Monday, December 31, 2012

Canada: York cops continue to battle hate crimes

Jeremy Grimaldi
December 30, 2012

N-Racism 1-mb
Hate crime targets, Seun Oyinsan and Rita Brown were targets of racism that shocked the GTA. photo: Michael Barrett
When an interracial Newmarket couple had their lives threatened and their cars and home scrawled with racist graffiti, the region gasped.  There was embarrassment and anger locally and throughout the GTA. There was shock. Much of the Toronto media portrayed the incident, which began to unfold a year ago, as the result of small town struggling with growth and diversity. Others, however, including Newmarket Mayor Tony Van Bynen, never wavered from their belief this was not a random act. The latter group was right, as the man convicted of the crimes turned out to be the former partner of Rita Brown, one of the victims, along with her then-partner, Seun Oyinsan.

But in the weeks before charges were laid, one of Canada’s fastest growing communities, in a region expected to have 62 per cent of its residents born outside of Canada by 2031, held its breath.

“Any urban society will have challenges based largely on the fact that you are close to your neighbours and you will impact more and interact more than in rural areas,” Mr. Van Bynen said.

Despite these problems, though, he believes the town saw the ugly face of racism and intolerance, learned from the experience and is now stronger as a result.

“There is strength in our diversity,” he said. “Take a look at the great mosaic emerging in our community — there are 14 different languages in our schools.”

He also referenced the group Newmarket Cares as an organization that came out of the racist ordeal stronger than before. It started by providing security cameras for the family targeted by the racist graffiti. Now, it is raising cash to help the victims of this month’s fire on Timothy Street.

"Although we may never eradicate racism, views change with each new generation", said Det. Brett Kemp, who heads up York Regional Police’s hate crime unit. “There are some (who) hold on to bigoted ideologies and will use this sort of crime to spread the ideology,” he said. “There’s always work to do, including getting out and talking to teachers, educators and students about human rights and equality.”

It’s part of a larger thrust by the police service to tackle the issue. Chief Eric Jolliffe recently finished up a thesis on enhancing the force’s relationship with York’s visible minority communities. Since the incident, Mr. Oyinsan and Ms Brown have separated, something she said is a result, in part, of last year’s incident.

The man convicted of the crime was involved in car crash and has been in hospital since late October. Despite what transpired, Ms Brown said that because he has no family, she is in touch with him and is helping him out.
SOURCE: - a division of Metroland Media Group Ltd.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Multiracial, Multiethnic Future

Olsen: A multiracial, multiethnic future
By erica olsen
Recent political analysis has focused on the decline of the white vote, and a corresponding rise in the number of minority voters. According to exit polls in November, President Barack Obama won the votes of about 93 percent of African Americans, 71 percent of Hispanics (crucial to his victory in Colorado) and 73 percent of Asians. Mitt Romney took 59 percent of the white vote.

Looking at these numbers, you’d think all voters fit neatly into one — and only one — racial or ethnic category. Pretty strange, considering that the guy who got re-elected doesn’t fit neatly into one category himself. Black father, white mother: Obama may identify as African American, but it doesn’t take Nate Silver to do the math and conclude that our president is biracial.

So why were mixed-race voters ignored in election reporting and analysis? After all, according to, a website that looks at how demographic trends influence American voting behavior, "People who identify as multiracial make up the fastest-growing demographic in the country."

We’re the fastest-growing demographic in the country. I’m part of this hard-to-quantify, difficult-to-poll group. I’m Norwegian-Swedish-Korean American.

Born in 1966 in Los Angeles, I was in the demographic vanguard. Today, being mixed race isn’t unusual in California.

I’ve got it easier than President Obama. My name’s white bread — or should I say lefse, the Norwegian flatbread. Only my middle name, Soon, is Korean. No one asks for my birth certificate.

In California, I fit in. But I live now in the Four Corners area, that odd bit of geography where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona come together. Not many Asian Americans in our rural high desert country. Once, filling out new-patient forms at a clinic in southeast Utah, I went to check all of my race boxes because I hate checking "other." Asian wasn’t even an option.

In this area, with my looks, I’m sometimes mistaken for American Indian. I usually take this as a sign I’m wearing too much turquoise jewelry.

Seriously, though, as a mixed-race person I’m skeptical of attempts to peg identity as just one thing. I’m not Scandinavian American or Korean American; I’m not Caucasian or Asian. I’m mixed.

Is it my heritage that makes me question categories? Or is it part of the American condition?

Take the lines separating the Four Corners states on the map. Out here, we know the Four Corners is not only where four states meet, but also a place on the Navajo Reservation, American Indian land.

My mixed-race heritage makes me a demographic thorn in the side of the Republican Party. The party of Bill O’Reilly, who notoriously said on election night, "it’s not a traditional America anymore. The white establishment is the minority."

People like me aren’t necessarily a gift to Democrats, either, who may be over-reliant on a "minority establishment."

Mixed-race identities defy easy matching with political attitudes. In a world of Democrats and Republicans, blue states and red, mixed identities remind us that we’re all individuals, with beliefs that are mixed, as well.

As a fiction writer, identities — and the stories we tell about ourselves — grab me more than overtly political issues. Who is a Westerner? With my mixed heritage and newcomer status in the Four Corners, am I one?

