Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ethnic Facial Variations

Commentary: Anthropometric measurements of beauty and ethnic variations


The differences in facial structure, as well as differences in photoaging not discussed here, may be useful in the way we approach different aesthetic procedures sought by patients in different ethnic groups. Understanding these structural differences also may help us avoid a cookie-cutter approach and instead use aesthetic procedures to enhance each individual’s inherent beauty and what their ideals of beauty may be.

Beauty is subjective, but many have tried to measure beauty objectively by using anthropometry. Anthropometry is the quantitative measurement and ratio of facial features based on proportional relationships of the face known as the neoclassical canons. As proposed by Leonardo da Vinci, the ideal face can be divided into equal horizontal thirds: the distance from the frontal hairline to the top of the brow, from the brow to the base of the nose, and from the base of the nose to the inferior aspect of the chin. These mathematical facial proportions translate to a symmetrical oval or heart-shaped face, with prominent cheekbones, a tapered jaw line, a narrow nasal base, and thin lips.

Another method used to calculate beauty with mathematical proportions is the concept of “phi,” the golden ratio. The ratio of 1:1.618 was described by ancient Greeks as a mathematical method to calculate optimal proportions for all structures in nature. Phi is the unique point on a line that divides the line into two lines in such a manner that the ratio of the smaller portion to the larger portion is the same as the ratio of the larger portion to the whole line.

Plastic surgeon Dr. Stephen Marquardt trademarked the “Phi mask,” a facial mask of proportions that incorporates the 1:1.618 ratio to describe the mathematical ideal of an attractive face. The original Phi mask has been applied to persons of all races and ethnicities. However, Marquardt has modified it in recent years to apply to three different ethnic groups – Caucasian, Asian, and African – and he has noted the likelihood of more variations to come.

While phi proportions may be applied all ethnicities, baseline facial anatomic structural differences among different ethnicities exist. A study of facial analysis by Farkas et al. compared facial structure in African Americans with Caucasians (Aesthetic Plast. Surg. 2000;24:179-84). African Americans had a broader nasal base, decreased nasal projection, bimaxillary protrusion, orbital proptosis, increased soft tissue of the midface, prominent lips, and increased facial convexity. Given the interethnic variability in facial structure, other studies have identified two types of African-American nasal structure, one with a high dorsum and one with a low dorsum (Arch. Facial Plastic Surg. 2001;3:191-7).

Latino individuals reflect a range of ethnic backgrounds, but studies of Latina female facial structure generally have shown an increased bizygomatic distance, bimaxillary protrusion, a higher convexity angle, a broader nose, a broad rounded face, and a receding chin (Aesthetics and Cosmetic Surgery for Darker Skin Types, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2007:10).

In persons of Mexican descent, studies show that the face is broader, with a prominent malar eminence, broad nose, widened alar base, short columella, horizontally oriented nostrils, and thick nasal skin (Clin. Plast. Surg. 1977;4:89-102; Aesthetic Plast. Surg. 1980;4:169-77). In Caribbean women, the anthropometric measurements are more similar to those of African American women than to those of Central and South American women, whose anthropometric measurements are closer to those of Caucasian women (Arch. Otolaryngol. Head Neck Surg. 1996;122:1079-86; Laryngoscope 1988;98:202-8).

Shirakabe et al. described the facial structure and soft tissue of persons of Asian descent as including a wider and rounder face, higher eyebrow, fuller upper lid, lower nasal bridge with horizontally placed flared ala, flatter malar prominence and midface, more protuberant lips, and more receded chin (Aesthetic Plast. Surg. 2003;27:397-402). The distance from the eyebrow to the upper-lid margin in Asians is much greater than in Caucasians due to the fuller upper eyelid and to the narrower palpebral fissure (Aesthetic Surg. J. 2003;23:170-76). There is also more malar fat in the midface of Asians, moderate premaxillary deficiency, and more prominent soft tissue in the lips compared with the thinner lips and more prominent chin often seen in Caucasians (Cosmetic Surgery of the Asian Face, Thieme Medical Publishers, New York, 1990).

Of course, such studies are limited by the use of one term to describe a large group of people encompassing many different countries and cultures that have different facial features and structures that distinguish them, but these are the data available thus far.

A recent study by Biller and Kim characterizing the ideal nasolabial angle, nasal tip width, and location of eyebrow apex for Asian and white women showed that neither the ethnicity of the model nor the ethnicity of the volunteer evaluating the model played a significant role in determining the ideal angle or position of the above parameters. The researchers found that, in general, a more lateral brow apex was preferable in younger faces, whereas a more medial apex was preferred in older faces. In addition, moderate nasolabial angles of 104 and 108 degrees and a nasal tip width of 35% of the alar base was most attractive in both ethnicities.

The study supports some claims that beauty is considered to be innate and independent of ethnicity (Arch. Facial Plast. Surg. 2009;11:91-7). However, the study is limited by the small number of models (four), representing only two ethnicities. In addition, all of the volunteers evaluating the models were from the United States, which may represent a more “Westernized” ideal of beauty.
This column is adapted from “Evaluation of Beauty and the Aging Face,” in Dermatology, 3rd ed., 2012, Elsevier Saunders, chapter 152; and from Semin. Cutan. Med. Surg. 2009;28:115-29.
Source: Elsevier/Dr. Wesley practices dermatology in Beverly Hills, Calif. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

From Affirmative Action to Diversity

From affirmative action to diversity

Sometime in the new millennium, "global warming" evolved into "climate change." Amid growing controversies over the planet's past temperatures, Al Gore and other activists understood that human-induced "climate change" could better explain almost any weather extremity -- droughts or floods, too much heat or cold, hurricanes and tornadoes.

Similar verbal gymnastics have gradually turned "affirmative action" into "diversity" -- a word ambiguous enough to avoid the innate contradictions of a liberal society affirming illiberal racial preferencing.

In an increasingly multiracial society, it has grown hard to determine the racial ancestry of millions of minorities. Is someone who is ostensibly one-half Native American or African-American classified as a minority eligible for special consideration in hiring or college admission, while someone one-quarter or one-eighth is not?

