New Study

New Study Explores How Observers Identify Multiracial Individuals

According to a new study, mixed race individuals are likely to be categorized as non-white by observers.

According to a new study, by 2050 one in five Americans will identify as multiracial. The study also reported that individuals of multiracial background are usually categorized by observers as non-white.

Jacqueline Chen is an assistant psychology professor at the University of Utah and the lead author of the study. She said as more Americans identify as multiracial, it is important to know how these individuals are perceived by others.

“We know from a lot of social, psychological research that the groups that we place people into are really important how we evaluate them, whether we like them or dislike them, what traits we think that they might have, and how we behave towards them, especially in an initial encounter,” Chen said.

The report is called Black + White= Not White. It is composed of three studies which simulated participants meeting people of different racial backgrounds for the first time, and then assessed how they categorized these people.

The images used in the study featured individuals who identified as white, black or having one white and one black parent. Participants were fairly accurate in identifying who was black and who was white. Multiracial individuals were quick to be identified as not white by participants and were assigned to a wide variety of minority categories, such as Latinx, Middle Eastern or South Asian.

“Mixed race people, a big part of their social experience in the U.S. is people coming up to them and saying, ‘What are you?’ or ‘I thought you were this.’ Multiracial people are often having their identities questioned and having to defend what identities they have,” Chen said.

Chen hopes her research will encourage people to evaluate how they behave when they are unsure of what a person’s race is.

“You can ask someone about their racial identity in a respectful way,” Chen said. “So I would hope that this just gives people some pause ‘Oh if someone is racially ambiguous, why is it that I’m so curious about they might be?’”

Photo Credit: Credit Jennifer Borget /

It’s Famous Friday!

James and Inja Yates

James and Inja have been married for over fifty seven years. Inja is Korean and was born in Japan. She identifies herself as “a country hick, an American through and through with Korean heritage. A true world citizen.”  James is of African American Indian heritage and was born in Philadelphia, PA. They have three children and seven grandchildren. James and Inja are the founders of Soul 2 Seoul scholarship foundation. Soul 2 Seoul’s primary mission is to provide assistance and options to mixed race students of African American and Asian ancestry, and multiracial students who actively promote racial unity. Their purpose is to encourage young people to build positive futures for themselves, to elevate their self image, facilitate their growth, and to become role models for their success. Soul 2 Seoul has been a dream of theirs inspired in the 1960’s by a promise to a young boy In Korea to help him find his father who was in the military and left Korea without knowing he had fathered a son. “As survivors of almost 50 years of marriage as an interracial couple we’ve come to see that mixed race kids are bright with big warm hearts but the emotional burdens put on them by society are tremendous. They throw bricks at them no matter the community they live in. Mixed race kids face the chaos of statistically unusual high divorce rate that brings on emotional problems. They can’t identify who they are and aren’t always sure where they fit in. We are fortunate to be able to bring our kids up in an educationally and emotionally supportive environment. At the time there was no support from the African American or Korean community. It was us against the world. Soul 2 Seoul wants to help give mixed race kids a chance.” Over the past 14 years they have awarded over 30 scholarships to students from across the country.  James and Inja have photos of the scholarship winners in the kitchen and living room alongside their children and grandchildren and proudly discuss all of their accomplishments. The Yates own a Beachwood Canyon home in California with a perfect view from their balcony of the iconic Hollywood sign. Airbnb did a wonderful article on James and Inja last June. Hosting on Airbnb has helped them expand the scholarship. James was one of four Airbnb hosts that were selected to run the Olympic torch during the 2016 Olympics in Rio. They love sharing their home and meeting new people from all over the world. Inja enjoys cooking breakfast for others. “I went through two wars: World War II, in Japan, and the Korean War. So I know what starvation was like. I used to say to myself, “One day, if I can afford to, I will never let anyone, especially in my home, go hungry.” Recently James and Inja called me to inform me that I have been chosen as one of the recipients of this year’s scholarship due to my work with the Project RACE and the multiracial population.  I am deeply appreciative and they have inspired me to hopefully one day be able to provide scholarships to impact future generations as they are doing. I hope I have the honor of having my picture in their home. Knowing people are waiting on me to accomplish great things is just another reason to continue striving harder for my dreams. Thank you for believing in myself and so many others.

