Sara Ramirez is a Mexican-American singer, songwriter, and actress. Her father was of Mexican ancestry while her mother was Mexican and Irish-American. Sara was born in Mazatlan, Sinaloa but relocated when she was young to Tierrasanta, San Diego with her mother when her parents divorced. She is fluent in English and Spanish. Sara graduated from the San Diego School of Creative Performing Arts and then in 1997 graduated from Julliard School of Drama. Sara Ramirez is most known for her role as Dr. Callie Torres on the drama television series Grey’s Anatomy. She was the original Lady of the Lake in the 2005 Broadway musical Spamalot in which she won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a musical. In October of 2016 Sara was a speaker at the True Colors: 40 to none Summit, which focuses on LGBT youth homelessness across our country. “So many of our youth experiencing homelessness are youth whose lives touch on many intersections- whether they be gender identify, gender expression, race, class, sexual orientation, religion, citizenship status, and because of the intersections that exist in my own life- woman, multiracial woman, woman of color, queer, bisexual, Mexican-Irish American, immigrant and raised by families heavily rooted in Catholicism on both my Mexican and Irish sides- I am deeply invested in projects that allow our youth’s voices to be heard, and that support our youth in owning their own complex narratives so that we can show up for them in the ways they need us to.”
Makensie Shay McDaniel
Project RACE Teens president
A Washington Bad Cop/Bad Cop Story
Susan Graham for Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally)
Everyone knows about the U.S. Census Bureau (CB), but not everyone has heard of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The CB counts important things in the United States, including people—by things like race and ethnicity. The OMB decides what race and ethnicity people can be in the United States. They are both bad cops. Sometimes they try and play a game called Bad Cop/Good Cop, in which they go back and forth trying to get the public to place blame on the other. The 2020 Decennial Census is only a few years away. Planning for it takes a great deal of time and actually began as soon as the 2010 Census results were made public.
The CB recently released its recommendations for approval by the OMB. Project RACE had attempted to have input into both the CB and OMB by letting them know how we wanted the multiracial population to be listed, counted, known, treated, etc. The CB pretended to be the Good Cops and pretty much said they cared what we had to say. OMB played the Bad Cops and would not return our calls, email, letters, etc. or answer our questions.
I will cover some of the more salient requests and salacious responses to revisions to OMB’s Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. Most of the items had nothing to do with the multiracial population, so first I’ll cover those that did. It’s a very short list.
- In addition to people being able to check all of their races, we gave many examples of how to include the term “multiracial,” which is very important. Correct wording in race and ethnicity is very important, particularly for children. Just ask the people who were once “Colored,” then “Negro,” then “Black,” and now “African American.” Yes, terminology is important. However, CB and OMB will not call the multiracial community “multiracial.” We were denied even though they were taking “Relevance of Terminology” into consideration. For the next ten years, we will remain the “two or more races.”
- Some people write in “multiracial,” “biracial,” “mixed” or some other term instead of checking the little boxes. They should be put in the category of what is called “two or more races.” They are not. They will be placed in the “Some other race” category. They will not be multiracial. Denied again.
- It appears that the way the race question is asked is important, although not important enough to use the wording that our community wants. What they have decided is this. Drumroll please. Instead of instructing people to “Mark all that apply,” we will be instructed to “Select all that apply.” That’s what we got. We’ll know when we see our 2020 Census forms.
Project RACE is not recommending that our members bother to write further comments to the Census Bureau or the Office of Management and Budget at this time.
So there we have it. If you’re interested, a few other interesting things having less or nothing to do with the multiracial population were put forth for further input. Well, not really. CB and OMB have actually already decided on the following points, but they very quietly put out a Federal Register notice for comment.
- A new category will be added for Middle Eastern or North African people. The acronym is MENA. You can be a MENA person or you can still report more than one. By the way, Israelis are now Middle Eastern. If I had been checking say “White” for my entire life, but was now given the choice to be MENA, I would probably check white and MENA, but that’s just me. They still don’t seem to know if a MENA will be a racial or ethnic category.
- The Subgroup proposes that OMB issue specific guidelines for the collection of detailed data for American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White groups for self-reported race and ethnicity collections. However, the Subgroup plans to continue its deliberations as to whether OMB should require or, alternatively, strongly support but not require Federal agencies to collect detailed data. If you know what this means, please let me know.
- Should it use the NCT format, which includes separately Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Chamorro, Tongan, Fijian, and Marshallese? If neither of these, how should OMB select the detailed Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander race and ethnicity categories? Apparently, these small populations are more important than the multiracial population.
