Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Multiracial Advocate and The High Cost of the Census

The Multiracial Advocate and The High Cost of the Census

The United States Census Bureau is so huge, so filled with layers of bureaucracy, that it’s always surprising that they can manage to get a census done every ten years. Lots of passing the buck ends up costing taxpayers—that’s us—big bucks for all that number-crunching. But did you know that a decennial census is not all the bureau does? They have a census every year. Honest.

The American Community Survey (ACS) is sent to about three million households every year. The government spends about $70 per person to fill it out and get this: It’s mandatory to fill it out. It’s not voluntary. They will track you down and they can fine you for not being very cooperative. By the way, it’s 26 pages long. You can do the math.

Yes, they ask for the race(s) and ethnicity of everyone in the household, even though they ask that on each census. Maybe they want to be sure that we’re sure of what we are. They also ask things like do you have plumbing facilities? What’s your occupation? How much money do you make? What is your primary language? They used to ask how many slaves you had, but they finally dropped that question. They have added questions about your health insurance coverage.

The House recently voted to eliminate the survey completely. That could mean lots of job losses at the Census Bureau! The Senate still has to vote, and most Washington folks are betting that it will go to a conference committee and they just might keep it, but make it voluntary instead of mandatory. That could actually end up costing more, but would be less invasive to our personal privacy.

A lot is at stake with the American Community Survey; journalists use the data to make those cute little pie charts about us, homebuilder’s need the data to know where to build, retailers depend on the ACS to decide where they should locate new stores, and that’s just a few of a long list of stakeholders.

Is it worth keeping? I don’t personally know anyone who has ever received one, so I can’t judge just how much time it really takes and how invasive people feel it is, but I know it’s something I hope I never get in the mail. I’m too busy keeping track of all of this.

Multiracial people are stakeholders in the ACS just like we are in the Census, but no one has asked us how we feel about it. So Project RACE is not taking an official stand on this one, but we remember how long it took to get the ability to check more than one race on the Census. The Census Bureau kicked and screamed about it all the way. If you’re someone who thinks they accommodated the multiracial community out of the goodness of their hearts or because it made sense, you’re living on some other planet. It took a lot of hard work by many advocates for multiracial people to back them into a political corner so they finally had to do the right thing. We’ll be watching what happens with this. If you feel so inclined, write to your senators and let them know how you feel.  

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hmmmmm or Huh?

The Future of Whiteness

I concluded my column this weekend on Elizabeth Warren’s supposed Indian ancestry by noting that America’s emerging post-white future, in which “almost everyone will be 1/8 something-or-other,” will make certain forms of contemporary affirmative action and diversity promotion look increasingly ridiculous. I see that Matt Yglesias, himself 1/4 Cuban, has pivoted off his self-professed status as “just another white dude” to make the case that America will never actually become post-white:
It’s conceivable that 40 years from now nobody will care about race at all. But if they do still care, it will still be the case that—by definition—whiteness is the racial definition of the sociocultural majority. If the only way for that to happen is to recruit large swathes of the Hispanic and fractionally Asian population into whiteness, then surely it will happen. Indeed, while the Census Bureau has always been very clear that some people are white, others black, and yet others Native American or Indian, the federal government has frequently changed its mind about the rest. The first time an additional option showed up was in Census 1870’s addition of a “Chinese” race. By 1890 you were also allowed to be “Japanese,” and “mulatto,” “quadroon,” and “octoroon” categories were implemented for the fractionally black. These mixed-race categories vanished in 1900, but mulatto returned in 1910, and in 1920 “Hindu,” “Korean,” and “Filipino” became races. Mulatto vanished in 1930, and “Mexican” became a race, though people of Mexican ancestry had been living in large parts of the United States since those parts of the country actually belonged to Mexico. In 1940, Mexicans were granted white status—a measure backed up by a 1943 Texas law passed in part as an act of wartime solidarity, in appreciation of Latin American support for the anti-Nazi cause.
Hindu and Korean vanished in 1950, but Korean returned in 1970 along with an “Other” category. In 1980, “Vietnamese,” “Asian Indian,” and “Guamanian” became races, and the government started classifying people as Hispanic or not-Hispanic over and above their racial designation. Only in 1990 did the Census hit upon the idea of lumping a bunch of people together into a catchall “Asian” race. In 2000 they gave us the “two or more races” category.
The point of this long-winded recitation is simply that with the important exception of the black/white dichotomy, America has never operated with a stable conception of race. The factoid that 50 percent of our latest baby crop is other than non-Hispanic white is true only relative to the 2000 census scheme. There’s no reason to believe that this particular categorization will continue as bureaucratic practice or social reality.
Well, except for the fact that the incentives have shifted for minorities themselves. To be “granted” white status today means something very different (and something less obviously desirable) than it did in 1943. It means gaining a majoritarian identity, yes, but it also means giving up various privileges in hiring, admissions and so on — privileges that are defended by networks of activists and institutions that would themselves diminish or disappear if a category like “Hispanic” went the way of “mulatto” and “octoroon.” And the power of these incentives and interest groups means that even if the social reality changes in ways that make our current racial and ethnic classifications increasingly out-of-date (not that “Hispanic” is a particularly coherent category to begin with), it’s easy to imagine the bureaucratic practice simply grinding on, in government and the private sector alike — inviting people who might otherwise identify as “just another white guy” (or white woman, in Elizabeth Warren’s case) to identify as minorities instead, in order to claim the benefits to which their increasingly-distant ethnic patrimony entitles them (not to mention making their institutions look better on “federally-mandated diversity statistics”).

This is the irony of our situation: The same kind of affirmative-action programs that will look increasingly ridiculous in a majority-minority America are also what promise to usher that majority-minority America into existence in the first place. Maybe it will be otherwise, and the babies currently being identified by the Census as hyphenated Americans will drop the hyphens as they grow up, apply to schools, enter the workforce and so on. But even Yglesias himself acknowledges that when he filled out his 2010 census form, he identified as “of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin,” despite feeling like “a bit of a fraud.” Why he did so is his own business, but if affirmative action as we know it endures for another quarter century, I expect that many of the minority Americans currently being born will do exactly the same thing. They’ll feel a bit bogus identifying as anything other than generic Americans when they grow up, but they’ll do it anyway – because that’s what the system expects from them, and what all of its incentives are designed to reward.
Source: Ross Douthat, The New York Times

Multiracial DNA Sought

DNA study seeks origin of Appalachia's Melungeons

For years, varied and sometimes wild claims have been made about the origins of a group of dark-skinned Appalachian residents once known derisively as the Melungeons. Some speculated they were descended from Portuguese explorers, or perhaps from Turkish slaves or Gypsies.

Now a new DNA study in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy attempts to separate truth from oral tradition and wishful thinking. The study found the truth to be somewhat less exotic: Genetic evidence shows that the families historically called Melungeons are the offspring of sub-Saharan African men and white women of northern or central European origin.
And that report, which was published in April in the peer-reviewed journal, doesn't sit comfortably with some people who claim Melungeon ancestry.

"There were a whole lot of people upset by this study," lead researcher Roberta Estes said. "They just knew they were Portuguese, or Native American."

Beginning in the early 1800s, or possibly before, the term Melungeon (meh-LUN'-jun) was applied as a slur to a group of about 40 families along the Tennessee-Virginia border. But it has since become a catch-all phrase for a number of groups of mysterious mixed-race ancestry.