Picture Credit:

MaKensie Shay McDaniel

Project RACE Teens Co-President

Famous Friday!


Rapper J. Cole is on fire! I told our Project RACE readers about how awesome and brilliant he was three years ago and he’s only gotten hotter since then. Just last month, his new album, “KOD,” was released, and on that very first day logged more than 36.5 million Spotify streams in the United States alone, a record breaking first-day for Spotify. “KOD” hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart, Cole’s fifth consecutive Billboard No. 1!

J.Cole is a German-American hip hop recording artist, producer, and writer from Fayetteville, North Carolina. He was born in Frankfurt, Germany in January 1985 as Jermaine Lamarr Cole when his African American father was serving in the United States Army. His Caucasian German mother worked as an actress. His father left the family when he was really young and his mother relocated the family to Fayetteville, NC when Cole was just eight months old. Cole began rapping at 12 and by15 had started keeping notebooks of beats and lyrics to create sounds and songs that evolved into the popular style we hear today. A straight A student in high school, he earned an academic scholarship to and graduated from St. John’s University in New York City. He chose to study and live in New York where he believed he would have a better chance of obtaining a record deal. His move to NYC proved to be a good move all around. He majored in communications, minored in business, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a 3.82 GPA . Then, soon after, he was the first artist signed by Jay-Z for the record label Roc Nation!

His career has been rising ever since thanks to his talent for making music full of raw and honest stories that resonate with the public. J. Cole has credited his great success, in part, to experiencing both sides of his race. He states that the perspective he brings is a side that’s aware of both of his races. He states he would not be able to say the things he does without seeing them from the “other side”. He makes it known he is proud to represent both races in his music. He has said that he identities more with what he looks like, because that’s how he is treated by the world.

Since our last Famous Friday on this talent, Cole  has gotten married and become a father to a little girl. The Cole family have returned to live in Cole’s hometown of Fayetteville. His wife, Melissa Heholt, attended St. John’s University with him and they dated for approximately 10 years before marrying. Mellissa is an event planner and also serves as the Executive Director of the Dreamville Foundation. The Dreamville Foundation is a non-profit that J.Cole created to “bridge the gap” between the worlds of opportunity and the urban youth of Fayetteville, NC. The foundation’s goal for the urban youth is to have a dream, believe in their dream, and achieve their dream. The Dreamville Foundation is dedicated to creating programs and events that will allow youth to be set up for success.

“I want to start the process of showing them there are other options besides what’s on the screen,” he explains,  “They don’t have to be a rapper of an athlete, there are people who manage the rappers, who book the shows. There are so many jobs you can do, this is about expanding their minds to those possibilities.”

-Karson Baldwin, President Project RACE Teens

Photo Credit:

It’s Famous Friday!

Famous Friday: Dr. Sarah Gaither 

Alonso Nichols/Tufts University Photo

This is a first for Project RACE. We’ve featured a lot of actors, athletes, and singers, some authors and politicians, but I do believe that Sarah Gaither is the first professor we have featured in our weekly Famous Friday series on interesting multiracial people. But, as an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, Sarah Gaither is a multiracial woman who is making her mark and someone that we think you should know.

Sarah was born to a white mother and a black father. She presents as white, but proudly identifies as multiracial. As a child her identity was regularly questioned by strangers. As with so many others, people would sometimes fear that her father was kidnapping her. 

“Growing up I always wished I looked a little more like my brother”, Sarah said. I always wished I looked a little more like how I actually identify. But I grew up in such a supportive household where I knew I was all these different racial and ethnic backgrounds. To be proud of that fact was really how I got through my various identity transitions across childhood and adolescence.”

Childhood experiences like these created an awareness and interest in how skin tone determines how people will be treated and how racial identity influences how multiracial people feel about themselves. Her interest grew into academic passion and she engaged in her first study on the multiracial population after her college career at University of California Berkeley in 2007. Sarah quickly discovered that very little research had been done on multiracial people, and she set out to do her part. Today, after earning her Masters and PhD from Tufts University, Sarah is serving as the principal investigator of Duke University’s Identity and Diversity Lab. She has become an informative voice for the rapidly growing multiracial population.

