Monday, April 30, 2012

The "M" Word

The San  Francisco Chronicle had a front page article about Kamala Harris, the California Attorney General April 29, 2010 The title of the article is "Kamala Harris mixing idealism, political savvy." 

One of the things we realized in 1993 was that we had to have our terminology intact. The Census Bureau and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said we had to narrow the category down to one word. In other words, they could not put "multiracial, biracial, mulatto, or mixed" on a form. Different people prefer different terms for themselves and for others. We polled the Project RACE membership and the overwhelming preferred word was "multiracial." 

"Multiracial" is a dignified, respectful term that can be used by people of any and many combinations of races. We adopted the term. But then when OMB said at least they would do "check all that apply" we knew we would have to start spreading the word about terminology. The Census Bureau still refers to multiracial people as "People of more than one race," or the "Two or more race population." Over the years, we have managed to get "multiracial" into popular usage and one way we do that is to teach journalists to use the word that is preferable to most of the multiracial community. Some journalists still can't bring themselves to use the "M" word. This is what appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday:

     Kamala Devi Harris was born in Oakland to UC Berkeley graduate students. Her mother,   Gopalan Shyamala, was an Indian immigrant who became aprominent breast cancer researcher. Her father, Donald Harris, was a Jamaican immigrant who later taught economics at Stanford. They divorced when she was 5, and she was raised by her mother."

We don't know how Attorney General Harris self-identifies, but it would be great to see it stated that she is multiracial. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

‘White Hispanic’ is not an agenda

Column: ‘White Hispanic’ is not an agenda

by on Apr. 26, 2012

In the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s death, several news outlets identified his alleged killer George Zimmerman as a “white Hispanic.” Although “white Hispanic” is an unfamiliar phrase, it is an accurate description of Zimmerman — and the Martin case shines a light on how multiracial identity is becoming more commonplace in our society. 

In 2000, for the first time, the Census Bureau gave Americans the option to identify themselves by marking more than one race. The 2.9% who chose more than one box in 2010 might not seem high, but the multiracial population younger than 18 has grown almost 50% since 2000, making it the fastest growing U.S. youth group.

Maybe use of “white Hispanic” has been met with skepticism by some — especially conservative commentators such as Rush Limbaugh— because the U.S. is used to thinking about race in black and white terms. Perhaps these conservatives are accustomed to thinking of “white” as meaning descended from Europeans, or not being a member of a minority group.
But Hispanic is not a race. According to the Census, “Hispanic” refers to a person of “Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.” Hispanics can be white, black or Asian. By the Census’ criterion, Zimmerman, the son of a white father and Peruvian mother, is white.

Even among Hispanics, identity is complicated. A new Pew Hispanic Center survey found that 51% of Latinos identify themselves as “some other race” or volunteer “Hispanic/Latino.” Only 36% identify their race as white, while 3% say their race is black.

Still, calling Zimmerman a white Hispanic does not reflect an agenda; it reflects reality. Zimmerman has been accorded a level of privilege since the Feb. 26 shooting, one unlikely to go to an African American involved in a violent crime even under the state’s “stand your ground” law. In fact, it wasn’t until April 11 that a special prosecutor announced second-degree murder charges against Zimmerman, who was freed Monday after posting $150,000 bail.
Zimmerman’s background matters because he is at the center of a racially charged case. But describing him as Hispanic doesn’t make him less capable of profiling or bigotry. The irony here is that both Martin and Zimmerman have been judged on the basis of how others see them. Martin’s death illustrates that we live in a society with evolving views of race — and identity.
Source: USA Today
Raul Reyes is an attorney in New York and a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Number of biracial babies soars over past decade

