Congratulations to PR Kids President, Karson Baldwin, for winning the Youth Service America “Everyday Young Hero” Award for his work with Project RACE. YSA believes in youth changing the world. Working with partners around the world, YSA helps young people find their voice, take action, and make an impact on vital community issues. Sounds an awful lot like what our Project RACE Teens and Project RACE Kids leaders are all about.
In YSA’s words, “Project RACE Kids wants kids to feel great about who they are and identify with ALL of their heritage! #EverydayYoungHero Karson Baldwin!”
That’s EXACTLY right, YSA! Thank you, for the accolade and for helping to spread awareness of Project RACE!
- Kids who know it’s what’s on the inside that counts!
- Kids who are proud of ALL they are and believe that YOU should be proud of all YOU are too.
- Kids who are willing to stand up and make a difference.
- Kids who refuse to be invisible.
This awesome group of 8 to 12 year old boys and girls believe that you’re never too young to take action for what you believe in.
They come from New Jersey, California, Texas, Colorado and Ohio. Most, but not all are multiracial. Among them are honor students, basketball players, a track star, a gymnast, dancers, a snowboarder, musicians, a hiker, a golfer, a published illustrator and a kid who swam with dolphins! We also have twins on the Krew!
We are very excited about the contributions that this group will be making to the great work of Project RACE Kids President Karson Baldwin and the PRK membership.
Congratulations to you all!
From Project RACE Kids President, Karson Baldwin:
Well, so far I’m having a great time leading Project RACE Kids! I already got to do a radio show, which was pretty cool and to help with our launch party, which was awesome. And now, I get to review some books that we think are great for multiracial kids!
Cherrye S. Vasquez is an author and the mom of a multiracial kid like me! She sent me three books to review. Two of them are workbooks that you can fill out, Affirmation Daybookand Diversity Daybook. Teachers can use these with their class, or parents can go through them with their kids and talk about it during family time. I liked them both! Even though they are workbooks you don’t feel like you’re doing homework when you do them. They are actually really fun and they are easy because you are mostly writing about yourself, your goals and what makes you special. Sometimes kids get discouraged about little things, but answering these questions gets you thinking about what’s awesome about you on the inside and the outside. It makes you feel really happy and reminds you that you can do something great.
The other book she sent is, No Tildes on Tuesday, a chapter book about a multiracial girl named Isabella. Isabella’s dad is Mexican and her mom is white. She lives in a mostly white neighborhood and doesn’t speak Spanish or know a lot about the Mexican side of her heritage. But everything changes for her when her family moves to an area where there are mostly Hispanic people. I wanted Isabella to feel like I do about being multiracial, that it doesn’t stop me from fitting in, it helps me fit in! So, I was really happy for Isabella when she began to learn about and love both sides of who she is.
PROJECT RACE KIDS FOR MULTIRACIAL CHILDREN AGES 8 TO 12 HAS LAUNCHED! You can view the video of our great party at:
ANNOUNCING THE LAUNCH OF PROJECT RACE KIDS AND A NEW PROJECT RACE TEENS PRESIDENT!
We are very pleased to announce the launch of Project RACE Kids with President Karson Baldwin! We will dearly miss Project RACE Teens current President, Kendall Baldwin, and wish her the best as she leaves us to attend Harvard. We are equally as excited about the new Teens President, Olivia Mukendi!
Launch parties are taking place on the East Coast and the West Coast today–so let’s get started and check here soon and often for more news!
Announcing Project RACE Kids!
Project RACE Kids is almost ready to go! The official launch is July 15, 2012. We have a surprise for you! Karson Baldwin has been named president of Project RACE Kids. Karson and his mother, Kelly, will be on Mixed Race Radio at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/defaultpii2-5on WEDNESDAY, JULY 11th at noon until 12:45 EST. Below is Karson’s very professional bio:
Karson Baldwin has grown up with Project RACE (his oldest sister became President of Teen Project RACE when Karson was just 4 years old) and starting PR Kids was his great idea! “I wanted to be a part of Project RACE Teens, but I’m not a teen yet. So, I asked if we could start an organization and website for all us multiracial kids,” he said. Karson is a great student and loves to research all kinds of things. He has worked as an actor and model appearing in catalogs, commercials, movies and t.v. shows. He plays basketball every day and is a NBA and NCAA hoops fanatic. One of his proudest moments came earlier this year when he shot the game winning buzzer beater from half court!
We are very excited about Karson and Project RACE Kids! Kids ages 8 to 12 now have a safe place to talk about everything multiracial! Join us.
Sick Children and Unhealthy Multiracial Politics
Project RACE began in Atlanta 22 years ago and the worst part of the day-to-day work comes with the realization that some very unhealthy politics are going on with sick children. I reached my limit today when I realized the politics crosses not only racial and ethnic lines, but in ways we never imagined.
A meaningful explanation means a look back. In the 1990s, we became aware of children suffering and dying with diseases of the blood such as leukemia. A well-known baseball player, Rod Carew, had three daughters and one of them, Michelle, was very sick. Rod was black, specifically of Panamanian descent and his wife was white, specifically of Polish and Jewish heritage. Their three daughters were multiracial.
A person who has a blood-related illness, such as cancer of the blood, lymphoma, or sickle cell anemia and who does not respond to treatments like chemotherapy, musthave a bone marrow transplant to survive, or utilize cord blood, which is normally discarded after childbirth. In the 1990s, cord blood was just becoming a viable option. To find a donor of Michelle’s specific combined background would not be easy. The usual first attempt is to find a donor who is related to the patient. Michelle’s two sisters were found to be ideal matches for each other, but neither matched their sister. Strike one for Michelle. A search for an unrelated donor began.