- Relevance of Terminology: The Subgroup proposes that the term “Negro” be removed from the standards. Further, the Subgroup recommends that the term “Far East” be removed from the current standards.
- The Subgroup proposes further clarifying the standards to indicate the classification is not intended to be genetically based, nor based on skin color. Rather, the goal of standards is to provide guidelines for the Federal measurement of race/ethnicity as a social construct and therefore inform public policy decisions.
- The Subgroup also considered whether referring to Black or African American as the “principal minority race” is still relevant, meaningful, accurate, and acceptable. Given that many of the groups classified as racial and ethnic minorities have experienced institutionalized or State-sanctioned discrimination as well as social disadvantage and oppression, many consider it to be important to continue identifying the principal minority group in Federal data collections and reporting systems. However, it is not clear if the referent groups should change given changing demographics. Whew!
- Should Hispanic or Latino be among the groups considered among “principal minorities”? Would alternative terms be more salient (g., “principal minority race/ethnicity”)? Hispanic or Latino usually is considered an ethnicity while “minority” is usually used when referencing race.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Project RACE, Inc.
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:
- Whether to continue to have one category for Hispanic origin and one for race, or one combined answer;
- Have a distinct new category for respondents of Middle Eastern or North African heritage (MENA);
- The description of the intended use of minimum reporting categories; and
- 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
via Huffington Post
By Alexander Jasienowski
As a young girl, I remember my grandfather saying to me, “You’re black, you’re black, you’re black. It doesn’t matter how much white blood you have, you’ll always be, and always be seen as black.” My black grandfather said the words but my white relatives reinforced the message with their actions.
Growing up with a black mom and a white dad has been central to my life experience. I struggled to fully fit into one identity as each side of my family imposed its views on my identity. The black side of my family said it directly: I could never completely fit into the white community. My white grandfather, aunts and cousins were never comfortable enough to directly confront the strain that race placed on our relationships. Yet the tension of race always slipped into our encounters.
When we were young, my father would regularly take my sister and me to visit his family in upstate New York. Looking back, these memories are tinged by recollections of strange behaviors. One day, after my sister and I took one of our many swims down to the lighthouse, my aunt looked at our hair and said, “your hair is too wild, it’s so difficult!” I cringed — her words filled me with disgust and frustration. The behaviors of my father’s family continually pointed to this singular difference of race — when they gave us skin colored band-aids (which were actually too dark for our skin tone), volumes and volumes of Temptations CDs, and the strangest gift of all, eleven black dolls dressed in different animal costumes. With each visit upstate, my feelings of discomfort became stronger. My sister and I were always included in the family, but there was a growing sense of awkwardness that seemed to justify the words of my black grandfather. No matter how hard my white relatives tried to make it appear that they were comfortable with our racial differences, their behavior ultimately helped push me to choose an identity, black.
The choice proved to be complicated. I began to identify as black internally, and at the same time, externally, I was still seeking acceptance from the white community. Early on, I used my hair as a way to conform to white expectations. I tamed my wild curly locks by straightening them, changing an aspect of myself so that I would blend in with my friends at school. Gradually, I realized that more of my friends were people of color, and I experienced a level of comfort I had never felt before. By the end of 9th grade, after years of conforming to the expectations of others, I let my hair go natural, freeing both my hair and myself. Feeling liberated, I felt a new sense of confidence and pride in my multiracial identity as I embraced my black heritage more than my white roots. I made this choice under pressure from both my black and white sides. They made it seem that one culture had to dominate.
Looking back, having to make a choice at all is unsettling. In making one side dominant, I abandoned a piece of myself. People shouldn’t feel that it is necessary to abandon a part of their identity in order to be accepted.
Now, identifying as multiracial, I am learning to get beyond the pressures that were placed upon me as a young girl. While my connection and sense of affinity with the African-American community grows increasingly stronger, I continue to lean into my multiracial identity, although I sometimes feel a lingering sense of unease. I work through these vulnerabilities by reaching out and supporting others who seem to be experiencing similar struggles. Every now and then, I feel the urge to safely lock away my curls, but I do not give in to this temptation.
Alexander Jasinowski, a graduate from The Spence School, graduated from Pitzer College last Saturday
Multiracial Heritage Week 2016 has been fantastic! Thanks so much to the following:
- All of the volunteers across the country who helped make MHW16 such a success by contacting their governors.
