’t matter, just how dissimilar the nuclear origin was from the mitochondrial origin,” says Arslan Zaidi, postdoctoral researcher in biology at Penn State and first author of the paper.

“Although these differences in geographic origins are present in all humans, we specifically looked at populations with mixed ancestry because the effects of these differences should be easier to detect in such populations.”

A new mystery

The research team also found that, over time, natural selection might have reduced the overall difference in geographic origin between mitochondria-related nuclear genes and the mitochondrial genome. They found evidence for this in two of the six groups analyzed. Puerto Ricans, who have a high proportion of mitochondrial DNA of Native American origin, have more mitochondria-related nuclear genes of Native American origin than expected compared to genes from the rest of the nuclear genome that code for other functions.

Similarly, African Americans, who have a high proportion of mitochondrial DNA of African origin, have more mitochondria-related nuclear genes of African origin than expected compared to the rest of the genome.

“In these groups, we hypothesize that natural selection is guiding the trajectory of mitochondria-related nuclear genes, favoring gene variants that are more similar in geographic origin to the mitochondrial DNA,” says Makova. “There is likely selection pressure acting on the rest of the nuclear genome in these groups, but there isn’t a systematic enrichment towards one ancestry type across all of those genes.

“In three of the other groups we examined, however, we did not observe this trend, and in one group we actually found the opposite trend. We don’t have a good explanation yet, and this really demonstrates the complexity of these kinds of interactions.”

No advantage or disadvantage

The results of the study highlight the need to study interactions between mitochondrial and nuclear DNA in more detail. However, the researchers caution that the effects of discordance they observed were detected in cell lines derived from human tissues, so it is unclear to what extent these effects may be present in human tissues themselves. In the future, they plan to investigate this question and also to explore the effects of discordance on other aspects of mitochondrial function and on other complex traits such as the rate of heart disease.

“To be clear, our study does not suggest that having a particular combination of mitochondrial and nuclear genes would provide an advantage or a disadvantage,” says Makova. “But it does tell us that we should keep investigating these differences in geographic origin between these two groups of genes.

“This kind of information will be particularly useful in medical procedures such as mitochondrial replacement therapy, where patients with damaged mitochondria receive mitochondria from a donor. It’s possible that matching the origins of the mitochondrial donor with the patient could improve the effectiveness of these procedures, but future work is needed to know for sure.”

Funding for the work came from the Penn State Center of Human Evolution and Diversity, the National Institutes of Health, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health using Tobacco CURE funds. The Penn State Eberly College of Science, the Penn State Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, and the Penn State Institute for Cyberscience also supported the research.

Source: Penn State

(Credit: Don Ross III/Unsplash)

Dr. Meredith Grey vs Actress Ellen Pompeo?

 

I admit my favorite TV Show is “Grey’s Anatomy” and one of my favorite actresses is Ellen Pompeo, who stars as Dr. Meredith Grey. Yes, I know Ellen is not a real doctor, she’s an accomplished actress and for that she needs a certain degree of intelligence.

I recently found out that Pompeo, who is white, is married to a black man. So far, so good, but then she said that she is a “white lady with a black husband and black children.” She has also been outspoken about race and diversity. I would think in this day and age of so-called race and diversity, she would acknowledge that her children are biracial or multiracial. Instead, she apparently embraces the one-drop rule.

In a recent article in ENews, called “How Ellen Pompeo Deals with Being Called a ‘White Bitch,’” Pompeo “credits her compassion with being able to withstand racially charged criticism.” What exactly does that mean? Is she compassionate because she married a black man? Does she take racially charged criticism for having black children? Ironically, on her television show, she adopted a black, not biracial child. Is she confusing real life with her acting life?

Ellen then explained it this way: “So I suffered trauma at an early age. My mother died when I was 4,” Pompeo responded. “And I think that when you suffer any kind of trauma, especially as a child, I think you learn compassion, and I think that that makes you a more compassionate person. At the root of it, compassion is a great practice.”

I am astounded by the number of people I see who talk about race “just” being a “We-All-Are-One” syndrome. Maybe we aren’t. Maybe there are important differences in those crazy genes that everyone is talking about like they know them personally. Maybe there really is something to Sickle Cell Anemia and blacks. Perhaps we need to know more about Tay Sachs and the Jewish Population. Maybe Cystic Fibrous really is more prevalent in whites. This is not a medical television show; it’s real life and could be a matter of life and death.

Marrying interracially and having multiracial children is not like winning an award for acting. It doesn’t take people with great people skills, intelligence, pain, suffering, or even compassion. It takes falling in love.

 

Susan Graham

President

Project RACE

 

 

Photo Credit: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Refinery29

Comments by Susan Graham

Comments by Susan Graham for Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally)

Fall, 2018 National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations Meeting

November 2, 2018

 

The Casey Foundation’s 2018 KIDS COUNT® Data Book warns that the 2020 census is mired in challenges that could shortchange the official census count by at least two million kids younger than age 5. This discrepancy would also put hundreds of millions of federal dollars at risk and, in doing so, underfund programs that are critical for family stability and opportunity; essential programs like housing, food, education, and healthcare.