By , Published: April 25

The number of mixed-race babies has soared over the past decade, new census data show, a result of more interracial couples and a cultural shift in how many parents identify their children in a multiracial society.
More than 7 percent of the 3.5 million children born in the year before the 2010 Census were of two or more races, up from barely 5 percent a decade earlier. The number of children born to black and white couples and to Asian and white couples almost doubled.
“I think people are more comfortable in identifying themselves, and their children, as mixed race,” said William H. Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer who analyzed detailed census data on mixed-race infants. “It’s much more socially acceptable, more mainstream, to say, ‘That’s what we want to identify them as.’ ”
The District, Maryland and Virginia all lag behind the national average in multiracial children, but that is changing rapidly.
In both Fairfax County and Montgomery County public schools, for example, about 4.5 percent of the student body is more than one race. With 8,200 in Fairfax schools, the ranks have multiplied six times in the 15 years since the district started keeping count. The 6,500 mixed-race students in Montgomery would fill three high schools.
Though mixed-race children are increasingly common, parents say it can be tricky talking to them about race.
Thien-Kim Lam, a Silver Spring mother of two, is a first-generation Vietnamese American married to an African American. Their daughter, who is 6, has started to notice that she doesn’t look like her mother.
“At the very beginning, I thought if I didn’t talk about race, she’d just be colorblind,” said Lam, who writes a blog on raising biracial kids in a race-conscious world; its name comes from what she tells strangers who see her for the first time with her children — “I’m Not the Nanny.”
“But it’s important to teach them to be proud of who they are,” she added. “I see it as a chance to teach my daughter to accept her two parts, a new combination — half me and half of her dad, the perfect color in between.”
Frey said the census statistics on children with black and white parents in particular show a country that is advancing toward the day when race loses its power to be a hot-button issue.
People who identify themselves as one race tend to be older. They reflect a society in which laws prohibited interracial marriage and states such as Virginia enforced a “one drop” rule designating anyone as black if they could trace even one drop of their blood to an African American ancestor. President Obama, for example, identified himself as one race — black — on his census form, even though his mother was white.
When Lisa Rosenberg was growing up as a biracial kid in a racially diverse neighborhood in New York during the 1960s and 1970s, she had many mixed-race friends. But her late father, who was African American, counseled her to always say she was black, even though her mother is Jewish.
“I think to protect me, he’d say, ‘To the world, you’re black,’ ” said Rosenberg, a therapist who often speaks at schools on addressing the issue of race to children.
But Rosenberg, who lives in Montclair, N.J., checked more than one box for race on her census form, as she did for her two children. She expects more pointed questions from her daughter when she enters middle school.
Young people, typically younger than 15, are much more likely to be identified as mixed race. Among infants younger than 1, there are 17 mixed-race children for every 100 infants whose parents said they are black alone. A decade ago, there were nine.
“One out of six kids who used to be thought of as just black will now grow up thinking of themselves as white and black,” Frey said. “This is a huge leap. This is a ray of hope that we’re finally moving into an era where this very sharp black-white divide is breaking apart.”
Lam said she has already fielded questions from her 6-year-old.
“Her classmates have asked why she and I don’t have the same skin color,” she said. “We talk about race with our children when things come up, like if a stranger says something. Ultimately, we’re all concerned about raising our children to be good people.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Multiracial Children and Identity

Multiracial Children: Teaching Kids they can be Many

I was not going to write about Allena Tapia’s commentary in The Huffington Post earlier this month, but it kept coming back to haunt me. The title of her piece was “Multiracial Children: Teaching My Kid to Check the Latino Box on Applications.” She happily explained that “I’ve told my children from day one to always self-identify as Latino or Hispanic on any official forms.” That was followed by this: “I tell my children to always choose Hispanic or Latino based on the positives they stand to gain from doing so. Yup, I said it.” She admitted to seeing more of “the multiracial,” but said it’s not always an option and then she asked if her children were genetically 50/50, would the tiebreaker be the cultural influence?

First of all, Ms. Tapia is putting race and ethnicity in the same category. She spoke later in the piece about the Census and the fact that in 2010, they sent in the completed census form back with two Latino children, their Latino father, and her as “the lone Caucasian in the bunch.” Had she actually read the instructions, she would have known that she could have checked that her children were Latino and White.

Hispanic is an ethnicity and white is a race. Tapia stated the following aha moment at the end of her commentary:

     “My husband loves being Latino. My children think of themselves as Mexican-
       American. They love to talk about their culture and identity. They’re proud…They
       are truly Latino, 100%. Through and through.”  

By implication her children are not proud to be anything like their mother, who is white. That’s fine, it’s their identity, but I have some problems with the way it’s being presented. First, why shouldn’t they be as many races and ethnicities as they truly are? Were they even told about this option? Is it somehow bad to be any percent white? I think not. If they were in need of a bone marrow donor, they would have to look to the group that is Hispanic or Latino and white. It’s an important fact of their genetic code.