“I try to use this work as a way to push our understanding about identity more broadly – that we actually all have multiple identities,” she explains, “So pushing people beyond this binary is something that I’m hoping this work will do. What a lot of our work is trying to argue is that if you are biracial or have these multiple identities, this actually leads to what we call “identity flexibility.” You’re able to cross diverse spaces more easily compared to people from monoracial backgrounds … It really highlights this malleability of biracial individuals and the fact that they might have an extra tool to help navigate different types of spaces.”

Her research work as a social and developmental psychologist has been published more times than I could count and featured on NPR’s “Code Switch”. Sarah is a self-identified “foodie.”

“Knowing people who are biracial or transgender or anyone who is transitioning or confused about their identities,” Sarah shared, “we’re usually confused because of how society is treating us. And so if we weren’t so fixed in what groups we think we have to belong to or don’t want to belong to, I think we’d all get along a little better.”

I bet she’s right.

Karson Baldwin, President Project RACE Teens

Photo Credit:

It’s Famous Friday!

Lynda Carter

Lynda Carter

The original television Wonder Woman and former Miss World USA is multiracial. Linda was born to a Mexican-American mother and a father of English and Scots-Irish ancestry. Lynda is an American actress, singer, song writer, and model. Lynda landed the starring role on Wonder Woman in 1975 and her acting career took off. She signed a Maybelline cosmetics contract in 1977. She was voted the Most Beautiful Woman in the World in 1978. Lynda has been married twice and has two children. In 1985 she left Hollywood to be with her new husband in Washington D.C. for several years. Lynda is a huge supporter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Pro-Choice rights for women, and legal equality for LGBT people. Lynda stated in an interview with Hollywood that some of her best memories were in Globe, Arizona with her Spanish family. She remembers her grandmother would make her a big stack of tortillas and they would make menudo together and it was about eating. Her father did not speak Spanish, but her mother’s family did and she pretty much understood everything. Lynda reported in the interview that over her lifetime she has felt reverse discrimination at times. People did not view her as Hispanic because her last name was Carter. They thought she did not look Hispanic enough due to her skin not being dark enough. She feels people are surprised when they learn she is half Latina. Lynda has always spoken very proudly of her entire heritage.

Project RACE Teens President

Makensie Shay McDaniel

Photo Credit:

Census Trouble Looming!


Census data dictate the distribution of over $600 billion in yearly grants and subsidies to state and local governments. Credit Spencer Platt/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Census experts and public officials are expressing growing concerns that the bedrock mission of the 2020 census — an accurate and trustworthy head count of everyone in the United States — is imperiled, with worrisome implications.

Preparations for the count already are complicated by a sea change in the census itself: For the first time, it will be conducted largely online instead of by mail.

But as the Census Bureau ramps up its spending and work force for the 2020 count, it is saddled with problems. Its two top administrative posts are filled by placeholders. Years of underfunding by Congress and cost overruns on the digital transition have forced the agency to pare back its preparations, including abandoning two of the three trial runs of the overhauled census process.

Civil liberties advocates also fear that the Trump administration is injecting political considerations into the bureau, a rigidly nonpartisan agency whose population count will be the basis for redrawing congressional and state legislative districts in the early 2020s. And there is broad agreement that the administration’s aggressive enforcement of immigration policies will make it even harder to reach minorities, undocumented immigrants and others whose numbers have long been undercounted.

Taken together, some experts say, those issues substantially raise the risk that the 2020 count could be flawed, disputed, or both.

“There’s a set of unprecedented challenges that collectively threaten to create a perfect storm in 2020,” Terri Ann Lowenthal, a consultant and a leading authority on the census, said in an interview. “If public confidence in the objectivity and quality of the 2020 census erodes, then another pillar of our representative democracy could be compromised.”

John H. Thompson, who led the Census Bureau from 2013 until June, said the agency appeared on track to conduct its crucial and only “end-to-end” dry run of the count in Providence, R.I., in April. “The career staff at the Census Bureau are really, really good and really committed to an accurate count,” he said. “They will do the best job they can for the money and public cooperation they get.”

