It’s Famous Friday!

Deb Haaland

One of the most notable newcomers to emerge in the groundbreaking November 2018 midterm elections is U.S. House of Representatives freshman Democrat, Debra Haaland. Deb, who represents New Mexico’s 1st district, is (along with Sharice Davids) one of the first two Native American women to serve in Congress.

She is also multiracial! Congresswoman Haaland’s father, J.D. “Dutch” Haaland was Norwegian-American and her mother, Mary Toya, Laguna of Pueblo. Haaland is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe and identifies as a 35th-generation New Mexican.

Both of Haaland’s parents served in the US military, her dad in the Marines and her mom in the Navy.  Like many military kids, Deb and her four siblings grew up living all around the United States. Her father served in the Marines during Vietnam and was awarded a Silver Star Medal as a hero who saved the lives of some of his fellow Marines. He is buried with full military honors in the famed Arlington National Cemetery. The diverse experiences she had growing up in various locations across the country and sometimes on a Native American reservation, and other times in a boxcar in Arizona, gave her insight and perspectives on the country’s strengths and challenges that have prepared her to serve her Native American community, her state and the country as a whole.

Her election victory is even more meaningful in light of where she comes from. New Mexico was the last state to enfranchise Native Americans, not granting the right to vote to Native Americans until 1962.

“Seventy years ago, Native Americans right here in New Mexico couldn’t vote,” Haaland told supporters at a recent rally. “Growing up in my mother’s pueblo household and as a 35th generation New Mexican, I never imagined a world where I would be represented by someone who looks like me.”

Haaland has a progressive platform and is setting out to focus on issues that effect Native Americans. Violence against women, environmental issues, education and healthcare are a few of her top priorities. She has already been vocal about immigration issues and her opposition to the racially charged remarks made by President Trump about presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.

When Trump referenced the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890 as a stab at Warren, Haaland responded, “That was such a dark part of American history. Over 300 men, women and children were killed, and it’s nothing to joke about. He just has the worst, worst, worst taste. Doesn’t know our history. It was appalling.”

Before running for Congress, Deb worked on dozens of local and state campaigns. She also worked on Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and served as chair of New Mexico’s Democratic Party. She has done great work to mobilize underrepresented people to vote.

Haaland majored in English at the University of New Mexico and later went to UNM law school. Deb is a single mom to a 24 year old daughter, Somah. Rather than pursuing a traditional 9-5 job, she started her own business producing salsa in 1995 so that she could support herself and Somah, and not need to put Somah in day care. Somah has become a young political activist herself. When she has time for hobbies, Deb enjoys gourmet cooking and running marathons.

Karson Baldwin – Project RACE Teens Co-President

Photo Credit: Albuquerque Journal

A New Year…

A new year and a new Project RACE Grandparents President! We welcome Beth McNally to our Project RACE family. Please read Beth’s bio below. We’re very excited about her commitment to our multiracial grandchildren.

Beth McNally received her B.A. from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN and currently works for a law firm in Northern Virginia in the field of trust/estate and guardianship administration.  She has previously owned her own business and has also worked for non-profit groups handling bequests.   Beth is a volunteer in local politics, Best Friends Animal Society, the Fairfax County Public School System and A Simple Gesture (a food bank group).  She lives in the suburbs of Washington DC and is the mother of two adult children and the very proud grandmother of Campbell who was born in 2012 (at her house!) and is biracial. She looks forward to learning about and sharing resources with other grandparents of multicultural grandchildren.

 

Are Harvard “Mixed-Race” Students Mixed-up?

Project RACE was founded almost 30 years ago and we now welcome Harvard Students to the multiracial community. However, we are disappointed in the way they have chosen to differentiate their members from the community-at-large.

They will find out how it feels to be called “Mixed Up” and “Mixed Nuts”? Because that’s exactly what they’ll get whether it’s said to their faces, used as headlines, or behind their backs. The Harvard Undergraduate Union of Mixed Students became the first group on campus for all mixed race students. It sounds like a very exclusive club. Founder Iris R. Feldman stated, “Using the word mixed is very intentional. We’re not multiracial or biracial, or whatever it is.”