For me, the personal is political. The decline of the white vote, the rise of minorities — that’s an old story I’m ready to leave behind.

As we begin a new year, let’s recognize America’s multiracial, multiethnic future. And then let’s start talking to each other.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune/Erica Olsen is the author of "Recapture & Other Stories" (Torrey House Press), a collection of short fiction about the once and future West. A former resident of Blanding and Moab, she currently lives in Dolores in southwest Colorado.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Census Bureau Rethinks the Best Way to Measure Race

Census Bureau Rethinks The Best Way To Measure Race

A crowd crosses the street in midtown Manhattan.
(A crowd crosses the street in midtown Manhattan.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Possible revisions to how the decennial census asks questions about race and ethnicity have raised concerns among some groups that any changes could reduce their population count and thus weaken their electoral clout.

The Census Bureau is considering numerous changes to the 2020 survey in an effort to improve the responses of minorities and more accurately classify Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern and multiracial populations.

Potential options include eliminating the "Hispanic origin" question and combining it with the race question, new queries for people of Middle Eastern or North African heritage, and spaces for Asians to list their country of descent. One likely outcome could be an end to the use of "Negro."

The stakes surrounding population counts are high. Race data collected in the census are used for many purposes, including enforcement of civil rights laws and monitoring of racial disparities in education, health and other areas.

In addition, the information is used to redraw state legislative and local school districts, and in the reapportioning of congressional seats. The strong Latino growth found in the 2010 census guaranteed additional seats in Congress for eight states.

Latino leaders say changing the Hispanic origin question could create confusion and lead some Latinos not to mark their ethnicity, shrinking the overall Hispanic numbers.

The wording in the 2010 census question, which asked people if they are of Latino origin and then provided a space to fill in their race, yielded a strong response and a record count of 50 million Latinos. Their growth moved them ahead of African-Americans as the nation's largest minority group.

"We're the only group in the country that has our own question? Why give it up?" says Angelo Falcon, director of the National Institute for Latino Policy. "A lot of Latino researchers like the question the way it is now because it shows those differences. The way the Census Bureau is thinking about combining the questions, it might take away that information in terms of how we fit within the American racial hierarchy."

Falcon co-chairs a group of about 30 Latino civil rights and advocacy groups that recently met with the Census Bureau about the potential changes.
For many years, the accuracy of census data on some minorities has been questioned because many respondents don't report being a member of one of the five official government racial categories: white, black or African-American, Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native and Pacific Islander.

When respondents don't choose a race, the Census Bureau assigns them one, based on the racial makeup of their neighborhood, among other factors. The method leads to a less accurate count.

Broadly, the nation's demographic shifts underscore the fact that many people, particularly Latinos and immigrants, don't identify with the American concept of race.

The government categorizes Hispanic as an ethnicity, while many Hispanics think of it as a race. The confusion played out in the 2010 count, as nearly 22 million people — 97 percent of whom were Hispanic — identified as "some other race." It ranked as the third-largest racial category.

In addition, Asians and Hispanics had the highest rates of interracial marriage in 2010. And 9 million people identified as multiracial, compared with nearly 6 million in 2000.

Even the terms "Latino" and "Hispanic" are met by many with ambivalence, according to a 2011 national survey by the Pew Hispanic Research Center. Only about 24 percent of adults use either term to most often describe themselves. Slightly more than half of the respondents preferred to identify themselves by their family's country of origin. And 21 percent said they most often identify as American.
Middle Eastern and North African origin is an ancestry, which is no longer captured in the census form. The government racially defines the ancestry as white. Advocates say the methodology has led to severe undercounts of people of Arab descent.

"We don't necessarily identify as white because we have a lot of cultural and socioeconomic idiosyncrasies that are different," says Samer Araabi of the Arab American Institute, which supports the Census Bureau's efforts. "We think it's a great step forward not only for the Arab-American community, but for all other communities that are currently being lost in the census form."

The Census Bureau's research for the 2020 form is based on findings from an experimental questionnaire sent to nearly 500,000 households during the 2010 census. The forms worded the race and ethnicity questions differently than the official form, including combining them as a single question. Census officials say the combined question led to improved response rates and accuracy.

Karen Humes, assistant division chief for Special Population Statistics of the Census Bureau, says the agency's research is "expanding our understanding of how people identify their race and Hispanic origin. It can change over time." Humes says it's "very premature" to anticipate exactly how the 2020 census form might change.

Any recommended changes to the form must be approved by the Office of Management and Budget and by Congress. 
Source: NPR

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays from Project RACE

At this special time of year we would like to wish you all the happiest of holidays and thank the members of Project RACE, Project RACE Teens, Project RACE Grandparents and  Project RACE Kids for your commitment to the multiracial community and our organization.

We are especially grateful to those who help fund our work.  

Contributions are tax-deductible. Donations are used to help us defray the minimal costs of maintaining the organization such as:

Project RACE never requires a membership fee. We are a non-profit,501(c)(3) all volunteer organization supported by individual donations, contributions and grants.  If you believe in our cause, please consider making a difference for multiracial people. We are committed to keeping our administrative costs to a minimum and welcome all contributions in any amount. Scroll down to see how your donations are used.
Make a donation through Paypal here:
Or By Mail:
Project RACE
P.O. Box 2366
Los Banos, CA 93635

Your donation to Project RACE will be used for:

  • Educational programs for children
  • Accounting, legal and other professional fees
  • Umbilical cord blood banking awareness
  • Mandatory state business fees
  • Website hosting costs
  • Marketing and public relations
  • General office supplies and postage
  • Printing and associated promotion costs
  • General operating expenses
Thank you!

