The development of the multiracial identity Essay Example
The development of the multiracial identity Essay Example

The development of the multiracial identity Essay Example

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  • Pages: 11 (2752 words)
  • Published: August 22, 2017
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The formation of unique characteristics and traits in multiracial youth and their families can be a complex process due to the combination of different ethnicities and influences in their background.

The passage discusses the establishment of personal and familial identity by individuals of mixed races in the context of interracialism. It explores how families acknowledge the distinct contributions that shape their culture, as well as the historical division between different racial backgrounds and prevailing racial bias. The future is predicted to see a rise in multiracial families and individuals. These individuals have the option to embrace and identify with various ethnicities or align themselves with a new group based solely on diverse cultural backgrounds. It is crucial for educators, healthcare providers, and others who work with children to possess knowledge about and demonstrate respect for the attitudes, beliefs, and needs of interracial families.



g the Importance of Supporting Multiracial Students

This text underscores the significance of providing assistance to students with multiracial backgrounds in developing a positive self-image and achieving academic success. It also emphasizes the importance of recognizing that racial differences hold no ultimate importance.

Identity Development in a Diverse America

In recent times, an increasing number of Americans have actively engaged in politics and feel compelled to align themselves with specific cultural groups to advance their societal objectives. Nevertheless, for the growing population of individuals who possess diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds residing in America, defining one's identity can be arduous and demanding, particularly for their children.

According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census in 1996, there were more than 100,000 babies born in the U.S. each year who were classified as multiracial (Root, 1996). These babies represent

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a constantly growing and diverse cultural blend that will continue to increase over time.

The Importance of Supporting Multicultural Minorities and Recognizing Diversity

Recognizing and understanding the differences among multicultural minorities is crucial as it greatly impacts our society. It is essential to embrace and offer support to these individuals as they integrate into larger society. Education plays a vital role in ensuring their successful integration, especially for those from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Schools and teachers must address their specific educational needs, while parents may also need education to help schools fulfill this important role.

Our population includes a significant number of people who identify as "multiracial" due to having parents from different racial backgrounds. These individuals are classified as biracial.

Still others have a racial composition that consists of at least three civilizations as a result of ongoing generational exogamy, which is now more prevalent than before (Hall, 1996). This implies that being multiracial not only represents an individual's ancestry and ethnicity but also encompasses their accumulated cultural convictions. The level of diversity being witnessed is extraordinary. People with mixed heritages might have parents who speak the same language and belong to the same race but originate from different countries.

Or, parents could have the same race but come from different states and speak different languages. Even adopted children with parents of a different race may consider themselves to be multiracial. In this case, the adopted children adopt the cultures and customs of both their adoptive and biological parents. As acceptance continues to grow both regionally and internationally, multiracial households will become more common.

Identity Formation

The term "multiracial" refers to an individual's experience of being mixed in terms of race,

culture, and possibly ethnicity. Surprisingly, significant differences still exist among individuals in America's multicultural population.

The perception and treatment of individuals can differ, even among those with similar backgrounds, greatly affecting their self-perception, societal view, and received treatment. Cultural differences and groups have a significant impact on children's social development, influenced by age and ethnicity. A child's personality development is shaped by their family history and personal understanding of social context. Multiracial children may face unique challenges due to their diverse cultural heritage.

Assistance and education are necessary for these children and their families to help the children develop a positive self-image. Herring (1992) emphasizes the importance of these children learning about and understanding the experiences of individuals from diverse ethnic backgrounds in order to comprehend any differences they may encounter. Wardle (1987) adds that it is crucial for these children to recognize the perspectives of those who are of mixed race and develop skills to cope with racism and discrimination. The task of achieving this is likely to be carried out through both family and school systems, as integrated and diverse communities serving as exemplary models of multiculturalism are limited in availability.

(Miller & Rotheram-Borus, 1994),


One major issue for multiracial children and their families is how they are perceived and labeled by those close to them and society as a whole. Unfortunately, many multiracial individuals identify themselves as part of disadvantaged minority groups. These self-imposed labels serve as evidence of empowerment (Root, 1996). In recent years, there has been an increase in political activism among multiracial or interracial families and groups to ensure that their specific concerns are recognized separately from other racial and cultural populations

(Wardle, 1987). This push for political recognition has led to different perspectives on categorization within multiracial societies. Parents are working hard to better understand their own family's identity, while the children themselves will spend significant time considering how they want others to label them.