Still, he added, “There’s an issue with funding, and there’s an issue with operational readiness. And there’s an issue with accuracy.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a onetime census-taker himself, said in a statement on Saturday that he was “keenly aware” of the challenges facing the Census Bureau, which is part of the Commerce Department, and that he had put in place new management to address some of the 2020 issues. The top acting officials at the bureau are career employees with decades of experience; with those changes and more money, he said, “I am confident in our ability to conduct a full, fair and accurate 2020 census.”

A department spokesman, James Rockas, noted that Mr. Ross was seeking nearly $750 million for advertising and outreach programs to persuade members of hard-to-reach groups to participate. The Obama administration had “severely underestimated” both the cost and technical challenges of moving to a digital census, he said. Outside experts disputed that charge, noting that Congress had ordered the Census Bureau to spend no more than $13 billion on the 2020 census, and then cut even more from Obama administration budget requests that sought to meet that mandate.

Consternation about pulling off an accurate count has been part of the run-up to past censuses, especially regarding funding challenges. During the last census, worries ranged from undercounting military personnel and their families on bases to fairly accounting for large inmate populations in rural Republican districts.

A bungled count could have profound consequences. Data from the census — which aims to count everyone, whether citizens or not — dictate the distribution of more than $600 billion yearly in grants and subsidies to state and local governments. Demographic data from the count are the bases for surveys that are benchmarks for major businesses, governments and researchers.

The census results also will determine which states will gain or lose seats in the House of Representatives and how those lines are drawn when redistricting begins in 2021. Serious undercounts would invite lawsuits that could hogtie that process, some experts said, and sap public trust in one of the government’s core functions.

The census is the gold standard of data collection not just in the United States but in the world, said Phil Sparks, a director of the Census Project, a network of organizations promoting an accurate head count in 2020. “The last thing we want to do in this current debate,” he said, “is to make this a base metal.”

The bureau has been working on the 2020 count since the 2010 census was completed. The complete overhaul now underway seeks to shrink the count’s costliest and toughest task: sending hundreds of thousands of enumerators to find and interview the millions of people who fail to fill out their census forms.

An online head count, the reasoning goes, should reach more households more efficiently than mailed forms. The enumerators who track down those who do not respond (in 2010, almost 3 in 10 households) will use smartphone apps that instantly send data to the bureau’s computers and track the canvassers’ progress.

The bureau also hopes to mine federal databases and even satellite images for information that could reduce wasted trips by enumerators — to vacant buildings, for example — and automatically fill in personal data like addresses and ages.

The goal is to rein in the ballooning cost of censuses, from $1.22 per person counted in 1970 to more than $42 in 2010. Paradoxically, however, Congress’s demand to keep the 2020 census within the $13 billion cost of the 2010 tally backfired, as the underfunded shift to a digital census only led to later cost overruns, including $300 million for a key initiative to centralize data processing.

Compounding that, Congress has regularly given the agency less money than it said was needed — $200 million less through fiscal 2017 — forcing officials to slow or eliminate programs.

It also has canceled dry runs of the completed census process in Washington State and West Virginia that would have documented its performance in rural areas with spotty internet service and Indian reservations that do not use standard addresses. It has abandoned plans for smartphone canvasses in group living quarters like college dorms and prisons, and scaled back its culling of information from federal databases.

The Commerce Department has raised the count’s projected cost to $15.6 billion, including a $1.2 billion emergency fund — still less, it said, than the $17 billion a mail-in census would have cost. Secretary Ross asked Congress in October for an extra $3.3 billion to fund that new budget. But while outsiders applauded his commitment to the census, they were uncertain that the White House shared it.

To some experts, the situation recalls the 2010 census, in which the bureau sought to equip its enumerators with digital devices, fell behind schedule and had to spend $3 billion on a last-minute switch to pencil-and-paper forms.

“We basically have a simple choice,” said Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, a New York Democrat who has proposed legislation adding about $440 million to the bureau’s fiscal 2018 budget. “Properly fund the census now, or ask the taxpayers to pay a lot more down the road to make up for poor planning.”