How exactly does affirmative action adjudicate our precise ethnic identities these days? These are not illiberal questions -- given Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's past claims of being Native American to find advantage in her academic career.

Aside from the increasing difficulty of determining the ancestry of multiracial, multiethnic and intermarried Americans, what exactly is the justification for affirmative action's ethnic preferences in hiring or admission -- historical grievance, current underrepresentation due to discrimination, or both?

Are the children of President Barack Obama or Attorney General Eric Holder more in need of help than the offspring of first-generation immigrants from the Punjab or Cambodia? If non-white ancestry no longer offers an accurate assessment of ongoing discrimination, is affirmative action justified by a legacy of historical bias or contemporary ethnic underrepresentation?

Does a recent arrival from Oaxaca who fled the racism and poverty of Mexico warrant special compensation upon arrival in the United States? And if so, when? A day, a month, a year or a decade after crossing the border? How about a Chilean, Korean or Iraqi immigrant? Should particular coveted employment match the nation's racial composition -- jobs on the faculty, but not jobs in the NBA or in the Postal Service?

How do we fairly allocate compensation for past collective sins against a bygone generation? Slavery, Jim Crow, internment of Japanese-Americans, racially exclusionary immigration laws and the denial of U.S. admission to Jews fleeing the Holocaust: All were reprehensible; but it is difficult to know the degree to which these injustices still distort the career paths of individual Americans, or who still alive is to blame.

In 2009, the University of California system changed its admissions policy allegedly to curtail admission to Asian-Americans. Such anti-affirmative action arose not because UC was a racist institution, but because as an applicant group, Asian-Americans were outperforming most other ethnic groups, in numbers disproportionate to the general population.

In other words, in the manner that the Ivy League turned away qualified Jews in the 1920s and '30s, so some university administrators apparently thought that engineering a campus "to look like America" was more important than simply admitting those with the strongest academic achievement.

Affirmative action -- fossilized for a half-century -- also made few allowances for class. Asian-Americans, for example, have higher per-capita incomes than Americans as a whole. Were affluent minority individuals eligible for affirmative action?

Will the children of multimillionaire Tiger Woods -- or of Jay-Z and Beyoncé -- qualify for special consideration on the theory that statistical underrepresentation in some fields or racial pedigrees will make their lives more challenging than the lives of poor white children in rural Pennsylvania or first-generation Arab-Americans in Dearborn, Mich.?

If ossified racial preferences don't work in 21st century multiracial America, then the generalized idea of "diversity" -- just picking and choosing people without any rationale other than ensuring lots of different races and ethnic groups -- offers a better defense of extending preferences in lieu of strictly meritocratic criteria.

Yet diversity no more alleviates the problem of bias than does climate change end controversy over global warming. We really do not mean "diversity" in the widest sense of the word. No Ivy League law school is worried that its faculty profile is disproportionately 90 percent liberal, or lacks fundamentalist Christians commensurate with their numbers in the general population.

The idea of diversity, racial and otherwise, is deeply embedded in politics. President George H.W. Bush was not especially lauded for appointing an African-American Supreme Court justice, Clarence Thomas, apparently because Thomas was considered conservative. Liberal Attorney General Eric Holder was seen by the media as a genuinely diverse appointment in a way that a conservative predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, was not.

Like Prohibition, affirmative action and then diversity were originally noble efforts that were doomed -- largely by their own illiberal contradictions of using present and future racial discrimination to atone for past racial discrimination.

It is well past time to move on and to see people as just people.

Source: The Chicago Tribune/ Victor Davis Hanson (Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His new book, "The Savior Generals," will appear this spring from Bloomsbury Press. You can reach him by e-mailing

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Some Multiracial Disappointment

Obama Disappointment over Appointment

Project RACE does not usually get involved with articles about race-based entitlements, but an article caught my eye and begged for a little commentary. The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is admonishing President Obama because he hasn’t chosen any blacks to fill cabinet and other high-level positions during this, his second term. In a very blunt letter, Chairwoman of the CBC Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) not only complains about the slight, but adds, “[The CBC] ire is compounded by the overwhelming support you’ve received from the African-American community.”

So what are they going to do? Pressure the White House, get even more publicity, scream and shout and hopefully get an African-American put in one of those top positions. I could go into the logic of just getting the right person, regardless of race, into the right job, but we all know that argument or the implication of some pay-back by the President.  

Surprise! My point is to applaud the CBC for coming together and pointing out their gripes. The letter also states, “We want to make sure that everybody understands that we’re not some group that’s so way out that we can’t fit in the mainstream. We are very mainstream, and I want that message to be told.” You go, Congresswoman.

The CBC is doing exactly what the multiracial community should be doing, but is not. Oh wait, I sent a requested letter to the Census National Advisory Committee (NAC) a week ago and stated this: “Members of the multiracial community are stakeholders, not outliers in the Decennial Census and in other government reports. We are more than bits of data or combination folks.” I waited until their March meeting was over to speak with them, so they could confirm that none of the vital concerns of our community were brought up during the meeting, especially not by multiracial members of the committee. Then I immediately followed-up with the letter.

The biggest failing of the multiracial community is that many do not understand how things work in Washington, or even on state levels. Ya gotta have clout and/or think outside of the box(es). We accomplished everything we could in the 90s because of strategic political thinking by some of the Project RACE advisors. But where did all the other advocates go? How did academics without political science knowledge become voices for the movement? The same way clueless people got on committees, they were appointed by people on the inside who knew they were powerless or they were self-anointed to play “expert.”

I am proud to say that Project RACE has worked for the civil rights of multiracial people and our families since 1990, mostly behind the scenes, politically, to build an important base. But we can’t teach others in the community who do not understand the different needs between—let’s say a zombie—and a multiracial child.

So don’t worry, Project RACE has the collective backs of the multiracial community despite one old academic and his followers’ efforts to keep us down. Maybe one day, we can join forces and become as effective as the Congressional Black Caucus.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Discriminatory School Discipline Policies

Miss. District Required to Adjust 'Discriminatory' Discipline Policies

A new agreement aims to stop what the federal government has labeled discriminatory discipline practices in the 6,100-student Meridian, Miss., school district.