- The state lawmakers and their staffs for all the help with proclamations and resolutions.
- The media for giving us local and national coverage.
- Kelly Baldwin for all she does for multiracial children and interracial families.
- Karson Baldwin, President of Project RACE Kids, who can always be counted on to do whatever is needed.
- Our wonderful Project RACE Teens, especially Lexi Brock and Makensie McDaniel co-presidents and Dionna Roberson, VP.
- Patti Barry, our Project RACE Grandparents President.
- Filmmaker Tay Erikson for the best video ever!
- The Project RACE Advisory Board for all your help and great advice.
- The K&F Baxter Family Foundation for funding us for so many Multiracial Heritage Week efforts.
- The anonymous donor, you know who you are, what you gave and how grateful we are.
- All of our wonderful families who make it possible for us to do our work.
- My son, Ryan, for always giving me good advice.
- My husband, Sam; my pup, Sonny; and Kim Carlucci, all of whom took excellent care of me so I could thank all of you.
Dear Presidential Hopefuls:
We, the American Public, know by now that you all have stands on various issues: Muslims, immigration, guns, education, and the list goes on. You have all also weighed in on your favorite “diversity and inclusion” beliefs. Donald Trump likes you just fine, as long as you’re not really that different from his folks. Ted Cruz already invited his chums at organizations like the Congressional Black Caucus to a nice get-together. I just can’t say anything about Ben Carson. I think Bernie Sanders would like us, because Bernie Sanders likes just about everybody. Hilary Clinton is, well, she is a Clinton and although I have a letter in my office signed by her husband when he was President, all he really wrote was “good luck with that.”
That is a national non-profit organization that advocates for multiracial children. Huh? You think. What is there to advocate about? After all, our President, Barack Obama, is multiracial and look at how well he’s doing. But, and this is a big but, he does not self-identify as multiracial. He usually calls himself black, although African American would not be inaccurate, since his father was actually from Kenya. I completely respect and understand his choice. When he was a young boy, living in Hawaii with his white mother and white grandparents, people did not have a choice. The “one-drop rule” prevailed and that meant if you have one drop of black blood, you would be considered black. There was no way to designate a person as multiracial.
Then in 1990, many of us began to wonder about having no choices when it came to your own identity and thought we would take that on. My multiracial son and I started an organization and called it Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally) and took on race in America. We are now in our 25th year and we were informed by Pew Research that we have about 17 million Americans in the United States who self-identify as “multiracial.” We know that 17 million is a drop in the bucket when it comes to winning the national vote, but I think we could help deliver some of those votes.
Here is what I have in mind. Rent our non-profit, 501 (C) (3) corporation and make us one of your pet causes. You’ve got the recognition we need to continue to make progress for the multiracial community, and we have a pretty good rating in social media. Maybe some of our members never thought of voting for you. We have support from Democratic and Republican Governors in states who have signed our legislation and give us resolutions every year for National Multiracial Heritage Week, which is June 7th to 14, this year your advance planning purposes.
We have had great successes over the years, and we have weathered losses. But this is a new day! You can rent our support and really have solid “inclusion” in your “diversity” plans as President. You can help put our poor, struggling little organization get on the map nationally. It’s such a win/win. So, have your people call our people.
Jasmine Guy- Was born in Boston, Massachusetts on March 10, 1962. She is an actress, singer, dancer, and television director. She is famously known for her character, Whitley Marion Gilbert-Wayne on the television show A Different World. She won four consecutive image awards for her lead actress role in the comedy series.
Guy’s father is African American and her mother is white. She was raised in Georgia in an affluent neighborhood in Atlanta. She attended North Atlanta High School which used to be Northside Performing Arts High School. At the age of seventeen she moved to New York City to study dance at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center.
She was asked in Essence magazine if she grew up with any identity issues. Guy’s response, “Not as much because we were raised as Black kids and it was explained to us early as to why. I grew up in Atlanta where there was so much of a positive Black influence on us. We grew up being proud. Now it’s different. People embrace both sides of their heritage. I didn’t grow up that way. There wasn’t a biracial-box especially in the south. You were either black or white. “
There is a thirty eight year age difference between Jasmine Guy and me and there has been change that I am thankful for. I am glad that I don’t have to choose and that I can embrace my entire heritage being extremely proud of both of my races.
Makensie Shay McDaniel
Project RACE Teens President
Karson did a great interview with SwirlNation! Click on the link to read it.