Presidents’ Day – Sally Hemings

Presidents’ Day – Sally HemingsSally HemmingsThomas Jefferson

Presidents’ Day is held in February to primarily commemorate the birthday of George Washington, among other presidents with February birthdates. We are celebrating Sally Hemings for Presidents’ Day. The following information regarding Sally Hemings and President Thomas Jefferson is from Wikipedia.

Sarah “Sally” Hemings (c. 1773 – 1835) was an enslaved woman of mixed race owned by President Thomas Jefferson. Most historians believe she was the mother of six children fathered by him,[1 of whom four survived to adulthood; and were given freedom by Jefferson. Hemings was the youngest of six siblings by the widowed planter John Wayles and his mixed-race slave Betty Hemings; Sally and her siblings were three-quarters European and half-siblings of Jefferson’s wife, Martha Wayles Skelton.

In 1787, Hemings, aged 14, accompanied Jefferson’s youngest daughter Mary (“Polly”) to London and then to Paris, where the widowed Jefferson, aged 44 at the time, was serving as the United States Minister to France. Hemings spent two years there. It is believed by most historians that Jefferson began a sexual relationship with Hemings in France or soon after their return to Monticello. Hemings was a slave in Jefferson’s house until his death.

The historical question of whether Jefferson was the father of Hemings’ children is known as the Jefferson–Hemings controversy. Following renewed historic analysis in the late 20th century and a 1998 DNA study that found a match between the Jefferson male line and a descendant of Hemings’ last son, Eston Hemings, there is a near-consensus among historians that the widower Jefferson fathered her son Eston Hemings and probably all her children. A small number of historians disagree.

Hemings’ children lived in Jefferson’s house as slaves and were trained as artisans. Jefferson freed all of Hemings’ surviving children: Beverly, Harriet, Madison, and Eston, as they came of age (they were the only slave family freed by Jefferson). They were seven-eighths European in ancestry, and three of the four entered white society as adults. Descendants of those three identified as white. Hemings was “given her time,” lived her last nine years freely with her two younger sons in Charlottesville, Virginia, and saw a grandchild born in the house her sons owned.

 

Rashida Jones

Rashida-Jones-(23)

On February 25, 1976 Rashida Jones was born to  Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton. Her mother is of Jewish descent, and her parents were shocked when Peggy chose to date out of her race and religion. At the time her father, Quincy, was a poor, struggling young man with a dream. Now he is a very successful media mogul, musician, and producer.

Ms. Jones has pretty much done it all. Rashida is a Harvard graduate, a phenomenal actress, comic book author, producer, singer, and screenwriter. She was recently nominated for Outstanding Writing in a Television Movie by the NAACP. Rashida is also open about how being multiracial plays a part in what roles she gets, “When I audition for white roles, I’m told I’m “too exotic.” When I go up for black roles, I’m told I’m “too light.” I’ve lost a lot of jobs, looking the way I do.”

    She has also gotten real about other experiences linked to her ethnicity, “Finally I was leaving for college, for Harvard. Daddy would have died if I turned Harvard down. Harvard was supposed to be the most enlightened place in America, but that’s where I encountered something I’d never found in L.A.: segregation. The way the clubs and the social life were set up, I had to choose one thing to be: black or white. I chose black. I went to black frat parties and joined the Black Student Association, a political and social group. I protested the heinous book The Bell Curve [which claims that a key determinant of intelligence is inherited], holding a sign and chanting. But at other protests-on issues I didn’t agree with- wondered: Am I doing this because I’m afraid the black students are going to hate me if I don’t? As a black person at Harvard, the lighter you were, the blacker you had to act. I tried hard to be accepted by the girls who were the gatekeepers to Harvard’s black community. One day I joined them as usual at their cafeteria table. I said, “Hey!”-real friendly. Silence. I remember chewing my food in that dead, ominous silence. Finally, one girl spoke. She accused me of hitting on one of their boyfriends over the weekend. It was untrue, but I think what was really eating her was that she thought I was trying to take away a smart, good-looking black man-and being light-skinned, I wasn’t “allowed” to do that. I was hurt, angry. I called Kidada in New York crying. She said, “Tell her what you feel!” So I called the girl and…I really ripped her a new one. But after that, I felt insidious intimidation from that group. The next year there was a black guy I really liked, but I didn’t have the courage to pursue him. Sometimes I think of him and how different my life might be if I hadn’t been so chicken. The experience was shattering. Confused and identity-less, I spent sophomore year crying at night and sleeping all day. Mom said, “Do you want to come home?” I said, “No.” Toughing it out when you don’t fit in: That was the strength my sister gave me.”

    Rashida inspires so many people to rise in spite of adversity,to overcome any challenges that come our way, and to succeed in whatever you set out to accomplish.