But at least as worrisome as funding is concern over the Trump administration’s impact on the 2020 count.

For different reasons, both civil liberties advocates and census experts say they are troubled by the White House’s purported interest in Thomas Brunell, a political-science professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, for the bureau’s vacant post of deputy director. Mr. Brunell, a scholar of redistricting, has been an expert witness for Republican defendants in several gerrymandering cases. He also has criticized the policy of statistically adjusting census results to account for minorities and others who are undercounted.

Neither Mr. Brunell nor the Trump administration has addressed that interest, first reported in Politico. Former officials of the bureau said in interviews that Mr. Brunell lacked managerial experience for a position long held by experienced executives. Civil rights advocates said they worried that his appointment would signal partisan meddling in a census whose usefulness in drawing legislative districts depends entirely on its credibility.

The deputy director runs the bureau’s daily operations and is a key voice in census decisions. Liberals fear a partisan leader would scale back efforts to reach minorities and other Democratic-leaning groups that already are undercounted. Others said low-income and older rural residents who are reliably Republican also are undercounted, and that the issue was not so much partisanship as accuracy and credibility.

“The politicization of the census would erode what is already fragile trust and confidence in the integrity of the count,” said Vanita Gupta, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which has worked for years on census issues.

The Trump administration’s heated rhetoric on immigration, race and the trustworthiness of government is fueling fears that minorities, legal and undocumented immigrants and others — from asylum-seekers to victims of the opioid crisis — will be even harder to locate and count. The 2010 census actually overcounted non-Hispanic whites by 0.8 percent and undercounted African-Americans by 2.1 percent and Hispanics by 1.5 percent.

Suggestions by Mr. Trump and others that the census include a question about citizenship or immigration status are especially worrying to many. More than 11 million undocumented immigrants lived in the United States in 2016, eight million of them in the civilian work force. The administration’s hard line on immigration already is having a chilling effect on Hispanic leaders whose support is crucial to an accurate count, said Arturo Vargas, the executive director of the Naleo Education Fund, which promotes Latino involvement in civic life.

“Our membership includes elected officials and other people who have indicated they’re not convinced that they can stand up with confidence and tell their constituents that filling out the census form is safe and confidential,” said Mr. Vargas, who sits on a census advisory committee on issues that affect minorities and other hard-to-count groups. “There’s just a great lack of confidence now.”

A marked undercount, especially one that appeared driven by partisanship, could spark an unsettling battle between the census’s political winners and losers. There is precedent: Article 1 of the Constitution requires a decennial census for reapportionment purposes. But after Republicans took control of Congress and the White House in 1920, the House of Representatives refused to allow reapportionment of House seats, fearing that the rapid urbanization the census had documented would shift political power from rural areas to cities.

A similar refusal to accept the 2020 census’s results “by definition would be a constitutional crisis,” Ms. Lowenthal said. And any loss in faith in the count — whether due to politics, money or poor planning — would do lasting damage, she and others said.

“The record of the census in counting people from all income groups, all racial and ethnic groups, is really extraordinary,” said Steve H. Murdock, a Rice University sociologist who led the Census Bureau under President George W. Bush. “Once you break that belief in the activity, it’s hard to replace.”

Famous Friday!

Amber Stevens West

Amber West

Amber is a multiracial American actress and model. Her father is Caucasian and her mother is African American. She is best known for her role, Ashleigh Howard, in the ABC Family series Greek. She also played Maya in 22 Jump Street, and Maxine in the Carmichael show. She began dating her husband Andrew West while they were co-starring together in Greek. They married in Los Angeles in 2014. Amber currently has a main role in the 2017 Fox supernatural comedy Ghosted. In a sit down interview with Pretty Unfiltered on Pop Sugar Amber talked about being biracial. She stated she was between eight and ten years old before she noticed any bias or negative opinion about her being multiracial. She feels her parents did a great job at always making her feel unique and special. She remembers them saying “you are not black or white, you are gold.” Amber thinks it helped that her parents never labeled her, they both told her truths about their past and what they had experienced. When she first started acting she got roles as the “black friend” and was told to act more urban which she found offensive. She used to go into a job interview wondering if she should appear more black or white. Now she says “I own who I am.”  She wants a great role no matter the race.


