written by Kathleen Grissom
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.
I had a great time being the guest on comic Alex Barnett’s popular podcast, “Multiracial Family Man.” Alex makes interviews informative and fun! You can listen to the interview by going the Multiracial Family Man website www.alexbarnettcomic.com at “Latest Blog Posts.”
Hope you enjoy the show!
The Thing about White Privilege
I saw this recently:
“I’m proud to be black,” said a black man.
“I’m proud to be Asian,” said an Asian man.
“I’m proud to be white,” said a racist.
So here’s the thing: I’m tired of the way people talk about white privilege as if we all grew up as Kennedys or Rockefellers. I know that “white privilege” means more than wealth, it means the ability to do things people of other races can’t do, but that’s not specific to bathrooms and drinking fountains anymore, so I’m not sure exactly what is.
I live in a community that is 70% Hispanic. I can’t communicate with people who only speak Spanish, as many do. When I walk into a store and am—or what looks to be—the only non-Hispanic person there (by Census definition), I don’t exactly feel at home. I have seen Hispanic women pull their children a little closer when I smile at them. Yeah, you need to consider this stuff when you’re white.
I also know that if I ever am on trial in my county, there will not be a jury of my racial peers and I will be a disadvantaged white woman. Yes, I know what it’s like to be the only one in the room. It happens every day. I have taken some criticism for many things in the multiracial movement, usually from the academic circle, but now they want to attack me for being a white woman? It sounds pretty racist to me.
A new phenomenon is occurring between racial groups. It’s called “The Knockout Game,” and apparently is perpetrated by young minority groups who attack people on the street—mostly people who are white, older, and Jewish. I could qualify as a victim. It amounts to random acts of violence against a group to which I belong, carried out by another racial or ethnic group, most specifically young black males. It does not make white people sleep better at night if they have to go out in public the next day.
In discussions about white privilege, people tend to bring in what is known as “sense of entitlement.” It always reminds me of one of my father’s favorite sayings when we were kids: “You can stay here as long as you want, but when you leave, you leave with what you came with.” The implications were not to plan on ever moving back and don’t take any of Dad’s stuff with you. These mandates did not instill a “sense of entitlement” in my brothers and me. However, it did help us become four very self-reliant individuals.
Unlike some of folks, I have lived in many different places and met very different people.
f you’re white does it automatically make you a racist? I know plenty of racists who aren’t white. It’s unacceptable no matter what race you are or what public pulpit you have.
I don’t understand why some very vocal people who claim to be in the multiracial community are attacking “privileged white women.” While it’s true that my ancestors did not have hundreds of years of racial baggage in the United States, it’s also true that they were treated inhumanely in other parts of the world. I’m not responsible for what was done to your ancestors any more than you’re responsible for mine.
Also, you assume I am one hundred percent white. Is that because you’re scared that you and I might find out we’re related? What I do know is that I’ll have one of those popular DNA tests done one day and might discover some other racial or ethnic background in my genes. I might also find out some important medical information while I’m at it.
Yes, of course I understand that people who are not white are often made to feel lesser than whites; but I was never taught how to do that—so I don’t.
Do I notice people by the way they look? Sure, I do, and I bet you do too. However, that doesn’t mean I treat them as any more or less privileged than they treat me. Does the fact that I’m white mean that all my neighbors accept me, that my children were never discriminated against in schools, that I have never been asked to show my ID, or that I felt the clerk at a big box store today was helping me last?
Someone said that white privilege means you can walk the Earth unaware of your color. I don’t believe anyone can do that, yet we should all be able to.
There is also a misunderstanding about white people, that we can go wherever we want, whenever we’d like and do just about anything we want, and non-white people can’t. That’s just not true. I have been discriminated against because of my religion, where I live, the color of my skin and hair, my disabilities, my age, due to the fact that I’m a woman, and more. But I don’t feel that everyone who is black, Asian, Hindu, male, able-bodied, and young discriminates against me. But if you do, I’m going hold you accountable, not a group that you belong to.
I don’t like being a racial target any more than you do, so if you have a problem with me specifically, let me know; otherwise, you’re putting me in a group when you don’t want to be lumped into one yourself. Think about it.
Below is a letter sent in response to a Federal Register entry. Your advocates at Project RACE read the Federal Register daily and respond when necessary for the multiracial community.
December 20, 2013
Privacy and Information Collection Clearance Division
Privacy, Information and Records Management Services
Office of Management
United States Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW, LGJ Room 2E105
Washington, DC 20202-4573
Submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal
Re: Comments on Mandatory Civil Rights Data Collection
Docket ID Number ED-2013-ICCD-0079
Proposed 20113-14 Civil Rights Data Collection
Dear Acting Director Valentine:
Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally) respectfully submits the comments below regarding Civil Rights Data Collection. We are the national advocates for multiracial children, teens, adults, and our families. We were founded in 1990 to represent those of us who are affected by Washington, but are not a large lobbying entity. As a result, we are often rendered invisible in the discussions and planning for racial and ethnic classifications. Our national members and supporters are therefore concerned with the Mandatory Civil Rights Data Collection.
