Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Multiracial View from the White House

The Multiracial View from the White House

Multiracial President Obama recently announced a White House Initiative on Educational Excellence—for African American students. These efforts are nothing new; there are similar White House Education Initiatives for Hispanics, American Indian and Alaska natives, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. How great for those groups!

Who is missing? White students, but everyone thinks all white people are rich and getting wonderful educations at pricy private schools and …let’s look again…oh yes….multiracial students, of course.  

We still have overcrowded schools, not enough funding, the drop-out problem, less-than-great test scores, and on and on. The President said that the goal is to produce “a more effective continuum” of programs for African-American students. I’m not even sure what he means by that. I bet Ben Jealous, CEO of the NAACP does. He commented, “If fully implemented, we are convinced the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans will make sure school discipline is fair, special education assignments are based on needs, not race, and all of our nation’s most motivated students have fair access to advance placement classes.”

Oh. This is about making sure, according to the NAACP that black students get treated fairly, but based on needs, not race. I’m not at all sure how that works for black students, if it’s not based on race, unless this is just to throw money at a group problem. But just how does that work for a multiracial student?

Enter the US Department of Education, which says every school district in America has been told to allow students in K-12 to check two or more races. It claims to advise each school district to separately tabulate the numbers of multiracial (or check two or more in their language) students. It also looks to us at Project RACE that they are, indeed, reassigning those numbers back into a single minority category. By the way, the African American Initiative will be housed in the U.S. Department of Education.


  1. So, correct me if I'm wrong. The DoE is advising schools to put multiracial students back into single race categories. Is that correct?

    Isn't that a little like loading up your car for a family camping trip and then staying at a motel for a week instead because someone outside of your family decided camping was too much work?

    The Department of Education has all the data needed to know Multiracial students from uni-racial students. They have the figures and the different race categories of all the students. That information along with other demographics can be found on forms filled out upon registering for school. What's so difficult about using the data at hand rather than arbitrarily re-assign each Multiracial student to a single racial classification? What will the DoE suggest next? Or do we really want to know?

    What happened to self-identification by how WE see us, NOT by how OTHERS see us? Is this what Project RACE has fought for during the past 22 years, so we can go back to where we started?


    1. Excellent points! The government, Census Bureau, DOE, etc., IS/WILL all reassign multiracial people/students to one category. It's so hard to believe that more people in the community don't "get it" or are too timid to do anything about it. Thank you, Ms. Lewis! - Susan Graham for Project RACE