The U.S. Department of Justice said today that the school district has agreed to take a number of steps to address problems with disparities in discipline between white and black students in the district.

Among other things outlined in a consent decree signed Thursday between the district and the DOJ:
  • The district cannot use suspension, alternative school settings, or expulsion for minor misbehavior and has to limit these types of consequences all together.

  • School administrators cannot ask school law enforcement officers to respond in cases where administrators can use the school code of conduct to address behavior problems.

  • School police must be trained in bias-free policing, child and adolescent development and age-appropriate responses, mentoring, and working with school administrators.

  • The district's alternative school has to establish clear entry and exit rules and speed up students' transition back to their regular school.

  • All district schools must adopt Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, an approach that involves teaching students about expected and appropriate behavior.

  • The district must monitor discipline data to identify and respond to racial disparities.

The Justice Department said that in the predominantly African-American district, black students were three times as likely as white students to be punished after they were referred to school administrators and five times as likely to be suspended out of school. Rule-breaking by white students and black students was often handled very differently, with black students typically facing harsher punishment even when their offenses were similar to those of white students and the students had similar discipline histories, DOJ officials said.

A compliance review triggered by the district's federal desegregation order in 2008 led to the investigation into discipline policies and practices, said Jocelyn Samuels, a principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's civil rights division. Complaints about how the district handled discipline began to accumulate in 2010.

She said black students were disciplined harshly for truly minor infractions—an untucked shirt, a sweater that violated the dress code.

"We are all entirely supportive of protecting the safety of students," but large numbers of suspensions and expulsions for minor violations of school rules don't accomplish that, Samuels said.
Many of the policies that led to the investigation have already been discontinued, Superintendent Alvin Taylor told the Meridian Star.
"The vast majority of these allegations that caused all this stem from the years 2007 to 2010. When my administration came in in 2011, we were already making changes so by the time DOJ came in here to do their investigation, we had done 50 percent of the changes already and were moving to do others," Taylor said. "They simply came in and talked about changes that we were already making."
The investigation Samuels detailed is department's investigation is entirely separate from a Justice Department inquiry into how the local court system, city, and other agencies are contributing to the funneling of students from schools into the juvenile justice system, Samuels said. But stemming problems at the school level could help address the issues raised in that "school-to-prison pipeline" investigation, and the consent decree could be a model for how to handle similar problems elsewhere.

"Sadly the problems that we see in Meridian are problems we see in school districts across the country," Samuels said. The Justice Department recently signed an agreement with the Palm Beach County, Fla., school district over discipline. That case centered on English-language learners.

And in January, a coalition of civil rights groups issued a report decrying problems with discipline and juvenile justice referrals across Mississippi.

She commended the Meridian school district for working with the Justice Department on the new school discipline plan. According to the agreement, which has to be approved by a judge, the DOJ will monitor Meridian through the end of the 2016-17 school district to see that it is complying with the new agreement.
Source: Education Week/  Nirvi Shah

Sunday, March 24, 2013

What is a 'Latino?'

New pope revives question: What is a 'Latino?'

FILE - In this 2008 file photo, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, second from left, travels on the subway in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Bergoglio is being hailed with pride and wonder as the "first Latino pope," a native Spanish speaker born and raised in the South American nation of Argentina. But for some Latinos in the United States, there's a catch: Pope Francis' parents were born in Italy. The conversation about Pope Francis' ethnicity is rooted in history and geography. Latin America is a complex region of deep racial and class narratives. (AP Photo/Pablo Leguizamon, File)

He is being hailed with pride and wonder as the "first Latino pope," a native Spanish speaker born and raised in the South American nation of Argentina. But for some Latinos in the United States, there's a catch: Pope Francis' parents were born in Italy.

Such recent European heritage is reviving debate in the United States about what makes someone a Latino. Those questioning whether their idea of Latino identity applies to Pope Francis acknowledge that he is Latin American, and that he is a special inspiration to Spanish-speaking Catholics around the world. Yet that, in their eyes, does not mean the pope is "Latino."

These views seem to be in the minority. But they have become a distinct part of the conversation in the United States as the Latino world contemplates this unique man and moment.
—"Are Italians Latino? No," says Eric Cortes, who has been debating the issue with his friends.
—"The most European alternative and the closest thing to an Italian," is how Baylor University professor Philip Jenkins described Pope Francis in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
—"Does a Latino have to have indigenous blood?" asked the LA Weekly newspaper of Los Angeles beneath the headline, "Is The New Pope Latino?"
—"Latinos come in all colors and shades and features," Ivette Baez said in an emotional debate on the "Being Latino" Facebook page.
The swirling discussion indicates just how much the man formerly known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, whatever his ethnicity, means to Catholic Latinos around the world.

To read entire story:

Source: AP/Jesse Washington. Photo: Associated Press/Pablo Leguizamon, File - FILE - In this 2008 file photo, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, second from left, travels on the subway in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Bergoglio is being hailed with pride …more 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Multiracial and The Seattle Times

Seattle Times letters to the editor
March 23, 2013 at 6:38 AM

Entire heritages should be recognized

In “Growing up multiracial but not colorblind,” [NWThursday, March 21] a columnist interviewed an academic, who apparently included me in a book she wrote, although she never spoke to me. The author said I had my young son testify before Congress, so that he did not have to identify as black. Huh? Oh that crazy old misinformed notion.

We testified so that people who wanted to recognize their entire heritage could do so. Yes, we were asking the government to give up that old one-drop rule once and for all. The author apparently wants to hold on to it, since she refers to herself as a mixed-race African American, which says to me that she is still not willing to give up the one-drop rule that she accuses me of perpetuating.

The academics and their vocal mouthpieces really do need to get a new rant. If they could only give up old tales about white women of multiracial children, perhaps they could see reality.
–Susan Graham, executive director, Project RACE, Inc., Los Banos, Calif.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Today is "Day to Erase Discrimination"

March 21 is designated by the United Nations (UN) as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It’s a day observed all around the world to focus attention on the problems of racism and the need to promote racial harmony.