Another thing that bothered me about Tapia’s commentary was her blatantly broadcasting to the readership of The Huffington Post that she advised her children to choose Latino as a way to get the goodies, and I’ll say it for her, prosper from affirmative action. Should kids be told by their parents to self-identify as one race or ethnicity to play the system?

To pigeonhole any young child into any one thing is dangerous if it’s not the truth. My son wanted to embrace his entire heritage when he was young, so we changed the way race was reported on his school forms. We took action rather than be made to choose. Then, when he was in college, he called me one day and told me he had been invited into a “Black fraternity,” but he would have to say he was black to join. I advised him to first see what his university had him classified as, even though he had checked both black and white on his application form, not to get the goodies, but to be honestly what he felt.

He went to the school and found that someone had checked off “White” for his race on his official records. He called me back and asked what he should do. I told him that if they were not going to let him choose more than one race, he could choose whatever he wanted for whatever reason. It was his choice as an adult, not anyone else’s and if they would not allow him to choose to be multiracial, he could do whatever he wanted. He could be black one day and white the next and screw the system that wouldn’t allow him to be who he truly felt he was. He called me back a little while later and said, “Mom, I’m black now!” and we both laughed. We knew the system, we knew the game, we chose to play it then, but he was an adult who knew he was 50% Black and 50% White.

So, Ms. Tapia, if you teach your multiracial kids to check any one box on any form, be sure you also let them know that it’s OK to be proud to be multiracial.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Race-Based Medicine

Comment from Susan Graham: We at Project RACE are often told that there is no basis for classifications for multiracial people because there are no differences between races. That’s when I bring out BiDil information, which you can read for yourself below. If a multiracial person who has African American heritage has congestive heart failure, should a doctor prescribe BiDil? We don’t know because most pharmaceutical clinical trials still use “check one” on their forms. It’s a matter of life and death. 

Isosorbide dinitrate/hydralazine is a fixed dose combination drug treatment specifically indicated for African Americans with congestive heart failure. It is a combination of hydralazine (an antihypertensive) and isosorbide dinitrate (a vasodilator). It is the first race-based prescription drug in the United States.The combination preparation is marketed in the United States by Arbor Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (who purchased the rights to market the drug in December of 2011 from NitroMed) under the trade name BiDil.
Originally rejected by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997, the combination preparation was approved by the FDA in June 2005 for use in African Americans. It was already known that African American individuals with congestive heart failure (CHF) respond less effectively to conventional CHF treatments (particularly ACE inhibitors) than Caucasians. The study by Taylor et al., based on which the FDA approved the medication demonstrated that isosorbide dinitrate with hydralazine reduced mortality by 43%, reduced hospitalizations by 39%, and quality of life markers in African-American patients with CHF.
Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Multiracial Space?

Comment from Susan Graham: The article below is very interesting and we will have to watch for its outcome. When the multiracial community suggested an "umbrella" category of "multiracial," with some of the most frequent combinations under it, the Census Bureau told us that it would "take up too much space on the form."

Demand to Include Central Am. Nations on Census

Los Angeles (USA) - Pro-immigrant organizations will ask the U.S. Census Bureau to include Central American countries on the forms of the next decennial Census to identify the origin of residents from that area.

"In late May of this year Central American activists are going to meet with census officials to demand that the 2020 census forms include each of the countries of Central America," said Francisco Rivera, president of the Central American Roundtable (Mesa Redonda Centroamericana).

"We have the basis of a lawsuit, because long before the 2010 Census we told them that the Central American population could be estimated with a minimal margin of error if the form was printed with a box like the one for those born in Puerto Rico or Mexico," he argued.

The U.S. population, according to the 2010 census, is over 308 million, of which 50.5 million or 16.3 percent are Hispanic.

"With the help of our lawyers, we are going to require changes to the forms so that we'll know in which areas in the U.S. Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, Nicaraguans, Belize, Panama and Costa Ricans are concentrated, which together add 7.5 million people to the U.S.," he said.

Rivera said the exact figures are important because both activists and political representatives of the areas in which they live may require funds for health, education, housing and other services.

