Last night was a big night at our house. It was the opening of the NFL Draft and the Cleveland Browns, as predicted, selected Defensive End Myles Garrett from Texas A & M as the number one pick overall. The last time the Browns took a TAMU Defensive End was 35 years ago when they selected my Dad, Keith Baldwin in the 1982 Draft! My Dad couldn’t choose between wearing Browns gear or Aggie gear for the Draft Party, so he wore both.
But here at Project RACE we were more interested in the 3rd pick than the 1st! With the third pick, the San Francisco 49ers selected Solomon Thomas from Stanford University. We at Project RACE have been a huge fan of “Solly” since his senior year in high school. He was recruited at Coppel High School in Texas by nearly all the top football schools and chose Stanford based on academics. During his college visit to Stanford, he spent more time with professors than coaches. When he announced on National Signing Day that he would attend Stanford, he did it with humor, putting on some nerdy glasses.
Solomon has had a pretty interesting life. His interracially married parents moved around a lot with him and his older sister. Born in Chicago, Solly’s family moved to Australia Gamble where he spent a lot of time surfing, swimming and playing soccer. He started football after they moved to Texas when he was in fourth grade. Solomon cares a lot about his faith and his relationships and thinks about the future when he makes decisions.
Leading up to the draft, he got attention from nearly every NFL team, just like he did in high school from colleges across the country. But unlike college, when you make it to the pros it’s all about who chooses you. I imagine that Solly Thomas is pretty happy that the 49ers, who are very near his college home of Stanford, selected him with their first pick.
The title of the new podcast,”Other: Mixed Race in America” by The Washington Post is offensive. Multiracial people are not “other.” We won’t be listening, but if you choose to, it launches May 1 and is hosted by “social media producer” Alex Laughlin.
Race and identity in many ways define who we think we are, while modern genetics can challenge those notions. To delve into these issues, I am involved with a communications studies project at West Chester University in Pennsylvania that explores narratives at the intersection of race and identity.
For the last decade, I have invited hundreds of people to be part of ancestry DNA tests. But first I ask people how they identify themselves racially. It has been very interesting to explore their feelings about the differences between how they define themselves and what their DNA makeup shows when the test results come in.
Biologically, our ancestral differences reflect only a 0.1 percent difference in DNA. Yet we often cling to those differences — both in unity with our fellow people of origin and, at times, in divisiveness.
Over all, the experiment has provided a special opportunity to explore the lines of race. I found that as human beings, our strategies for survival are the same, and our similarities far outweigh our differences.
Not surprising, some volunteers came up with stereotypes like “I thought my biological father might be black; I heard he liked basketball,” or “Wow, a little Asian; that’s why my son is good at math!” Some had hoped the DNA tests would allow them to challenge prejudices in their own families.
But inside each comment was a longing to find out more. And a long-term, ever-deepening conversation began.
What started out as a curiosity turned into a study. My colleague Bessie Lee Lawton and I began our collaboration in 2012, and a more rigorous protocol was established. Statistical analysis was done to look for patterns not easily gleaned from individual stories.
Speaking in generalities, we found that women were more flexible about their racial identity than men; that people of color expected diversity in their backgrounds more than people of European ancestry; and that younger people were more open to diversity than older ones. People of European background tended to have more anxiety, before and after the test.
Keep in mind that analyzing a person’s ancestry through DNA, means looking back hundreds of years. People receive only half of their DNA from each parent, and therefore the race or identity of either parent may be too diluted to show up in these tests.
As a black girl growing up in the 1960s, I often felt race undermined me. I was expected to love Motown, but not ballet. I was praised for speaking standard English, but my interest in the sciences was never appreciated and certainly not cultivated. Random doors opened; others closed.
It took me 10 years before I tested myself. What I found both confirmed and shook my perspective. My background included African heritage from the Gold Coast, including Nigeria and Ghana, intermingled with British and Scandinavian. I suspect this reflects the impact of the brutal Viking Age and later the English in the slave trade.
I have a smattering of Asian genes, most likely from indigenous Americans crossing the Bering Strait. For Americans, about 4 percent of our ancestry traced to Asia may actually reflect Native American roots.
However, my grandfather shared with me years ago that in his birthplace of Mobile, Ala., his earliest memories were of Chinese merchants living alongside poor black folks like him. So who knows?
Today I look at faces, even my own, with new recognition. I see that people regularly share narratives that miss something their physical features suggest, and sometimes we find ancestry that we would not have imagined. It is a new twist on an old narrative made possible by cutting-edge science.
The conversation is complicated and jagged, and it mercifully undermines neat, simplistic stories.
Over the last 11 years, more than 2,000 people have taken part in our DNA ancestry project. Below are the stories from a handful of them.