Adolescent individuals frequently go through a process of self-examination and reassessment, causing conflicts in their familial and personal racial identities. These conflicts can arise from pressure exerted by friends, the educational system, or even within their own families. Peer pressure and the need to fill out forms that require choosing a race can contribute to this pressure. In many cases, young people may choose to identify with only one of their minority hereditary groups, believing that this is more socially acceptable while still honoring their multiracial background privately and positively (Okun, 1996).

The pressures from society can influence how children develop their cultural identity. Multiracial individuals, in particular, experience a unique process called "a engagement of personal identity," which takes into consideration factors such as self-esteem, interpersonal skills, group orientation, racial respect, and ideologies (Poston, 20XX).

The multiracial youth's combining and assimilation abilities allow them to address internal and external challenges as well as overcome guilt associated with the need to develop a personal identity that does not encompass all aspects of their cultural and ethnic heritage and its attitudes. Ultimately, successful identity formation leads to a satisfying sense of wholeness, enabling multiracial youth to incorporate all racial and cultural elements into their lives (Poston, 1990). Poston acknowledges the various stages of identity development, but it is worth noting that some interracial families do not align with the final stage of his model

when making identity choices. Numerous multiracial groups resist racial labeling.

They wish to refer to everyone as simply human and also want to simplify the complicated processes currently used to describe their family's racial background and heritage. They believe that being identified as anything other than European American diminishes their social status due to the widespread existence of racism (Pinderhughes, 1995). Children raised in this manner are often more well-adjusted than their peers and are more capable of integrating culturally with individuals from diverse groups beyond their local communities (Weisman, 1996, p. ).

161). Some families prioritize the acceptance of their children's bi-racial or multiracial identity, valuing and embracing their cultural and ethnic backgrounds. They believe it is essential for these children to take pride in the diverse nationalities and cultures that contribute to their unique heritage. It is crucial for these children to have a sense of pride in their ancestry and maintain relationships with all branches of their family. According to Pinderhughes (1995), many of these families recognize that their children's mixed appearance reflects their multiracial heritage, and they want their family's lifestyle and culture to reflect this as well. However, there are individuals who identify as multiracial but may not fully connect with every aspect of their heritage.

There are multiple reasons why individuals may not feel a strong connection to all aspects of their specific background or have experienced every aspect of their heritage. Additionally, some people may not display noticeable traits that would categorize them as belonging to any minority group and therefore choose not to emphasize this issue. This could be due to a sense of disconnection between their own identity and

those who are easily identified as members (Thornton, 1996).

According to Weisman (1996), some individuals feel that identifying as "multiracial" provides them with a distinct and thriving community where they can belong. These individuals form their identity by merging characteristics from various racial and ethnic backgrounds, resulting in a shared bond of possessing diverse heritages.

The drawback of multiracialism is its inability to establish a enduring sense of community among its members, as their unity rests solely on their "ambiguous position" (Weisman, 1996). This alone fails to adequately address the needs of multiracial individuals. Nevertheless, there is optimism that in the future, these groups might receive increased acknowledgment and be incorporated into government identification systems. Such inclusion would assist individuals in shaping their identity later on.

It is predicted that cultural exogamy and inter-racial marriages will continue in the future, leading to greater challenges in racial differentiation. Some families encourage their children to identify with a specific racial background. Mills observed that single parents often promote their own racial and cultural heritage, hoping their children will resemble them more (Mills, 1994). It has been reported that parents with African heritage believe society will perceive their children as black, so they raise them with this expectation in mind to prepare them for future experiences (Morrison & Rodgers, 1996). In many Western countries, society pressures families and children to solely identify with their minority ethnicity to maintain the "racial purity" of the White population.

On one hand, it can be suggested that ethnically diverse children and families should adopt the racial identity of a white individual to avoid experiencing racism (Miller & Rotheram-Borus, 1994).


Chiong states that most governmental population surveys or

counts only allow individuals to be classified under a single racial or ethnic category. The U.S. Census is an example of this and is used to determine ethnic representation in governmental agencies. Funding for programs, social services, school support, and other entities depends on these Census numbers, reinforcing the perceived importance of specific groups in society.

Multiracial individuals claim that the process of selectively funding or ignoring certain groups demonstrates their exclusion from advancing in this society. Many assert that this approach highlights how cultural minorities can be excluded from succeeding in American society. It is perceived as a rejection of a part of their heritage and a significant negative impact on their self-perception. They believe that the absence of a "multiracial" category indicates society's rejection of them (Chiong, 1998).