In recent decades, interest in the origin of the Melungeons has risen dramatically with advances both in DNA research and in the advent of Internet resources that allow individuals to trace their ancestry without digging through dusty archives.

They conclude that as laws were put in place to penalize the mixing of races, the various family groups could only intermarry with each other, even migrating together from Virginia through the Carolinas before settling primarily in the mountains of East Tennessee.

Claims of Portuguese ancestry likely were a ruse they used in order to remain free and retain other privileges that came with being considered white, according to the study's authors.
The study quotes from an 1874 court case in Tennessee in which a Melungeon woman's inheritance was challenged. If Martha Simmerman were found to have African blood, she would lose the inheritance.

Her attorney, Lewis Shepherd, argued successfully that the Simmerman's family was descended from ancient Phoenicians who eventually migrated to Portugal and then to North America.

Writing about his argument in a memoir published years later, Shepherd stated, "Our Southern high-bred people will never tolerate on equal terms any person who is even remotely tainted with negro blood, but they do not make the same objection to other brown or dark-skinned people, like the Spanish, the Cubans, the Italians, etc."

In another lawsuit in 1855, Jacob Perkins, who is described as "an East Tennessean of a Melungeon family," sued a man who had accused him of having "negro blood."
In a note to his attorney, Perkins wrote why he felt the accusation was damaging. Writing in the era of slavery ahead of the Civil War, Perkins noted the racial discrimination of the age: "1st the words imply that we are liable to be indicted (equals) liable to be whipped (equals) liable to be fined ... "

Later generations came to believe some of the tales their ancestors wove out of necessity.
Jack Goins, who has researched Melungeon history for about 40 years and was the driving force behind the DNA study, said his distant relatives were listed as Portuguese on an 1880 census. Yet he was taken aback when he first had his DNA tested around 2000. Swabs taken from his cheeks collected the genetic material from saliva or skin cells and the sample was sent to a laboratory for identification.

"It surprised me so much when mine came up African that I had it done again," he said. "I had to have a second opinion. But it came back the same way. I had three done. They were all the same."

In order to conduct the larger DNA study, Goins and his fellow researchers — who are genealogists but not academics — had to define who was a Melungeon.
In recent years, it has become a catchall term for people of mixed-race ancestry and has been applied to about 200 communities in the eastern U.S. — from New York to Louisiana.
Among them were the Montauks, the Mantinecocks, Van Guilders, the Clappers, the Shinnecocks and others in New York. Pennsylvania had the Pools; North Carolina the Lumbees, Waccamaws and Haliwas and South Carolina the Redbones, Buckheads, Yellowhammers, Creels and others. In Louisiana, which somewhat resembled a Latin American nation with its racial mixing, there were Creoles of the Cane River region and the Redbones of western Louisiana, among others.

The latest DNA study limited participants to those whose families were called Melungeon in the historical records of the 1800s and early 1900s in and around Tennessee's Hawkins and Hancock Counties, on the Virginia border some 200 miles northeast of Nashville.
The study does not rule out the possibility of other races or ethnicities forming part of the Melungeon heritage, but none were detected among the 69 male lines and 8 female lines that were tested. Also, the study did not look for later racial mixing that might have occurred, for instance with Native Americans.

Goins estimates there must be several thousand descendants of the historical Melungeons alive today, but the study only examined unbroken male and female lines.

The origin of the word Melungeon is unknown, but there is no doubt it was considered a slur by white residents in Appalachia who suspected the families of being mixed race.

"It's sometimes embarrassing to see the lengths your ancestors went to hide their African heritage, but look at the consequences" said Wayne Winkler, past president of the Melungeon Heritage Association. "They suffered anyway because of the suspicion."

The DNA study is ongoing as researchers continue to locate additional Melungeon descendants.

Source: Associated Press
Associated Press Writer Cain Burdeau contributed to this story from New Orleans, La.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Multiracial is an Important Word

Why Multiracial is an Important Word

Now that the minorities are becoming the majorities in the United States, the academicians and Washington bureaucrats can finally believe what we’ve been telling them all these years: multiracial people are becoming people we know. Some of them are in our families. Even our President is multiracial; how about that!

But some of those same people also want to take us back, way back to a time when people were not in a position to put a respectable name to what they were.

Back in the 1990s, advocates for multiracial people went to Washington. We were told we would never get a category if we didn’t know what to call it. You see, all kinds of terms were being tossed around: multiracial, biracial, interracial, mixed, half-breed, mixed-race, mulatto, and others; literally, “other.” No, we did not go to Washington just to be classified as “other.”

Project RACE was a growing organization by that time and we polled the membership. What terminology did they want? The answer was overwhelmingly “Multiracial.” Biracial was a close runner-up, but did not seem as all-encompassing as multiracial. Our members spoke and we listened. We went to Washington and told them what our majority wanted. When they said it was too ambiguous, we suggested a good compromise, an “Umbrella” category of Multiracial with the top five or ten most utilized combinations, very similar to how the Asian or Hispanic groups look. No, they didn’t want “multiracial” at all. It would become “the M word.”

If we go even further back in time, we can see how one community went from colored to Negro to black to African American. In fact, there was so much of a negative community uproar when the US Census Bureau put “Negro” on the 2010 census forms that we may not see it again.

In the mid-1990s, some of the Hapas—Asian and some other race—tried to talk some of the multiracial groups into using “Hapa” for everyone of more than one race, which obviously did not work. Some of the other groups, weary of it all by then, succumbed to the Census Bureau and NAACP’s “better judgment” of just check two or more boxes.

I admit to some despair at that time. I think we have seen proper terminology work for other groups, including the one advising us to just choose two or more. What harm is there in calling a group what it wants? Well, more than one group that had adopted “multiethnic,” even though race and ethnicity are two different things, another that wanted “interracial” and no one could agree. As far as I know, Project RACE was the only group that polled its membership for their opinion. Even better, we never gave in to other groups, demographers, politicians, or people who work for the government.

The term “multiracial” is a completely respectable term that defines someone of more than one race. It should be embraced by the multiracial community, but that isn’t happening—again.

One of the things we set out to do was to make the term “Multiracial” accepted. So what if that wasn’t what the federal government wanted? When we talk to the media, we use the correct terminology and it seems that they have listened. We advocate for the terminology of “Multiracial” being used on school forms, one reason was that teachers asked for it so that they could be consistent in their classrooms with their multiracial students.

One thing I have noticed is whenever the media refers to the background of our President, they use the respectful term “Multiracial.” No one calls him a “mixie.”

However, “mixies” abound. Personally, I would be happy never to hear that term again. It’s a terrible self-fulfilling prophecy, it’s not nearly as cute as the females who say it think it is—I’ve never heard a male call himself a mixie—and it’s not respectful, it’s derogatory. What is wrong with these mostly female 20 somethings who refer to themselves as “mixies”? It would have been just as bad had the black community referred to itself as “colored peeps.” It’s just not right. I have been told that some of the “mixies” are just trying to get attention and publicity and feel anything goes. But it doesn’t. Not in the long run. A derogatory term is still derogatory no matter how you say it. If we laugh at ourselves, others will be happy to laugh at us, too.

Don’t even get me started on multiracial people who tend to smile in a slightly uneasy way and say, “I’m just a mutt.”

What we call people is important. What we call ourselves or our children or grandchildren is important!

Why is this community trying to sabotage itself?!

