Multiracial Americans could represent America’s future, some say

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2021-10-08 21:27Z by Steven

Multiracial Americans could represent America’s future, some say

The Washington Post

Silvia Foster-Frau, Multiculturalism reporter
Ted Mellnik
Adrián Blanco, Graphics reporter

Steve Majors, in Takoma Park, Md., who is half-Black and half-White, grew up in an all-Black household but is often perceived as White. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

While still a relatively small part of the population, more Americans than ever identify as multiracial, according to the census

Tony Luna was once again being asked to choose one of his racial identities over the other.

He firmly believed in the anti-racism training his workplace was offering. But the instructor told him he had to pick a group for the program — either the one for White people, or the one for people of color.

Luna is biracial, Filipino and White, a combination that defined his upbringing and sense of self. He has always felt he was either both identities, equally — or in some settings, not fully one or the other.

Multiracial populations increased faster than any single race across the U.S. in the last census. Gains were highest in major metro areas, but the number of people identifying as multiracial also tripled in non-metro areas. Source: 2020 Census

“I felt like it was a false choice, because you’re saying which one are you more comfortable with, your mom or your dad?” Luna, 49, said. “Identity can be based on how people see you, but that can be wrong for mixed people. It’s really based on how you identify, what your experiences are — so many variables go into that.”

More than 33 million Americans — about 1 in 10 — identify as being of two or more races, a number that grew by nearly 25 million people in the past decade, according to the 2020 Census. Multiracial people span all different combinations of races and ethnicities and make up the fastest-growing demographic in the country.

In some cities, the growth is stark. Almost 1.4 million more people each in Los Angeles and New York identified as multiracial in the 2020 Census compared with a decade ago, according to a Washington Post analysis. In Miami, nearly 1.6 million more did so…

Read the entire article here.

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Born Biracial: How One Mother Took On Race in America

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Census/Demographics, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-04-27 01:32Z by Steven

Born Biracial: How One Mother Took On Race in America

Memories Press
250 pages
6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1733908818
Paperback ISBN: 978-1733908825
eBook ISBN: 978-1733908801

Susan Graham

The Birth of a National Civil Rights Movement

Susan Graham is the White mother of two biracial children whose father is Black. Born Biracial: How One Mother Took on Race in America is the true story of how she brought an invisible population to the forefront and started the multiracial movement. She started a simple advocacy group and turned it into a national civil rights movement. Along the way, her personal life was suffering. The emotional story of her marriage to a CNN news anchor, being a mother to biracial children, divorce, and remarriage are interwoven in her life’s story. This is the one story every interracial family should read.

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The Multiracial Option: A Step in the White Direction

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2018-04-22 23:29Z by Steven

The Multiracial Option: A Step in the White Direction

California Law Review
Volume 105, Issue 6 (2018)
pages 1853-1878
DOI: 10.15779/Z38H98ZD1S

Alynia Phillips

It is estimated that within fifty years, the white race will lose its stronghold as the majority racial group in the United States. In recent years, this prediction has induced anxiety in everyone from lay citizens to conservative politicians. But this prediction may not come to fruition if the definition of whiteness expands as needed. Parallel to this mounting racial anxiety runs a social movement aimed at promoting the classification of mixed race individuals as “multiracial.” Though on its face this classification appears harmless, the reliance on “multiracial” indicates an implicit deracialization of mixed race individuals, and a tacit devaluation of minority heritage. This Note argues that based on the history of racial classifications in the United States and existing motivations to maintain the white majority, the push for a multiracial category functions as a means by which mixed race individuals can join the ranks of whiteness. With mixed race individuals comprising the fastest growing population in the United States, their acceptance into the white race could secure the white majority for decades to come.


  • Introduction
  • I. Relevant Terminology Explained
  • II. Unmasking the Players in Today’s Multiracial Movement
    • A.  White Mothers as Racial Ventriloquists
    • B.  Republicans as Multiracial Crusaders
  • III. An Evolutionary History of White America
    • A.  Bacon’s Rebellion and the Invention of Whiteness
    • B.  Conceptual Frameworks for American Assimilation
    • C.  Subscribing to Superiority
  • IV. Multiracial Exceptionalism and the “Other” Within
  • Conclusion

Read the entire article here.

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Multiracial Identity for the Year 2000 Census

Posted in Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Videos on 2014-07-05 20:40Z by Steven

Multiracial Identity for the Year 2000 Census


Panelists discussed the federal government’s recent decision to allow individuals to define their race by more than one category on the 2000 census. They discussed the implications of this decision and its effect on areas such as social program funding and political representation. Panelists also answered media questions.

Hosted by:

National MultiCultural Institute

People in this video:

Susan Graham, President
Project RACE

Stuart Ishimaru, Counsel
United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division

Clarence Page, Columnist
Tribune Media Services

Jeffrey Passel, Director
Urban Institute, Immigration Policy Program

Elizabeth Salett, President
National MultiCultural Institute

Watch the video here.