Feldman went on to say, she was motivated to create the union to provide a space for people who felt their identity did not fall into just one of Harvard’s cultural organizations. “While you are a part of these two communities, there is a unique, separate, mixed identity that a lot of people experience.” I have a news flash for Feldman, if you are biracial, say white and black, just for an example, you are actually part of three communities: white, black and multiracial. By the way, there are many mixed, interracial, multiracial, etc. communities that have been around for years. To think that Ms. Feldman thought of this is absurd.

Feldman and her other co-founders somehow see “mixed” as the better choice of names, but doesn’t mixed mean the opposite of pure? I certainly don’t want to see people separated by mixed and pure. It reminds me of a not so pleasant time in Germany and sometimes in some places in America. Most Jewish people understand this.

When Barack Obama was president, the media referred to him as having a multiracial background. Why? Because the term “multiracial” is appropriate, perfectly descriptive (meaning of more than one race) and respectful; perfect.

Do multiracial people use “mixed”? Sure they do. We do not discriminate, but we have our preferences for very important reasons. Mainly, we thought it through over the past 28 years that we’ve been around. No one at Project RACE would ever tell someone how to racially or ethnically identify. We fought very hard in the 1990s to win the right to self-identify, and if that means “mixed,” to some people, so be it. We only make suggestions. We realize the 90s are ancient history to you, but that is also when the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said we had to decide on only one word for the community, and after a national vote, that word was “multiracial.” History is important.

I wish Ms. Feldman and her mixed friends the best of luck and welcome them to the community.

Susan Graham for Project RACE

Photo Credit: Diverseeduccation.com

 

 

Comments by Susan Graham

Comments by Susan Graham for Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally)

Fall, 2018 National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations Meeting

November 2, 2018

 

The Casey Foundation’s 2018 KIDS COUNT® Data Book warns that the 2020 census is mired in challenges that could shortchange the official census count by at least two million kids younger than age 5. This discrepancy would also put hundreds of millions of federal dollars at risk and, in doing so, underfund programs that are critical for family stability and opportunity; essential programs like housing, food, education, and healthcare.

As we all know, the Casey Foundation gets its numbers from the Census Bureau. Federal dollars seem to be the focus, but can we put the money aside for the moment? Yes, it’s important to be counted for the money, redistricting and civil rights enforcement, but it’s also critical to focus on identity. It’s crucial to see your race(s) or the races of your children on news stories, pie charts, forms, data reports, and anywhere other races are included. Also, you can’t keep accurate records if you don’t have an accurate representation of someone, including their racial identity.

Let me give you some reminders about identity. First, when a multiracial person is asked about their identity it sounds like this: What are you? In his book The Lies that Bind, Kwame Appiah makes these observations, “In sum, identities come, first with labels and ideas about why and to whom they should be applied. Second, your identity shapes your thoughts about how you should behave; and third, it affects the way other people treat you. Finally, all these dimensions of identity are contestable, always up for dispute: who’s in, what they’re like, how they should behave and be treated.”

 

One example from the 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book is this:

 

In 2017, 81 percent of African-American,

79 percent of American Indian, 78 percent

of Latino and 60 percent of multiracial

fourth-graders were not proficient in reading,

compared with 54 percent of white and 44

percent of Asian and Pacific Islander students.

 

They used the appropriate, preferable, and respectful term “multiracial.” The Census Bureau calls us “Two or More Races” people. The Casey Foundation counted and published the multiracial numbers. Not all entities do. Why is this important? Just as it’s important to see the African-American, American Indian, Asian, white, and Latino students, it’s crucial that multiracial families and individuals see themselves included in data. Proper racial nomenclature is critical, this has been proven over and over again every time a group, any group, changes its label.

The multiracial community has been invisible to this committee, the Census Bureau, and the government for far too long. We know it and you know it. We can only assume that you are not eager to have people check two or more races because it would benefit your groups to have our numbers. We are not willing to choose single race over multiracial just so your groups can benefit monetarily.

Now we are looking at the 2020 Census and how we can all shore up our numbers. We must all answer this question: how does filling out the race boxes on the census impact our groups? For the multiracial population, it’s really not a matter of money. No one is going to give dollars to feed little multiracial children based on the boxes they check. However, we need to accurately report growth in our numbers and demonstrate that the multiracial population is an important one. WE ARE ASKING TO BE INCLUDED WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT, TALK ABOUT, AND WRITE ABOUT RACES IN AMERICA.   