The UN made this designation in 1966 to mark a tragic event that took place on March 21, 1960 in Sharpeville, South Africa when 69 peaceful demonstrators were killed during a protest against apartheid.  Canada was one of the first countries to support the UN initiative and publicized national campaigns against racial discrimination from 1989 to 2011.

The Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan (MCoS) is coordinating a provincial campaign with support from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport. MCoS members and all schools have received a package with March 21 posters and stickers.  Many Saskatchewan organizations continue to recognize March 21 and use it as a springboard for the year-long work to recognize and reject racism.

The Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan with many local organizations, are partnering to show a film, The Gold Bracelet, in communities large and small across Saskatchewan in honour of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The Gold Bracelet is a tender hearted story of a young immigrant family and its peaceful existence until the September 11, 2001 attacks shatter their world and force them to face harsh realities in America. It explores immigration and generational issues.  This film allows us to rise above our differences.

“We are very excited to partner with Regina Immigrant Women Centre and many local organizations to enable a tour of the film The Gold Bracelet and its award-winning director Kavi Raz,” says Rhonda Rosenberg, Executive Director of MCoS.  “Each showing will include opportunities for discussion following the film.  We hope that community members will build relationships that are the foundation to respectful and welcoming communities.”

SOURCE:    © Copyright 2013, Yorkton This Week

Multiracial Myths and The Multiracial Advocate

The article below appeared in The Seattle Times yesterday, which is usually one of the more credible newspapers in the country. Not this time. A columnist interviewed an academic, who apparently included me in a book she wrote, although she never spoke to me, so they apparently both are guilty of not fact-checking. The author said I had my young son testify before Congress, so that he did not have to identify as black. Huh?! Oh that crazy old misinformed notion.

We testified so that people who wanted to recognize their entire heritage could do so. Yes, we were asking the government to give up that old one-drop rule once and for all. The author apparently wants to hold on to it, since she refers to herself as a mixed-race African American, which says to me that she is still not willing to give up the one-drop rule that she accuses me of perpetuating. As far as the columnist goes, he just needs to be replaced with a real journalist.  

The academics and their vocal mouthpieces really do need to get a new rant. If they could only give up old tales about white mothers of multiracial children, perhaps they could see reality.-Susan Grahamhicsaystome that she is still not willing to give up the one-drop rule that she accuses me of perpetuating. As far as the columnist goes, he just needs to be replaced with a real journalist.  

he mics and their vocal mouthpieces really do need to get a new . If they could only give up old tales about white women of multiracial children, perhaps they could see reality. 

Mixed race in a world not yet post-racial

The increase in the nation’s mixed-racepopulation is not a sign that the U.S. is post-racial.
Seattle Times staff columnist

Populations of humans have always been mixing genes, but we still have trouble with the concept.

Two recent books by University of Washington professors address what mixed means in America, particularly examining the period between the Census Bureau’s decision in the late 1990s to allow people, beginning in 2000, to choose more than one race, and the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Both books say something about how mixed race as a category is sometimes used to further marginalize African Americans.

Troubling the Family: The Promise of Personhood and the Rise of Multiracialism,” by Habiba Ibrahim, an assistant professor of English, is written largely for an academic audience.

Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial,” is written by Ralina Joseph, associate professor in the Department of Communications.

Both are important works, but today I’m going to focus on Joseph’s book, which is also scholarly, but written with the general reader in mind.

We’re not post-racial yet, Joseph told me when we talked over coffee this week, and more mixing isn’t getting us there, because we haven’t shaken old ways of categorizing people. The combination of black and white, weighted with centuries of racism, raises the most issues.

Joseph noted the census change was most notably championed by Susan Graham, a white mother who wanted her son to be able to mark down multiracial, and, Joseph said, “had her young son testify before Congress, so that he did not have to identify as black.”
Joseph said a mother could correctly assume being black would make life more difficult for her child. She noted the volumes of data that show how deeply race affects life chances in America.
She mentioned the investigation of Seattle Public Schools’ disproportionately heavy suspensions and expulsions of black students.

But seeing multiracial as a separate category, a way of transcending blackness, is not a step forward, and it isn’t racially neutral, Joseph said. It is, instead, a new use of old concepts, an affirmation that blackness is something to escape.

Embracing all parts of a mixed heritage is a more positive act than migrating to a new category. Joseph calls herself a mixed-race African American. “One can’t think about one’s own identity choices without thinking about power realities.”

In the book, she writes that mixing generated the first race laws. The first anti-miscegenation law was passed in Maryland in 1661 as a response to black and white and Native-American pairings, and it was all about power. It was the beginning of laws that set white people apart, and above, others across the Colonies.

And, as the institution of slavery grew, white men could have sex with enslaved black women — but without marriage, the children who resulted inherited no land, no money, no power.

The African-American community has long been multiracial, ranging from milky skin and green eyes to deep chocolate, but to be counted as white still requires “purity.” It’s a protected status.

Joseph’s parents were married in Washington, D.C., in 1972, then lived in Virginia. The Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia had struck down laws against black-white marriages only five years before.

The parents never talked with their children about race. Joseph looked for images of people like herself in magazines and on television.

In the book, she examines portrayals of mixed-race black people in books, magazines, television and other media, and finds that often two old patterns recur.

In one pattern, the mixed person, usually a woman, is troubled, torn, wild. She analyzes the sad girl in the movie “Mixing Nia,” and Jennifer Beals’ bad-girl character on “The L Word.”

In the other pattern, the multiracial person is seen as elevated above stereotypes about blackness. That “exceptional multiracial” category would include Tiger Woods before his fall and President Obama, she said. The “exceptional multiracial” is enough proof for some people that we have arrived at a post-racial time, or that with a little more mixing we soon will.

We haven’t, but Joseph sees some bright spots in the portrayal of mixed-race black people, and black people in general, especially because of the opportunities online media offer.

She mentioned the comedy duo Key & Peele, and the Web show “Totally Biased,” whose star W. Kamau Bell exhibits a type of black masculinity we don’t often see in other media. He’s a big man with an Afro, a white wife and a mixed child, and who is anti-homophobic and acknowledges America’s rich diversity. Joseph also likes the Web series, “The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl.”

