A Mixed Race: Ethnicity in Early America

Mixed Race America and the Law
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In other words, a racial classification system with 63 categories or if cross-tabulated by Hispanic origin might make an easy target for those who want to eliminate such categorization.

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Statistical analyses of the data are regularly employed to determine, for example, whether job candidates of different racial backgrounds but with comparable skills are equally likely to be hired 9. And for the purpose of such analysis, the rules for assigning individuals to one racial category or another make a difference Goldstein and Morning, Roderick Harrison, who likens the post-revision federal racial statistical system to Humpty-Dumpy after his fall, considers the repercussions of the strategy of treating mixed-race people— some of whom may previously been classified as white— as if they belonged to monoracial communities of color for statistical purposes:.

Employers, landlords, educational institutions, and health officials in a given locality are likely to object to being held to goals or standards for American Indians, Asians, or African Americans that are 10, 20, or 30 percent higher than they would have been without the methodological revisions.

On the other side, those who feel they suffer from inequitable educational, employment, housing, or health conditions are also likely to insist that statistics showing improvements in these conditions not reflect new collection and tabulation methods rather than changes that would have been measured in these conditions absent the revisions. Harrison, Although it is clearly too early to evaluate some of the expectations— most notably, that of a new postracial America— we can begin to trace the outlines of the impact of others.

In other words, I question whether the seeds of change for the longer-term predictions seem to be materializing.

Table of Contents

Of the Although this is not an insignificant number, it is far from the proportion of African Americans that could probably report some European or American Indian ancestry if they so chose. In , the Census Bureau estimated that 75 percent of the Negro population had non-black ancestry; more recent estimates also put this share above 50 percent U. Census Bureau, So although the prospect of mulattoes abandoning the African-American ship touched a prominent nerve in public discourse about the change in federal racial classification, blacks were the community of color least affected by the switch.

One reason is simply that as intermarriage rates increase, even for blacks, more multiracial children are likely to be born.

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The opportunity to identify with more than one race, still new, may become more familiar over time, and more people may take advantage of it. Informal estimates suggest that nearly half the U. If these more distant sources of multiracial ancestry came to be validated, a growing share of Americans might identify with more than one race on official forms like the census, regardless of new births to interracial unions.

It is true that it is perceived in some quarters as a bureaucratic inconvenience. But in a sense, this disgruntlement simply reflects a shift in the burden of racial data collection from the individual respondent, previously unhappy with the choices he or she was forced to make, to the technocrat who must now cope with 63 racial categories.

In other words, government officials now suffer the shortcomings of our racial classification standards to a greater extent, but relieve some of the imposition that inadequate categories placed on others. Nor has it handed much ammunition to those detractors who want to do away with racial statistics altogether. In part this may be because the organization advocates the retention of racial data collection for some purposes, like biomedical research and criminal justice.

This is due in large part to the fact that the federal government has issued guidelines for allocating multiple-race data back to traditional single-race categories in order to facilitate the enforcement of civil rights law Office of Management and Budget, In short, the OMB requires civil rights enforcement agencies to assign each multiple-race response to a single racial group for statistical purposes, and to do so by assigning all people of white and non-white heritage to the non-white group. Although many have remarked on the irony of adopting the one-drop rule for civil rights purposes, the motivation of wanting an inclusive measure of the potentially discriminated-against population has been widely accepted, at least for now.

Its impact has been muted simply because the multiracial person does not yet truly exist for the machinery of government, which continues to use race data to implement single-race laws. Paradoxically, the advent of multiple-race reporting has not introduced the multiracial actor as a protagonist in the implementation of civil rights law. Previously, mixture had been the prerogative only of European ethnic groups.

And the official recognition of multiple-race ancestry will be personally meaningful to many, seen as vindicating personal senses of identity. Obviously, it is impossible to answer such a question based on barely five years of experience. Nor is it clear how one could link any such trend to a specific event like the census change, even with a much longer time period to investigate. That is, they believe biological essentialism is a necessary ingredient for racism 11 and that multiracial acknowledgment counters such essentialism because it introduces the idea that race is malleable, situational, culture- and time-bound.