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Despite Options on Census, Many to Check ‘Black’ Only

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-10-13 22:07Z by Steven

Despite Options on Census, Many to Check ‘Black’ Only

The New York Times

Diana Jean Schemo

This year’s new, racially inclusive census might have seemed tailor made for Michael Gelobter.

The son of a white Jewish father and an African-Bermudan mother, Mr. Gelobter lives in Harlem with his wife, Sharron Williams, a black woman whose Caribbean background melds African and Indian influences. Creating their own cultural road map as they go, the couple embrace the range of their heritages and those of friends, marking Passover, for example, with an African-American Latino seder.

But when the census invites Mr. Gelobter, for the first time, to name all the races that describe him, he will do what he has always done, and claim just one: black. Checking more than one race, he contends, would undermine the influence of blacks by reducing their number as a distinct group and so most likely diluting public policies addressing their concerns.

The census forms that will be mailed to most Americans in April—the count began last month in Alaska, where the winter chill tends to keep people at home and easier to tally —offers a nod to the nation’s increasing diversity. No longer will the Census Bureau instruct respondents to ”select one” race to describe themselves. Instead, it will tell them to mark one or more of 14 boxes representing 6 races (and subcategories) that apply—white, black, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian Indian, other Asian and Pacific Islander—or to check ”some other race.”

But like Mr. Gelobter, many people, indeed most, who could claim more than one race are not expected to do so, demographers and census officials say.

Part of the reason, according to demographers, is habit: Americans are simply unaccustomed to the option. More profoundly, however, the change is fueling a weighty debate about the meaning of race, in which interpretations of history, politics and experience frequently overshadow the simpler matter of parentage.

Thirty years after Loving v. Virginia struck down the last laws barring interracial marriage, the new change in the census and the ensuing controversy have become a barometer of the complexity of American attitudes toward race, and their contradictions. With the 6 racial categories offering 63 possible combinations of racial identity, which government demographers will tabulate as distinct groups, the census could provide a remarkably meticulous racial profile of American society.

On one side of the debate stand those who see the revision as a tactic to divide blacks at a time when affirmative action and other remedies to discrimination are under attack. Opposing them are multiracial Americans who resent having to identify with just one part of their heritage.

Apart from his perception that the change could diminish blacks’ influence, Mr. Gelobter, a 38-year-old professor of environmental policy at Rutgers University, said that claiming a multiracial identity would link him to a bitter, freighted history of privilege for blacks who could cite some white lineage.

“Should Frederick Douglass have checked white and black?” Mr. Gelobter said. ”Should W. E. B. Du Bois have checked white and black? He practically looked white.”…

…Kerry Ann Rockquemore, a sociologist at Pepperdine University, polled 250 college students who had one black parent and one white, and found that those reared in middle-class or affluent white neighborhoods tended to identify as biracial, while those who had grown up in black communities generally considered themselves black.

How will nonblacks of mixed race answer the census? There is little more than anecdotal evidence. But some experts note that checking options like Asian and white, or American Indian and Pacific Islander, does not carry the same historical baggage that mixed-race blacks confront in deciding whether to say they are part white.

Scott Wasmuth, who is white and has a Filipino wife, said that when he filled out the census in 1990, he ignored the one-race-only rule that then prevailed and checked both white and Asian to describe his daughters. This year he will do the same. ”People are beginning to say, ‘I’m a mixture, and I don’t have to choose one or the other,’ ” he said.

Bertrand Wade, a 34-year-old industrial electronics technician from Brooklyn, wishes he could avoid descriptions altogether. His father is half-black and half-white, and his mother is East Indian and white.

When applications ask his race and none of the boxes fit, Mr. Wade said, ”the first thing I feel is excluded; then sometimes I feel that I should not be in a position where I have to state my race.” He said that on the census, he would check all the boxes that describe his heritage.

Charles Byrd, who runs a Web site called Inter Racial Voice, said, ”What we need to do as a country is get rid of these stupid boxes altogether.”

On the 1990 census, about 10 million Americans seemed to agree. They did not identify themselves as members of any race, said Margo J. Anderson, author of ”The American Census: A Social History” (Yale University Press, 1988). Another quarter-million, ignoring the instructions, identified themselves as belonging to more than one race.

Ms. Anderson said that ever since the first head count, in 1790, the census had played an important if subtle role in reflecting preoccupations and shaping social thought. It is only in the last century, though, that the government has devised questions to identify the country’s ethnic makeup. In the 1910 census, for instance, the government asked people their mother tongue, looking for Yiddish as the answer in order to tally the number of Jewish immigrants.

”The changes in questions always come about because of the social issues of the day,” Ms. Anderson said.