Our recommendation is very simple. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) includes a classification of “Multicultural or Multiethnic or Multiracial” under “the major racial and ethnic groups states use for accountability and assessment data.” Yet the Department of Education (DOE) does not list “Multicultural or Multiethnic or Multiracial” in its racial and ethnic choices stated under “The general racial ethnic categories that most clearly reflect individuals’ recognition of their community or with which the individuals most identify.” Their list includes “Two or more races.”
First, there should be consistency between agencies. Second, the preferred terminology used most by the multiracial community is “multiracial.” We would alternatively be inclined to accept some form of the OCR’s “Multicultural, Multiethnic, or Multiracial.”
Many school districts have also adopted the following wording on their forms: “If your child is multiracial, you may select two or more races,” followed by the specific racial and ethnic list of categories in compliance with their state departments of education. This is the suggested wording provided by the multiracial community.
It is vitally important for students to be able to be included in civil rights categories and be equally protected under civil rights protections. It is time to recognize our multiracial students in our schools and give them the dignity of proper terminology as an important part of their civil rights protection.
Project RACE, Inc.
Mixed race in a world not yet post-racial
Populations of humans have always been mixing genes, but we still have trouble with the concept.
Two recent books by University of Washington professors address what mixed means in America, particularly examining the period between the Census Bureau’s decision in the late 1990s to allow people, beginning in 2000, to choose more than one race, and the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Both books say something about how mixed race as a category is sometimes used to further marginalize African Americans.
“Troubling the Family: The Promise of Personhood and the Rise of Multiracialism,” by Habiba Ibrahim, an assistant professor of English, is written largely for an academic audience.
“Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial,” is written by Ralina Joseph, associate professor in the Department of Communications.
Both are important works, but today I’m going to focus on Joseph’s book, which is also scholarly, but written with the general reader in mind.
We’re not post-racial yet, Joseph told me when we talked over coffee this week, and more mixing isn’t getting us there, because we haven’t shaken old ways of categorizing people. The combination of black and white, weighted with centuries of racism, raises the most issues.
Joseph noted the census change was most notably championed by Susan Graham, a white mother who wanted her son to be able to mark down multiracial, and, Joseph said, “had her young son testify before Congress, so that he did not have to identify as black.”
Joseph said a mother could correctly assume being black would make life more difficult for her child. She noted the volumes of data that show how deeply race affects life chances in America.
She mentioned the investigation of Seattle Public Schools’ disproportionately heavy suspensions and expulsions of black students.
But seeing multiracial as a separate category, a way of transcending blackness, is not a step forward, and it isn’t racially neutral, Joseph said. It is, instead, a new use of old concepts, an affirmation that blackness is something to escape.
Embracing all parts of a mixed heritage is a more positive act than migrating to a new category. Joseph calls herself a mixed-race African American. “One can’t think about one’s own identity choices without thinking about power realities.”
In the book, she writes that mixing generated the first race laws. The first anti-miscegenation law was passed in Maryland in 1661 as a response to black and white and Native-American pairings, and it was all about power. It was the beginning of laws that set white people apart, and above, others across the Colonies.
And, as the institution of slavery grew, white men could have sex with enslaved black women — but without marriage, the children who resulted inherited no land, no money, no power.
The African-American community has long been multiracial, ranging from milky skin and green eyes to deep chocolate, but to be counted as white still requires “purity.” It’s a protected status.
Joseph’s parents were married in Washington, D.C., in 1972, then lived in Virginia. The Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia had struck down laws against black-white marriages only five years before.
The parents never talked with their children about race. Joseph looked for images of people like herself in magazines and on television.
In the book, she examines portrayals of mixed-race black people in books, magazines, television and other media, and finds that often two old patterns recur.
In one pattern, the mixed person, usually a woman, is troubled, torn, wild. She analyzes the sad girl in the movie “Mixing Nia,” and Jennifer Beals’ bad-girl character on “The L Word.”
In the other pattern, the multiracial person is seen as elevated above stereotypes about blackness. That “exceptional multiracial” category would include Tiger Woods before his fall and President Obama, she said. The “exceptional multiracial” is enough proof for some people that we have arrived at a post-racial time, or that with a little more mixing we soon will.
We haven’t, but Joseph sees some bright spots in the portrayal of mixed-race black people, and black people in general, especially because of the opportunities online media offer.
She mentioned the comedy duo Key & Peele, and the Web show “Totally Biased,” whose star W. Kamau Bell exhibits a type of black masculinity we don’t often see in other media. He’s a big man with an Afro, a white wife and a mixed child, and who is anti-homophobic and acknowledges America’s rich diversity. Joseph also likes the Web series, “The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl.”
Maybe when her two children grow up, they won’t have to look so hard for positive reflections of their reality.
Source: The Seattle Times/Jerry Large
“It’s easier to be a good writer than it is to be a great writer and a great advocate.”
Founder and Executive Director
This is MIXED RACE RADIO presentation for Wednesday, August 15, 2012, featuring the Executive Director of Project RACE, Susan Graham.