"If we have concrete data from the census, then we can require the Government to return the money and services for the taxes that are a paid by our communities and other underrepresented minorities," said Rivera, who is not convinced that the 2010 census reflected the actual number of Central Americans.

The president of the Central American Roundtable noted that most residents born in Central America reside in California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and New York.

Salvador Sanabria, executive director of The Rescue (El Rescate), meanwhile, said that before the last census of 2010, the government and other foundations made agreements with some nonprofit organizations to get them funds in exchange for help convince 'the population more vulnerable " to participate.

"People in our communities, because many live here with irregular immigration status, when they see a Census Bureau government official at their door, are afraid," said Sanabria.

The director of the organization helping Central American political exiles, El Rescate, said that working with nonprofits in the immigrant neighborhoods inspire people to be more confident to talk to other immigrants like them.

"With the 2010 Census results, we are still not getting the funds to implement, for example, programs in health or education services, " said Sanabria.

Salvadoran Marvin Andrade, director of Leadership Development in the Asian Pacific American Legal Center," told EFE that "Census 2010 does not reflect the true number of Latinos in the U.S. and much less those living in California."

"I think there was some fear in our people, particularly those coming from countries with repressive governments who do not feel comfortable sharing information with the government," he said.

According to a Pew Hispanic Center study released this month, most U.S. residents with roots in Spanish-speaking countries do not consider the term "Hispanic" or "Latino" is the one that best suits their identity.

In a study of a sample of 1,220 Hispanic, 51 percent responded that although they do not mind referring to them as "Hispanics" they prefer to identify with the adjective of your country of origin, while 21 percent consider themselves "American."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Multiracial Need


It was cold and very windy, but our BONE MARROW DONOR DRIVE was a success! We have 35 new donors.  About 10 more took the information to register from home and a few could not donate due to their medical conditions.

I learned how much stamina it takes to hold a donor drive! The good people of California’s Central Valley came out for the drive despite the weather. Some people came just to become donors, although they seemed to have a lot of fun at the Spring Street Faire. We managed to hold on to the tent whenever a big gust of Valley wind came through.

Many thanks to Be the Match at the City of Hope for sending Vivian to guide us. Please consider becoming a bone marrow donor. We hope we helped find a match for Krystle Delgado Felten and other people waiting for that one right match.
Susan Graham
Project RACE

If you would like to become a donor, please contact us at

Monday, April 16, 2012

Interracial Family on the Titanic?

Joseph LaRoche, had gone from his native Haiti, to France, to study. He was from a wealthy family, and was the nephew of the president of Haiti. While there, he met and fell in love with a young French woman, named Juliette. She had dark features, for a Caucasian, so many people apparently thought she was a light skinned black. When they decided to move to Haiti, they booked passage on the Titanic. They could afford to travel first class, but ended up traveling second class. One version is that it was because the powers that be would not allow a black man to travel first class, and another thing that said that it was because the first class dining room would not allow children. The Laroches had two beautiful little daughters, Simonne and Louise, and Juliette was pregnant.

Joseph put his pregnant wife and two daughters in a life boat, and went down with the ship. Like most of those who died that night, his body was never recovered. Juliette never recovered very well from losing him and never remarried. It is a sweet, but very tragic, love story.
Source: Not verifiable.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Search for Bone Marrow Match

Friday, Apr. 13, 2012

Search for bone marrow match part of faire

By Corey Pride /

In between the food, trinkets and knickknacks at Saturday's Downtown Spring Street Faire attendees will have the chance to save a life.

An advocacy group for multiracial people, Project Race, and the southern California-based City of Hope are holding a bone marrow donor drive as part of the faire along Sixth Street. The hours of the faire are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Susan Graham, a Los Banos woman who is the executive director of Project Race said her group is specifically looking to find a bone marrow/stem cell donor for Krystle Delgado Felten, a 27-year-old woman suffering from leukemia. Felten is of Filipino and Hispanic descent, and in the case of bone marrow donation race matters. A person has to share the race or ethnicity of the person to whom they're donating bone marrow.

Aside from trying to find a match for Felton, Project Race and City of Hope are searching for donors of all ethnicities so they can be added to the national registry. "We may be out there for that one person, but if we don't watch out we might miss a person who could save a life," said Vivian Abernathy, City of Hope's community outreach specialist.