Maybe when her two children grow up, they won’t have to look so hard for positive reflections of their reality.
Source: The Seattle Times/Jerry Large

Cell Therapy for Leukemia

Cell Therapy Shows Promise for Acute Type of Leukemia

A treatment that genetically alters a patient’s own immune cells to fight cancer has, for the first time, produced remissions in adults with an acute leukemia that is usually lethal, researchers are reporting.In one patient who was severely ill, all traces of leukemia vanished in eight days.
“We had hoped, but couldn’t have predicted that the response would be so profound and rapid,” said Dr. Renier J. Brentjens, the first author of a new study of the therapy and a specialist in leukemia at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
The treatment is experimental, has been used in only a small number of patients and did not work in all of them. But experts consider it a highly promising approach for a variety of malignancies, including other blood cancers and tumors in organs like the prostate gland.
The new study, in five adults with acute leukemia in whomchemotherapy had failed, was published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The treatment is similar to one that pulled a 7-year-old girl, Emma Whitehead, from death’s door into remission nearly a year ago, and that has had astounding success in several adults with chronic leukemia in whom chemotherapy had failed. The treatment regimen that saved Emma and those adults was developed at the University of Pennsylvania. Related studies have also been done at the National Cancer Institute.
But this cell-therapy approach had not been tried before in adults with the disease that Emma had, acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This type of blood cancer is worse in adults than in children, with a cure rate in adults of only about 40 percent, compared with 80 percent to 90 percent in children. The disease is not common. Each year in the United States, it affects about 2,400 people older than 20, and 3,600 younger. Though there are fewer cases in adults, there are more deaths: about 1,170 adults die each year compared with 270 deaths in people under 20.
In adults, this type of leukemia is a “devastating, galloping disease,” said Dr. Michel Sadelain, the senior author of the new study and director of the Center for Cell Engineering and the Gene Transfer and Gene Expression Laboratory at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan.
Patients like the ones in the study, who relapse after chemotherapy, usually have only a few months left, Dr. Sadelain said. But now, three of the five have been in remission for 5 to 24 months. Two others died: one was in remission but died from a blood clot, and the other relapsed. The survivors have gone on to have bone-marrow transplants. Their prognosis is good, but relapse is still possible, and only time will tell.
Experts not connected with the study said it was an important advance in an emerging field. Dr. Carl June of the University of Pennsylvania, who led the team that treated Emma and the other patients, said, “This is the first report showing some real, clinically beneficial activity in adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia.” He said his team was also starting to test its version of the cell therapy on patients with the disease.
Dr. Richard M. Stone, the program director for adult leukemia at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, called the research exciting and said he hoped to begin collaborating with the team at Sloan-Kettering. He has already sent them a patient.
The treatment uses patients’ own T-cells, a type of white blood cell that normally fights viruses and cancer. The patient’s blood is run through a machine that extracts T-cells and returns the rest of the blood to the body. Researchers then do some genetic engineering: they use a disabled virus as a “vector” to carry new genetic material into the T cells, which reprograms them to recognize and kill any cell that carries a particular protein on its surface.
The protein, called CD19, is found on B-cells, which are part of the immune system. This target was chosen because the patients had a type of leukemia that affects B-cells, so the goal was to train the patients’ T-cells to destroy B-cells. Healthy B-cells — which make antibodiesto fight infection — would be killed along with cancerous ones, but that side effect was treatable.
“We’re creating living drugs,” Dr. Sadelain said. “It’s an exciting story that’s just beginning.”
One of the sickest patients in the study was David Aponte, 58, who works on a sound crew for ABC News. In November 2011, what he thought was a bad case of tennis elbow turned out to be leukemia. He braced himself for a long, grueling regimen of chemotherapy.
His oncologist, Dr. Brentjens, suggested that before starting the drugs, Mr. Aponte might want to have some of his T-cells removed and stored (chemotherapy would deplete them). That way, if he relapsed, he might be able to enter a study using the cells. Mr. Aponte agreed.
At first, the chemotherapy worked, but by the summer of 2012, while he was still being treated, tests showed that the disease was back. “After everything I had gone through, the chemo, losing hair, the sickness, it was absolutely devastating,” Mr. Aponte recalled.
He joined the T-cell study. For a few days, nothing seemed to be happening. Then, his temperature began to rise. He has no memory of what took place during the next week or so, but the journal article — where he is Patient 5 — reports that his fever spiked to 105 degrees. He was in the throes of a “cytokine storm,” meaning that the T-cells, in a furious battle with the cancer, were churning out enormous amounts of hormones called cytokines. Besides fever, the hormonal rush can make a patient’s blood pressure plummet and his heart rate shoot up. Mr. Aponte was taken to intensive care and treated with steroids to quell the reaction.
Eight days later, his leukemia was gone. Even the doctors were shocked, Dr. Brentjens said. They repeated the lab tests just to make sure there was no mistake.
Once he was in remission, Mr. Aponte had a bone-marrow transplant, as did three of the other patients in the study. Another had medical problems that made a transplant impossible, and it was he who relapsed and died. The researchers think he may have relapsed because the steroids he needed to treat the cytokine storm may have wiped out the T-cells before they could do their job.
For the other patients, it is not known whether the transplants were really needed; in theory, the T-cells alone might have produced a long-term remission or even a cure. Patients treated at the University of Pennsylvania were not given transplants, and most have stayed in remission. But the technique used there involves a different viral vector and different genetic programming from the one at Sloan-Kettering.
In any case, Dr. Brentjens said, the T-cells are still experimental, whereas transplants are the standard of care in acute leukemia because they have been shown to give many patients the best odds of survival. So the transplants were done for ethical reasons. The study is continuing, and as more patients are treated, answers may emerge as to whether the T-cells alone will be enough for some patients.
Mr. Aponte, who had the transplant in December, is still recovering, and trying to gain back some of the 40 pounds he lost while he was ill. But he hopes to return to work soon.
Source: The New York Times

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Race and Brazil

In Brazil, a mix of racial openness and exclusion

This photo taken Feb. 25, 2013, shows Nubia de Lima, 29, posing for a photo in her Rio de Janeiro apartment in Brazil. De Lima, a black producer for Globo television network, says she experiences racism on a daily basis in the reactions and comments of strangers, who continuously assume she's a maid, nanny or cook, despite her flair for fashion and pricey wardrobe. "People aren't used to seeing black people in positions of power," she said. She added that upper middle-class black people like herself are in a kind of limbo, too affluent and educated to live in favelas but still largely excluded from high-rent white neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Many Brazilians cast their country as racial democracy where people of different groups long have intermarried, resulting in a large mixed-race population. But you need only turn on the TV, open the newspaper or stroll down the street to see clear evidence of segregation.