 

New Head of OMB Confirmed

New Head of OMB Confirmed

 

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is the part of the federal government that decides on racial and ethnic categories, not the U.S. Census Bureau. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina was tapped to be the new head of OMB by President Trump, who held a news conference today (February 16. 2017) and said, “And also as you probably heard just a little while ago, Mick Mulvaney, former congressman, has just been approved weeks late, I have to say that, weeks, weeks late, Office of Management and Budget. And he will be I think a fantastic addition.” We will just have to wait and see.

Guest Column

Below is a guest column by Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D. in response to my “A New Concern” blog entry and email. I think this response is particularly thoughtful and thorough. We had a great response to “A New Concern” with people stressing that yes, they do care about the bullet points regarding some of the recent concerns and they are very wary of the negative media portrayal that being multiracial is a hindrance. Project RACE continues to get out positive messages about the multiracial community. Thanks to all who participated. –Susan Graham

 

Guest Column – Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D.

I watched the video and I’ll share my thoughts:

It appears to me ideologies of biracial identity fluctuates depending on variables associated with an individual’s: environmental experiences, background experiences, family life experiences, support systems or lack thereof.

For example, our former POTUS clearly identifies as AA. From the outside looking in he was more than likely told from his grandparents (who raised him) he was black because his skin tone is brown, his dad was African, and who knows what else. I remember hearing him tell a story once of observing his grandmother (years ago) clutching her purse when passing an AA man, and how that made him feel.

My daughter who is 1/2 Black and 1/2 Hispanic (living in this era) does not identify solely as either black or Hispanic. With lots of purposeful persuasion, I raised and supported her to feel good about not owning to one category over the other. I wanted her to reach the age of accountability deciding to identify as biracial (I hope she continues). If she chooses to identify as either one race over the other, it will be her choice, but I do not believe she will. She feels strongly about her identity.

I believe strongly (just like political choices) racial identity is highly influenced by parental input. I also listened and cautioned grandparents, teachers and anyone else labeling my daughter as one race. I do not believe in the 1% rule. That is most ridiculous to me. Some might go further claiming the child should identify with the race of their dad. Why should the child disclaim their other half?

Regardless how my daughter “looks” to anyone, and it does vary, she is a combination thus – biracial, and she announces it with such pride, if asked, and many people ask often.

What I’ve noticed about my daughter is this: She has friends from all races – not only black and Hispanic – because she loves people. Due to the racial make-up at the school my daughter attends she does have a healthy balance of both black and Hispanic friends.

Now, I realize as well my daughter (being black and Hispanic) may not be termed the classic (black/white) biracial child being that she is a double minority, but believe me “bi” is “bi” so she faces the same experiences as all biracial individuals only her outlook and reactions makes the positive difference in her life. She isn’t bogged down with hectic decisions of choosing who to hang out with. She just has friends.

One other comment I want to make: Regardless of racial identity children should absolutely LOVE who they are and believe they can “set the world on fire” with their beauty, talents/skills. When we instill this sort of empowerment children possess such esteem and affirmation nothing topples their spirits.

As a parent, I want to continue fighting for my child’s identity rights and the rights of all children to identify as biracial! It’s their right!

About the Author, Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D.

Cherrye is a retired public school administrator and an adjunct professor who has earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum & Instruction; a Master of Education in Special Education; and a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Pathology/Audiology.

Cherrye’s areas specializations are in Multi-cultural education, Early Childhood Handicapped, Mid-Management and Educational Diagnostician.

Cherrye lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, Roy and daughter, Kelly.

As an educator, mother, and author Cherrye believes that adults and educators must, as role models, develop an atmosphere of respect for children to thrive in. Her books provide examples of how to reduce bullying by encouraging diversity.

http://cherryesbooksthatsow.com

 

 

 

A New Concern

A New Concern

I would like to sincerely thank all of the people who took the time to contact me after this week’s email update on Project RACE. I am personally responding to each one. It may take a while! Here is a recap of some of the current concerns:

  • Does the multiracial community even care if our numbers are skewed? This is all a numbers game—it always has been—and we should care a lot. The lower our population numbers, the less we matter to the government, businesses, advertising agencies, retailers, the medical system, and on and on.
  • Do we only exist for the annual party, movie, or book signing?
  • Do we really want to go back to the days when the one-drop rule was the law?
  • Do number tabulation and voting redistricting mean anything to us?
  • Should you even have to think about whether interracial marriages are allowed?
  • Will we be deported because we’re not 100% white?
  • Do we want respect for our identity choices, political clout, appreciation for the diversity our children bring to their schools, and the end of the tragic mulatto stories once and for all?
  • Does it really matter if our history is accurate?