Jessica Alba is an actress and entrepreneur born in Pomona, California. Her father is Mexican American and her mother, Danish French Canadian. As an actress she has stated that she was told at times she was not Latin enough to play a Latina role or not Caucasian enough to be a leading lady. So they encouraged her to play the exotic one. She was 17 when she began auditioning for roles and has stated she has never let racial stereotypes hold her back. For her people’s thoughts and comments motivated her to become a leading lady to show that girls can look like her and have leading roles. She founded the Honest Company and stated she faced a lot of the same criticisms. People would say to her “you are an actress, what do you know about business? Go be a face somewhere.” Again, this made Alba more determined. Her business is extremely successful and she created a skin care line in hopes that it will help women of color love the skin that they are in. She stated it was always very difficult for her to find the right make up tones growing up and she wanted to help with enhancing who you are instead of covering you up and trying to look like someone else.
Babies show racial bias at nine months, U of T study suggests
Two new U of T studies suggest racial bias can develop in babies before they’ve even started walking.
Two new University of Toronto studies suggest racial bias can develop in babies at an early age — before they’ve even started walking.
Led by the school’s Ontario Institute of Child Study professor Kang Lee, in partnership with researchers from the U.S., U.K., France, and China, the studies examined how infants react to individuals of their own race, compared to individuals of another race.
“The goal of the study was to find out at which age infants begin to show racial bias,” Lee said. “With existing studies, the evidence shows that kids show bias around 3 or 4 years of age. We wanted to look younger.”
The first study looked at 193 Chinese infants from three to ninth months, recruited from a hospital in China, who hadn’t had direct contact with people of other races. The babies were then shown videos of six Asian women and six African women, paired with either happy or sad music.
The study found that infants from three to six months old didn’t associate sad or happy music with people of the same race or of other races, which indicates they “are not biologically predisposed to associate own- and other-race faces with music of different emotional valence.”
However, at around nine months old, the reactions were different.
According to the study, nine-month-old babies looked at their own-race faces paired with happy music for a longer period of time, as well as other-race faces paired with sad music. Lee says this supports the hypothesis that infants associate people of the same race with happy music, and other races with sad music.
That’s not to say parents are teaching their children how to discriminate against other raced individuals, Lee says.
“We are very confident that the cause of this early racial bias is actually the lack of exposure to other raced individuals,” he said. “It tells us that in Canada, if we introduce our kids to other-raced individuals, then we are likely to have less racial bias in our kids against other-raced people.”
Andrew Baron, an associate professor of psychology the University of British Columbia, said while the goal of the study is “terrific,” there are many reasons infants would look for longer amounts of time at faces of different races. For example, he says an infant could spend more time looking at an own-race face because it is familiar, or at an other-race face because it is different and unexpected.
“It’s impossible to draw that conclusion about association from a single experiment when you could have half a dozen reasons why you would look longer that don’t support the conclusion that was made in that paper,” said Baron, who was not involved in the studies, but specializes in a similar field — the development of implicit associations among infants.
“There’s multiple reasons — and contradictory reasons — why we look longer at things. We look longer at things we fear, we look longer at things we like. That’s an inherent tension in how you choose to interpret the data.”
The second study took a closer look at that bias and how it affects children’s learning skills.
Researchers showed babies videos of own-race and other-race adults looking in the same direction that photos of animals appeared (indicating they are reliable) and looking in the wrong direction of the animals (indicating they are unreliable).
The study found that when adults were reliable and looking in the direction of the animals, the infants followed both own- and other-raced individuals equally. The same results occurred when the adults were unreliable and looking in the wrong direction.
However, when the adults gaze was only sometimes correct, the children were more likely to take cues provided by adults of their own race.
“In this situation, very interestingly, kids treated their own-raced individuals — who are only 50 per cent correct — as if they were 100 per cent correct,” Lee said.
“There is discrimination, but only when there is uncertainty.”
The first study was published in Developmental Science and the second was in Child Development.
The study was conducted in China, Lee says, because the researchers were able to control the exposure to other-raced individuals.
Lee said he has been trying for nearly 10 years to organize a study looking at babies born into mixed-race families. He suspects infants born into mixed-race families would show less racial bias.
When it comes to parents who want to try to eliminate racial bias from a young age, Lee says exposure is key.
“If parents want to prevent racial biases from emerging, the best thing to do is expose their kids to TV programs, books, and friends from different races,” he said.
“And the important message is they have to know them by name . . . it’s extremely important to know them as individuals.”
This week’s Famous Friday features interracial power couple – Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling. According to US Magazine, The dynamic duo quietly tied the knot in early 2016 after being together for over 5 years. They have two beautiful multiracial daughters, Esmerelda and Amada.
Eva Mendes was born in Miami, Florida, and she is of Cuban-American descent. She is a singer, actress, model, and designer. You have probably watched her in major films like Hitch, Training day, and Stuck on You. She has also been the face of several advertisement campaigns for huge companies including: Revlon, Cartier, and Calvin Klein.
Ryan Gosling is of English, French Canadian, and Scottish descent. He is an actor most famously known for his role as Noah in The Notebook. You may also recognize him from his role in La La Land, Crazy Stupid Love, or my personal favorite Remember The Titans. Over the course of his career he has racked up multiple Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations.