In Brazil, whites are at the top of the social pyramid, dominating professions of wealth, prestige and power. Dark-skinned people are at the bottom of the heap, left to clean up after others and take care of their children and the elderly.

The 2010 census marked the first time in which black and mixed-race people officially outnumbered whites, weighing in at just over 50 percent, compared with 47 percent for whites. Researchers suggest that Brazil actually may have been a majority-nonwhite country for some time, with the latest statistics reflecting a decreased social stigma that makes it easier for nonwhites to report their actual race.

It is a mix of anomalies in Brazil that offers lessons to a United States now in transition to a "majority-minority" nation: how racial integration in social life does not always translate to economic equality, and how centuries of racial mixing are no guaranteed route to a colorblind society.

Nearly all TV news anchors in Brazil are white, as are the vast majority of doctors, dentists, fashion models and lawyers. Most maids and doormen, street cleaners and garbage collectors are black. There is only one black senator and there never has been a black president, though a woman, Dilma Rousseff, leads the country now.

A decade of booming economic growth and wealth-redistribution schemes has narrowed the income gap between blacks and whites, but it remains pronounced. In 2011, the average black or mixed-race worker earned just 60 percent what the average white worker made. That was up from 2001, when black workers earned 50.5 percent what white workers made, according to Brazil's national statistics agency.

Brazil recently instituted affirmative action programs to help boost the numbers of black and mixed-race college students, though both groups continue to be proportionally underrepresented at the nation's universities. They made up just 10 percent of college students in 2001, and now account for 35 percent. Those numbers probably will continue to rise because of a new law that reserves half the spots in federal universities for high school graduates of public schools and distributes them according to states' racial makeup.

Still, black faces remain the exception at elite colleges.

Nubia de Lima, a 29-year-old black producer for Globo television network, said she experiences racism on a daily basis, in the reactions and comments of strangers who are constantly taking her for a maid, a nanny or a cook, despite her flair for fashion and pricey wardrobe.

"People aren't used to seeing black people in positions of power," she said. "It doesn't exist. They see you are black and naturally assume that you live in a favela (hillside slum) and you work as a housekeeper."

She said upper middle-class black people like her are in a kind of limbo, too affluent and educated to live in favelas but still largely excluded from high-rent white neighborhoods.

"Here it's a racism of exclusion," de Lima said.

Source: By JENNY BARCHFIELD | Associated Press/View Photo
Associated Press/Felipe Dana - This photo taken Feb. 25, 2013, shows Nubia de Lima, 29, posing for a photo in her Rio de Janeiro apartment in Brazil. De Lima, a black producer for Globo television network

Monday, March 18, 2013

Race Conversation Has its Own Problems

Can an Honest Conversation About Race Be Inoffensive?

A controversial Philadelphia Magazine story raises that question by anonymously airing the racial views of white people.

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In Philadelphia Magazine's March cover story, Robert Huber grants anonymity to various white residents, probes their views on race, and faithfully conveys their answers, even the racist ones. 


His article "Being White in Philadelphia" starts from these premises: 

1) Most whites have stopped paying attention to the poorest, most dangerous neighborhoods in Philly due to queasiness about race. 2) Whites nevertheless think a lot about race due to interracial encounters that end in confusion, misread intentions, or bruised feelings. 3) Whites are unnatural, self-censoring, and overly polite as a result. 4) Their self-consciousness and hypersensitivity may signal progress, but is problematic too: public discussions of race are "one-dimensional, looked at almost exclusively from the perspective of people of color." 5) That's understandable, given historical realities; but race is an issue for white people too. 6) A less careful approach that frankly aired white perspectives could broaden the conversation, a prerequisite for getting whites invested in addressing problems so many of them currently won't even engage.

Huber concludes that moving forward, "We need to bridge the conversational divide so that there are no longer two private dialogues in Philadelphia -- white people talking to other whites, and black people to blacks -- but a city in which it is okay to speak openly about race." Is he correct? Knowing almost nothing about Philadelphia, I won't try to evaluate how its whites and blacks interact, what Philadelphia whites are thinking, or how race relations in that city might be improved.

But I can report on the furious backlash against the magazine article. Mayor Michael Nutter has likened it to shouting fire in a crowded theater and has asked municipal authorities to investigate. Jamilah Lemieux, an editor at Ebonywrote that the piece is "racist" and "terrible," and implies that its author is counting down the days until "the 'hood is less dense with its original inhabitants." Two colleagues of the author excoriate his article on the magazine's Web site: 1) Steve Volk argues that the piece is racist insofar as it is preoccupied with race, "seeing skin color before the person, or wrongly assuming a person's race to be a primary cause of their behavior." 2) Says Jason Fagone, "I don't see how you're going launch a frank discussion of race -- the stated goal of the piece, and a worthy one -- under a cloak of anonymity." And Daniel Denvir ends a lengthy Philadelphia City Paper takedown by suggesting that Huber's article brazenly strokes the "pathetic prejudices and insecurities" of its magazine's elite readership.