Graham said, in trying to find a match for Felten, her group has enlisted the help of the Filipino-American Association of Los Banos. Donors for Felten can be Asian, Hispanic or both.
"A woman from the Filipino group said she had somebody in Gilroy who is coming down. She's excited because (her friend) is Filipino and Hispanic," Graham said.

The chances of minorities finding bone marrow/stem cell donors through the national registry are less than whites because there are fewer people from minority groups sign up to be donors, Abernathy said. Whites have a 93 percent chance of finding a donor through the registry, Asians 73 percent, Hispanics 72 percent and blacks 66 percent, according to National Marrow Donor Program. There are 10,000 people diagnosed with leukemia or lymphoma in America each year.People interested in becoming donors must be between 18 and 60, in good health, willing to donate to anyone in need and must be willing to call back promptly when contacted about donating.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reuters and Credibility

(Reuters) - Americans are deeply divided by race over the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, with 91 percent of African Americans saying he was unjustly killed while just 35 percent of whites thought so, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Thursday.

The survey included 1,289 Caucasians, 219 African Americans and 267 Hispanics. The precision of the Reuters/Ipsos online poll is measured using a credibility interval and this poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points for all respondents.

Comment from Susan Graham, Project RACE:
If Reuters/Ipsos is really concerned about its credibility of the polls it takes, they must include the response from people who are multiracial, too. Precision is important in polls, and Reuters/Ipsos needs to get up to date on this: if you are going to ask for race in a poll, make certain that people can check more than one race.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Census Bureau Head Resigns

Census Bureau Director Groves wrote the following today:
"I have had the honor of directing the Census Bureau since July of 2009.  As was reported today, I was offered the provost position at Georgetown University and have accepted it, with a start date of late August, 2012."
Comment from Susan Graham, Project RACE: "Let's hope the new Director invites the multiracial community advocacy leadership to the table, as they have with all the other minority groups." 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Simmons Says

Russell Simmons Says

"My two beautiful daughters are multi-racial. My grandchildren will be multi-racial. And my grandchildren's grandchildren will be multi-racial. This is what America, the beautiful is becoming. A country of sons and daughters that are made up of the pot that will truly be melted. We must endure the last attempts to stop us. We must fight against the few that think their voice of hate matters. We must fight the hatred with compassion, love and resilience. For if we overcome this obstacle in our path towards equality, our nation will be the beacon of hope that we all aspire for her to be."
Source Russell Simmons, Founder,
From Huff Post Politics

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Fox News on Multiracial Identity. WOW.

Comment from Susan Graham, Project RACE: The commentary below appeared at Fox News Latino and  was written by Alexis Garcia. It contains many errors.  Fox News apparently does not fact check what they print. Alexis is well within her rights to refer to herself as 'a mutt' or whatever else she wants, but to tell people how President Obama, Tiger Woods, Mariah Carey, Derek Jeter, etc. should be classified racially and ethnically is absurd. Project RACE neither assigns race(s) to people nor advises people how to choose their own identity. We also do not advocate racial classifications by The New York Times or any other entity.

A 'White Hispanic' Like Me

I was born a mutt. My mother is of German descent and my father is Mexican-American. Whenever I get paperwork asking me to identify my racial and ethnic makeup, I immediately flashback to my youth and see my dad's stern face, his thick mustache bristling with annoyance as he would say, "Mija, you're not Hispanic. You're a Mexican!"

My dad isn't the only one that has a pet peeve about the distinction. According to a recent Pew Research poll, half of Hispanics don't like being called Hispanic. They don't like being called Latino either. Only 24% prefer a pan-ethnic label.

So if Hispanics don't like being called Hispanic or Latino, what do we call them?

Most would prefer to use their country of origin, but since that can't fit neatly on a census form, the U.S. government settled on "Hispanic" in the 1970s as the official phrase for all people of Latin American descent (even though Hispanic is technically an ethnicity and not a race). While the term "Latino" is more popular in America, it was scrapped because it sounded too much like "Ladino", an old Hebrew dialect spoken by Spanish Jews.

The "Hispanic or Latino?" question usually conjures strong preferences in Spanish-speaking communities -- one signifies a connection to ancient Spain, while the other represents roots in Latin America.