We knew little at Project RACE about donor matching at the time. Always an advocate, I spoke with people who did know and was directed to call UNOS, the United Network for Organ Sharing. UNOS is by its own definition “the private, non-profit organization that manages the nation’s organ transplant system under contract with the federal government.” They handle the database that manages all types of organ donation: hearts, lungs, bone marrow, tissue, livers, etc.
Of all donations, bone marrow is the only one that crosses racial and ethnic lines. In other words, you can get a kidney, blood transfusion, and other organs from anyone who matches the usual criteria, but for bone marrow, you must have a racial and ethnic match. The exact medical explanation is simple and I try to stay out of technical discussions of HLA (human leukocyte antigen) tissue typing and science. Yes, on a conscious, emotional level, we are all the same, yet there is a genetically undeniable difference when it comes to marrow matching.
Close contact between UNOS and the multiracial community should be important. However, we were not well-received by them. They would not even help us by allowing multiracial people to check a multiracial box on their donor forms. I did not understand it at the time, but the directors of UNOS told us they did not wish to deal with our specific community and we were shut out. Strike two for Michelle.
We thought if we held our own bone marrow donor drives and put the results into the UNOS database, all would be well. We found out that it’s not easy to just hold a donor drive. You must get trained medical personnel, a venue to hold it, sanitary conditions, and lots and lots of paperwork. It all would take time and Michelle’s body did not have the time. Strike three. Michelle died.
We held 17 bone marrow donor drives throughout the United States in one year. There is no telling how many lives we helped save, if any. We do know that we enlarged the pool of multiracial donors. UNOS still shut us out. Never-the-less, we continued.
Then, in the early 2000s, things began to change. We stopped hearing about UNOS and began hearing about an organization called “Be the Match,” which someone told us was a part of UNOS. Be the Match seemed more willing to work with us. Meanwhile, UNOS still refused to work with us or answer any questions. It turned out that “Be the Match” was a part of NMDP, the National Marrow Donor Program, not UNOS. NMDP claims to be the global leader in the world of donor politics.
We are not investigative journalists at Project RACE and all that really mattered to us then, as now, is that multiracial children are being best served by the medical community and as many lives as possible are saved. We held bone marrow donor drives with organizations like The American Red Cross and City of Hope, and Community Blood Banks. We do what we can.
Then in 2009, a little girl by the name of Shannon Tavarez became very ill. Her story received national attention because she played the role of Nala in The Lion King on Broadway. We were asked by a friend of the family to help find a donor. Enter yet another transplant organization, DKMS in New York. When I called them to offer help, they informed me that they were “in charge” of Shannon’s donor search and they would be the ones to help. The upper management people I spoke to at DKMS informed me that they were exclusive representatives for Shannon, appointed as such by her family. I was shocked and started to wonder why any potential life-saving help would be turned away. It didn’t make any sense.
DKMS bills itself as “the world’s largest bone marrow donor center.” We did some checking and found out they are based in Germany. They also state in the fine print that if you register and donate through them, you are added to the NMDP registry, which is basically Be the Match. But, Be the Match carefully makes it clear that they are not affiliated with DKMS. All of this is very unclear. Shannon’s mother’s heritage was African American, and her father was Hispanic, from the Dominican Republic. A cord blood donation was found, the transplant was successful, but Shannon died on November 1, 2010 from other complications. She was 11 years old.
The worst part of my job as executive director of Project RACE is hearing that a child has died. The business of saving lives and the apparent politicsthat have developed with organizations wanting exclusive rights to any child’s life is just wrong. Every time a new search is started, we begin the fight all over again. Every time, I wonder about the politics and tell myself it can’t continue.
At one point, I tried to understand why organizations like Be the Match don’t go to the place of birth as the starting point for a possible donor, especially if it would be another country. Why didn’t they try to have donor drives in the Dominican Republic for Shannon? Answers were hard to come by and included that most third world countries don’t have sanitary conditions that would allow for the necessary cheek-swabs. Language barriers and international politics also came to the forefront.
So what about DKMS, a German organization? Someone finally told me that Germany has the highest percentage of registered potential bone marrow donors than any other country. Why? Apparently, children are very well educated in Germany about the importance of signing up as donors. The schools teach the basic principals and reasons for them to become donors. I have been told that when German schoolchildren turn 18, they register to become donors on their birthdays, much the same as American children getting their drivers’ license! Why are we not following the German model?
Today I read about a 12 year old Vietnamese boy who lives in Georgia, not far from where Project RACE started. Noah has acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He was adopted by a white family, so it is known that a match won’t come from his adoptive family. I decided that even though Noah is not known to be multiracial, maybe we could help just by virtue of the fact that we have national members in locations where there could be large Vietnamese populations.
I’m a pretty good researcher, but after several hours, I could not find any contact information for this boy or his family. I sent an email to every email address in every article I could find to try to reach Noah’s family. Yet, every single time, the email came back as undeliverable.. Perhaps the family became leery of organizations that tried to contact them. Maybe they were told that an “exclusive” arrangement was best for Noah. I honestly have no idea. I only know that unhealthy politics must stop.
Susan Graham for Project RACE
Multiracial kid are Data!
Comment of the Day
Doesn’t anyone shudder at the way our children have become ‘data’?
Source: EDWEEK Updte: July 3, 2012