The Free Speech Question

Let's start with what needs saying most. Even if every critic of the article is absolutely right, even if it is twice as offensive as they say, Mayor Nutter, given his position and responsibilities, is disgracing himself by so much as questioning whether it ought to enjoy 1st Amendment protection:

In a letter, Nutter tore into the magazine and the story, which quoted anonymous white Philadelphians about their view on race and has been attacked for promoting negative stereotypes and not including the views of minorities. At Mayor Nutter's request, the city Human Relations Commission will conduct an "inquiry" into race relations in the city, following Philadelphia magazine's widely criticized cover story, "Being White in Philly." He also called for a "rebuke" of the magazine and writer, Bob Huber, saying that while he recognizes the 1st Amendment protects "the media from censorship by the government," free speech is "not an unfettered right."

"This month Philadelphia Magazine has sunk to a new low even for a publication that has long pretended that its suburban readers were the only citizens civically engaged and socially active in the Philadelphia area," Nutter wrote. He called the piece "pathetic" and said it didn't rise "to the level of journalism."

"I ask the Commission to evaluate whether the 'speech' employed in this essay is not the reckless equivalent of 'shouting, "fire!" in a crowded theater,' its prejudiced, fact-challenged generalizations an incitement to extreme reaction," Nutter wrote.
Quite plainly, the article is nothing like shouting fire in a crowded theater -- a dubious analogy that ought to be retired anyway -- and by threatening the possibility of state sanction, Nutter is violating a natural right, transgressing against the First Amendment, chilling future interracial dialogue, and undermining a basic liberty, free speech. It is ironic that he is doing so in the name of protecting a minority group, because oppressed minorities of all types rely on the inviolability of the 1st Amendment more than anyone, and would be most vulnerable if Nutter undermines it. He remains free to disparage the article, but should apologize to the author, the publication, all Americans, and minority groups especially for implying that there is any question about its legality. 
To read the entire article:
Source: The Atlantic/Philadelphia Magazine/ Conor Friedersdorf

Friday, March 15, 2013

Three things that made me happy yesterday!

Sharing a Black Cherry Smoothie with my Great Grandmother Tucker Dear !
Yesterday I went out for an after-school snack with my 97 year old great grandmother. We call her "Great Grandmother Tucker Dear". She is awesome. She was born in 1915. Her mom was a telephone operator when phone numbers only had 2 or 3 digits. She still remembers when her dad surprised her with her first bike. Later she worked as a nurse taking care of babies during World War II.

I like when she tells me about how different things were when she was my age and she likes learning about things that are new. Sometimes the changes we talk about show that things have gotten worse in the world and sometimes that things have gotten better. Lots of people my great grandma's age still think about things the old way. I'm happy that my grandma is way too smart for that. She knows you can't tell what a person is like because of their race and that one race is no better or worse than another.  She loves me for me!

Sometimes I tell her about what we are doing at Project RACE. She is a member of our new division Project RACE Grandparents! Yesterday I got to tell her some good news. I was just nominated for a scholarship from a big national department store. That's good news, but it gets better!  On the nomination form they had a multiracial option under racial categories. I LOVE when that happens. It feels good to have an option that actually fits me! I like to know that people (besides my family) think about kids like me!

My Great Grandmother Tucker Dear, a Black Cherry Smoothie and Multiracial on a scholarship form...  Yesterday was a great day!

- Karson Baldwin

Schools Less Segregated

Schools Became Less Segregated in 21st Century, Study Finds

As the specter of overt, legalized segregation fades into history and court rulings have permitted or required school districts to move away from active race-based integration plans, many have raised concerns that the nation's school are becoming resegregated. New research offers a nuanced but slightly more positive picture of the status of racial integration in the nation's schools.

While the nation's schools did become gradually less integrated over the course of the 1990s, that trend has slowed and even reversed in the new millennium. Schools in 2009 were less segregated overall than schools in 1993.

The new research, from Kori J. Stroub at the University of Texas at Austin and Meredith P. Richards at the University of Pennsylvania, examines racial segregation in 350 metropolitan school districts using information from the National Center for Education Statistics' Common Core of Data Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey between 1993 and 2009. Their "sample" includes every school district in a metropolitan area that consistently reported racial/ethnic data throughout that time period.

Most previous scholarship raising concerns about the resegregation of schools focuses on trends during the 1990s, the authors write. And the new analysis backs up previous indications that schools became increasingly segregated between 1993 and 1998.

But between 1998 and 2009, white students became increasingly likely to share classrooms with nonwhite students, and minority students were also increasingly likely to share classrooms with minorities from other racial or ethnic backgrounds. Segregation between black students and white students has decreased particularly quickly—though black students were still the minority group least likely to share a classroom with white students.

So, should we unsound the alarms? Stroub said that while the results are positive, it's important to keep in mind "first that there's still a lot of segregation in schools—and second, that these trends aren't necessarily going to continue." And, he said, there's a lot of nuance.

The promising big picture hides a few unsettling trends.
About two-thirds of metropolitan areas saw decreases in segregation, but a third saw increases. (The research does not include a city-by-city breakdown, which this reporter, at least, would find intriguing.) Cities that grew substantially or saw large increases in diversity were more likely to become more segregated over time.

Also troubling: Racial segregation between blacks and whites in Southern states, which had actually been less extreme than in the North due to federally enforced desegregation plans in some districts, decreased less than in other areas. So while black students in the South had previously been more likely to be in integrated schools than their peers in the North, the North is gaining ground. The paper suggests that this may be due at least partly to several large districts in the South achieving unitary status and being removed from their federal desegregation orders.

Another interesting trend is that segregation between districts in a metropolitan area was more pronounced that segregation within school districts. That trend seems to have escalated during the 1990s but has since leveled out. Nonwhite students of various ethnic backgrounds, however, seem to be increasingly segregated from one another across district lines, which could be evidence of growing ethnic enclaves.

The authors call for further research, and for cross-district integration plans (while acknowledging that court rulings like Milliken v. Bradley make such plans uncommon).

The nation's changing demographics obviously have an impact on how segregated schools are—the share of nonwhite students in metropolitan school districts jumped to 49.5 percent in 2009 from 37.2 percent in 1993. But, Stroub said, it's clear that policy changes have also impacted segregation, as that increased diversity has not been reflected evenly in schools.