Whether it’s called “mixie” on a radio show or “Critical Mixed Studies” by academics, it’s still wrong. I admit that I always felt the term “mixed” leant itself to things like “Mixed Nuts’ and “Mixed up.” I don’t even want to count the media stories over the years that said mixed kids were mixed up. One day I sat down and contemplated what really turned me off to the term “mixed.” I realized that the opposite of “mixed” is “pure.” I don’t want to be part of a culture that separates people by mixed and pure. It reminds me too much of Hitler and the “superior” white race, and I certainly don’t want to go there.

Yes, we advocate for the correct terminology of “Multiracial.”  I recently heard a US Census top level executive refer to multiracial people as “People of more than one category.” Another new one is “people in combination,” which brings to mind ordering a combo meal at a fast food restaurant. One journalist thinks “people of color” is the answer to everything when all it does is separate whites from everyone else and so people would rekindle the days when the terminology was “colored people.” Is that really what you want? Can’t we show a cohesive acceptance of a word that describes us?

I am compelled by the membership of Project RACE to defend what our national membership wants—the term “Multiracial.” It means someone who is of more than one race. It’s a respectful, accurate, preferred term, it’s better than any other terminology to date, and it’s critical to let those in Washington, and in our own backyards, our schools, our hospitals, etc. know that we are cohesive, aware, politically astute, and advocates for multiracial wording on forms and in common usage.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

54 More Multiracial Donors!

What a great success for our Project RACE Teens, under the direction of Kendall Baldwin!! They held a Bone Marrow Donor Drive yesterday with Be the Match in New Jersey and signed up 54 new people in the bone marrow registry. They worked very, very hard, had a lot of last minutes changes to deal with and came through it all. They are saving lives. Congratulations on a great  donor drive!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Our Great Teen Advocates

I am so proud of our Project RACE Teens! They are holding a bone marrow donor drive in New Jersey all day. Everyone should become a potential donor. Great work, Kendall and your team!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Minority Births Surpassed White Births in 2011

For the first time in U.S. history, racial minorities now represent more than half of the children born, according to new census data. African-Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities made up 50.4 percent of U.S. births in the year ending July 2011, and accounted for 2.02 million births, which is up from 37 percent in 1990.

During the year-long period, there were 1.99 million white births, 1.05 million Hispanic births, 0.61 million black births, 0.19 million Asian births, 0.07 million Native American births, 0.01 Pacific Islander births, and 0.25 million births classified as "two or more races."
Roderick Harrison, former head of racial statistics at the Census Bureau, said:
“This is an important landmark. This generation is growing up much more accustomed to diversity than its elders.”
Birth rates have been on the decline for both whites and minorities since 2008, however, the trend has been more pronounced among whites. The birth rate for whites fell 11.4 percent over the past few years, compared to just a 3.2 percent drop for minorities.

According to the 2010 census, there are now 114.1 million minorities in the U.S., which is 36.6 percent of the total population. In addition, four states - California, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Texas - now have populations in which minorities comprise a majority of the population.
Source: The Cleveland Leader

More than Half of US Babies now Minorities

More than half of US babies now minorities, US Census reports

America is changing. As of July 2011, 50.4 percent of children under age 1 in the US were members of minority groups. In the under-5 group in 2011, 49.7 percent were minorities.

By Staff writer / May 17, 2012 

America’s minorities are slowly becoming the majority.

For the first time, more than half of children in the United States under the age of 1 are members of minority groups, the US Census Bureau reported in data released early Thursday.
The agency’s estimates show that as of July 2011, 50.4 percent of the nation’s under-1 babies were minorities (considered anyone who is not non-Hispanic, single-race white).
That is up from 49.5 percent in the 2010 Census.

The under-5 population is also moving toward “majority-minority,” with 49.7 percent in 2011 considered to be members of minority groups, up from 49.0 percent in 2010.
Overall, minorities constitute more than one-third of the US population.

“It really is an interesting time. We knew this was coming, but it’s just one more symbol of how America is changing,” says Kenneth Johnson, a senior demographer at the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute.

America’s youngest residents have been shifting toward majority-minority for some time, and several states – California, Texas, New Mexico, Hawaii – and the District of Columbia are already majority-minority.

A combination of factors, including higher minority birth rates and higher death rates for whites, are driving the shift.

Between 2000 and 2010, Mr. Johnson notes, the number of non-Hispanic white women in prime childbearing years (between the ages of 20 and 39) dropped by 2.5 million, or 9 percent. During that time, the number of minority women in the same age group increased by 3.2 million, or 22 percent.

Add to that the fact that minority women, particularly Hispanics, tend to have more children, and at younger ages, than non-Hispanic whites, and the trends are not surprising.

At the same time, more white people are dying. In the period between July 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011, not only were more than 50 percent of the births minority, but nearly 80 percent of the deaths were non-Hispanic whites.

Other news from the updated census data:

• There were 114 million minorities in 2011, or 36.6 percent of the US population. That’s a rise from 36.1 percent in 2010.
• Hispanics remain the most populous minority group, making up 16.7 percent of the nation’s total population (up from 16.3 percent in 2010). They were also the fastest growing, with their population increasing by 3.1 percent since 2010.
• More than 11 percent of America’s counties were majority-minority as of July 1, 2011. Nine of those counties achieved that status since April 1, 2010.
• The nation is slowly aging. The number of people ages 65 and older increased from 40.3 million in 2010 to 41.4 million in 2011, while the number of children under 18 declined by about 200,000 to 74.0 million in 2011. There was also small uptick in America’s median age, from 37.2 years in 2010 to 37.3 in 2011.

The growth in minorities varies significantly by region. “It really differs a lot where you are,” says Johnson. Still, he notes, some of the trends show that minority populations are slowly becoming more dispersed, with the fastest minority population growth occurring in suburban and rural areas.

The implications, over time, may affect everything from school services to the America’s racial attitudes.

Hospital maternity wards are likely to need more language expertise, says Johnson, and more schools may need to add programs for English language learners.

On the positive side, he adds, data show that children who grow up exposed to ethnic and racial minorities tend to get along better as adults. And the higher number of minority births is also helping to slow America’s aging trends.

“There are positives, but especially for communities that aren’t used to it, it’s a big change to make,” says Johnson. “The big hope is that America will change in its attitudes from the bottom up, just as it’s changing in its diversity.”
Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Tuesday, May 15, 2012



Now is the perfect time to meet with the superintendent of  YOUR school or your children's schools. They are getting ready to put enrollment forms into place for the NEXT school year that starts in the fall. I met yesterday with the superintendent of my public schools, explained the wording we want put into place on the forms for multiracial students, and by 9 AM this morning, it was DONE--in English and in Spanish. 

Every state reports racial and ethnic student numbers to the same federal government and we can show them how to do it so that it is accepted by all federal agencies. If you really are an advocate for multiracial children and you would like to ACT, do it now. If you need any information, email me at
Susan Graham

Monday, May 14, 2012

Does Multiracial really mean "gay"?

Comment from Susan Graham: I usually try not to give our blog space to people who say absurd things, but this is just too tempting. Blogger Andrew Sullivan is getting way too much press. Mr. Sullivan and everyone else needs to get rid of this notion that biracial and gay are the same "experience." Sullivan believes that the announcement (of the President accepting gay marriage) should not be surprising, "because the president and the gay community share a bond of “displacement, a sense of belonging and yet not belonging.
I am not gay, but I believe gays should have the right to marry. Andrew Sullivan is white and gay and believes gays should have the right to marry. President Barack Obama is multiracial and believes gays should have the right to marry. We may all be right, but we're not all multiracial. Therefore, we did not come to that conclusion because we are the same racial classification(s). Enough already.