The Executive Director, Board and Presidents of Project RACE

Friday, December 21, 2012

Multiracial Population Predictions

Growing, Older, More Diverse Nation by 2060

Hispanic population expected to more than double during period
census chart
WASHINGTON — The U.S. population will be considerably older and more racially and ethnically diverse by 2060, according to projections released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau. The projections of population by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, covering the 2012-2060 period, are the first set based on the 2010 Census.

“The next half century marks key points in continuing trends — the U.S. will become a plurality nation, where the non-Hispanic white population remains the largest single group, but no group is in the majority,” says Acting Director Thomas L. Mesenbourg.

Furthermore, the population is projected to grow much more slowly over the next several decades, compared with the last projections released in 2008 and 2009.

The population age 65 and older is expected to more than double by 2060, from 43.1 million to 92.0 million, and will represent just over one in five U.S. residents by the end of the period.
Baby boomers, defined as persons born between 1946 and 1964, number 76.4 million in 2012 and account for about one-quarter of the population. In 2060, when the youngest of them would be 96 years old, they are projected to number around 2.4 million and represent 0.6% of the total population.

The non-Hispanic white population is projected to peak in 2024, at 199.6 million, up from 197.8 million in 2012. Unlike other race or ethnic groups, however, its population is projected to slowly decrease, falling by nearly 20.6 million from 2024 to 2060.

Meanwhile, the Hispanic population would more than double, from 53.3 million in 2012 to 128.8 million in 2060. The black population is expected to increase from 41.2 million to 61.8 million over the same period. The Asian population is projected to more than double, from 15.9 million in 2012 to 34.4 million in 2060.

Among the remaining race groups, American Indians and Alaska Natives would increase by more than half from now to 2060, from 3.9 million to 6.3 million. The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population is expected to nearly double, from 706,000 to 1.4 million. The number of people who identify themselves as being of two or more races is projected to more than triple, from 7.5 million to 26.7 million over the same period.

All in all, minorities, now 37% of the U.S. population, are projected to comprise 57% of the population in 2060. (Minorities consist of all but the single-race, non-Hispanic white population.) The total minority population would more than double, from 116.2 million to 241.3 million over the period.

Projections show the older population would continue to be predominately non-Hispanic white, while younger ages are increasingly minority. Of those age 65 and older in 2060, 56.0% are expected to be non-Hispanic white, 21.2% Hispanic and 12.5% non-Hispanic black. In contrast, while 52.7% of those younger than 18 were non-Hispanic white in 2012, that number would drop to 32.9% by 2060. Hispanics are projected to make up 38.0% of this group in 2060, up from 23.9% in 2012.

To review the data yourself, visit the U.S. Census website.
Source: U.S. Census 

Monday, December 17, 2012

NCES Teacher Demographic Data: Who's Teaching Our Kids?

According to a recent report released by the National Center for Education Statistics, entitled  Beginning K–12 Teacher Characteristics and Preparation by School Type, 2009, the racial and ethnic breakdown of teachers employed in U.S. secondary school was as follows:

77% are white
9.1% are Hispanic
7.6% are black
4% self-identify as two or more races
3.4% are Asian

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education

Thursday, December 13, 2012


From Census Bureau Press Release:

Unless otherwise specified, the statistics refer to the population who reported a race alone.  Censuses and surveys permit respondents to select more than one race; consequently people may be one race or a combination of races. The detailed tables show statistics for the resident population by "race alone" and "race alone or in combination."

The federal government treats Hispanic origin and race as separate and distinct concepts. In surveys and censuses, separate questions are asked on Hispanic origin and race. The question on Hispanic origin asks respondents if they are of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin. Starting with the 2000 Census, the question on race asked respondents to report the race or races they consider themselves to be. Hispanics may be of any race. Responses of "Some Other Race" from the 2010 Census were modified for these projections. This results in differences between the population for specific race categories in these projections versus those in the original 2010 Census data.

Read more here:

Multiracial Growth Forecast

What will America look like in 2060? Census Bureau has an idea

The headline from a U.S. Census Bureau release on Wednesday gets to the point: “Projections Show a Slower Growing, Older, More Diverse Nation a Half Century from Now.”

The bureau made projections all the way out to 2060, based on figures from the 2010 census. Here’s some of what is expected to be the reality in 2060, presuming, of course, that we survive the Mayan apocalypse next week.

The U.S. population will be 420.3 million om 2060, after hitting the 400 million mark in 2051.
People 65 and over will more than double, to 92 million. Those 85 and over will triple, to 18.2 million.

The youngest baby boomers will be 96, but there will still be 2.4 million of them, all complaining that music was better in their day.

In 2056 it will be the first time there will be more people 65 and older than there are young people 18 and younger.

The non-Hispanic white population is expected to peak in 2024 at 199.6 million. That’s not much more than today, less than 2 million more. After that it’s expected to drop, falling by 20.6 million by 2060.