In 1997, the Office of Management and Budget had to amend its own classification to include "Latino", explaining that "Hispanic is commonly used in the eastern portion of the United States, whereas Latino is commonly used in the western portion."

If that's not confusing enough, consider this: Filipinos speak Spanish and were colonized by Spain, but are considered Asian-American. Brazilians speak Portuguese, but are still considered Latinos. Even according to the government's own definition, anyone can identify as a Hispanic or Latino simply by saying they are one. Huh?

And what about those of us that happen to be multiracial? What do we call ourselves? Is there not a better way?! Luckily, the New York Times has solved this mystifying racial and cultural enigma by giving us the term "white Hispanic." Though it's become popularized of late by the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin, the Gray Lady has used the term several times before -- twice in 2011 and even as early as 1980.

"Aren't Hispanics already white?" you ask. Just tune out the cognitive dissonance you're experiencing. Forget that it's redundant.  Forget that it doesn't make sense. Forget that it violates the New York Times own style guide. It just sounds good.

So thanks to the paper of record, I can now identify as white Hispanic. And I'm not alone. Jessica Alba, Selena Gomez, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Cameron Diaz -- all notable white Hispanics.
Applying the New York Times logic on racial categorization is also helpful in identifying other multiracial blends.

President Barack Obama? White black. Yankees' shortstop Derek Jeter? Also white black.
Golfer Ernie Els? White African. Mariah Carey? Black Irish…well…the other kind of black Irish.
Lenny Kravitz? Black Jew. Tiger Woods? He's black Asian. Or is it Thai African? Or would it be American-Indian Asian? Or white black? Well….you get the point.

By using the New York Times guidelines on race and ethnicity, you too could discover that you are white Hispanic like me. Though, I usually just prefer to be called an American.

Source: Fox News Latino

Friday, April 6, 2012

CNN: Get real, not superficial

Can there ever again be an 'all-American' beauty?

