With the start of Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally) in 1990, I have been in this battle for 30 years. We’ve had our successes and defeats. It’s all part of a large community issue. I have always been positive that we would eventually get the respect for accurate wording for the multiracial population. Now I’m not so sure.
Since Black Lives Matter (BLM) let’s take a look at how things have changed. First, we were never afraid to make multiracial statements that were positive for the multiracial community. Unlike others, we at Project RACE made strong statements regarding our posts. It’s too easy to just paste and post. It’s time to stop worrying about what people will think about your comments.
Now, it seems that institutions are not hopping on MLM (MULTIRACIAL LIVES MATTER), which means that people are swapping Black for multiracial, not multiracial for multiracial. White actresses who have portrayed “mixed-race” voices for multiracial characters are quitting their jobs and demanding that Black actors replace biracial characters. What about multiracial actors and actresses replacing those portraying multiracial parts?
Suddenly it’s not very cool to be multiracial and we can only think that it’s because BLM trumps MLM. To alienate multiracial people for any reason is racist. It’s as if we have been relegated back to the plantation while every black person is getting out of it. Let’s just be honest. I’ve written several articles in the past week about how the media has been suddenly slipping biracial people into the Black box. Hollywood is doing the same thing. Good race relations demand that no one be excluded or forced to check a box that doesn’t represent them and it’s particularly important to multiracial people who want to embrace their entire heritage.
Self-identification is only meaningful if we have ways to choose more than one race. But where is the multiracial community in this? Project RACE has just held a highly successful Multiracial Heritage Week and continues important postings, talking to businesses and medical facilities about using the multiracial classification, and is continually engaging with Washington. Where are the other organizations? Either defunct or still holding picnics. Where are the academics? The tougher things get in the real world, the quieter they become.
So, dear multiracial community, we’re at a crossroads, and we have to put up or shut up and close down. We need more people with more connections to use their contacts and make sure that MULTIRACIAL LIVES MATTER. We (all of us) need to:
- Write letters to the editors of newspapers around the country;
- Speak with people who write the news to help the multiracial community;
- Talk to people who make films and write books;
- Take action by speaking up. If you see a form that doesn’t allow for a multiracial. classification or the ability to check more than one race, ask why not or contact Project RACE and we will handle it for you. I have a meeting in a few weeks with management of a leading corporation to talk about multiracial inclusion, all because I complained;
- Tell your friends and family about Project RACE and ask them to join;
- Donate to Project RACE so we can continue our advocacy for the multiracial population;
- Don’t just complain—advocate!
- Get involved with discussions on boards and posts like this one;
- Work together. We need to be the news and not just stay on the sidelines. We need help and we need it now.
Susan Graham for Project RACE