Biracial Identity and Discrimination

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Running head: BIRACIAL IDENTITY AND DISCRIMINATION

1

Biracial Identity and Discrimination Richard Willison West Virginia University

2 Biracial Identity and Discrimination It is generally accepted that the United States is a multicultural country made up of a multitude of ethnic backgrounds. In modern history interactions of the different ethnic backgrounds has became an acceptable social activity. These social interactions have created a multitude of interracial relationships and marriages that have been increasing yearly. These interracial relationships and

marriages have produced a growing number of biracial children. Biracial children can be defined as children that have natural parents that are of unrelated racial group. Brunsma (2005) stated that “such a cultural endorsement of interracial relationships eventually produced what has been dubbed as a biracial baby boom” (p.1130). This literature reviews focal point will concentrate on the identity problems facing biracial children from black and white descent as well as any possible discrimination that they may face by choosing their identity. When trying to understand the complex situation presented to biracial children one needs to understand the historical circumstances that come into play. Throughout history biracial people in America

have had their racial identities imposed upon them (Masuoka, 2008). Because of this biracial children were forced to accept the subordinate classification associated to their race. This classification was legally imposed by using the one-drop rule which

3 specified that biracial children to take on the identity of the nonwhite race (Brunsma 2005; Sanhez and Bonam 2009; Sosa 2009; Coleman and Carter 2007; Brunsma and Rockquemore 2001). There is a profoundly low number of studies and research that pertains to biracial children because of the drop-one rule (Chesley and Wagner, 2003). Until recent history biracial children have been

overlooked for an empirical study concerning their biracial backgrounds and the difficulties that may be placed upon them. Essentially biracial children have been even ignored for these studies because they have always been grouped with their minority monoracial heritage (Neto and Paiva, 1998). Consequently, the bulk of recent

studies pertaining to biracial children deal with the identity issues. For the first time in US history biracial people have been given the opportunity to choose their race according to the 2000 U.S. Census decision that allowed individuals to check “all that apply” (Brunsma, 2005). How were biracial individuals to interpret this new found identity? Biracial identity is a complex topic that is not easily understood and biracial identity can be swayed by a multitude of influences such as society, culture, location, friends, schools, socio-economic, and personal reasoning. Because of these factors

there are a multitude of opinions about identity among biracial children and young adults.

4 Brunsma and Rockquemore (2001) suggested that there are four basic types of identity opinions that biracial children and young adults can choose from. The first opinion is the singular identity where biracial individuals choose either a black or white identity. The second opinion is the boarder identity which biracial individuals choose exclusively a biracial identity. The third opinion is the

protean identity where the biracial individuals switch between black, white, or biracial to their convenience. Finally, the forth opinion

is when the biracial individual refuses to pick an identity. As you can see this can be very complex especially to a child to is trying to find their own identity. There are many reasons why children may choose different identities. For example if a biracial child grew up in a mostly white

neighborhood and a dominantly white church there is a good chance that that child may consider a singular identity of being white. On the

other hand, a...
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