Andrew Sullivan Hails Obama as 'The First Gay President'

Andrew Sullivan argues that Barack Obama’s biracial identity allows him to understand the “core gay experience” of “displacement” more than any other American president.

BY Julie Bolcer


Andrew Sullivan hails President Barack Obama as “the first gay president” in a new essay for Newsweek that lauds his support for marriage equality. The gay blogger argues that the president’s identity as a biracial man has helped him identity with the “sense of belonging and yet not belonging” that defines the gay experience.

In the essay, Sullivan readily acknowledges that he was a vocal critic of Obama, having dismissed the approach of the Obama administration as the “fierce urgency of whenever.” The president’s announcement last week appears to have changed Sullivan’s perspective, however, and he now argues that the country has seen “an astonishing pace of change in one presidential term.”

“But when you step back a little and assess the record of Obama on gay rights, you see, in fact, that this was not an aberration. It was an inevitable culmination of three years of work,” writes Sullivan. “He did this the way he always does: leading from behind and playing the long game.”

Sullivan said that he was “utterly unprepared for how psychologically transformative the moment would be.” He said that he cried as he watched the interview with ABC News. But upon reflection, Sullivan believes that the announcement should not be surprising, because the president and the gay community share a bond of “displacement, a sense of belonging and yet not belonging.”

“Barack Obama had to come out of a different closet,” writes Sullivan. “He had to discover his black identity and then reconcile it with his white family, just as gays discover their homosexual identity and then have to reconcile it with their heterosexual family. The America he grew up in had no space for a boy like him: black yet enveloped by loving whiteness, estranged from a father he longed for (another common gay experience), hurtling between being a Barry and a Barack, needing an American racial identity as he grew older but chafing also against it and over-embracing it at times.

“This is the gay experience: the discovery in adulthood of a community not like your own home and the struggle to belong in both places, without displacement, without alienation,” he continues. “It is easier today than ever. But it is never truly without emotional scar tissue. Obama learned to be black the way gays learn to be gay. And in Obama’s marriage to a professional, determined, charismatic black woman, he created a kind of family he never had before, without ever leaving his real family behind. He did the hard work of integration and managed to create a space in America for people who did not have the space to be themselves before. And then as president, he constitutionally represented us all.”

Sullivan’s piece recalls the Toni Morrison essay from 1998 in The New Yorker, where she made a case for Bill Clinton as “the first black president.” She wrote that “Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas.”

Newsweek also has drawn attention for the cover that accompanies the essay. Comments through social media have compared the rainbow halo image of President Obama with the rainbow-columned White House on the cover of The New Yorker this week.

The Most Multiracial Group

The Most Multiracial Group

More than half of Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders report multiple races
It may be the smallest racial group recorded in the U.S. Census, but it is also the most likely to be multiracial. We’re talking about the Native Hawaiians and other Pacific islanders.

More than half (56 percent) of people who identified themselves as being Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (NHPI) reported being of that race in combination with one or more other races. This multiracial segment grew 44 percent from 2000 to 2010, when it totaled 685,000 people.

Overall, 1.2 million people, or 0.4 percent of all people in the U.S., identified as NHPI. This population grew by 40 percent from 2000 to 2010. The segment grew at a faster rate than the total U.S. population, which increased by 9.7 percent from 2000 to 2010.
More than half (52 percent) of NHPIs lived in just two states, Hawaii (356,000) and California (286,000). The states with the next largest NHPI populations in 2010 were Washington (70,000), Texas (48,000), Florida (40,000), Utah (37,000), New York (36,000), Nevada (33,000), Oregon (26,000) and Arizona (25,000). Together, these 10 states represented more than three-fourths (78 percent) of the NHPI population

In the 2010 Census, Native Hawaiian was the largest detailed NHPI group, numbering more than one-half million (527,077), of which 370,931 reported being Native Hawaiian in combination with another race or NHPI group. Samoan was the second largest detailed NHPI group (184,440), followed by Guamanian or Chamoro (147,798).

While the NHPI population was concentrated in the West, yet some detailed NHPI groups were more geographically dispersed than others. Fijians were the most geographically concentrated in one state, with three-quarters of the Fijian population living in California alone. More than half of all Native Hawaiians lived in Hawaii and almost two-thirds of Tongans lived in California and Utah. Conversely, the Guamanian or Chamorro population was the most geographically dispersed with more than half living in states other than the top three states (California, Washington and Texas) with the largest Guamanian or Chamorro populations.
Source: The New America


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Multiracial Kids in Schools?

The article below is very interesting and informative about the racial and ethnic make-up of kids in schools. However, they give exact percentages of black and Hispanic students, but refer to "a scattering are of mixed race."  They have the exact percentage of multiracial students, so why don't they use it? -Susan Graham
‘Why Don’t We Have Any White Kids?’
IN seventh-grade English class, sun leaked in through the windows. Horns bleated outside. The assignment was for the arrayed students to identify a turning point in their lives. Was it positive or negative? They hunched over and wrote fervidly.

Separate but Uneasy

This is the second article in a series examining the changing racial distribution of students in New York City's public schools and its impact on their opportunities and achievements. The previous article chronicled the experience of Rudi-Ann Miller, one of 40 black students at Stuyvesant High School, which has 3,295 students.

Floriande Augustin, a first-year teacher at the school, invited students to share their choices. Hands waved for attention. One girl said it was when she got a cat, though she was unsure why. Another selected a car crash. A third brought up the time when her cousin got shot and “it was positive because he felt his life was crazy and he went to college so he couldn’t get shot anymore.” 

The lesson detoured into Martin Luther King Jr. and his turning points. Ms. Augustin listed things like how his father took him shopping for shoes and they were made to wait in the back. How a bus driver told him to relinquish his seat to a white passenger and stand in the rear. How he wasn’t allowed to play with his white friends once he started school, because he went to a black school and his white friends went to a white school. 

The students scribbled notes. Unmentioned was a ticklish incongruity that hung glaringly obvious in the air. This classroom at Explore Charter School in Flatbush, Brooklyn, was full of black students in a school almost entirely full of black students. As Ms. Augustin, who is also black, later reflected, “There was something about, ‘Huh, here we are talking about that and look at us — we’re all the same.’ ” 

In the broad resegregation of the nation’s schools that has transpired over recent decades, New York’s public-school system looms as one of the most segregated. While the city’s public-school population looks diverse — 40.3 percent Hispanic, 32 percent black, 14.9 percent white and 13.7 percent Asian — many of its schools are nothing of the sort. 

About 650 of the nearly 1,700 schools in the system have populations that are 70 percent a single race, a New York Times analysis of schools data for the 2009-10 school year found; more than half the city’s schools are at least 90 percent black and Hispanic. Explore Charter is one of them: of the school’s 502 students from kindergarten through eighth grade this school year, 92.7 percent are black, 5.7 percent are Hispanic, and a scattering are of mixed race. None are white or Asian. There is a good deal of cultural diversity, with students, for instance, of Haitian, Guyanese and Nigerian heritage. But not of class. Nearly 80 percent of the students qualify for subsidized lunch, a mark of poverty. The school’s makeup is in line with charter schools nationally, which are over all less integrated than traditional public schools.
At Explore, as at many schools in New York City, children trundle from segregated neighborhoods to segregated schools, living a hermetic reality. 