The number of Hispanics will more than double, from 55.3 million to 128.8 million. That means nearly one in three people in the U.S. will be Hispanic; that figure is one in six today.

The black population is expected to grow from 41.2 million to 61.8 million, up to 14.7 percent of the country.

The Asian population will more than double to 34.4 million, which would be 8.2 percent of the country.

American Indians and Alaska natives will grow from 3.9 million to 6.3 million, while native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders will nearly double, from 706,000 to 1.4 million.

People identifying themselves as being of two or more races will triple, from 7.5 million to 26.7 million.

By 2043, the U.S. will be a “majority-minority” nation for the first time, though whites will still be the largest single ethnic group. By 2060, minorities – those who are not non-Hispanic whites – will make up 57 percent of the U.S., up from 37 percent today.
Matt Soergel's Blog/

Another Reason 12-12-12 is Kinda Cool

Yesterday was 12-12-12. Everyone at school was talking about how that won't happen for another 100 years. And at 12 minutes after 12 we all looked at the clock and screamed. It was fun, I guess. But really, every date only happens one time. That is how time works! Here is another reason December 12th is cool every year!   - Karson

On this day in 1966, the United States Supreme Court announced that it would hear the case of Richard and Mildred Loving, a mixed-race couple who had married in Washington, D.C., and then were later arrested in their home south of Fredericksburg. Such marriages were then prohibited in Virginia, and the law had been upheld by the state’s highest court. As the newspaper clipping above indicates, Virginia’s attorney general, Robert Young Button, had argued against the court considering the case, saying “it is clear the challenged enactments infringe no constitutional right …”
Not so clear, turns out. In 1967, in Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s law.


IMAGE:  Daily News-Record, Harrisonburg, Virginia, December 13, 1966

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


SHAME ON CNN: A commentary by Susan Graham.

CNN aired a show hosted by Soledad O’Brien Sunday called “Who is Black in America?” I have been disgusted with the public misunderstanding of multiracial people on so called news shows in the past, but this one wins the prize for the absolute worst. 

First, let’s not forget that Soledad O’Brien is an entertainer and not an authority on the news. Her game is simple: ratings. She does not believe that people get to choose their own identities. But neither she nor anyone else should ever question someone’s racial self-identification. 

O’Brien’s mother is black and her father is white; her mother told her not to let anyone tell her she’s not black. So she self identifies as only black, denying half of her identity. She has that right and that opportunity. I feel that everyone should clearly have the right and opportunity to choose to be multiracial, too. But she has clearly brought her identity into her job this time.

This CNN special tells the story of several multiracial people who identify only as black, and are coerced into identifying as black to be on the national news. Some “experts” are thrown in who simply are getting free publicity for their books or are holding on to their academic jobs by writing and talking about the advantages of self-identifying as black if you happen to be unfortunate enough to have been born to parents of different races. 

There is a sub-story line to the show about how performing slam poetry can make a multiracial person black, what they “really” should be. They are mentored by a “spoken word poet” who helps them realize if they are multiracial, as he is, they can identify as black, as he does. They proudly succeed with one woman who says being able to be black is “a weight off my shoulders—a milestone.”

This show is, in my opinion, the most misguided show in the CNN “race” series to date. It’s a propaganda piece for every multiracial person to identify only as black; they should not even have a choice. Ms. O’Brien even tries to completely nullify multiracial advocacy by stating that you may only choose one race on the US Census. That statement has been absolutely untrue since the 2000 US Census. 

I was almost physically ill when a teacher was showcased for teaching young children about the brown paper bag test used at the height of racism in this nation to distinguish whether a person was light enough to enjoy all those advantages of white people, whatever they might be. For example a teacher—usually white—could hold a brown paper bag up to a student’s skin and separate the class into those lighter and those darker than the bag—a kind of segregation in itself. Those with lighter skin received something better than those with darker skin. The teacher said, “The more shocking the lesson, the better.” Is this really the way to teach anti-racism to a seven year old? No. It’s a way to make white people the enemy, which is really what this show concluded in its own media kind of way.  

The show fully embraces the one-drop rule—if you have one drop of “black blood,” you are monoracially black—and as evidence, one young woman is urged by Ms. O’Brien to stop identifying as biracial and become black. How in the world is this a balanced documentary?! It should not be titled “Who is Black in America,” but rather “You, too, should be Black in America!”
Only one white father on this very biased show says that his daughters should have the option of being biracial. 

There are plenty of people who will publicly—on the Internet anyway—applaud Ms. O’Brien for whatever reason and it will give them a chance to spout more hate against the multiracial movement, Project RACE, and me. I’m used to it after 23 years of fighting for the rights of multiracial people who wish to embrace their entire heritage. What is more recent is the new hatred against white people who are being blamed for what happened so many years ago and who fostered the civil rights movement. 

A certain radio talk show host is a prime example. This was her recent statement during one of her shows: “Historically white people have had the resources to help and opinions of people of color were NEVER taken into account…yes ideas were stolen but opinions were not counted.” NEVER is a pretty powerful word, especially when capitalized. It’s also a racist comment. I believe that “people of color” can be just as racist as anyone else. One of her devoted fans answered, “White people should go teach white people [about racism] cuz they don’t seem to be listening to me.” Why would anyone of any color(s) listen to this guy?

