top-rated free essay

An Understanding of Biracial Identity Formation

By kjlland Jan 20, 2010 1161 Words
An Understanding of Biracial Identity Formation
Special Topics 3321
Presented to
James Boyleston
Jennifer Walne
December 10, 2008
What are you? A question that seems simple enough, but when dealing with biracial identity, it is a question that has spawned political movements, fields of study, and even more questions. This paper is aimed at dissecting different aspects of the biracial identity process to gain a better understanding about this subject from the research available. The identity construction of a biracial person is quite complex and it involves many different factors and those topics will be covered in this paper. Definitions

For the purpose of this paper I will only be looking at cases in the United States. Biracial will only refer to those with African black and European white decent unless otherwise stated. History

During the days of slavery, when black women had mixed progeny that a skin tone was lighter than those people of pure African descent and this grew to be an asset. The lighter skinned biracial people were afforded more privileges than that of people with dark skin and were often able to live in the house of the slave master. This afforded them the privileges of not having to work in the fields and they were often educated. Other white European physical features that were inherited also gave biracial people an advantage over the other darker skinned African featured slaves. The idea that biracial people have more privilege has continued into today’s culture, but affects the black culture more than the white culture. Politics and Demographics

Identity Development Models: Past and Present
In order to understand how an individual constructs their identity, there has to be uniformity in the measurement of identity development through models. There is a lot of literature that is written on this subject. Biracial identity construct models have changed throughout history, reflecting society’s views of the time. Different Identity Classifications

As stated above, biracial individuals are found to identify differently according to different situations. There are basically five different ways in which Biracial individuals indentify: monoracial identity, black or white; multiple monoracial identities, black and white, shifting according to the situation; multiracial identity; extra racial identity by not identifying with any race; situational identity, identifying differently in different contexts (Renn, 2008). This gives researchers a more alive understanding about biracial identity, which is it is more aligned with how a Biracial individual sees themselves. Research

Socio-economic Impact
Parental Factor
Gender Factor
The environment on which a biracial person is surrounded has a tremendous effect on how they identify. Twine’s points out in her study that the girls being raised in the suburbs, identified as white or biracial because her environment was white. Other studies have also shown that biracial people raised in a black environment usually identify as black. Identity Development of Children

Societal Definitions vs. Self Definitions
If a biracial identifies as white, that is a self-definition that may not be upheld by society. Although society’s view of minorities is slowly changing, we have not come so far as to ignore skin color. Shih and Sanchez claim that there is a “conflict between private and public definitions. Multiracial individuals frequently encounter inconsistencies between how society defines them and how they define themselves.” This leads to a choice to identify either as black or as biracial leaving white identification out of reach, at least in society. Discussion

On a macro level analysis of biracial identity, the environment important factors to consider when trying to understand how biracial identity is formed. Racism is starting to wane in this society, but prejudice is still alive. If a biracial individual decides to identify as white, society may not validate that identity because our society still has the “one drop” mentality. This makes it difficult for biracial people to be truly free to identify as anything that they wish, though not impossible, but probably will not be validated by society. Many biracial individuals learn, either from their parents of from their own experience, to change they way they identifyin order to suit the situation. This is the uniqueness to being biracial. They are a sort of chameleon in that they have the ability to blend in with whatever racial situation is put before them. However, many still hold one identity (black, white, biracial) or not racial identity(race is not even an issue). Earlier theories that biracial people are marginal or doomed to psychological and behavior problems have been discounted with new research. On thing that must be understood about earlier research is that is was only carried out on a clinical sample and not on people from the normal population and this skewed the information presented in the earlier literature. This is demonstrated in the resent research of Shih and Sanchez where they found that most of the negative psychological problems were observed only in a clinical population sample. Conclusion

There is a lot of literature accumulating on this subject and the library of literature and studies will continue to grow. Observing this population, I believe we will learn more about identity formation in general. Biracial individuals living in this day and time are living in an exciting era because for the first time in the history of this country, they are starting to be accepted by society as a viable racial group. References

Brunsma D.L. (December 2005). Interracial Families and the Racial Identification of Mixed-Race Children: Evidence from early Childhood Longitudinal Study. _ Social Forces,_ 84(2), 1131-1157.