The school’s enrollment is even more racially lopsided than its catchment area. Students are chosen by lottery, with preference given to District 17, its community school district, which encompasses neighborhoods like Flatbush, East Flatbush, Crown Heights and Farragut. Census data for District 17 put the kindergarten-through-eighth-grade population at 75 percent black, 13 percent Hispanic, 12 percent white and 1 percent Asian. But the white students go elsewhere — many to yeshivas or other private schools. 

Tim Thomas, a fund-raiser who is white and lives in Flatbush, writes a blog called The Q at Parkside, about the neighborhood. He has spoken to white parents trying to comprehend why the local schools aren’t more integrated, even as white people move in. “They say things like they don’t want to be guinea pigs,” he said. “The other day, one said, ‘I don’t want to be the only drop of cream in the coffee.’ ” 

Decades of academic studies point to the corroding effects of segregation on students, especially minorities, both in diminished academic performance and in the failure to equip them for the interracial world that awaits them. 

“The preponderance of evidence shows that attending schools that are diverse has positive effects on children throughout the grades, and it grows over time,” said Roslyn Mickelson, a professor of sociology and public policy at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, who has reviewed hundreds of studies of integrated schooling. “To put it another way, the problems of segregation are accentuated over time,” she said. 

Even if a segregated school provides a solid education, studies suggest, students are at a disadvantage. “What is a good education?” Dr. Mickelson said. “That you scored well on a test?” 

One way race presents itself at Explore is in the makeup of the teaching staff. It is 61 percent white and 35 percent black, a sensitive subject among many students and parents who would prefer more black teachers. Most of the administration and central staff members — including the school’s founder, the current principal, the upper-school’s academic head and the lower-school’s academic head, as well as the high school counselor and social worker — are white.
As Ms. Augustin said: “When I came here and started to talk about myself, the students were shocked that I was here. I started to wonder, did they really have role models?” 

AFTER school one Tuesday, 10 students assembled in a classroom to talk about the school and race. The school paid for snacks: Doritos and Oreo cookies, Coke and 7Up.
What did they think of the absence of racial diversity?

“It doesn’t really prepare us for the real world,” said Tori Williams, an eighth grader. “You see one race, and you’re going to be accustomed to one race.” 

Jahmir Duran-Abreu, another eight grader, said: “It seems it’s black kids and white teachers. Like one time we were talking and I said I like listening to Eminem and my teacher said this was ghetto. She was white. I was pretty upset. I was wondering why she would say something like that. She apologized, but it sticks with me.” 

Jahmir, one of Explore’s few Hispanic students, is its first student to get into Stuyvesant High School, one of the city’s premier schools. He was also admitted to Dalton, an elite private school, where he intends to go. He wants someday to become an actor. 

Shakeare Cobham, in sixth grade, offered a different view: “It’s more comfortable to be with people of your own race than to be with a lot of different races.” 

Tori came back: “I disagree. It doesn’t prepare us.” 

Yata Pierre, in eighth grade, said, “It doesn’t really matter as long as your teachers are good teachers.” 

Trevon Roberts-Walker, a sixth grader, responded, “When we are in high school and college, it’s not going to be all one race.” 

Jahmir: “Yeah, in my high school there will be predominantly white kids, and I think this school will be so much better if it were more diverse.” 

Kenny Wright, in eighth grade, piped in, “You could have more discussion instead of all the same thoughts.” 

Ashira Mayers, in seventh grade, said: “We’d like to hear from other races. How do they feel? What’s happening with them?” 

Later on, Ashira elaborated: “We will sometimes talk about why don’t we have any white kids? We wonder what their schools are like. We see them on TV, with the soccer fields and the biology labs and all that cool stuff. Sometimes I feel I have to work harder because I don’t have all that they have. A lot of us think that way.” 

EXPLORE’S founder, Morty Ballen, 42, grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, where his father ran several delis. A product of Teach for America, he taught English in a high school in Baton Rouge, La., that went from being all white to half-black. The white teachers would tell racist jokes in the faculty lounge, he said. He taught at an all-black school in South Africa started by a white woman, then at a largely black-and-Hispanic middle school on the Lower East Side. The experiences soaked in. 

“I’m very cognizant of my whiteness, and that I have power,” he said. “I need to incorporate this reality in my leadership.” 

He is also gay and knows about feeling different in school. “The only people who were like me were two kids who went to drugs,” he said. “One died in high school, and the other died recently.” 

Mr. Ballen founded Explore in 2002, resolute that a public school could deliver a good education to disadvantaged students. He now leads a Brooklyn charter network. (His fourth school is scheduled to open in September.) The school began in Downtown Brooklyn. In 2004, it relocated to a former bakery factory in Flatbush, where most classrooms were windowless. In August, the Education Department moved it to 655 Parkside Avenue, squeezing it into the fourth floor and portions of the third in a building occupied by Middle School 2 and Public School K141, a special-education school. 

The shared building is relatively new and in good shape, but the library is half the size of a classroom, the space so tight that a few thousand books must be kept in storage. The cafeteria, auditorium, gym and playground are shared. Instead of a computer lab, the school has a rolling computer cart of laptops, used mostly for math classes. There is no playground equipment for the younger grades. There are a limited number of musical instruments, so the school has no band, or much in the way of after-school athletics. There are no accelerated classes for high-performing students. 

Explore students wear uniforms and have a longer school day and year than the students in the other schools in the building, schools with which they have a difficult relationship. A great deal of teaching is done to the state tests, the all-important metric by which schools are largely judged. In the hallway this spring, before the tests, a calendar counted down the days remaining until the next round. 

Explore’s academic performance has been inconsistent. Last year, the school got its charter renewed for another five years, and this year, for the first time, three students, including Jahmir, got into specialized high schools. Yet, on Explore’s progress report for the 2010-11 school year, the Education Department gave it a C (after a B the previous year). In student progress, it rated a D. 

“We weren’t doing right by our students,” Mr. Ballen said. 

In response, a new literacy curriculum was introduced and greater emphasis was put on applauding academic achievement. School walls are emblazoned with motivational signs: “Getting the knowledge to go to college”; “When we graduate ... we are going to be doctors.” Teachers are encouraged to refer to students as “scholars.” 

Convinced that student unruliness was impeding learning, the school installed a rigid discipline system. Infractions — for transgressions like calling out without permission, frowning after being given a demerit, being off task — lead to detention for upper-school students. On some days, 50 students land in detention, a quarter of the upper school. 

Positive behavior does bring rewards, like making the Respect Corps, which allows a student to wear an honorary T-shirt. Winning an attendance contest can lead to treats for the class or the freedom to wear jeans. 

Still, some students have taken to referring to Explore as “the prison school.” 

OUT of uniform and barefoot, Amiyah Young was getting her books in order for homework. She was at home, two blocks from school, in an apartment she shares with her grandparents, mother and 2-year-old brother. She is in sixth grade, willowy, with watchful eyes, a dexterous thinker, one of the school’s top students. She hopes to go to a university like Princeton and become a veterinarian, because she has noticed lots of people own animals. 

She blithely showed her snug room, a converted dining nook containing her bed, her books, her stuffed animals, her cluster of snow globes. She said that some of her friends slept with their mothers or siblings, or on the couch. 

