New People – Book Review

Book Review

New People by Danzy Senna

New People

New People is about a multiracial woman named Maria. These are some of the terms she uses for multiracial people:

Miscellaneous People

Mulatto (her favorite word, which means little mule) and Mulatta

Multiracial

Biracial

The “N” Word

Odd, twisted girls

Racially nebulous

Quadroon

Negro

Born again black people

Butterscotch

Mestizo Abandoner

Mixed

“Everything” and

my least favorite, “Mutt.”

She also says things like, “Being black and looking white was enough of a freak show” and “He was embracing his black identity.” Apparently, biracial people can absolutely not embrace their white identity. So passing for black is fine; passing for white is not.

 

It’s as if the author, Danzy Senna, had plugged biracial into every thesaurus she could find and then used the words over and over ad nauseam. Maria measures everything and everyone by race and wouldn’t you know she is engaged to a biracial man, but falls for a black poet. I suppose that’s the premise of the book. By the way, the term New People was not invented by Senna. It was also a magazine that was started in the 1980s by Yvette Walker-Hollis.

 

I realize that a lot of readers think this book is quite funny. A review in Essence magazine thinks it’s hysterical. There is that. I also watched a new “comedy” on Netflix last week with a biracial character. Many “jokes” were made at his expense because he was biracial. His mother repeats several times that she hopes for “butterscotch babies.” Why is it suddenly OK to make jokes about the multiracial community?

 

When I read fiction, I ask myself about a quarter into the book if I care about the characters. In New People, I knew by page 14 that I didn’t care what happened to these people. I re-check half way through and with this book, things only got worse. Other reviewers of Danzy Senna’s works do not share my opinion. She and her book are being heavily promoted and praised. She is clearly the biracial darling of the moment. I read most books about multiracial people because of my work with Project RACE and the multiracial community. I can honestly say no person I have ever met—multiracial or otherwise—is preoccupied 100 percent of the time with race, like Maria. They are usually the people who scream, “There is no such thing as race because it’s a social construct,” but they are the same people who give you an entire host of words about the multiracial community. You may want to think about that for a moment.

 

To be fair, if you are looking for a book that presents an entire population as screwed up, also with no scientific basis, New People should fit into your life perfectly.

 

Susan Graham

 

Famous Friday

Ne-Yo

NeYo

Ne-Yo was born in Camden Arkansas as Shaffer Chimere Smith. He is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and actor. His parents were both musicians. His father is of African American and Chinese descent and his mother is African American. When he was younger his parents separated and he moved with his mother to Las Vegas, Nevada where he was raised and given more opportunities.  Ne-Yo has had great success in the entertainment industry evidenced by hit songs that have topped the charts from all over the world. He was a featured artist on Beyonce’s Irreplaceable song and Rihanna’s Take a Bow.  Ne-Yo has won three Grammy Awards. He was recently a judge on Jennifer Lopez’s new NBC show, World of Dance.

 

Makensie Shay McDaniel

Project RACE Teens Co-President

(Photo Credit: Rap-up.com)

Famous Friday

Famous Friday: DeShone Kizer

Deshone Kizer and Family
Last week my hometown Cleveland Browns played their 2017 preseason home opener against the New Orleans Saints and, man was I excited to get a look at our second round draft pick, DeShone Kizer. He did great. In June, Kizer signed a four-year, $4.94 million contract with the Browns that includes $2.42 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $1.73 million. But the starting QB slot for the Browns is still very much up for grabs.

The strong-armed 6’4″ Kizer is working hard to grab it and his performance last week may go a long way! He has been trying to show his grasp of Hue Jackson’s offense. He’s returning to the field following practice for extra work. He has run additional sprints and simulated plays he didn’t get to run in practice all by himself. Bud Shaw of Cleveland.com said, “If there were a bucket and a squeegee, he’d turn his attention to the practice facility’s windows.”

“[The coaches] have a good idea of when a quarterback is ready to go out there,” Kizer said. “I think the way that they’ve thrown me into the fire in the last couple months has allowed me to grow quickly and to become comfortable pretty fast.”

Kizer grew up in nearby Toledo, Ohio with his parents, Mindy and Derek, brother, Dayven and sister, Maelyn. Both of his siblings are still in high school. Dad Derek was a college basketball player and DeShone followed in his father’s footsteps by playing basketball in high school, but he also played baseball and football, which kept him busy year round. His high school coach thought he could have been a top collegiate basketball player, but thankfully for Cleveland fans, he chose to pursue football at the next level. DeShone played college ball at Notre Dame and as he began his career in the NFL said, “I will forever be Irish at heart.”