Perhaps I did not successfully illustrate what is at stake if people still don’t care. Take a look for yourselves at an article and video that came out today from Breitbart and Buzzfeed about how being mixed-race is a hindrance. It’s at http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/01/14/buzzfeed-being-mixed-race-bad/  Is this really what you want our children to read and see?

Again, let me know what you think. My email is susangraham@projectrace.com

Susan Graham for Project RACE

Project RACE UPDATE

What is the government up to now?

Last week I sat through three hours of the 2020 Census Quarterly Program Management Review just to see how things are progressing for the multiracial community. It was pretty dull, with presentations about everything from address canvassing to systems readiness to partnerships and so much more.

I picked up on some hesitation which usually doesn’t come with the usual “everything is great here at the bureau” mantra. They said they have “paused” some activities and are delaying a few things. It seems like they just don’t know what is going to come from the new administration yet and they are just a bit nervous. They should be. Who knows what will happen before Census 2020?

Anyway, there was a lot of talk about Census Day on April 1, 2017, when 80,000 housing units will be tested. They glossed over the race and ethnicity question very quickly and mentioned they will continue using the existing wording unless something changes from testing done in 2016 and comments to OMB. Of course they will.

We are one of the communities that should be included in partnership engagement so that the multiracial participation in the census can be increased and accurate. But are we? Hell no. In fact, the census bureau contracted with Young and Rubicam (Y&R) to the tune of $415 MILLON to help get a complete count of households. Y&R subcontracts with corporations that represent every racial and ethnic group except the multiracial one. They will make sure that every Alaskan Native in the country knows about filling out the census, but multiracial people? Not so much. In fact, not at all. Do they think we don’t know this?!

The big question in my mind is this: Does the multiracial community even care if our numbers are skewed? This is all a numbers game—it always has been—and we should care a lot. The lower our population numbers, the less we matter to the government, businesses, advertising agencies, retailers, the medical system, and on and on. Do we only exist for the annual party, movie, or book signing? Do we really want to go back to the days when the one-drop rule was the law? Does number tabulation and voting redistricting mean anything to us? Should you even have to think about whether interracial marriages are allowed? Will we be deported because we’re not 100% white? Or do we want respect for our identity choices, political clout, appreciation for the diversity our children bring to their schools, and the end of the tragic mulatto stories once and for all? Does it really matter if our history is accurate? Let me know what you think. My email is susangraham@projectrace.com

 

Susan Graham

President

Project RACE, Inc.

Thumbs Down

THUMBS DOWN TO THE NEW YORK TIMES

Shame on The New York Times for giving editorial and advertising space to Michael Eric Dyson. He is racist against white people and tries to prove that all white people are members of the white supremacy.  Yes, black people can be racist and Dyson proves that. This is not freedom of speech; it is racism loud and clear, but not substantiated. Please think twice before contributing to Dyson or The New York Times in any way. We are.

What will Trump do?

What will President-Elect Trump do for or against the Multiracial Community?

by Susan Graham

Since November 8th I’ve seen the so called “leaders” in the so called “multiracial community” avoid this question. The majority of them are Democrats, Libertarians, Independents, or something other than Republicans. They are all over the map geographically. They like to call themselves “academics” and give that as a reason to avoid writing real political papers. Now that they have confused what the academics think, they slink back into their tiny university closets and lock the doors.

If you read any of the online community sources like Facebook, Mixed Studies, Swirl. MASC and more, you have a hard time finding anything other than pleas for money, reviews about the “Loving” movie, or pros and cons about President Obama’s personal racial identification. Let me digress for a moments and add my own feelings on this. I would have loved nothing more than for Barack Obama to embrace a multiracial identity, but he just wasn’t feeling it, his reason being what his white mother and black father advised him, how his white grandparents raised him, how politics work best, or any other number of things. Our loss.

We can’t talk about the election without bringing in Hillary Clinton. She never did anything for the multiracial population and trust me, she was asked several times, as was her husband when he was President. So, she didn’t actually cancel out our community, she ignored us, which was worse. The Clintons were so pro-minority that they were clearly in favor of the one-drop rule by default. An office in Harlem and a residential compound in the white area of town. Maybe that makes them think they are some kind of multiracial citizens. And I really do like them!

Speaking of liking people, I believe you can like someone and not have the same political views that they do. Honest. I like a few Republicans because I can pick and choose individuals who I like from groups of people without selecting an entire group.

Let’s look at where things stand for the multiracial community now. Yeah, I’m sharing with the people in the movement who are clueless—you know who you are and so do we. I don’t “report” on what multiracial star is mad at who, stories about families in Zimbabwe, or the history of Thomas Jefferson, so I’ll keep it to policy issues if you know what those are.