By Sarah Springer, CNN
(CNN) – As 18-year-old Giovana Frediani and her friends stood in front of the mirror to prep for a night out, one girl turned around and complained that her backside was getting big.
It was that moment when Giovana – popular, fashionable Giovana – felt the knock of self-doubt.
As usual, she dressed to accentuate her curves, a typical style among her Latina family and friends. But these friends were from a predominantly white area in Oakland. In her eyes, there was nothing oversized about them.
“If she was saying that about her own body, then she must have been thinking the same way about mine,” said Giovana, an American high school senior who grew up in a mostly Latino and black area of Oakland.
“I almost feel out of place because they define beauty in different ways than I do.”
The U.S. population is growing, changing, mixing in new ways - more people are in interracial relationships and more identify as multiracial than ever. Those realities change the way women, especially, look at others, ourselves and the idea of the “all-American beauty,” if there is such a thing.
Some trend-watchers and researchers say the increased diversity and mixing among races is shifting the population away from a standard of beauty for women that’s dominated by white faces. Others agree that it’s happening, but say it’s driven by mass media’s desire to reach a more diverse audience – or sell products to it.
Out of 2,000 people who responded to an Allure magazine poll in 2011, 73% of women said they find curvier bodies more attractive now than they did over the last 10 years. People polled said they wanted larger lips, butts and hips, an Allure editor said, and 70% of those who want to change their skin color said they want it to be darker. The same survey said 64% believe women of mixed race represented the "epitome of beauty."
And 71% of women and 67% of men said there's no such thing as an “all-American” look.
The results were wildly different from a similar poll the magazine conducted when it launched in 1991, Allure Executive Editor Kristin Perrotta said.
“There was a dramatic shift in what people considered the beauty ideal in America now,” she said.  “We went from the blond hair, blue-eye, typical all-American girl like Christie Brinkley in 1991, to this dark, sultry Angelina Jolie ideal in 2011.
“It just was not what you would have imagined the Hollywood ideal being, which is also this tall, thin, blond ideal that we are sort of used to.”
But even before girls and women tackle universal beauty ideals, they’re often struggling to understand standards closer to home.
Looking in the same mirror as everyone else’
Marium Soomro parents’ are from Pakistan, and even before she hit the teen years, her mom brought home the skin lightening cream Fair and Lovely. Women in her family used it in Pakistan, and carried on the practice in the United States, she said - even her fairer-skinned mothers and sisters.
“‘Hey, put this on, you’ll get whiter,’” she remembers her mom saying. “Or, ‘Put yogurt on your face at night and your skin will get lighter.’”
Soomro is 23 now, and a student at Rutgers University. She still uses the cream sometimes, she said.
Then there’s Leslie Rosales, 27, a Filipino who was born and raised in a predominantly black neighborhood in South Los Angeles. She’s Asian, but connected more with her black friends’ sense of beauty and style.
“Going to the Philippines, everyone there was petite,” she said of trips to her family’s home country. “They’re small and for some reason I’m not. I’m 5'4" and I weigh 155, I’m considered an overweight giant in the Philippines.
“I felt the pressure from family and tried to change, so that was difficult, dealing with what my family thought I should look like opposed to what I thought I should look like.”
Giovana, the Oakland high school student, said she feels pretty among her classmates and community, and it makes her feel in control. But in a different part of town, among a different set of friends, feeling not-so-pretty made her want to act differently, too.
When she stopped playing volleyball at school and gained some weight, she said, a few extra pounds didn’t seem pretty anymore. She started binge eating and over-exercising, and it took a long time to recover from those behaviors, she said.
“Honestly, I wonder if I’m looking in the same mirror as everyone else,” Giovana said. “I’ve noticed just how important a perfect body is to every girl. It’s like we are blindly trying to find a way to be who we want to be and the most immediate way we can think of to manipulate who we are is physically.”
When a person is confronted with a dominating culture that differs from their own, the culture outside the home tends to win, said Maya Poran, an associate professor of psychology at the Ramapo College of New Jersey.
“If what you’re sharing in the home is contrasting from that immediately around you and the power of that communication is so much more constant and intensive, we do find that dominant cultural norms win,” she said. “If every single day we’re getting feedback that is telling us negative, it is likely that we are going to feel that thing is negative.”
Although perceptions of beauty can differ depending on culture, race, ethnicity and experience, no one is exempt from the pressures of universal beauty ideals within America.
“The issues about body and beauty are shifting - they’re not disappearing,” Poran said. “Everyone is affected by it, influenced by it, and related to it in some way.”
Even as body and beauty standards shift and include more people of color, Poran said there will still be a dominant body type – thin and white - which can be a struggle for women outside that body type.
“There is a white norm and there’s a black norm and a Latina norm and there is an Asian norm, and they are all equally different, but there is a dominant standard of beauty, which is white or white-like,” Poran said. “The more people who are included in very a narrow version of beauty, the more likely they will compare themselves against it and feel negative about themselves.”
“No one is untouched by it. No one.”
 ‘A a narrow version of beauty’
Poran, who is writing a book about race and beauty, said she began to research body ideals after she noticed most studies used white women as a standard of beauty, even as they studied women of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.
“For the majority of this research vein, whiteness was the unquestioned image of beauty,” she said. “Meaning when we’re talking about beauty or body, they were covertly talking about whiteness, but not realizing it.”
Poran organized different focus groups geared toward allowing white, black and Latina women to define their own feelings about beauty.
Young black and Latina women Poran interviewed said they felt judged by multiple standards of beauty – one within their own racial or ethnic community, and another set by a larger white, Anglo community.
“There was no way to get it right,” Poran said. “If you can walk through many different worlds at once, you can be judged by many different standards at once.”
And the pressure to be thin and light-skinned can weigh even on those who seem to match it most closely.
As a child and teen, Rachel Blais always felt ugly. She was pale and tall with curly hair.
“I was very skinny, I had no boobs, I guess that body type when you’re about 13, 14,” said Blais, who was recently featured in the documentary, “Girl Model.”
At age 14, she was recruited to work as a model. By 17, she was traveling internationally for her career. Now 27, she still works in the industry, but she’s among the older models, she said. Many of her colleagues now are prepubescent girls or teens, all of them posed to look like older women.
“Using 15-year-old girls to represent the ideal woman makes me think that a woman of 25, 30, 40 years old looks at those billboards and at a magazine and is looking at girls … disguised as women promoting clothing for women,” she said. “You can’t ever go back to being 15.”
Rachel Blais is featured in the documentary “Girl Model.”
Joan Jacobs Brumberg, a historian who wrote “The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls,” said it’s easy to blame images in the media, but women’s body obsessions were long in the making – and modern conveniences have made it easy to keep those obsessions going.
“I always say you can’t blame it on Twiggy or Calvin Klein. I think they’re implicated,” but it really started in the 1920s, she said. “When you have calories, when you have mirrors, when you have bathroom scales, when you begin to have standard sizing, you don’t have a dressmaker, or a mother who makes your clothes and you have to get into a particular size - those things are critical in how women think about their bodies.”
Taylor Cook, an agent at Fusion Models in New York, said lithe bodies and symmetrical faces are still in demand, but the modeling industry is starting to seek more diverse skin tones and features prominent only among certain ethnic groups. Asian models like Tian Yi and Lina Zhang are representing products in national and international media.
“(They are) two of our top-selling girls, getting all of the major beauty campaigns and high-fashion editorials, and looking at other agencies, their Asian girls are doing really well,” Cook said. “If you would have gone back a few seasons, you didn’t see a lot of Asian girls.”
Perrotta, the Allure editor, expects America’s celebrated beauties will keep changing, too.
“In terms of the models and celebrities who are idolized, they’ll be ethnically vague. You can’t tell if they’re black or white or Hispanic, it’s going to be this mixture,” Perrotta said. “Everyone can see a little bit of themselves in these people rather than the classically Anglican features, or classically black features.”
Linda Blum, associate professor of sociology and interim director of women’s, gender and sexuality studies at Northeastern University, said changing standards of beauty are driven more by business than by cultural curiosity, diversity or acceptance.
“If we have more multiracial children, or more biracial children will (this) lead to more uniform and diverse standards of beauty? I don’t really think so,” Blum said. “I don’t mean to be completely conspiratorial, but (people will) have to find some other way to sustain growing markets.”
Maybe, with the next generation of consumers.
Giovana, the student in Oakland, will graduate high school this year. She thinks life outside the classroom walls will make it easier to understand who she is and what she thinks is beautiful – or how much it even matters.
“I do have a mind, I do have a direction that I want to go in, and aspirations,” she said.
Her goal? Show business.
“I want to do something in that industry,” she said.
Then she added, laughing - “which is all based on looks.”

