by Susan Graham
Race Policy and Multiracial Americans
Edited by Kathleen Odell Korgen
Policy Press, Great Britain (2016)
Price: $99 US (Amazon)
The academics are at it again. Not happy to just write wild misinformation about historical happenings in the Multiracial Movement over the past 50 plus years, now they want to take credit for what advocates did. Oh, and they want to tell us what to do next. Let’s not forget that academics must “publish or perish.” They have to publish something, no matter how factual it is. That’s exactly what they did in this misinformed book.
Being an academic in today’s world of multiracial studies is not easy. They must rely on very little in the way of factual history and merely misquote each other because that’s all that is available. However, they are not really accountable to anyone so they can pretty much misquote at will. Therefore, much of this book quotes the self-proclaimed gurus of academic multiracial matters, G. Reginald Daniel and Kim Williams. Daniel has dubbed himself the “liaison between the two organizations” Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally) and AMEA (American Association of Multiethnic Americans) in the 1990s because he says he was advisor to both. Speaking only for Project RACE, I can say that Daniel was an “advisor” for a very, very short tenure, until we found out that he was playing each side—Project RACE, AMEA, Hapas, Hispanics, African Americans and whites against each other. At the time, there was no one else other than Paul Spickard, who was claiming any knowledge of multiracialism. Daniel’s claim to “fame” was that he had written a few things about race in Brazil.
Kim Williams called me in the 90s, said she was a researcher and that she wanted me to give her all of the Project RACE correspondence, past and present. I refused, telling her that there were many confidential pieces of correspondence and that I took “confidential” very seriously. Her reply was, “Ramona Douglas let me see everything.” Douglas was the president of AMEA. I told her that was between her and Ramona. I was introduced to Williams at a meeting of a local group in Atlanta and agreed to speak with her at my home. We had a short, formal conversation in my home office and she kept pressing for the confidential correspondence, which she never received from me. What she was telling people was that she saw a picture of me with then House Speaker Newt Gingrich in my living room. No picture ever existed, but because Williams wrote about it, the story not only grew, but got bigger and bigger. It’s like playing “Operator,” when we were kids. Someone started a story, whispered it to the next person and on and on until it came out at the end nothing like it had begun, but it lives on. Enough background.
Race Policy and Multiracial Americans is a disjointed jumble of academic rhetoric. But to be fair, I will be more specific about several different chapters by different contributors. Let’s get on with it.
Chapter Four: The connections among racial identity, social class, and public policy. I gave Nikki Khanna an “F” for her silly contribution to this anthology. She gets just about everything wrong, mostly quotes herself among others, and doesn’t have an original thought throughout. She disses Ward Connerly, Newt Gingrich, and me. I’m easy to reach. Khanna certainly could have contacted me to talk about racial identity, social class, or public policy. I would have saved her the embarrassment of referring to Project RACE as an activist multiracial organization.
Ward and Newt are easy to contact, as well. Can’t any academics get quotes newer than 1997? Freshen it up, say something new—and there is a lot new—or give it up. Chapter One is a historic overview by Tyrone Nagai and should suffice for more than enough background.
Khanna writes things like this: “I found that some middle class multiracial respondents (at times) identified in non-racial terms when asked about their racial identity—for example as “human,” “American,” or as a “girl.” How is that any different from monoracial respondents? It’s not. What kind of quantifiers are “some” and “at times”? Messy work.
Chapter Five: Multiracial Americans and racial discrimination. I don’t know Tina Fernandez Botts, but I doubt I would like her. She talks down to her readers from high above her work with the black academic community. The only good, accurate statement she makes is this:
Racial discrimination perpetuates historically situated oppression.
As a racial realist, I did like this explanation: “For the racial realist, it is of no importance whether race exists biologically, socially, or any other way since regardless of the outcome of that inquiry, racism is alive and well.” And for the record, we don’t appreciate multiracial people being referred to as cultural hybrids.
Chapter Six: Should all (or some) multiracial Americans benefit from affirmative action programs? Daniel N. Lipson’s contribution is excellent. It is the most unbiased of all the works and I learned a lot from this chapter. Even though affirmative action is not the focus for Project RACE, I hope Lipson has sole authorship of future books. He deserves better than the company he keeps in this work.
Chapter Seven: Multiracial students and educational policy. Oh my. This is terrible and has negative implications for the multiracial and educational communities. Rhina Fernandez Williams and E. Namisi Chilungu are clueless. First, they make a statement that “In fact, tension developed between the multicultural education movement and the multiracial movement.” Huh? Project RACE worked very well with the education movement and I never heard of “tension” with any other organization.
I really did have to laugh over the over-usage of the word “pedagogy” until I read Williams’ bio that she “specializes in critical pedagogy….” I would have laughed more if I hadn’t realized the hidden goals of the authors of this chapter. This is nothing but rehashed hatred in the name if education.
Enough. Really. Academics who conclude that asking multiracial respondents to select one race that “best describes” their identity don’t get it. What you get with Race Policy and Multiracial Americans are twelve chapters of “nothing new,” self-serving braggadocio (see Andrew Jolivette’s chapter), misguided pedagogy (ha!), white privilege blame (yawn) and “don’t worry, multiracial people, the academics will solve this for you” bull. This is “Editor” Kathleen Odell Korgen’s conclusion at the end of this book, “It is time for race policy in the US to catch up to the nation’s new demographics and work for a racially just society for all. The authors in this book have helped pave a path toward that goal.” God forbid.