As we all know, the Casey Foundation gets its numbers from the Census Bureau. Federal dollars seem to be the focus, but can we put the money aside for the moment? Yes, it’s important to be counted for the money, redistricting and civil rights enforcement, but it’s also critical to focus on identity. It’s crucial to see your race(s) or the races of your children on news stories, pie charts, forms, data reports, and anywhere other races are included. Also, you can’t keep accurate records if you don’t have an accurate representation of someone, including their racial identity.

Let me give you some reminders about identity. First, when a multiracial person is asked about their identity it sounds like this: What are you? In his book The Lies that Bind, Kwame Appiah makes these observations, “In sum, identities come, first with labels and ideas about why and to whom they should be applied. Second, your identity shapes your thoughts about how you should behave; and third, it affects the way other people treat you. Finally, all these dimensions of identity are contestable, always up for dispute: who’s in, what they’re like, how they should behave and be treated.”

 

One example from the 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book is this:

 

In 2017, 81 percent of African-American,

79 percent of American Indian, 78 percent

of Latino and 60 percent of multiracial

fourth-graders were not proficient in reading,

compared with 54 percent of white and 44

percent of Asian and Pacific Islander students.

 

They used the appropriate, preferable, and respectful term “multiracial.” The Census Bureau calls us “Two or More Races” people. The Casey Foundation counted and published the multiracial numbers. Not all entities do. Why is this important? Just as it’s important to see the African-American, American Indian, Asian, white, and Latino students, it’s crucial that multiracial families and individuals see themselves included in data. Proper racial nomenclature is critical, this has been proven over and over again every time a group, any group, changes its label.

The multiracial community has been invisible to this committee, the Census Bureau, and the government for far too long. We know it and you know it. We can only assume that you are not eager to have people check two or more races because it would benefit your groups to have our numbers. We are not willing to choose single race over multiracial just so your groups can benefit monetarily.

Now we are looking at the 2020 Census and how we can all shore up our numbers. We must all answer this question: how does filling out the race boxes on the census impact our groups? For the multiracial population, it’s really not a matter of money. No one is going to give dollars to feed little multiracial children based on the boxes they check. However, we need to accurately report growth in our numbers and demonstrate that the multiracial population is an important one. WE ARE ASKING TO BE INCLUDED WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT, TALK ABOUT, AND WRITE ABOUT RACES IN AMERICA.   

The multiracial population is, perhaps, the largest of the hard-to-count groups by virtue of the fact that few care if we are counted as multiracial except us. In a recent webinar, census consultant Terri Ann Lowenthal was asked if people have to respond to every question, including race, when filling out their census form online. She answered that they do not. They can “hit submit and it will be accepted.” We would hate to see interracial families and multiracial individuals skip the race question. We need your help to ensure that this does not happen.

This is a time of suspicion, particularly between minorities and government. We can only get past that for the 2020 Census by showing trust. Project RACE has proven that we are a trusted entity for the multiracial population, but this committee, the bureau, and government need to show us that we can trust you. We are open to working with you to ensure that there is not an undercount of the multiracial community. We sincerely hope that you are finally ready to say the same. Thank you.

Susan Graham

President

Project RACE

Website: projectrace.com

Email: susangraham@projectrace.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

A Few Words to AP

A Few Words to the Associated Press

Several months ago, the Associated Press (AP) changed their stylebook to read:

<<The AP Stylebook states the following about the terms biracial, multiracial, and mixed:

“Acceptable, when clearly relevant, to describe people with more than one racial heritage. Usually more useful when describing large, diverse groups of people than individuals. Avoid mixed-race, which can carry negative connotations, unless a story subject prefers the term. Be specific if possible, and then use biracial for people of two heritages or multiracial for those of two or more on subsequent references if needed.”>>

Yet, a story appeared by AP on February 10th that repeatedly used the term “mixed” and “mixed-race” instead of multiracial or biracial. What happened to their own stylebook usage?! I wrote to them pointing out the error and asking what would happen in the future. I did not receive a reply, but did get a confirmation of our request. Then tonight, two days later, yet another story appeared with the same problem and never once used the preferred terminology. Obviously, the sports writers and editors at AP have different stories. We’d like to know why.

 

It’s Famous Friday!

Beyonce

Beyonce doesn’t need a huge introduction. Most everyone knows her name. She is a multiracial singer, songwriter, dancer, actress, and businesswoman. She is married to Jay-Z and they have three children. She was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Her father is African American. Her mother is Louisiana Creole, including African, French, Acadian/French-Canadian, as well as Irish and Spanish. Beyonce will be on the cover of Vogue this September. “When I first started, 21 years ago, I was told that it was hard for me to get onto covers of magazines because black people did not sell. Clearly that has been proven a myth. Not only is an African-American on the cover of the most important month for vogue, this is the first ever vogue cover shot by an African –American photographer.”  Beyonce found twenty three year old photographer, Tyler Mitchell, for her Vogue photo shoot. He is the first black photographer to shoot the cover in the magazine’s 126 year history. Beyonce did not do an interview for the article, but she submitted an essay. In the essay she discuses her heritage disclosing that she recently learned “that I come from a slave owner who fell in love with a married slave.” Make sure you pick up your own copy of Vogue magazine in December.

 

Picture Credit:  Enews.com

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.