I wonder how people would feel if Project RACE stated it is imperative that only multiracial people teach about racism, or that the black population has sole responsibility to erase racism.  Every one of every race, ethnicity, culture, nationality, and religion has a responsibility to fight racism—not just whites. 

It reminds me of when I was a teenager and met and befriended a foreign exchange student from Germany. Being Jewish, my parents were openly hostile toward him. Huh? He did not do horrible things that Germans did to Jews and that occurred before he was even born. He was not responsible for wrongs any more than I, as a white woman, was responsible in any way for slavery or racism.  
There seems to be some kind of backlash going on to hold all white people accountable for racism and to believe that they should be held responsible for what ALL white people have done forever. I believe that ALL people choose their own identity and we should all be concerned about passing down racist ideas to our future generations. 

In fact, I have been taking the heat lately from some anti-multiracial bloggers. They single me out as a white woman who has actually gotten things done in communities, states, federally, and in the educational and healthcare systems for multiracial people and then attack me just for being white. One of their main issues is that since race is a “social and not biological construct,” we should stop trying to get more medical research done to find out if multiracial people really do have certain health risks that other groups do not; in essence, we are put down for trying to help save lives. 

It has finally occurred to me that if race really is not a biological construct in the eyes of those anti-multiracial racists, I should be willing to meet them halfway. I was born in Detroit—yes, Detroit, the city, not the suburbs—to a white man and white woman, was raised by a black woman, was married to a black man for 24 years and had two multiracial children, so I am more socially multiracial than white. I “get it” enough to finally declare my identity as multiracial: biologically white and socially black. That should make them happy. As for CNN and Soledad O’Brien, they can bask in the fact that they probably did turn some viewers against multiracial people and white people in a one hour program designed to elevate ratings.
Susan Graham is the executive director and co-founder of Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally). The views in this commentary are her own and not those of ALL of the membership of the organization.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Happy Anniversary to The Multiracial Advocacy Blog

We here at Project RACE just celebrated the first anniversary of The Multiracial Advocacy Blog and we are happy to say that for a young blog, it is making quite a splash!

Here are a few of the fun facts gathered from our blog dashboard (it's amazing what it can tell you) that may also be somewhat of a reflection of interest in the multiracial identity movement.

  • Just as Project RACE has attracted an international membership since its inception in 1990, our blog has consistently drawn hits from around the world as well. The majority of our readership is from the United States, but we also have an extremely large audience from both Russia and France. The list of top ten countries in order is rounded out by the Philippines, Germany, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Canada, Sweden and China.
  • Readers predominately are directed to our blog via our website, followed in number by readers who come directly to The Multiracial Advocacy Blog and then by those who come to the blog via Google.
  • The search keyword that led the greatest number of readers to our blog was "Multiracial Olympians". Likewise, the blog post that received the most views was "Another Multiracial Olympian" posted by our Executive Director, Susan Graham on August 10th.
  • For those who have interest in such things, 67 percent of our readers use a Windows operating system.

If there is anything you'd like to see here on our blog, please let us know. Subscribe if you'd like, or just drop by from time to time. Thanks everyone for reading and be sure to tell your friends about our blog!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cheers to Mixed-race Brits and their Census!

Mixed-race Brits rising fast as prejudice wanes

Jessica Ennis Jessica Ennis, face of the Olympics and now face of the new Britain (Graham Hughes) 
MIXED-RACE Britons, epitomised by Jessica Ennis, the Olympic heptathlon champion, are among the nation’s fastest-growing ethnic-minority groups, according to official figures.

New data from the 2011 census to be published on Tuesday is expected to show that at least 1m people were born to parents from different ethnicities.

Academics believe the true number of people from a mixed-race background could be twice this amount, because many of them identified themselves in other categories, such as black or white, on census forms.

The findings coincide with new polling that reveals only 15% of people feel uncomfortable about interracial marriages.Twenty years ago, 40% of Britons expressed concerns about such relationships.
SOURCE:The Sunday Times

Saturday, December 8, 2012

CNN series cuts to the core of black identity

No surprise that Black in America, Soledad O'Brien's documentary series on African American life and culture, was among CNN's most-watched programs. No other show has offered a deeper look at what it means to be black, in all its complexities.

As provocative as the previous four broadcasts were, I dare say that nothing will cut to the core of black identity more than O'Brien's fifth installment, Who is Black in America?, at 8 p.m. Sunday on CNN.

If you know Philadelphia, you've got to tune in. The documentary is flush with Philly folks. Students Nayo Jones and Rebecca Khalil of the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement explore racial identity, sometimes painfully, under the compassionate guidance of instructor Perry "Vision" DiVirgilio. Drexel professor Yaba Blay - whose (1)ne Drop project gave O'Brien the impetus for the documentary - shares her own story.

Along with O'Brien, all attended a packed screening this week at Drexel.
Like any good documentary, Who Is Black in America? left me pondering fundamental questions: Just who is black in America? Is blackness predicated on skin color or a cultural state of mind? And who gets to decide?

One little drop

Through the years, skin color has been politicized and racialized. Just look at President Obama. Even though he identifies as a black man of mixed race, his identity is the topic of endless public debate. As if he's going to change his answer.

After all, the "one-drop rule," a law adopted by some Southern states in the early 20th century, designated a person black if s/he possessed even a trace of black heritage - in effect, only one drop of black blood. By that rule, our biracial president would have had no chance to enjoy the privileges conferred on pure-lineage whites.