And, one of the youngest players on the team, at just 21 years old he surely has a bright future ahead in pro football. Many believe he’s going to be one of the great ones! After last week, I’m a believer. And I sure hope so, because the Browns have been waiting a long time.

— Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Teens Co-President

Photo Source: heavy.com

Project RACE Denounces White Supremacy

Project RACE Denounces White Supremacy

The Board of Directors of Project RACE denounces white supremacy, white nationalists, and neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan, white nationalists, and the “alt-right” for their blatant racism and hate rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over the past weekend. Project RACE will always stand against any persons who threaten the multiracial community and any other minority group.

The hateful speech and deplorable actions by a few resulted in deaths and injuries and must be stopped before they are allowed to thrive and spread violence. We acknowledge President Trump’s later comments about the situation, but vehemently and negatively respond to his spreading the blame to “many sides.” There are not many sides to this evil behavior. There is right and there is wrong. The evil events of the weekend included domestic terrorism, which calls for complete and swift investigation and severe repercussions.

Some of the protesters shouted “blood and soil,” (“Blut und Boden”) a Nazi rallying cry that stresses that ethnic identity is based on only pure blood descent and the territory in which an individual lives.

Project RACE stands firm with other groups and individuals that resolve to swiftly take any necessary and peaceful solutions to cease hateful speech and actions by white nationalists and other extremist groups.

Ten Reasons

Ten Reasons Why White Mothers Can Raise Multiracial Children:

by Susan Graham

Ryan and me

  1. We conceived or adopted our children and we knew exactly what we were doing.
  1. We are fully capable of raising our children as equals with their other monoracial or multiracial siblings.
  1. We do not have to be the same color as our child to give them the history and knowledge of their other ancestry or ancestries.
  1. We know how to say, “No thank you; my child does not need you to tell her what she is.”
  1. We know and respect how President Obama chose to self-identify (as black). He could have identified as multiracial, but that wasn’t his Do not “Barack Obama” my multiracial children.
  1. We can say without laughing, “Yes, I’m the mom. Want to set up a play date for our kids?”
  1. We can say, “I learned how to do my child’s hair” or “I found it was easier to have someone else do my daughter’s hair.”
  1. We will stand up for our children’s right to be included on forms that require racial and ethnic identity.
  1. We fully understand the question, “What are they?” We can choose to answer any way we like and can explain one more time that the thing called the one-drop rule is not a law.
  1. We can happily live without you if you’ve programmed your family to be uncomfortable around our family.

 

Famous Friday!

Famous Friday: Steph Curry
<> on June 15, 2017 in Oakland, California.

 on June 15, 2017 in Oakland, California.

As a Clevelander and huge Cavs fan, it hurts to write this, but this week’s Famous Friday is Steph Curry. Wardell Stephen Curry was born on March 14, 1988 in Akron, OH, in the same hospital where the King, Lebron James, was born.  As of this week he is also a two time NBA Champion. Sadly, on Monday night the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers to take the NBA championship. Steph is also a 2 two time NBA MVP, 4 time NBA all-star, and one the leagues most famed players. The Warriors may not be my team, but I can give credit where it’s due and Steph and his team played an incredible season and deserve the title.
There’s a lot of talk about Steph’s race, which my research tells me is African American and Creole, but today when they ask  the question so many of us get, “what is Steph Curry?” The answer is simply “Champion”!

Thank you!

MHW Collage 2017

Thank you to everyone who helped make Multiracial Heritage Week a success again this year!

Since its inception in 2014, we have received state proclamations from Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Washington, DC. This year we also reached out to city mayors in addition to states. We held numerous celebrations and special events for the children throughout the United States because at Project RACE, it’s about the kids! We gave them “skin tones of the world” multicultural crayons with paper plates to draw their own faces, also librarians and Project RACE members read them stories. Additional thanks go out to Patti Barry, Kim Carlucci and Carolyn Brajkovich for all their help. We could not have done it without you!

Multiracial up to 14 Percent!

The rise of multiracial and multiethnic babies in the U.S.

The FINANCIAL — One-in-seven U.S. infants (14%) were multiracial or multiethnic in 2015, nearly triple the share in 1980, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. This increase comes nearly a half century after the landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia legalized interracial marriage.

