Today we are featuring Kayci Baldwin...an amazing advocate for diversity & race relations....
“Daddy’s Black, Mommy’s White, and I’m Brown with curly hair and golden tips.” So began the essay that launched my career as a multiracial activist. I was in first grade and had written an essay on Martin Luther King Jr. It was quite a thrill to win the contest. The thrill was not because Bruce Springsteen presented my award. (My parents were impressed, but I’d never heard of Bruce Springsteen.) It was not the U.S. Savings Bond or the fancy certificate that he gave me. I was thrilled because they put my picture in the newspaper and at six years old that was the coolest thing that had ever happened to me. I was once a little girl with a big dream!
That was where it began for me, but it was only the beginning. For four years now I have pursued that dream as President of Teen Project RACE, the youth arm of Project RACE, which advocates for the growing number of multiracial Americans and works to have a multiracial category included on forms that ask a person’s race. Since joining TPR in eighth grade, I’ve served as a spokesperson giving interviews to media outlets including the Associated Press, Houston Chronicle, and the Tyra Banks Show, written articles that have been published in magazines and on our website and interviewed multiracial celebrities. I’ve held minority-focused bone marrow drives, produced a video PSA and petitioned the US Department of Health and Human Services for inclusion in federally funded medical research. I’ve started social networking groups for multiracial youth that have grown to over 1000 members, been elected President of the Multicultural Club at my high school and awarded the 2009 Princeton Prize in Race Relations. I have helped conduct letter writing campaigns to legislators and the US Department of Education and more. To say that I’ve been passionate about multiracial advocacy would be an understatement.
But lately, I have seen some apathy toward this advocacy. There are many who seem to believe that because race is a social construct, that it is not an issue at all or that because the United States has elected a multiracial President that our job is suddenly done. How I wish that were true!
Let’s review what happened in a single week in October. First, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a progressive bill that Project RACE’s Executive Director helped draft. The bill would have added the term multiracial to the instruction section of the form asking for California school children’s race. Although, the US Dept of Education finally allows for multiple racial check-offs, which is of course better than the “check one race mandate,” they continue to reassign multiracial students back to one category. As long as there are children forced to choose between denying one of their parents and identifying as an “other”, there remains work to be done. Then a Justice of the Peace in Louisiana refused to marry an interracial couple because he didn't approve and had concern for their future children! As long as we allow the Keith Bardwells of the world to hold positions of influence, there remains work to be done. And finally, multiracial leukemia patient Nick Glasgow died because a suitable bone marrow donor could not be found. As long as there exists racial health disparities and a shortage of minority marrow donors, there remains work to be done. Remember, these are just a few examples from one recent week.
The job of those who aim to help our nation embrace its wonderful diversity is not finished. Despite all the good that has been achieved, there is much yet to be done and still too few people doing it. That is why I’m excited about the wonderful work that Tara and others like her are each doing in their own way and why I’m honored to be able to contribute to this site. There are lots of little girls and boys with lots of wonderful dreams and we want to do all we can to help them come true.