Susan Graham, head of Project RACE, a civic group that unsuccessfully pushed for a separate ”multiracial” box for the census, said she wanted a single category that would accurately define her children.

”Think of when you open a newspaper and see pie charts,” she said. ”We wanted a slice of the pie that says ‘multiracial.’ ”…

Read the entire article here.

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“Founding Mothers:” White Mothers of Biracial Children in the Multiracial Movement (1979-2000)

Posted in Census/Demographics, Dissertations, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Women on 2013-03-28 13:30Z by Steven

“Founding Mothers:” White Mothers of Biracial Children in the Multiracial Movement (1979-2000)

Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut
April 2012
142 pages

Alicia Doo Castagno

A thesis submitted to the faculty of Wesleyan University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts with Departmental Honors in American Studies


  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction: Interrogating Multiracial Advocacy
    • The Multiracial Movement
    • Methodology
    • Chapter Outline
  • Chapter 1: The Multiracial Movement
    • Pre-History of the Multiracial Movement
    • First Steps Towards a Movement: Interracial Family Organizations
    • AMEA, Project RACE, and Multiracial Activism
    • Census 2000
    • Post-Census 2000
  • Chapter 2: Founding Mothers – A Study in White Privilege
    • Altered Perspectives, Shifting Identities
    • Race and Family: Locating Interracial Relationships
    • White Racial Identity Development
    • White Racial Identity and Interracial Family Organizations
    • Flesh and Blood: Complicating Sentimental Politics
  • Chapter 3: Whiteness and Privilege in the Multiracial Movement – Project RACE as Case Study
    • Complicating the Multiracial Politics of Recognition
    • Project RACE
  • Conclusion: The Thwarted Utopian Potential of Multiracial Politics
  • Appendix I: Sample Interview Permission Form
  • Appendix II: Transcript of Telephone Interview with Mandy – I-Pride
  • Appendix III: Transcript of Interview with Mandy – I-Pride
  • Appendix IV: Transcript of Telephone Interview with Anonymous – I-Pride
  • Appendix V: Transcript of Telephone Interview with Susan Graham – Project RACE (part I)
  • Appendix VI: Transcript of Telephone Interview with Susan Graham – Project RACE (part II)
  • Appendix VII: Helms’s White Racial Identity Development Model
  • Bibliography


In early November 2010, I interrupted my junior semester abroad in Lima, Peru, to attend the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference hosted by DePaul University in Chicago. I had been asked to participate in a roundtable discussion regarding the student forum I co-created and co-taught the fall semester of my sophomore year at Wesleyan University entitled, “Mixed Heritage Identity in Contemporary America.” After speaking only Spanish for three months, I found myself clumsy and thick-tongued in English as I attempted to describe my experience as a student facilitator and my involvement with mixed race activism. Later in the day, DePaul featured another roundtable entitled, “Community-Based Multiracial Movements: Learning from the Past, Looking toward the Future.” Representatives from multiracial organizations MAVIN; Swirl, Inc.; Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival; Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC);; and Biracial Family Network (BFN) Chicago led the discussion. I have been involved with mixed heritage politics since the age of fifteen, when I was an intern at Seattle’s MAVIN Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that deals specifically with mixed heritage issues. I was already aware of the history of the Multiracial Movement and some of its internal tensions. It was not until I attended the DePaul roundtable, however, that I began to question some of the movement’s more unusual historical characteristics…

…Chapter Outline

In Chapter 1, “The Multiracial Movement,” I chronicle the history of the Multiracial Movement from 1979-2000, focusing specifically on the role of interracial family organizations within the movement. I reveal the tensions between different players within the movement, such as AMEA and Project RACE, as well as the tension between multiracial activists and monoracial civil rights groups. I briefly outline the pre-Multiracial Movement socio-political history that set the foundations for Census 2000 and formal multiracial recognition to become the movement’s cornerstones. I argue that focusing on multiracial politics of recognition limited the movement’s potential for radical change.

Chapter 2 is entitled, “Founding Mothers: A Study in White Privilege,” and tracks the various ways in which being part of an interracial relationship or family altered the way white women in the 1970s-90s perceived themselves and the world. I situate white women’s political involvement in a historical context that favors monoracial families and emphasizes racial belonging as an important aspect of healthy childrearing. Moreover, I link white mothers’ campaigning for multiracials to separate spheres ideology and sentimental politics. I assert that the coping mechanisms white mothers of biracial children employed to deal with being an interracially married white woman in the 1970s-90s ultimately resulted in the formation of interracial family groups and participation in multiracial politics that unwittingly attempted to regain racially privileged experiences and status.