Today, multichoice census forms allow us to check off what we truly are. Yet colorism continues to shackle us in a racialized society.

Fortunately for O'Brien, her parents made it easy for her. Growing up in a white community on Long Island, MarĂ­a de la Soledad Teresa O'Brien, fair-skinned, freckle-faced, big-Afroed daughter of an Afro-Cuban mother and an Irish-Australian father, never had to grapple with the "What are you?" questions.

"My parents made it very clear: Do not let people tell you you're not black and not Latino," O'Brien, 46, told me. "They understood the hostility of the environment. ... You needed to be steeled."

The identity dilemma

Through photographs and personal stories of biracial subjects, Yaba Blay's (1)ne Drop project distills questions of racial identity into beautifully human narratives.

Blay, a professor of Africana studies, concedes she started (1)ne Drop to answer questions of her own.

After all, she is a seal-brown daughter of Ghanaian immigrants - not only a dark-skinned African American, but also a dark-skinned African. Research told her that people like her are almost always at an economic and social disadvantage simply because of that darker complexion.

Her share of social rejection embittered Blay with the belief that "lighter-skinned people lived these glorious lives." But with (1)ne Drop, Blay learned that multiracial people suffered a different brand of rejection.

"I've never had to defend my blackness," she says. "I can't imagine what it feels like to have people say my [identity] is not mine."

Fascinating stuff. Who Is Black in America? triumphs because it eagerly dives into uncomfortable truths that all too often get ignored.

"The only way to move forward," O'Brien says, "is to take these subjects out of the darkness and into the light."

So to speak.


Friday, December 7, 2012

PR Kids/PR Teens Book Review: Cat Girl's Day Off

Emilee is a member of the Project RACE Kids Krew!
 Here is the third Project RACE Kids book review from Lee and Low Books. I reviewed the first two myself, but this one looked like it was for girls (it even had "Girl's" in the title) so I passed it on to PR Kids Krew member, Emilee Dipp-Solis! Hope you like Emilee's review!     - Karson

Kimberly Pauley’s “Cat Girl’s Day Off” is about a high school sophomore, Natalie, who comes from a multiracial and multicultural family with a variety of supernatural abilities.Her special ability is to communicate with cats, but only her two best friends Oscar and Melly know. She is fully accepted as half Chinese and half Nordic by her peers in school. However, she is afraid of becoming an outcast once they learn about her special talent. When a movie is being filmed at her high school, she becomes involved in a mystery which leads her and her friends into a series of adventures. At the beginning of the book Natalie feels like she is of no importance compared to the rest of the family, but throughout her journey, she discovers that she is in fact an exceptional young lady who can make a difference in many people’s lives. The book is very entertaining and easy to read and has a nice positive message. 

NOTE FOR PARENTS: This book does have some mature content and is probably best for teens. If read by younger children, a parent may wish to read together or read it as well in order to discuss some thematic elements with the child.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mixed Chicks Win Legal Battle

Mixed Chicks Gets $8.5M Jury Award for Infringing Mixed-Race Hair Products

Corporate Counsel

Mixed Chicks LLC, a small company that makes specialized hair care products for women of mixed race, has won a jury award of more than $8 million in a trademark and trade dress dispute with a multimillion-dollar beauty supply company.

Sally Beauty Supply LLC, the world’s largest retailer of professional beauty supplies, agreed last month to pay $8.5 million to Mixed Chicks after the California jury found Sally Beauty had infringed the trademarks of Mixed Chicks’s products.

The settlement is actually larger than the amount awarded by the jury, as Sally Beauty offered the extra money to preempt the plaintiff’s requests for attorneys’ fees and disgorgement of Sally Beauty’s profits from the sale of the infringing products.

Mixed Chicks was represented by Kenneth Parker and Alan Wechsler of Irvine, California-based Haynes and Boone. “This is one of the largest trademark verdicts ever in the Central District of California,” Parker said, adding that Sally Beauty has also ceased selling its Mixed Silk products, which were the focus of the suit.

David vs. Goliath tales that come up with big wins for non-Goliaths are rare in the world of intellectual property, where the time and cost of litigation is daunting to small businesses and individuals. But Mixed Chicks co-founders Wendi Levy and Kim Etheredge felt that taking on the beauty supply giant was something they had to do. “We were warned the case was not a slam dunk, that it would be expensive and time consuming, and we were told the payoff, if we won, might not be large,” Etheredge said. “But it was about the principle for us.”

Like most small startups, Etheredge and Levy had worked hard to get their company going. The two women, who are both bi-racial, stumbled upon their idea for a specialty hair care company when they realized they had both struggled with their curly and often unruly hair most of their lives. They noted that the texture of hair for women of mixed race has particular qualities, and the women complained to each other that to get their hair under control they had to buy shampoos and conditioners in a drugstore’s “ethnic” aisle, along with others in the generic hair care aisle. Their need to combine multiple products meant, “we would have to use 10 different products instead of one,” Etheredge said.

In 2003 they went to a chemist to figure out what ingredients were effective for their hair types, and a year later launched Mixed Chicks. They started with a web-based business and soon were selling their products to salons and beauty-supply stores across the country. In 2009, Halle Berry endorsed the Mixed Chicks brand, giving the company a huge boost.