''Some cultural groups believe in representing themselves as a singular or specific minority to demonstrate unity and influence (Chiong, 1998). Minority political groups, such as the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and others, have opposed multiracial classifications out of concern that it could jeopardize their voting rights enforcement Acts and allocations for social and educational programs based on minority status (Sullivan, 1998). Recently, the government has made changes to how citizens are asked to identify themselves by checking appropriate boxes. However, as of now, no multiracial category has been added.''

In 2003, schools were instructed to modify their racial identification documents, which will have an impact on how over two million students define their race (Chiong, 1998). These recent changes indicate the growing number of multiracial Americans and the advocacy efforts of various groups for acceptance and influence.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Children with diverse racial

and cultural backgrounds encounter both positive and negative aspects in relation to their identity. The development of a cohesive and personally fulfilling identity depends on individual qualities such as resilience and positive self-esteem. Additionally, the stability of their family is influenced by their worldview, attitudes, as well as the supportive nature of their school and community environment. Conversely, an isolating and biased environment can hinder their growth.

The text highlights the importance of similarity in neighborhood household composition in shaping children's individualities, regardless of their race. In the past, it was widely accepted that children from multiracial households faced more challenges and developmental issues because they had to "choose" a race. This belief originated from the idea that being monoracial was normal, while anything else, like being multiracial, was seen as abnormal or unnatural. Wilson (1987, p. 7) argued that multiracial individuals didn't fit in anywhere. However, this perception is now challenged by the understanding that commonality between neighborhood households plays a crucial role in all children's development of their individualities.

The thoughts that arose from a study on people seeking help for their problems led to the realization that the data did not include the experiences of well-adjusted minorities. As a result, these individuals were unable to demonstrate their ability to navigate life successfully as multiracial individuals. These significant findings were published by Thornton in 1996.

Individuals who are "multiracially socialized" can benefit from their unique background. They have a higher level of cultural education compared to monoracial children, resulting in distinct advantages. They possess a greater understanding and a well-thought-out perspective of the world. They demonstrate personal judgment, increased tolerance between different groups, language proficiency, positive

reception of minority culture, and stronger connections compared to monoracial individuals (Thornton, 1996). Furthermore, they have the ability to recognize multiple facets of a situation while others may only perceive one perspective in a given conflict (Kerwin, Ponterotto, Jackson, & Harris, 1993).

The development of individuality in multiracial kids is said to be more complex compared to monoracial youth due to the abundance of options and possibilities in our society. Additionally, the influence of family members, friends, and prevalent culture further complicates the inner conflicts experienced by young people. Multiracial youth also face the added challenge of general social racism and discomfort towards interracial marriages. The racism faced by people of color in the U.S. is worsened by some individuals' strong bias against mixing races through marriage and reproduction (Pinderhughes, 1995). According to Okun, black and white interracial marriages occur at a significantly lower rate than other mixed groups.

Unfortunately, multicultural individuals often face significant negative social backlash (Okun, 1996). Wardle has noted that many members of cultural groups express reservations about interracial relationships, viewing them as an attack on their cultural pride and a potential dilution of their group's political influence (Wardle, 1992). Given the existence of these biased beliefs in society, it is not surprising that some teachers and therapists may also hold these attitudes. Multiracial students are likely to encounter these individuals and may internalize their negativity. The danger lies in allowing these authority figures to undermine their sense of self and hinder their true potential for success.

Consequently, it is essential for those who work with multiracial children to carefully consider their own positions. Students place a lot of value on the thoughts and

advice of their teachers and counselors. Unfortunately, the healthcare professionals who treat multiracial children often reject them, leading some parents to abandon or give them away due to personal issues. Others are completely overwhelmed by the challenge of raising children with unique needs.


The process of developing a sense of cultural identity is particularly complex for most multiracial youth and their families.

There are unique aspects of an individual's heritage that are influenced by their different ethnicities. The process involves a multiracial individual's decision about their personal and family identity, which represents their own perspective on multiculturalism. This includes how their family acknowledges the various components that make up their culture, as well as society's history of segregating racial groups and the widespread hierarchical racial discrimination. Moreover, the number of multiracial families and individuals will continue to increase in future generations. People can choose to embrace and identify with different ethnicities or align themselves with a new group that is connected solely by the multiple cultural backgrounds its members represent.

It is essential for instructors, healers, and other professionals working with children to have an understanding and respect for the attitudes, beliefs, and needs of interracial families. This understanding will enable them to support multiracial students in developing a positive self-image and achieving success in school. Ultimately, it will help foster an understanding that racial differences are insignificant and unimportant.

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