The multiracial population is, perhaps, the largest of the hard-to-count groups by virtue of the fact that few care if we are counted as multiracial except us. In a recent webinar, census consultant Terri Ann Lowenthal was asked if people have to respond to every question, including race, when filling out their census form online. She answered that they do not. They can “hit submit and it will be accepted.” We would hate to see interracial families and multiracial individuals skip the race question. We need your help to ensure that this does not happen.

This is a time of suspicion, particularly between minorities and government. We can only get past that for the 2020 Census by showing trust. Project RACE has proven that we are a trusted entity for the multiracial population, but this committee, the bureau, and government need to show us that we can trust you. We are open to working with you to ensure that there is not an undercount of the multiracial community. We sincerely hope that you are finally ready to say the same. Thank you.

Susan Graham

President

Project RACE

Website: projectrace.com

Email: susangraham@projectrace.com

Race-based medicine and the multiracial population

Failure of race-based medicine? We aren’t accounting for the unique genetics of biracial and multiracial populations

For several decades in modern medicine history, human race has been used as a constant variable to predict and/or determine our disease risks, biometric profiles, health behaviors and outcomes. It drives many of our medical standards, including clinical guidelines, medical school curricula, and clinical decision support tools and algorithms. This reductionist approach to medicine, however, has proven questionable and risky for biracial and multiracial individuals with high levels of phenotypical (physically-apparent) and genotypical (physically non-apparent) variation.

Some clinical study reports  describe how race-based approaches to health diagnosis and management have led to inaccurate assessments in medical practice, especially in cases of bone marrow transplants for multiracial populations. Susan Graham is the president of Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally), an organization advocating for multiracial classification in health care settings for people of two or more races. In an interview with the Genetic Literacy Project, she explained that “a multiracial person’s best chance of bone marrow donor acceptance must take [multi]race into account to get as perfect a match as possible.” That’s why we need to do more, as a society, to expand the number and diversity of bone marrow donors to help solve this issue for multiracial populations, she said.

Race versus genetics: Social constructs or health determinants?

The idea of race as a social construct has been well researched, with some classically defined racial groups experiencing greater hardships – including poor access to health care services – than other racial groups in the US.

Questions also have arisen regarding the use of race as a health determinant, due to recent advancements and novel findings in genomics, ancestry, and medicine.

For instance, single- and multi-gene tests for harmful genetic variations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 are used by doctors to identify people with increased risk of developing breast cancer. As a result, those people undergo closer medical surveillance, take more aggressive prevention measures, and are more likely to receive appropriate treatments when needed.

mutations 9 21 18From an epidemiological standpoint, the concept of race as a determinant of breast cancer diagnosis follows: According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), American women of Ashkenazi Jewish ethnicity or descent, followed by women of northern European ethnicity or descent, hold the highest prevalence of breast cancer-associated BRCA1 and BRCA2 variations.

This finding may be influenced by personal, social, economic and environmental factors that influence health care service utilization among racially-defined groups.

However, if women of Ashkenazi Jewish and northern European descent in BRCA1 and BRCA2 are overrepresented in genetic databases, then the NCI’s findings are incomplete and warrant investigation to see if larger genetic representations of single race, biracial and multiracial individuals are required for greater epidemiological accuracy. The All of Us research program, sponsored by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and supported by the Precision Medicine Initiative, are examples of steps forward in this direction to increase diversity in genetic health databases.

Stakeholder discussions about race, genetics and clinical guidelines

The graph below displays the number of articles searchable within www.PubMed.gov between 1998-2017 using search phrases “race AND clinical guidelines” and “genetic AND clinical guidelines”. The graph shows that clinical guidelines discussions about genetics have drastically outpaced those about race within the past 20 years.

Related article:  Precision medicine inches along

Similar discussions about multiracial populations, however, have been scant, leaving this area ripe for scientific exploration. “The multiracial population is very new to the concept of precision medicine, as we are still fighting for recognition in medicine and race-based data,” Graham said.

The medical community is lagging in its inclusion of biracial and multiracial Americans, she said.  Multiracial populations seemingly add layers of complexity to standard race-based clinical guidelines.

So, is the medical community really lagging here? Or, are biracial and multiracial patients lumped into single racial categories by clinicians who must adhere to race-based clinical guidelines?

Also, how can members of the medical community effectively engage with growing multiracial populations to improve racially-driven clinical guidelines that may not adequately serve the unique needs of multiracial populations?