A representative from Sally Beauty Supply approached Etheredge and Levy at a trade show a short time later, and soon after the retail chain proposed an arrangement that would have it stock Mixed Chicks products in its stores. After studying the proposal, however, the women declined the offer, realizing that some of the chain’s policies—such as deep discounting, the need to provide large amounts of inventory, and a requirement that they accept returns—would be risky. “We wanted to make sure we had control of our merchandise and inventory,” according to Etheredge.

In early 2011, Sally Beauty rolled out its own product line for multiracial women, which it called Mixed Silk. Levy and Etheredge first learned about it from clients and customers, who were calling and asking why there was a product on the market that looked so much like theirs but went under a different name and was less expensive. Some even thought Levy and Etheredge had introduced a new low-cost product to segment the market.

Etheredge and Levy were shocked. Everything about this new product line appeared to be a knock-off. “The color and size of the bottles were the same, the color of the liquid was the same, the scent and texture of the products were almost identical,” said Parker, who formerly was corporate counsel for Callaway Golf Company. Even the advertisements seemed to resemble the Mixed Chicks promos, which feature a photo of Levy and Etheredge.

In addition, the Sally Beauty website contained a search engine in which a consumer could type in a product name to find out whether it was sold by Sally Beauty. It was programmed in such a way that when a consumer typed in “mixed chicks,” the only results it returned were the Sally Beauty “mixed silk” product line.

The effect, Parker said, was to deceive and confuse the public. In March 2011, Mixed Chicks sued [PDF], alleging Sally Beauty “intentionally, knowingly, and willfully” infringed the Mixed Chicks trademark and trade dress.

Trademark and trade dress suits often don’t go to trial, as the parties typically choose to settle. But Etheredge and Levy weren’t satisfied with Sally Beauty’s offers, and the large retailer continued to sell the products they were convinced infringed. So after an almost two-year battle, the case went before a jury.

During the nine-day trial, Sally Beauty testified that similarities were coincidental. (Sally Beauty’s attorneys, Jonathn Gordon and Casondra Ruga of Alston & Bird, could not be reached for comment.) The jury didn’t buy it. After deliberating for six hours, the jury decided that Mixed Chicks had suffered $839,535 in actual damages, and found that Sally Beauty had acted willfully and with malice, oppression, or fraud, resulting in a punitive damages award of $7.27 million.

The disposition of the case was finalized last week. “Others will enter the market, but we’re not afraid of competition—as long as it’s fair competition,” Etheredge said. “We knew we were in the right, and we’re happy we can now move forward.”
Source: Corporate Counsel

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

FINAL CALL: 2013 Project RACE Teen & Project RACE Kids National Panelists

Deadline for applications: December, 15, 2012

Want to make a difference in the lives of our country's fastest growing racial group? 
We are accepting applications for Project RACE Kids and Project RACE Teens National Panelists for 2013.

Qualifications: Creative and passionate Kids age 8 - 12 and Teens 13-18 who believe that multiracial people should be able to identify with all aspects of their heritage. Previous panelists have been called upon to contribute in many ways: writing for our blog and website, volunteerngi at events including bone marrow drives, advocating on behalf of multiracial kids, teens and our families with schools, legislators, and other organizations. Naturally, applicants from all races are welcome. 

 How to apply:
Please email the following information to:

And a short explanation of: "Why I would like to be a Project RACE National Panelist."

Multiracial Student Sues School

Court Upholds $1M Award in School Race-Harassment Case

A federal appeals court has upheld a $1 million jury award against a small New York state school district found to be deliberately indifferent to persistent racial harassment of a high school student by his peers.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, in New York City, ruled unanimously in favor of the family of Anthony Zeno, who is half-white and half-Latino and is described in court papers as "dark-skinned."

Zeno was 16 when his family moved in January 2005 from Long Island to the heavily white community of Pine Plains, in Dutchess County, N.Y. At Stissing Mountain High School, where racial minorities were less than 5 percent of the student enrollment, Zeno quickly encountered the harassment, including students calling him "nigger" in the halls and telling him to go back where he came from, according to court papers. A student ripped a necklace from Zeno's neck and referred to it as Zeno's "fake rapper bling bling." There were also direct and implied threats aimed at Zeno, and references to lynching.

During the 2005-06 school year, Zeno faced racial harassment on his football team and continued comments in the hallways and in classrooms. School officials suspended offenders in some cases, but the district's superintendent declined to meet with Zeno's mother despite repeated requests. Despite the intervention of the local human rights commission and NAACP chapter, district officials declined suggestions that Zeno be assigned a "shadow" to help protect him in school.

The district coordinated a mediation session between Zeno's mother and the parents of some of his antagonists, but then neglected to inform Zeno's mother of the time and place of the session.
In his junior and senior years, Zeno faced continued hallway harassment, though he reported incidents less frequently because he did not think the school would respond. Zeno was in special education, and he eventually agreed to a form of special education diploma rather than continue in school to try to achieve a New York State Regents diploma.

Zeno sued the district, alleging race discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A jury found for Zeno and awarded him $1.25 million in compensatory damages, which the trial judge reduced to $1 million.