Thursday, April 5, 2012

When Labels Don't Fit Hispanics

When Labels Don’t Fit: Hispanics and Their Views of Identity

It has been nearly four decades since the United States government mandated the use by federal agencies of the terms "Hispanic" or "Latino" to categorize Americans who trace their roots to Spanish-speaking countries, but the labels still haven't been fully embraced by the group to which they have been affixed.
Only about one-quarter (24%) of Hispanic adults say they most often identify themselves by "Hispanic" or "Latino," according to a new nationwide survey of Hispanic adults by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. About half (51%) say they identify themselves most often by their family's country or place of origin-using such terms as Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Salvadoran or Dominican. And 21% say they use the term "American" most often to describe themselves. The share rises to 40% among those who were born in the U.S.
By a ratio of more than two-to-one, survey respondents say that the more than 50 million Latinos in the U.S. have many different cultures rather than a common culture. Respondents do, however, express a strong, shared connection to the Spanish language. More than eight-in-ten Latino adults say they speak Spanish, and nearly all say it is important for future generations to continue to do so.
Hispanics are also divided over how much of a common identity they share with other Americans. Just under half say they consider themselves to be very different from the typical American. And just one-in-five say they use the term "American" most often to describe their identity.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Multiracial Accounts?

During the recession, blacks and Hispanics were more likely to make withdrawals from or cash-out 401(k) accounts than whites or Asian Americans (source: USA Today). No data were given for withdrawals made by the multiracial population.

Monday, April 2, 2012

What? Another source on the 1940 Census

In 1940, nearly 90 percent of those surveyed were white. Some 9.8 percent were black and 0.4 percent registered as other.

1940 Census Data Released

The 1940 Census found that 89.8%  of the population was white and 9.8% was "Negro." Other options for race included Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Hindu and Korean - the 1940 Census didn't collect information on the Hispanic population. It also did not collect information on the multiracial population.