Her mother, Shonette Kingston, 36, calm with an outreaching smile, works as an operating-room technician and attends nursing school. She separated from Amiyah’s father when the girl was born. He is unemployed, and lives elsewhere in Brooklyn, but remains involved in her life. 

“It’s a bit weird,” Amiyah said of the school’s racial composition. “All my friends are predominantly black, and all the teachers are predominantly white. I think white kids go to different schools. I don’t know. I haven’t seen many white people in a big space before.”
Would it be better if it were integrated? 

“I think they would stop calling me white girl if there were white kids,” she said. “Because my skin is a little lighter and I can’t dance, they call me that. Some of them can’t dance, either.”
What else? 

“I could talk the way I talk.” 

Other students speak street slang that she repudiates: “They will say to me, ‘You are so white.’ I tell them, I have two black parents. Do I look white?” 

She had been having trouble making friends. This year, her mother noticed a speech change. “She’s slacking off more to fit in,” Ms. Kingston said. “She’s saying: ‘I been there.’ ‘I done that.’ ” 

Amiyah confirmed this: “I speak a bit more freelance with my friends. Not full sentences. I don’t use big words. They hate it when I do that.” 

She said she had become more popular. 

Other students also relate the use of parlance linked to skin color. Shakeare Cobham, one of Amiyah’s friends, said: “If you’re darker, they’ll call them burnt. Light-skinned ones get called white.” 

Zierra Page, who is in eighth grade, said: “The lighter-skinned girls think they’re prettier. They’ll say: ‘She’s mad dark. Look at me, I’m much prettier.’ ” 

Amiyah’s parents are bothered by the abundance of white teachers. Her mother said: “What do they know of our lives? They may be good teachers, but what do they know? You’re coming from Milwaukee. You went to Harvard. Her dad complains about this all the time — what can they bring to these African-American kids? I’m trying to keep an open mind. I’m happy with the education.” 

Amiyah said, “The white teachers can’t relate as much to us no matter how hard they try — and they really try.” 

To extract her from the synthetic isolation of her environment, Amiyah’s parents have enrolled her in programs with more racial diversity like an acting class in Manhattan. 

She is curious about better-off white children. “I’d like to see how they would react in the classroom when we have dance parties,” she said. “I’d like to see how they would react to a birthday party. And to being around so many of us. I’d like to see what they would think of some of the girls in our school who have big hair and those big earrings.” 

Anything else? 

She mulled that a moment, and said, “I wonder if it’s fun.” 

EXPLORE’S administration neither encourages nor discourages discussion of race. Rarely is it openly examined. 

A diversity task force was patched together over a year ago to look into things like how to bridge the divide among staff and students and their parents, and what the makeup of the staff should be. The group is preparing some recommendations. 

Race, and its attendant baggage, of course, is a tricky subject. Teachers are of different minds about what to do with it. 

Marc Engel, a former investment banker turned librarian and media coordinator at Explore, is 53 and white. He frets about power differentials and how to transcend race, how to steer the students’ inner compass. “I worry so much about their role models,” he said. “The rap stars. The fashion models. The basketball players.” 

He has his way of trying to fit in. “I call every kid brother and sister,” he said. “I say, hey, brother; hey, sister. One kid once asked me, ‘Are you my uncle?’ ” 

OTHER staff members also wonder about the isolation of the students. Adunni Clarke, 34, who is black and is the lead intervention teacher who helps students and teachers who need extra support, said: “I don’t know that our kids get their placement in the world. I don’t know that they realize that they’re competing against all these other cultures.” 

Talking about race “could be a Pandora’s box to some extent,” said Corey Gray, 27, who is white and in his first year at Explore as an eighth-grade language-arts teacher. “Is there a proper effective way to bring it in? There probably is. Do I know the way? No, I don’t.”
Many of the teachers are young, from different backgrounds, and there is steady turnover — from 25 percent to 35 percent in each of the past three years, a persistent issue at charter and high-poverty schools. 

Tracy Rebe, the principal, is leaving this year. Her replacement, the fourth in the school’s short history, will be the first black principal, though not by design. 

Early in the year, Mauricia Gardiner, 30, who teaches fifth-grade math and is of mixed race, was listening as students read a story about a black teenager who tried to rob a woman. Instead of reporting him, the woman took him home and tried to set him straight. The woman’s race wasn’t mentioned. 

Ms. Gardiner asked the class what race they imagined the woman to be. They said black, that no white woman would do that. Why? she asked. 

“They would be scared of us,” a student said. 

“It’s frustrating,” Ms. Gardiner said. “We don’t have a forum to address this. You can get all the education in the world. But you have to function in the world.” 

Darren Nielsen, 25, white, from Salt Lake City, is in his second year teaching, assigned to third grade. Last year, when he taught fourth grade, a student got miffed at him and said, “Oh, this white guy.” He later spoke to the student about singling out someone in a negative way because of his or her race. He overheard students call one another “light-skinned crackers” and “dark-skinned crackers.” 

“We had discussions about that being inappropriate,” Mr. Nielsen said. “I even said:I’m the lightest-skinned one of all. What does that make me?” 

The discussion was quick. “I probably should have done more,” he said. “It was hard on me as a first-year teacher and not knowing what to do.” 

He added: “I realize most of these kids are going to go to segregated schools until college. I wonder, am I preparing these kids for what goes on in college?” 

Karen Hicks, 41, a former businesswoman who is now in her first year teaching fifth-grade math and science and is black, used to have a son in the school. “I would have put him in an integrated school if I had that option,” she said. 

Ms. Hicks recalled her first conference as a parent, with a white teacher, now gone: “The teacher said, ‘Oh, you’re so involved.’ It felt patronizing. That should have been the expectation.” 

IF anyone can relate to the students, it is James McDonald. Mr. McDonald, 41, black, the beloved gym teacher, has been with Explore since it opened. He grew up on the Lower East Side, where his father ran a liquor store and left home when Mr. McDonald was 9. He went to predominantly black and Latino schools, and says he didn’t learn what he needed to learn.
In high school, he showed a college application essay to a scholarship committee member, who told him, “If you want to go to college, you better learn how to spell it.” He had written “colledge.” He realized the holes in his education. “It deflated me,” he said. 

He thinks Explore students are getting a much better education than he did. Still, he is concerned. 

“Outside the school the kids are being reminded of what their race is,” he said. “When they come to school, it’s as if they are asked to ignore who they are.” 

“I don’t see that a lot of them have aspirations to do great things,” he added. “Some of them say, yeah, I want to be a doctor. But some, you ask them and they don’t have an answer. I’d like to know how many actually believe they can do whatever they can.” 

THE sixth-grade social studies students swept into Alexis Rubin’s classroom. She slapped them five, bid them good afternoon. To settle them down, Ms. Rubin said, “Students are earning demerits in one ... two ...” 

She handed out a test on Colonial Williamsburg. She said, “Every scholar in this room will get a sheet of loose-leaf paper for your short response.” 

Of Explore’s teachers, Ms. Rubin, 31, is perhaps the keenest about openly addressing race. She is in her third year at the school, is white and grew up on the Upper West Side.
Outside school, she is the co-chairperson of Border Crossers, an 11-year-old organization troubled by New York’s segregated system that instructs elementary-school teachers how to talk about race in the classrooms. 

As Jaime-Jin Lewis, the organization’s executive director, puts it: “You don’t want kids learning about sex on the playground. You don’t want them to learn about race and class and power on the playground.” 