The Pine Plains Central School District, which has 1,100 students and a $28 million annual budget, appealed to the 2nd Circuit, arguing that it was not deliberately indifferent to Zeno's harassment. The district said it responded reasonably to each reported incident, it was under no obligation to try options such as the shadow, and that it didn't know its responses were inadequate or ineffective.
In its Dec. 3 decision in Zeno v. Pine Plains Central School District, the 2nd Circuit court rejected the district's arguments.

"The jury could have found and apparently did find that the district's remedial response was inadequate — and deliberately indifferent — in at least three respects," the court said. First, while the district did discipline some students, it "dragged its feet" on implementing nondisciplinary measures such as bias training, the court said.

Second, many of those measures were "half-hearted," the court said. And third, "a jury reasonably could have found that the district ignored the many signals that greater, more-directed action was needed," it said.

"The district knew that Anthony was called 'nigger' and other racial slurs during his entire three-and-a-half years at [Sissing Mountain High School]," the court said. "The jury was entitled to conclude that the district knew that greater action was required."

The court also rejected the district's arguments that the $1 million damages award was excessive.
Zeno "was a teenager being subjected — at a vulnerable point in his life — to three-and-a-half years of racist, demeaning, threatening, and violent conduct," the court said. "Furthermore, the conduct occurred at his school, in the presence of friends, classmates, other students, and teachers. The jury reasonably could have found that the harassment would have a profound and long-term impact on Anthony's life and his ability to earn a living."

Zeno was supported in the 2nd Circuit by President Obama's administration, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that a school district may be found liable under the deliberate indifference standard "where its response to known acts of student-on-student harassment is not reasonably calculated to end persistent racial harassment."

"If a school district is aware that other students are not being deterred from engaging in harassment by individual disciplinary action, and the district continues to rely on those disciplinary measures as its exclusive remedy, that response would not be reasonably calculated to prevent persistent harassment from occurring again," said the brief, which was signed by lawyers from the federal departments of Justice and Education.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Gender and Race: How Overlapping Stereotypes Affect Personal and Professional Decisions

Science Daily (Dec. 3, 2012)

Racial and gender stereotypes have profound consequences in almost every sector of public life, from job interviews and housing to police stops and prison terms. However, only a few studies have examined whether these different categories overlap in their stereotypes. A new study on the connections between race and gender -- a phenomenon called gendered race -- reveals unexpected ways in which stereotypes affect our personal and professional decisions.

Within the United States, Asians as an ethnic group are perceived as more feminine in comparison to whites, while blacks are perceived as more masculine, according to new research by Adam Galinsky, the Vikram S. Pandit Professor of Business at Columbia Business School. Further research by Galinsky shows that the fact that race is gendered has profound consequences for interracial marriage, leadership selection, and athletic participation.

The first study conducted by Galinsky and his colleagues Erika Hall of Kellogg School of Management and Amy Cuddy of Harvard University directly tested whether race was gendered. Eighty-five participants of various backgrounds completed an online survey in which they evaluated either the femininity or masculinity of certain traits or attributed those traits to Asians, whites, and blacks.

"The stereotype content for blacks was considered to be the most masculine, followed by whites, with Asians being the least masculine," Galinsky wrote in the study, soon to appear in Psychological Science. "Thus, we found a substantial overlap between the contents of racial and gender stereotypes." A separate study, in which participants were subliminally exposed to a word related to race before reacting to words perceived as masculine or feminine, showed that the association between racial and gender stereotypes exists even at an implicit level.

Their next set of studies demonstrated that these associations have important implications for romantic relationships. Within the heterosexual dating market, men tend to prefer women who personify the feminine ideal while women prefer men who embody masculinity. Galinsky showed that men are more attracted to Asian women relative to black women, while women are more attracted to black men relative to Asian men. Even more interesting, the more a man valued femininity the more likely he was attracted to an Asian women and the less likely he was attracted to an black women. The same effect occurred for women, with attraction to masculinity driving the differential attraction to black men and Asian men.

These interracial dating preferences have real-world results, Galinsky found. He analyzed the 2000 US Census data and found a similar pattern among interracial marriages: among black-white marriages, 73 percent had a black husband and a white wife, while among Asian-white marriages, 75 percent had a white husband and an Asian wife. An even more pronounced pattern emerged in Asian-black marriages, in which 86 percent had a black husband and an Asian wife.

The effects of gendered races extend to leadership selection and athletic participation, further research showed. In a study in which participants evaluated job candidates, Asians were more likely to be selected for a leadership position that required collaboration and relationship building, traits typically perceived as feminine. Black candidates were more likely to be chosen for positions that required a fiercely competitive approach, typically seen as masculine.

A final study analyzed archival data from the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) Student-Athlete Ethnicity Report, which breaks down the racial composition of 30 different collegiate sports (NCAA, 2010) from 2000-2010 for Divisions I, II, and III. Galinsky and his colleagues found that the more a sport was perceived to be masculine the greater the relative number of black to Asian athletes who played that sport at the collegiate level, with blacks more likely to participate in the most masculine sports.

"This research shows that the intersection of race and gender has important real-world consequences," Galinsky concluded. "Considering the overlap between racial and gender stereotypes -- our gendered race perspective -- opens up new frontiers for understanding how stereotypes impact the important decisions that drive our most significant outcomes at work and at home."

SOURCE: Science Daily