 

OMB, which stands for Office of Management and Budget has a director. His name is Shaun Donovan. He’s never returned our calls, letters, or emails. He would much rather we just didn’t exist. Oh, wait a minute! President Elect Trump has nominated a new OMB Director, along with the new regime. His name isRep. Mick Mulvaney (R.-S.C.). Max Stier wrote in The Hill,

 

 

While OMB has a reputation for being “the agency of no” because of its role protecting the president and the administration’s budget and policy priorities, it can do more to clarify where agency leaders have flexibility to test new approaches, identify areas that are off-limits, provide air cover to test new ideas without fear of reprisals and serve as an incubator for change.”

 

 

 

What might this mean? Actually, your guess is as good as mine with this new president. But wouldn’t it be nice if they did some real housecleaning at the OMB and The Census Bureau?! Can you imagine what life would be like without Nicholas Jones in it? Now that would be a nice indication of smaller government.

By the way, Katherine Wallman at OMB retired January 1st, just in time to make decisions on race and ethnicity issues. She’s the same Wallman who pretty much screwed us over when it came to nomenclature and tabulation of “two or more races” in the 1990s. Could things get better? Nah.

They could actually do away with the Census Bureau if it wouldn’t mean all those lost jobs for Washington demographers and statisticians. But on the other hand, does this government have a real need to know where all the Muslims and Jewish citizens and immigrants live? Maybe, just maybe there will still be a working Congress with some possible roadblocks. Perhaps some checks and balances will work just a bit.

Oh, and one more thing. There is a public hearing this week in Chicago hosted by the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, which is involved in decision making for the multiracial population. Good luck trying to get information on it. If you do, please let us know. After all, we can’t know everything.

Hate is Taught

A Lesson

Hate is Taught

Category: Blog, Featured · Tags: , ,

MASC DID WHAT?!

MASC Did WHAT!

I have a lovely wood recognition plaque in my office given to me in 1995 from the Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC). It hangs right under a letter to Project RACE and the Association of Multi-Ethnic Americans also dated 1995 and signed by President Bill Clinton. We were known then as MASC, Project RACE, and AMEA. MASC apparently no longer advocates for the multiracial community, Project RACE does, and AMEA is defunct. A great deal has happened in the past 25 plus years. Not all of it is good.

I will forever defend the work of Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally), but most of you know the history of the multiracial movement, so I won’t go back over that now. Suffice it to say that different organizations went different ways, but we all—or at least it seemed—wanted some form of recognition for the term “multiracial.” We were making progress. AMEA fell apart. Hapas moved on. MAVIN couldn’t decide what it wanted to be and the founder disappeared. The academics saw a way to “get published or perish” and began publishing papers and books like crazy with or without actual facts. Podcasts popped up, Loving Day gained momentum, and even comics took their best shots at us. We somehow endured. Project RACE kept doing what we did in 1990 and advocated for a multiracial identifier on racial classifications. We won some; we lost some.

Now it’s 2016 and decisions must be made by 2017 for the 2020 census. It must be done quickly for many reasons, which is why OMB issued a 30 day notice instead of the usual 60+. One more chance to take our best shot.

Then a few weeks ago the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the government people who decide on race and ethnicity in this country published a notice in the Federal Register, that obscure publication that half-heartedly asks for public opinion, suggesting that John Q. Public let them know what they think of the proposed plans. They laid out (as best they could) these areas under consideration:

  1. Whether to continue to have one category for Hispanic origin and one for race, or one combined answer;
  2. Have a distinct new category for respondents of Middle Eastern or North African heritage (MENA);
  3. The description of the intended use of minimum reporting categories; and
  4. Terminology used for race and ethnicity classifications.

Look back at those areas of consideration. Number 1 has been on the table for years and it is already a done deal. Number 2 has been in contention since before the multiracial question even came up, but it’s become a messier MENA category than previously. I’m not sure what number 3 even means completely.

Then…BINGO! Number 4 gives us a chance to bring up terminology again.

Project RACE jumps on the terminology question, gathers our members and supporters, and starts our answers to the open comment period! We gain momentum and wait for other “multiracial groups” to join in. MASC. The MULTIRACIAL Americans of Southern California stuns us. They openly advocated for number 1, the Hispanic race/ethnicity question.

Thomas Lopez is the president of MASC. He strongly favors Hispanics becoming a race instead of an ethnicity on forms. There are many reasons for the combined question to be considered. There are still organized groups fighting for it and the MENA question. Lopez glosses over consideration 4 with this: “In a combined question format this would simply be another version of ‘Two or more races.’” This would have been the perfect place to advocate for multiracial wording—for an acceptable, respectful term for our children. What were Lopez and the board of directors of MASC thinking?! Apparently, they should change their name to:

The Hispanic and Two or More Races Americans of Southern California