The impact of policy changes and court rulings can be slow-moving, so this decade's school choice bonanza, for instance, could make its mark in the statistics of the next decade, and court decisions from the 1990s or even the 1970s are likely still reverberating in this data. But non-education policy factors like trends in residential segregation could also be driving many of the changes. A closer look at just what caused these shifts is the topic of the pair's next research project, Stroub said.

The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at the University of California Los Angeles also looked at segregation trends recently. That research found that overall segregation in schools has continued to increase. So, which is right? I'll take a look at why the reports come to different conclusions in an upcoming post.
Source: Education Week/ Jackie Zubrzycki

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Feds Approve Policy of Multiracial Discrimination

Feds approve California’s policy of multiracial discrimination

Is race a qualification for contractors in California?  Last November, the United States Department of Transportation approved the policy of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) that 9.5% of the federal funds the state receives for transportation projects will go to subcontractors of preferred races.  The policy is contained in a document called the Caltrans’ Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Overall Annual Goal and Methodology for Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2013-2015.

As part of its approved race-conscious policy, Caltrans requires prime contractors to favor subcontractors who are African American, Asian-Pacific American, Hispanic American, Native American, and women.  But prime contractors may not give preferences to male subcontractors who are Subcontinent Asian American, or white.  Subcontinent Asian Americans include persons whose origins are from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives Islands, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

The peculiar decision by Caltrans to favor, say, Chinese Americans over Bangladeshi Americans, or Burmese (Myanmar) Americans over Bhutanese Americans, is based on a disparity study performed last year at Caltrans’ behest.  That study combined all data from 2007-2010 state and local prime contracts with data from all subcontracts, including contracts from the transportation construction and engineering industries. 

The massed contracting data showed statistical disparities from 2009-2010 that were substantial for firms owned by African Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and white women.  Caltrans chose not to rely on the full data from 2007-2010 showing no disparities for white women.

Although Caltrans has never disbarred a single prime contractor for engaging in discriminatory conduct (or even accused any), Caltrans assumes that the statistical disparities are proof of intentional discrimination occurring industry-wide.  To remedy this supposed discrimination, Caltrans imposes a one-size-fits-all racial preference for all federally assisted transportation construction and engineering projects.

As I noted in an earlier post, Caltrans’ attempt to enforce one preference statewide fails the constitutional requirement for narrow tailoring.  In yet another post, I discussed why it is wrong for Caltrans to mix prime contracting data with subcontracting data.

Caltrans’ new DBE program is intended to remedy combined statistical disparities, but the result is state-mandated discrimination. 

For instance, on engineering subcontracts, prime contractors must give preferences to engineers who are Asian-Pacific American and Hispanic American.  But the disparity study showed there were no disparities for engineers from these racial groups on engineering subcontracts.  On the other hand, there were substantial disparities for Subcontinent Asian American engineers, who receive no preferences.

On construction subcontracts, the disparity study reveals no substantial disparities for white women, or Hispanic or Native American contractors – in other words, no inferences of discrimination against these groups.  But they all continue to receive preferences on construction subcontracts.  This means that if intentional discrimination is truly the cause of the disparities for African American contractors, the Caltrans DBE program offers a “business as usual” approach with no remedy.  Racist prime contractors, if any exist, may continue to discriminate against African American contractors while meeting the program’s race-conscious goals at the same time!

Pitting minority group against minority group, and dividing certain minority groups by sex, but not others, is the result of Caltrans’ twin untenable assumptions that statistical disparities alone can prove discrimination, and that such disparities can be “remedied” by aggregate preferences.  The Caltrans requirement that prime contractors treat businesses differently based upon the owner’s skin color or sex is discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.
Source: Pacific Legal Foundation/

Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Review from Project RACE Teens Panelist

Very soon, we will introduce you to the new Project RACE Teens National Panelists, an impressive group of teen advocates working with Project RACE to make a difference for multiracial people, the fastest growing racial demographic in the United States. The panelists will be contributing in a number of ways. Consider this book review from one of our awesome National Panelists, Tommy McManus, a little sneak peak.  - Kelly

The Color of Water was written in 1996 by James McBride and is in honor of his deceased mother, Ruth. The novel switches between two narrators: James who narrates and his mother, through her journal entries. McBride tries to show the similarities and differences between the present and the past through his and his mother’s experiences.
The Color of Water explores the ways in which Americans perceive and react to religious and racial differences. Ruth narrates her life as a child, growing up in a poor white Jewish family in Suffolk, Virginia. She tells us how her family is very dysfunctional while she was growing up, as her older brother ran away when he was fifteen, and her father sexually abused her. Even after promising her sister that she wouldn’t leave her, Ruth soon realizes after graduation that if she doesn’t leave then, she never will. With that, Ruth leaves for New York where she gets a job with her Aunt, and soon meets her future husband, James’s father Dennis, who is African American.
After being disowned by her family for leaving, Ruth converts to Christianity and becomes very involved in church activities. Even though over the next few years she experienced intense amount of prejudice, she recalls those three years as the happiest times of her life. Later she and Dennis start their own church in their apartment, and Dennis becomes a preacher until he dies a little before James is born. Ruth raises James and the rest of her multiracial kids through her new beliefs of Christianity and as a part of the African American community.
This weaves into James’s story perfectly. James describes the hardest times of his life. As a kid, James’s biggest worry was when his mother was unable to pick him up at the bus stop. However, as he grew up, his problems started to evolve. When James grew up with his stepfather, he had someone to look up to, but once he passed away, James really started to slip up. He started getting mixed up with a bad group of kids, and as a result he became addicted to drugs and got involved in a life of crime. After his mother shipped him off to be with his sister in Louisville, James started to realize what he needed to do in order to get his life back on the right path. He became a dedicated student and attended Oberlin College.
This novel shows the similarities between every human being, and the dangers of racial segregation and religious prejudice. McBride goes on about how there is no difference between people of different races or religions. I give this book a 9 out of 10 because I love the rotation of narrators, and I believe that in addition to teaching tolerance, The Color of Water teaches the reader to be kind and always push yourself to succeed. 
-  Tommy McManus, National Panelist, Project RACE Teens