Dr. Elizabeth Clayborne is a multiracial emergency medicine physician and educator at the University of Maryland School of Medicine who has worked with the National Human Genome Research Institute to address race, ethnicity and genetics in medicine. She offered her take on the issue: “If a patient is labeled as ‘multiracial,’ they are included in a group that has extreme genetic diversity and no specificity to any particular genetic roots.”

She argued that the use of a simple “multiracial” category is a reductionist and low-value approach to understanding a patient’s disease risk at the genetic level. “This kind of lump-labeling does a disservice to population and personalized health frameworks that rely on geographic ancestry, versus race, to determine disease risk,” she said.

The medical community continues to debate race as an indicator of social and economic factors, which in turn effect health outcomes. “Health disparities that are present within African American/Black patient populations, may be actually be tied to low socioeconomic status, poor diet, lifestyle habits and other non-genetic determinants of health,” she said.

Looking ahead

Although few and far between, discussions about the benefits of precision medicine for multiracial populations continue to emerge among experts in health law, genomics and medical-legal partnerships. Graham expressed hope that “precision medicine may very well help our population become aware of health disparities, which could be critical to our wellness and healthcare in providing useful information.”

Diversity and inclusion in precision medicine and genetic discovery followed by an overhaul of racially driven clinical guidelines and racial labeling in clinical settings appear to be key actions needed to address these health care challenges for multiracial populations.

Dr. Clayborne believes that, as the precision and personalized medicine movement grows – due to advances in genomic sequencing –  the medical community could eventually steer away from racial categories to focus more on individual family history and known genetic markers for disease.

Rachele Hendricks-Sturrup holds a doctor of health science degree and is a freelance health science writer. Follow her at her website or on Twitter @AcesoIngenuity

About Project RACE

Project RACE is a non-profit NATIONAL organization advocating for multiracial individuals. We advocate for “multiracial” or “check two or more” classifications on forms. We hold schools, business, the media and other institutions responsible for treating multiracial people fairly, especially children. We do this by speaking directly with them, providing materials, writing opinion pieces, sharing experiences, etc. We are proactive. We also provide information on medical issues and hold bone marrow donor drives. We have very active divisions: Teens, Kids, and Grandparents, which hold Multiracial Heritage Week every year from June 7 to 14. I have testified three times before congressional subcommittees at their invitation, as have other Project RACE members. We have ongoing discussions and meetings with Census Bureau personnel, OMB representatives, and state political representatives. Project RACE advocates for the right for multiracial individuals to have appropriate and respectful terminology used for our racial and ethnic identity. Please visit our website at projectrace.com for more information and read our blog, which provides updates on important issues for the multiracial community. You can also sign up for our email blasts, visit our Facebook page, or email me at susangraham@projectrace.com –Susan Graham for Project RACE

Did you Know?

Project RACE is an approved charity for donations from Amazon through the AmazonSmile program. Please remember this whenever you buy anything on Amazon. It does not cost you anything—a small percentage of your purchase goes to support Project RACE.

Sign up at smile.amazon.com on Amazon to get started and designate Project RACE as your charity. Then when you buy from Amazon, just log on through amazonsmile.com.

Your Amazon donations and any other donations to Project RACE will be used for operating expenses to keep our organization running and bringing the latest information to the multiracial community. Thank you for your support!

Category: Blog · Tags: , ,

Are You in an Interracial Family?

Project RACE is very pleased to announce that we have been asked to participate in a photographic project by the amazing photographer Ben Baker! He has photographed the Obamas, many other Presidents, entertainers, politicians, and other famous people.

He is looking for interracial families to photograph in New York this weekend or next. This could be any combination of backgrounds: black/white, Asian/black, Hispanic/white, African American/American Indian, etc. Please email me at susangraham@projectrace.com if you are interested. Let’s help Ben make this a huge success!

Important Update

Project RACE Update

August, 2018

Census Undercount of the Multiracial Population – IMPORTANT!

The US Census Bureau does not want multiracial or biracial people to be counted as multiracial. Numerous organizations both non-profit and governmental do not want the multiracial population counted as two or more races. They want to count us, but as single-race individuals.

Outreach programs have been started that systematically omit the multiracial community. This will continue until the 2020 Census. Every community has been asked to be a part of the efforts to count their population with the exception of ours. Why is this happening? They want us to deny our identities and that of our children in an effort to boost their own numbers.