Multiracial or multiethnic infants include children less than 1 year old whose parents are each of a different race, those with one Hispanic and one non-Hispanic parent, and those with at least one parent who identifies as multiracial. This analysis is limited to infants living with two parents because census data on the race and ethnicity of parents is only available for those living in the same home. In 2015, this was the case for 62% of all infants.

The rapid rise in the share of infants who are multiracial or multiethnic has occurred hand-in-hand with the growth in marriages among spouses of different races or ethnicities. In 1980, 7% of all newlyweds were in an intermarriage, and by 2015, that share had more than doubled to 17%, according to a recently released Pew Research Center report. Both trends are likely spurred in part by the growing racial and ethnic diversity in the U.S.

The general public seems mostly accepting of the trend toward more children having parents of different races. In a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, 22% of U.S. adults said more children with parents of different races was a good thing for society, while half as many (11%) thought it was a bad thing. The majority (65%) thought that this trend didn’t make much of a difference.

Among all multiracial and multiethnic infants living with two parents, by far the largest portion have one parent who is Hispanic and one who is non-Hispanic white (42%). The next largest share of these infants (22%) have at least one parent who identifies as multiracial, while 14% have one parent who is non-Hispanic white and another who is Asian.

The share of infants in two-parent homes who have parents of different races or ethnicities varies dramatically across states. For example, 44% of infants in Hawaii are multiracial or multiethnic. Shares are also high in Oklahoma and Alaska (28%). At the same time, just 4% of children younger than 1 in Vermont are multiracial or multiethnic, as are 6% of those in North Dakota, Maine, Mississippi and West Virginia.

Source: The Financial

Affirmative Action?

Affirmative Action?

by

Susan Graham for Project RACE

If you think multiracial people have racial and ethnic problems in the United States, just look at what’s happening in Brazil. Forty-three percent of Brazilians self-identify as part pardo or brown. In the United States, multiracial people are about seven percent of the population. Their census has 136 classifications and ours has 57 for multiracial combinations.

Brazilians often do not identify as white or black, but fall into an assortment of names like dark nut, burnt white, and copper. It reminds me of the 1990s in the United States, when the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was actually considering a “skin gradation chart” for their racial categories. Thank goodness that didn’t happen.

Brazil has a very complex history, which I won’t go into here, but 5.5 million Africans were forcibly transported to Brazil in its story of slavery. They have never been and are now no closer to a color-blind society than we are.

Affirmative action is very scary in Brazil. Many multiracial Brazilians are being rejected or thrown out of affirmative action programs for being too white. Whether you agree with the basics of affirmative action or not, will what’s happening in Brazil ever happen to us in the United States? Will affirmative action bite the dust rather than try to qualify its participants?

Schools there are setting up race boards to inspect future educational and job applicants, It may surprise you to learn that Louisiana, in fact, had “race clerks” to maintain the one-drop rule and ensure racial “purity” until 1977.  The race boards in Brazil may be the law soon. About 25 students were recently expelled from one of the leading universities for “defrauding” the affirmative action system when they were found to be not “black enough.”

One of the points we won in the 1990s in the United States was for self-identification on the census and on all other forms requiring racial and ethnic information. It was a very important victory, as important as having the ability to check more than one race. We should never forget that it was a huge win from the previous observer identification policy. In Brazil, people can self-identify, but identification is very different in Brazil, as F. James Davis wrote in Who is Black, “The implied rule is that a person is classified into one of many possible types on the basis of physical appearance and by class standing, not by ancestry.” There is a big difference in the way the two countries count by race.

The criteria used by those universities and employers in Brazil are indeed scary and include the following: Is the candidate’s nose short, wide and flat? How thick are their lips? Are their gums sufficiently purple? What about their lower jaw? Does it protrude forward? Candidates can be awarded points per item, like “hair type” and “skull shape.” So, the laws stipulate that an applicant’s race should be self-reported, but then accuses them of lying for affirmative action purposes. Many of these students are resorting to something called the Fitzpatrick scale that grades skin tone from one to seven, or whitest to darkest. It’s something we would, hopefully, never tolerate in the United States. Yet, the race commissions in Brazil have a lot of support from the black community.

The United States must be aware of the tactics utilized in Brazil and we have to learn from them. If affirmative action remains alive in our country, let’s make sure it is fair for our multiracial population.

 

 

No Do-Overs on 2020 Census

‘There are no Do-Overs’ – Advocates Sound Alarm on 2020 Census

 &#8216;There are no Do-Overs&#8217; - Advocates Sound Alarm on 2020 Census

“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.