Ms. Rubin does Border Crossers exercises with her students like MeMaps, in which both students and teachers list characteristics about themselves, then create a “diversity flower,” with petals listing each participant’s unique traits. 

During Ms. Rubin’s first year at Explore, a parent called her up, screaming that she ignored her son and called only on the white students. Ms. Rubin pointed out that there actually weren’t any white students to call on. 

She said schools needed to “unpack” the issue of race and dismantle stereotypes.
“The beginning is naming it,” she said. 

A GAUZY night in early spring, and the PTA meeting in the auditorium drew about three dozen parents. Details were given about picture day, about students needing to show up for preparation for the state tests, about neighborhood ne’er-do-wells who tried to rob some students, MetroCards and hats their targets. 

Lakisha Adams, 35, who has three children in the school, spoke brightly of a Harlem mentoring program: “It teaches about how to shake someone’s hand, how to walk without your pants dragging down. This is all black. We put our kids in a lot of programs with kids that don’t look like us. Our kids don’t relate to Great Neck.” 

Parents say they like Explore over all and the education it offers. To many, that is enough.
Sheryl Davis, 57, the PTA president, grew up in Brooklyn, and when she was in sixth grade, was bused out of her mostly black East New York school to a “lily-white school.” 

“I do remember the hate from the white students,” she said. The next year, she was back in her former school.

“As I got older, I didn’t really see that I gained from that experience,” she said.
“I don’t know that segregation is this horrible thing,” Ms. Adams said. “The problem with segregation is the assumption that black is bad and white is good. Black can be great. That’s what I instill my kids with.” 

Would she prefer an integrated school? “I can’t say that I would.”
Families often disagree among themselves. Calandra Maijeh, 38, and her husband, Ife Maijeh, 43, were at the school one evening with their four children, all Explore students. 

“Color for me is not an issue,” Ms. Maijeh said. “As long as the learning is up to par.” 

Mr. Maijeh said: “My thoughts are very different from my wife. I agree that everybody deserves an education. But I want white and black to be together as one.” 

Jean McCauley, 47, is a single mother with two sons by different fathers, both gone from her life. When her older son, now 26, began school, his father had a friend in TriBeCa, and they used his address to get him into Public School 234, a well-regarded, largely white school. “I feel so grateful for my son being in that environment,” she said. “Expectations were so high. That school had everything. It was a world apart.” 

He graduated from college and works at a real estate agency. 

For her younger son, Brandon Worrell, she didn’t have that option. He is in sixth grade at Explore. She considers it a good school, but fears he doesn’t learn racial tolerance. “At Explore he can’t compare to anything,” she said. “He won’t know how to communicate with other races. He won’t know there is a difference. I think color will always be the first thing he sees.” 

She added, “I speak to Brandon about race. But he doesn’t get it. It’s abstract.” 

A WEEK wound up. Education was occurring. In kindergarten, they were reading “Sheep Take a Hike,” while in first grade, students wrote about a small moment that happened to them. A girl wrote: “This morning my mom pulled out my tooth. Ow. Ow. Ow.” 

In sixth-grade math, they were reviewing order of operations, and in fifth-grade science they were learning about chyme. In third grade, they were writing a response to: How does Jimmy feel about raising goats? Use at least two details in your answer. 

A student was told: “You have the right to be mad. You don’t have the right to kick things.”
Mr. Engel, teaching library, went around the room with the first graders and had them fill in the blank of “America is...” 

The answers shot back: “America is ... my mommy.”
“Whipped cream.”
“Burger King”
“Our life.” 
Source: The New York Times

Friday, May 11, 2012

Stop Stereotypes

"Instead of being presented with stereotypes by age, sex, color, class, or religion, children must have the opportunity to learn that with each range, some people are loathsome and some are delightful.” ~ Margaret Mead

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Multiracial Asian Population and Health Issue

Comment from Susan Graham: The article below is important information to have, but it still does not address diabetes in the multiracial Asian population. The medical doctors who address this information call for more study of the Asian population. Wouldn't data from the multiracial Asian population be important, too?

Unique Physiology Key to Diagnosing and Treating Diabetes in Asian Populations

May 2012 - As the diabetes epidemic spreads worldwide, there is growing concern for Asian American populations, who are nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes. Compounding the problem, many of the standard ways to detect diabetes fail in people of Asian descent.

"The medical profession needs to be aware of and address the unique characteristics of this population," said George L. King, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer at Joslin Diabetes Center and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS). "Without this understanding, diabetes could be misdiagnosed or missed altogether."

Dr. King was lead author of nine diabetes specialists nationwide who collaboratively wrote an article published in the May 2012 edition of Diabetes Care highlighting a comprehensive range of research findings presented at an international symposium held in Honolulu in September 2011.

The authors compiled extensive data on various groups that comprise the Asian American population, encompassing immigrants from numerous East Asian countries and those born in the United States. They also studied diabetes incidence in Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

Although there are large differences in immigration patterns and lifestyle adaptations to U.S. culture among these groups, common threads and new insights are emerging. Researchers are finding significant differences in how diabetes affects the body's chemistry, how to view body weight, and why commonly used laboratory tests may not be reliable in Asian populations.

"Type 1 diabetes can be difficult to clinically differentiate from type 2 diabetes in Asians," said Dr. William C. Hsu, M.D., who with Dr. King co-directs the Asian American Diabetes Initiative at Joslin. Dr. Hsu, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at HMS, was lead author of a team of 12 experts who wrote a second article published in the same edition of Diabetes Care. These authors focused on the pathophysiology, or the disease process, of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is relatively rare in Asians, with incidence five to 10 times lower than in people of European descent. But diagnosing the disease is more difficult because genetic markers and blood factors generally associated with type 1 diabetes are present in only 30 percent of patients of Asian descent. In other words, simply relying on conventional tests would lead to misdiagnosis of a large percentage of Asians who have type 1 diabetes. More research is needed to learn what other biological factors in Asians patients lead to the destruction of insulin-making beta cells, resulting in type 1 diabetes. Lab tests then could be developed to detect these specific factors.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in Asian Americans, with prevalence of diagnosed cases in recent years jumping from approximately 1 or 2 percent to 10 percent today, compared with 6 percent in the general population. Many others are undiagnosed or at risk, falling into the "pre-diabetes" category. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas produces insulin but not enough, or the body's cells resist its effect. A risk factor commonly associated with type 2 diabetes is excess weight, often measured by calculating the body mass index (BMI).
But for Asian Americans with type 2 diabetes, the average BMI is between 24 and 25, well within the normal BMI range (19-25) for the general population.

"The BMI in Asian patients can be misleading. They can look quite skinny," Dr. Hsu said. "Instead, we're learning that a better indicator of type 2 diabetes risk in Asians is fat deposits at the waistline." More research is needed to understand how visceral fat contributes to the onset of type 2 diabetes. If detected in the pre-diabetes stage, the disease often can be prevented.

To diagnose diabetes, a commonly used tool—the fasting plasma glucose—fails to detect abnormal glucose tolerance in many Asian Americans. The authors recommend the oral glucose tolerance test, which although more cumbersome to do, has greater sensitivity and reliability in Asian populations.

Per diabetes complications, physicians need be aware that Asian Americans with diabetes tend to have a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease but higher rates of end-stage renal disease. These patients need to be monitored and treated accordingly.