One time when asked about his family Ryan said, “It’s heaven, it’s like walking through a field of flowers everyday – I live with angels.” I love that we are beginning to see more and more interracial power couples in Hollywood. I also love that I am seeing more interracial couples on sitcoms and commercials. It is awesome, especially considering that not even 100 years ago interracial marriage was illegal. Remember to take time to celebrate interracial couples and multiracial people everyday, and especially during Multiracial Heritage Week which is coming up soon.
New America Media, News Report, Honora Montano, Posted: Apr 03, 2017
With the 2020 Census three years out, civil rights groups and census experts are sounding the alarm that pending actions by the Trump administration and Congress could severely hamper an accurate count of all communities.
“Congress’ failure over the past few years to pay for rigorous 2020 Census planning, and now the Trump Administration’s insufficient budget request for 2018, will strike at the heart of operations specifically designed to make the census better in historically undercounted communities,” said Terri Ann Lowenthal, former staff director with the House Subcommittee on Census and Population.
She spoke during a national press call hosted by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The call was moderated by Wade Henderson, president and CEO of Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
“The decennial census is by far the most importance and critical tool in our country to ensure that diverse communities are equitably served with government resources and that the American people are adequately represented at all levels of government,” said Henderson. “The census is required by the U.S. Constitution and policymakers are responsible for making sure the job gets done right. All of us must insist that they do that because there are no do-overs.”
Currently the Census Bureau is being funded at 2016 levels, as Congress has not approved final spending bills for 2017. The bureau has requested a 25 percent “ramp up” for preparation activities. But President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal recommends keeping funding levels where they are currently, $1.5 billion.
Census advocates say this is a crucial time for laying the groundwork and are calling for Congress to reject the administration’s budget proposal in favor of one that covers all preparation activities.
A ‘major civil rights issue’
Recently, the U.S. Government Accountability office deemed the 2020 Census a “high risk federal program,” in part because the U.S. Census Bureau is planning to utilize several never-before used strategies – such as collecting responses over the internet – but may not have the time and resources to adequately develop and test them.
Budget limitations have already hindered major preparations, including the cancellation of tests of new methods in Puerto Rico and on two American Indian reservations, and resulted in mailed tests rather than electronic or in-person ones, as well as delayed community outreach and advertising campaigns.
Advocates say current funding shortfalls will result in many people – particularly black, Latino and rural households, and families with young children – being missed by the count. Arturo Vargas is the executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. He calls the underfunding of the census a major civil rights issue for Latinos and other communities of color.
“A successful 2020 Census is not possible if Latinos are not accurately counted,” Vargas said.
Millions of Latinos, the second largest ethnic group in the U.S., were missed in the 2010 census, including 400,000 children under four, according to Vargas.
For each uncounted person, state governments and communities lose thousands of federal aid dollars, which go to anti-poverty programs, education, infrastructure, emergency services, healthcare and other programs.
An undercount can also trigger changes in political representation – from redrawn district lines, to fewer seats in local, state and federal offices, often diminishing the power of communities of color.
Advocates say that new cost-saving strategies like collecting responses over the internet rather than paper forms require investments on the front end. Delayed preparations cannot be made up later. Surveys administered online may also be hampered by the “digital divide” if adequate field tests are not taken.
Lack of access to broadband and the internet may make it “more challenging to [reach] those historically left out of the census in the first place,” Vargas warns.
The ‘first high tech census’
The first “high tech” census also opens the door to cyber security concerns, which have been exacerbated of late by evidence of foreign attacks on the 2016 presidential elections. Such concerns could make Americans even more hesitant to participate.
Lowenthal says she and other advocates must be prepared for a “wild card” event, such as President Trump publically questioning the importance of the census via social media.
“One errant tweet could shake public confidence and in the process depress participation and undermine faith in the results, conceivably all the way to the halls of Congress,” Lowenthal said.
Census advocates are eyeing several other threats to the decennial count and its yearly counterpart, the American Community Survey. The ACS is sent yearly to about 1 in 38 households to collect demographic data on everything from employment and home-ownership to educational attainment.
Republications in Congress are pushing to make participation in the ACS voluntary which could severely damage the data, says John C. Yang, president and executive director of the non-profit advocacy group Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
“The ACS updates the Census throughout the decade. As such it is required by law and must remain so to provide the vital info needed from our communities,” Yang said, emphasizing that the ACS is the only source for detailed data of ethnic subgroups, such as Vietnamese of Chinese descent.
Census advocates are also on high alert because an unsigned leaked executive order, titled “Protecting American Workers from Immigrant Labor,” referenced a directive to the Census Bureau to collect data on immigration status.
Advocates are alarmed by the intentions behind this unsigned order.
“Latinos and other immigrant families are keenly aware of heightened immigrant enforcement actions in their communities, and this may increase distrust in contact with public agencies including the Census Bureau,” Vargas said.