They will be happy if multiracial people use the “some other race” space on the 2020 census form or choose only one racial category. Don’t do it. Our numbers get lost if you do. We can only show how much our community is growing if data are counted and allocated correctly.

The only way to obtain everything the multiracial community deserves is by checking more than one race on your census form. Let’s show them we know exactly who we are. We will have more about this important issue as we move closer to the 2020 Census.

A NEW PROJECT RACE TEEN CO-PRESIDENT!

We are very excited about our new co-president, Alexis Cook! She is a leader at her high school and very active in her community in Aurora, Colorado. When asked about her multiracial heritage, Alexis replied, “Growing up in an interracial family was a blessing because I got to learn from two cultures instead of just one.”

Alexis is a high school senior and is the Student Body President. She is in the top one percent of her class and embodies the Project RACE emphasis on education. She will be a great role model with another wonderful teen, Karson Baldwin, as co-presidents of Project RACE Teens. You can read more about Alexis at www.projectrace.com/blog. Welcome, Alexis!

WEB GURU NEEDED FOR OUR WEBSITE

We need help! A web guru is desperately needed on a volunteer basis to keep our site updated. Just a few hours a month would be perfect to update our WordPress site at www.projectrace.com The need is urgent and is a great community service. Please email us at susangraham@projectrace.com Thank you!

THE SEARCH IS ON FOR A NEW PROJECT RACE GRANDPARENTS PRESIDENT

We thank Patti Barry who began Project RACE Grandparents for us several years ago. She has done a tremendous job, but her busy life means that Patti must give up her leadership responsibilities. We are looking for that special grandparent who can help us with meaningful programs for our Grandparents Division. It’s fun and rewarding! Please email susangraham@projectrace.com if you or someone you know is interested.

 

It’s a Royal Famous Friday!

Famous Friday: HRH Meghan Duchess of Sussex

There was clearly no other choice for this week’s Famous Friday. The whole world is talking about HRH Meghan, Duchess of Sussex! Her wedding! Her dress! Her carriage ride… and her race.

The last time we featured multiracial actress Meghan Markle on Famous Friday was in November of 2016 and at that time former PRT Co-President Lexi Brock wrote about Meghan’s “rumored romance” with Prince Harry. Well what do you know… the rumors were true! Fast forward a year and a half and we’ve got ourselves a Duchess!

We were visiting my sister in Chicago on Royal Wedding Day and set the alarm to be up to watch our multiracial princess (Yes, I know she is not officially given the title of princess, but I don’t care.) arrive at 6 AM. In many ways, this felt to us very much like Barack Obama being inaugurated President. Our people, those who look like us and have family histories that may mirror our own, reaching places we’ve never seen before impacts our hearts and minds more than we’d ever imagined. Like the White House, the palaces of British royalty were not known for being diverse or particularly inclusive, until now. This makes us believe that there is nothing we can’t do.

Twitter lit up with reactions to the many ways that Megan weaved her culture into the ceremony. The African American preacher, the gospel choir and the teenage cellist were all representative of the side of the bride’s heritage that is new to the royal family. And the fact that her heritage was celebrated and highlighted during the ceremony made this groundbreaking union even more wonderful.

At Project RACE, we really love advocates. One of the cool things we newly discovered about Meghan in all the wedding coverage was that she was an advocate from a very young age. As an 11 year old, she contacted Proctor & Gamble after seeing a commercial for Ivory dish soap that implied doing dishes was a woman’s job. Her efforts led to the company changing the commercial, swapping out “women” for “people.”  No wonder she has gone on to great position.

Many do not know that, as groundbreaking as this union is, HRH Meghan is not be the first biracial royal. That title likely belongs to Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who lived during the 18th century. Charlotte was married to King George III and was queen for nearly 60 years, until she died in 1818. She’s the grandmother of Queen Victoria, the great-great-great-great-grandmother of the current Queen Elizabeth and the namesake for the American city of Charlotte, North Carolina. She also shares a name with the latest addition to the royal family, Princess Charlotte.

Another interesting note, is that we have another wonderful wedding we are excited to share about as our very first PRT President, Ryan Graham has married his beautiful bride Shelby this past weekend!

– Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Teens Co-President

Photo Credit:   News.com.au