In Chapter 3, entitled “Whiteness And Privilege In The Multiracial Movement—Project RACE as Case Study,” I examine the ways in which white female involvement led to the movement’s focus on multiracial politics of recognition, and the ways in which these politics of recognition ultimately limited the movement’s potential. I connect the arguments I have laid out in my first two chapters through the example of Project RACE, and elaborate on the history of the Multiracial Movement discussed in Chapter 1. Susan Graham did groundbreaking political work as the head of Project RACE, and facilitated the entry of multiracial politics into the OMB’s discussion of changing racial categories for Census 2000. However, her politics remained grounded in a perspective of white privilege. The political alliances she made and her unwillingness to sympathize with monoracial civil rights groups’ concerns lost her the support both of monoracial people of color and multiracial activists…

Read the entire thesis here.

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The Privilege of Denial

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-03-23 19:43Z by Steven

The Privilege of Denial

all things beautiful

Alyssa Bacon-Liu

I remember doing what’s called a Privilege Walk during my freshman year of college. There was a group of us and we stood in a line and we were given instructions. You had to take steps forward or steps back depending on how you answered certain questions. Are most people in power the same gender as you? Race as you? Are you the first in your family to go to college? Do most people on TV and the covers of magazines have the same skin tone as you? Stuff like that. And I’m sure you can see where this is going.

I did this exercise several times with several different groups of people. At the end of the exercise, the white males were always in the front. Guess who was always in the back? Me. And the only other non-white person because I went to private Christian college and when you’re a minority at private Christian college you’re REALLY a minority…

…,But you know who always complained about the exercise? The white males. Because even though I was the one who was in the back because people who look like me are not represented in politics, leadership, entertainment or even the college I was attending, somehow it was even more embarrassing for these young, white men to come to terms with their own privilege.

And I get it. Being confronted with the realities of one’s privilege is a really difficult thing. I’ve had to go through the process of identifying and reconciling my own privilege. Because despite what the Privilege Walk would imply, I have privilege too. I am American. By simply being born in this country (which I had absolutely no control over) I am one of the most privileged people on the planet. Does that mean I feel guilty about being an American? No. Aware of my privilege? Yes. Aware of how that privilege affects others around the globe, whether or not I intentionally mean to affect them? Yes. Absolutely.

One of my favorite bloggers, Dianna Anderson, is currently writing a series on her site about understanding privilege.

“Privilege is an advantage I have but am not always aware of. It is something inherent to my self that has the ability to affect how easy or difficult my life is.”

Based on this understanding, although it can be a challenging journey to understand your privilege, simply having privilege is not a bad thing. It’s not something you control. You can’t help it if you were born a certain way! But it’s still an important thing to acknowledge, as Dianna points out:

“Understanding our implicit privileges and the ways they cloud our thinking is vital for a discussion in social justice to actually get anywhere.

Understanding privilege is vital for a discussion on social justice, huh? Well then imagine my surprise in discovering that a supposed leader in the multiracial advocacy movement has not yet come to terms with her own privilege. The woman [Susan Graham] (who happens to be white) heading the organization Project RACE is mad that people keep tossing around the phrase “white privilege” and yesterday she wrote an entire post about it on the organization’s official blog, which is both peculiar and unprofessional. I’d like the share the highlights of said post, but you can read the entire thing here. The opening line of her post is the following statement:

“I’m sick of hearing people infer that if you are white, you are somehow privileged. Mitt Romney is, but that’s just one guy…”

I’m perplexed by her “argument.” It’s like she’s saying, “Just because Mitt Romney is privileged doesn’t mean every white person is!” White privilege is not synonymous for “extremely wealthy.” She is already missing the point and it’s only the first sentence of her post…

She cannot claim to be the voice of racial minorities without acknowledging the ways she (as a white person) benefits from the system that makes multiracial advocacy necessary in the first place. As a biracial person, it is completely unacceptable to me that someone who claims to be an advocate for the multiracial community would openly proclaim that she not only doesn’t believe that white privilege even exists but that it is not a necessary part of the conversation in multiracial advocacy…

Read the entire essay here.

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Mixed race in a world not yet post-racial

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-03-21 15:03Z by Steven

Mixed race in a world not yet post-racial

The Seattle Times

Jerry Large, 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.”…

…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.”…

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…

Read the entire article here.

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Shame on CNN: A commentary by Susan Graham

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2012-12-11 22:27Z by Steven

Shame on CNN: A commentary by Susan Graham

Project RACE

Susan Graham, Executive Director

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…

…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…

…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

Read the entire article here.

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I’m not about to have my children check more than one box only to be relegated back to the black category…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2012-09-28 02:10Z by Steven

“I’m not about to have my children check more than one box only to be relegated back to the black category,” said [Susan] Graham [of Project RACE]… She left the race question blank.

Jonathan Tilove, “Will new age of mixed-race identities loosen the hold of race or tie it up in tighter knots?” Newhouse News Service, (April 20, 2000).

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