Per treatments for diabetes, the authors cited the need for more studies: "The unique features of diabetes pathophysiology within this very heterogeneous population may indicate a need for different treatment guidelines." Insulin dosing, oral medications and lifestyle factors such as exercise and nutrition should be enfolded into a diabetes care program tailored to individuals, families and cultural practices.

The team of experts at Joslin's Asian Diabetes Initiative has found that educational materials are most effective when published in both the Asian language and English, allowing younger and older generations to communicate fluidly. Joslin also has developed multilingual websites.
Community-based education programs, which also have proved to be highly effective, need to be expanded. And in national data collection, it is important to include Asian groups as subsets of the general population, with culturally appropriate methods incorporated into the design of surveys.

"While there is much to be gained from ethnically sensitive care, these considerations are only a starting point," Dr. Hsu said. "Ultimately, all diabetes care needs to be tailored to the individual. That's the direction that medicine is going, and all populations will benefit."
Source: Joslin Diabetes Center

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Poor Nicole Richie on Being Bi-Racial: "It's Work to Do My Hair"

Nicole Richie on Being Bi-Racial: "It's Work to Do My Hair"

Nicole Richie Nicole Richie Credit: Glamour
Nicole Richie is one of those lucky stars whose style comes off as completely effortless. But in her new interview with Glamour, the Fashion Star mentor admits that one part of her look doesn't come so easily.
"I'm mixed, and it's work to do my hair, so I learned how to do it well myself," the 30-year-old star, who sports a yellow Martin Grant top, Agnes B bikini and Mosley Tribes sunglasses in the pic above, tells the mag's June issue. "I have naturally curly hair, so 'natural' beach waves are not so natural for me. I like to braid my hair at night and then let it out the next day. And I also curl my hair with a flatiron."

"I actually think I'm the best hairstylist on the planet," she jokes. To achieve her voluminous curls in the pic above, says, "Richie's hairstylist, Andy Lecompte, wound her hair in figure eights around pins to get this fluff. Tease for volume, and flat-iron the ends. Prep with a soft-hold gel like Suave Professionals Captivating Curls Spray Gel ($3.50,"

Read more:

More on Mel and Kraft

Kraft's Mel the MilkBite Mascot Called Damaging, Racially Offensive By Local Petition

In February, Kraft Foods Inc. released an ad campaign to promote its new MilkBite milk and granola bars featuring a controversial mascot: Mel the MilkBite, a confused character who struggles with his identity as half-milk, half-granola product.

Commercials chronicled Mel's battles with dating, interacting with his book-club friends and confronting his "parents" (a glass of milk and a bowl of granola) with questions like, "You didn't think, did you? You didn't think what life was going to be like for me...Mom, Dad. For your son." Predictably, the campaign incurred ire for trivializing multiracial parentage -- it didn't pass the breakfast test, so to speak.

Recently, a human rights petition was launched by Michelle Parrinello-Cason of St. Louis through lobbying Kraft chief executive officer Irene Rosenfeld to end Mel's tenure as the MilkBite mascot. "These commercials perpetuate stereotypes that multiracial people are flawed, cannot form their own identities, and will never fit in," the petition read. "In addition, your commercials suggest that parents of multiracial children are irresponsible and are not concerned with their children's well being."
Is Mel the MilkBite as a mascot for a cereal bar a bridge too far?
Source: St. Louis

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The TOP TEN Reasons to be a Multiracial Advocate

10. Just because we have a multiracial president and the census forms now have “check two or more,” discrimination is still blatant toward multiracial people. It’s the hate crime that is ignored. Don’t just complain; make a difference! No one else, no other groups are going to do this for us. 
9. The US Department of Education suggests but does not mandate that schools allow students and staff to check more than one race. They do not let schools know that it is OK to add “multiracial” to forms—we know it is and so do they. 
8. I heard a community leader refer to his son recently as a “half-breed.” I don’t think there is any excuse to call anyone a term that is less than respectful. 
7. I received an email recently about a school district in a major US city that is allowing parents enrolling their children in school as two or more races, but then FORCING them to specify which race is their “PRIMARY CHOICE.” 
6. Young children can’t speak for themselves about being forced to choose between their parents’ races. Maybe it’s your child or maybe you have multiracial grandchildren. They depend on us to speak for them. 
5. The multiracial community is still not being invited to the table in Washington for talks that include our needs. If we don’t advocate in force, we remain invisible. We will lose any gains we have made. 
4. We have been told that multiracial people are not “protected by any laws because they don’t exist legally.” Other minority populations have advocated for protection under local, state, and federal laws and they have won their rights. What’s WRONG with us?!

3. The federal government refuses to use respectful terminology for our population. They call multiracial people “People who check two or more boxes” or “A more than one race person.” It’s an outrage. Get mad. Speak up. 
2. Multiracial people are dying and only other multiracial people can save them. For those with diseases of the blood and some cancers, patients must get a bone marrow transplant. Bone marrow crosses racial and ethnic lines. In other words, the BEST chance at a compatible match is someone with the same race or ethnicity. If you only do one proactive, positive, selfless part of this movement, save a life. Register to be a donor.

And the number one reason to be a multiracial advocate…
1.     If the multiracial community stops advocating, the government will go back to the “check only one” rule. They are talking about it. Trust me on this.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Race and Eyesight

We read articles like the one below and can't help but wonder if they included multiracial people in the study. -Susan Graham

Eye Disease Rates High Among Latino Americans

SATURDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) — Latino Americans have higher rates of visual impairment, blindness, diabetic eye disease and cataracts than whites in the United States, researchers have found.

The analysis included data from more than 4,600 participants in the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study (LALES). Most of the study participants were of Mexican descent and aged 40 and older. In the four years after the participants enrolled in the study, the Latinos' rates of visual impairment and blindness were the highest of any ethnic group in the country, compared to other U.S. studies of different populations.

Nearly 3 percent of the study participants developed visual impairment and 0.3 percent developed blindness in both eyes. Among those aged 80 and older, 19.4 percent became visually impaired and 3.8 percent became blind in both eyes.

The study also found that 34 percent of participants with diabetes developed diabetic retinopathy (damage to the eye's retina), with the highest rate among those aged 40 to 59. The longer someone had diabetes, the more likely they were to develop diabetic retinopathy — 42 percent of those with diabetes for more than 15 years developed the eye disease.
Participants who had visual impairment, blindness or diabetic retinopathy in one eye at the start of the study had high rates of developing the condition in the other eye, the study authors noted.

The researchers also found that Latinos were more likely to develop cataracts in the center of the eye lens than at the edge of the lens (10.2 percent versus 7.5 percent, respectively), with about half of those aged 70 and older developing cataracts in the center of the lens.
"This study showed that Latinos develop certain vision conditions at different rates than other ethnic groups. The burden of vision loss and eye disease on the Latino community is increasing as the population ages, and many eye diseases are becoming more common," Dr. Rohit Varma, principal investigator of LALES and director of the Ocular Epidemiology Center at the Doheny Eye Institute, University of Southern California, said in a news release from the U.S. National Eye Institute.

The findings are published in four reports in the May issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology.

"These data have significant public health implications and present a challenge for eye care providers to develop programs to address the burden of eye disease in Latinos," Dr. Paul A. Sieving, director of the National Eye Institute, said in the news release.
The U.S. National Eye Institute provided funding for LALES.
Source: Diabetic Connect 
More information
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about eye disorders.