Brunsma D.L., & Rockquemore, K.A. (July 2001). The New Color Complex: Appearances and Biracial Identity. Identity, 1(3), 225-246. Coleman, V.H., & Carter, M.M. (April 2007). Biracial Self-Identification: Impact on Trait Anxiety, Social Anxiety, and Depression. Identity: An International _ Journal of Theory and Research,_ 7(2), 103-114.

Kerwin, C., Ponterotto, J.G., Jackson, B.L., & Harris, A. (April 1993). Racial Identity in Biracial Children: A Qualitative Investigation. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 40(2), 221-231.

Poston, W.S.C. (November/December 1990). The Biracial Identity Development Model: A Needed Addition. Journal of Counseling & Development, 69(2), 152-155. Renn, K.A. (Fall 2008). Research on Biracial and Multiracial Identity Development: Overview and Synthesis. New Directions for Student Services, 123, 13-21. Rockquemore, K.A. (August 2002). Negotiating the Color Line: The Gendered Process of Racial Identity Construction among Black/White Biracial Women. Gender and Society, 16(4), 485-503.

Shih, M., & Sanchez, D.T. (July 2005). Perspectives and Research on the Positive and Negative Implications of Having Multiple Racial Identities. Psychological _ Bulletin, _131(4), 569-591.

Tessman, L. (Summer 1999). The Racial Politics of Mixed Race._ Journal of Social_ Twine, F.W. (July 1996). Brown Skinned White Girls: Class, Culture and the Construction of White Identity in Suburban Communities [Electronic Version]. Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 3(2), 205-224.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Biracial Identity

    ...Running head: BIRACIAL, MULTIRACIAL IDENTITY, WHO AM I? Biracial, Multiracial Identity, Who am I? Adrienne Anderson North Carolina Central University CON 5360.01 Dr. Kyla Kurian June 17, 2009 Abstract Biracial, Multiracial, What are you? Who are you? What do you have in you? It is quite difficult labeling me as a black African fema...

    Read More
  • Biracial Identity and Discrimination

    ...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 differe...

    Read More
  • Identity Formation/Research Methods

    ...Identity Formation & Research Methods Short Writing Assignment # 1 Identity formation is a universal term for young girls and boys who are trying to create themselves once they have that self awareness concept. There are many experiments that show media, peer pressure, and environmental factors contribute towards alternating a person...

    Read More
  • formation of malaysia

    ...Malays is preserved as the special responsibility of YDPA. 4. Malay Language Malay language as the language of the federal National. These traditional elements are important factors to establish the Malaysian identity and to promote understanding toward unity. It is also a social contract which was agreed by all three races, Malays, Indi...

    Read More
  • Identity formation, identity crisis in Margaret Atwood's "Surfacing"

    ...There are several ways an identity is formed; having self-knowledge which has been created through one's personal history, experience of childhood and one's membership to a certain society thus defines the person's concept of himself according to the set of norms of the given culture. These characteristics are essential to develop a stable perso...

    Read More
  • Malcolm X : Identity Formation

    ... Identity Formation: Malcolm X Everyday African-Americans go through identity formation. Identity formation is the development of the distinct personality of an individual regarded as a persisting entity. While watching the movie, Malcolm X, starring Denzel Washington as Malcolm, he shows many stages of identity formation. His whole life...

    Read More
  • Racial Identity Formation Patterns

    ...Questions of Identity African American teens tend to racially group amongst themselves because race has been a central theme throughout American history; from the Constitution to the Civil War to the denial of African American citizenship and social participation. Tatum (2003) noted in her essay, “Why are all the Black Children Sitting togeth...

    Read More
  • Understanding Exercise Identity and Behavior

    ...Understanding Exercise Identity, Commitment and Behaviour Josh Carson 250641160 Psychology of Exercise 2276F Paige Gregson November 26, 2012 Abstract Different relationships influence the way one acts in society. Associating a specific identity with many relationships, or with a particularly strong relationship, increases likelihood tha...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.