Makensie Shay McDaniel

Project RACE Teens Co-President

Photo Credit:


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.

Real American: A Memoir BOOK REVIEW

Book Review by Susan Graham

Real American: A Memoir

Real American

I read a review of Real American: A Memoir by Julie Lythcott-Haims in The New York Times yesterday. It said Julie Lythcott-Haims’ new memoir is about growing up biracial. It’s not. It’s about growing up black.

If you want to get really angry, read this book. In fact, it should be required reading for anyone even thinking about being in an interracial relationship and especially parents of multiracial children. In so many ways, it’s a primer on what not to do. To me, as the mother of multiracial children—now adults—it is reassuring that I raised them to embrace their entire heritage.

Lythcott-Haims claims early in the book that her parents had entered into some type of “interracial child experiment that was failing.” Experiment? Would people actually do that? Throughout the book, the author lashes out at her parents—mostly her mother—for any number of ways they let her down and made her identify as black, but in other places, she is proud of her black identity. It’s confusing.

What is very clear is that this biracial woman felt she had to make a choice. She is crazy angry at everyone and everything, yet she doesn’t get that she could have embraced all of her incredibly stunning heritage and, perhaps, celebrated that. No, being biracial is not just a way to acknowledge her white mother, as she says; it is a way of acknowledging herself. She just couldn’t get there.

It angers me that this author didn’t do her homework. She glosses over the entire multiracial movement with an offhand comment about the Census Bureau making “new terms” in the 1990s, as if it was their idea and not that of the many parents who led the action to get the government to even consider counting people as more than one race. We were everywhere and I find it amazing that an interracial family would have been hiding under a rock big enough to miss it entirely.

The author is completely preoccupied with the color of her children, who she refers to as “quadroon children,” “Black,” and “mulatto.” To her, they are more colors than people, which I just don’t understand. That she is angry at the plight of black people in America and all over the world, is obvious—I’m just as angry about it! She would say that wasn’t possible because I’m not black. Not true. Black lives matter to me, too. Multiracial lives matter to me, as well.

Much of what Lythcott-Haims is trying to say is that what matters is how other people see you. If they see you as black, you are black. As my son told congress, it is how he sees himself that matters. Does he know other people see him as black? Absolutely. Interracial families are not blind and stupid. We teach our children about all of their cultures and how people might look at them and classify them on their personal color scale. We get it; we live it, too.

The one thing the author and I agree on is that racism will never go away and that is why everyone needs to read about those of us who have been through it. You’ll have to read about both sides, search your heart, make your own decisions, and neither the author nor I can make it for you. I respect that you may choose for your children to identify as only one race. I just wish more people would respect that they may choose to be multiracial.



Famous Friday!

Kane Brown

Kane Brown

Kane is an up and coming biracial country singer. His father is black and part Cherokee and his mother is white. Kane was raised by his mother and they had significant financial difficulties causing them to move often and resulted in them being homeless on occasions living in their car. Kane has reported other difficulties such as; being abused by his stepdad, and racism. He has described his childhood as difficult and painful, but hopes to be a role model. Kane stated that growing up in Northwest Georgia he was at times subjected to racial slurs from his peers. He grew up listening to country music and after attending his first country concert he knew he wanted to become a country singer. Kane was first noticed by posting videos of him singing classic country songs on Facebook. At 17 he was living in Nashville trying to make his country music dreams reality. In a BET interview he stated “I was working at Lowes and Target then Fed Ex, and still did not have enough money to pay rent on my own”. Kane is now advocating with Make Room and has made and appearance at a congressional briefing in Washington, D.C. with hopes of encouraging congress to make sure affordable housing is available for all those in need. He is also moving up the ranks in country music. He was nominated for and AMA award for “Top New Male Artist” and a CMT music award for his “Breakthrough Video” for his song “Used to Love You Sober.”

Makensie Shay McDaniel

Project RACE Teens President

Photo Credit: The Tennessean

Meet our Presidents

Makensie McDaniel