Although academics have begun to describe the racial self-identification choices of multiracial people in order to explore the constructed nature of race identity e. Chew, Eggebeen and Uhlenberg, ; Harris and Sim, ; Rockquemore and Brunsma, , it is not clear that the public is aware of the extent to which racial identities are situational.

A mixed-race identity can still be perceived as a fixed one— not changing according to context or life stage— even if it is a more complex type of racial identity than previously recognized. And retaining the idea of racial identities as fixed does little to dispel the notion of race as a biological indicator. As in the case of the animals and plants that we cross-breed, we can recognize their hybrid origins without rejecting the notion that their differences and mixture are rooted in biology.

For example, the politician Barack Obama is routinely described as having a wondrous ability to connect with both black and white voters. Not only are these the poles of the American racial spectrum, but they are also his hereditary racial communities: he can appeal to both blacks and whites because he is black and white.

The feeling that his bond to blacks and whites is rooted in his DNA— rather than culture— is underscored by the general oversight of the connections that his early years in Hawaii and Indonesia might afford. Does his mixedness and background also make him appealing to Asian Americans or native Hawaiians?

If it were his cultural exposure that explained his ability to touch different kinds of people, we might expect greater examination of his ties to Asian Americans, and less of his bond with blacks, having grown up with a white mother and grandparents. Instead, it is his ostensibly biological makeup that is implicitly linked to his political success.

By asking individuals to combine options from a menu with a fixed number of items, the multiple-race standards do not call into question the five categories it deems racial groups. Not only does it retain the ethno-racial pentagon Hollinger, , but it further validates the collection of racial statistics. It perpetuates the idea that all people can and should be categorized in racial terms.

So while the option to identify with more than one race may feel personally liberating to some, it is not the true revolution that some would make it out to be. In other words, the increased visibility of multiracial America has not precluded a growing interest in identifying racial groups with genetic makeup Geneticists have also applied their skills to decoding the racial makeup of entire populations, such as that of Brazil Pena et al.

Although the researchers who have insisted most strongly that race is written in our DNA have largely sidestepped the Hispanic population when making such claims despite its prominence as the largest minority group in the nation , the new visibility of mixed-race people has not dealt much of a blow to the premise that race is an essential biological quality. Nor has it resulted in the breakdown of civil rights policy or the wholesale statistical conversion of the black population into mulattoes.

In short, neither the brooding fears nor the ardent hopes concerning the advent of multiple-race classification seem likely to be realized. In other words, the most important implications of the switch to multiple-race reporting lay not in the predictions described above, but in demographic developments that are not usually linked to the multiracial population. Not only are there many parallels between our racial conceptualization of Hispanics and multiracial people, but a common historical moment shapes attitudes about the racial identity of both. For example, it is common to find references in these media to statistical findings that distinguish between white, black, and Hispanic outcomes.

Again, this positioning as neither black nor white, but of a group comparable to those two, solidifies the equation of Hispanic identity with a racial affiliation. First and foremost, Hispanics for the most part can certainly be considered to be multiracial themselves. Although— like other Americans whose multiracial ancestry stems from our antebellum history— Hispanics are not often included in public discourse about multiracial America, their mixed American, African, and European roots are widely recognized.

However, the widespread association in the U. On the census, 6. So whether by virtue of their historical ancestry or their current self-identification patterns, there is good reason to think of Latinos as a multiracial population. The multiracial movement vocally protested the federal classification structure that previously required them to choose only one of the official groups Nobles, ; Williams Forthcoming.

Both strategies reflect a common insistence on self-definition, rather than acceptance of externally-derived taxonomies. In so doing, they stake a claim to the optional or voluntary dimension of identity that American social scientists have tended to ascribe to ethnic identification. The agencies do this by disregarding the racial information that Hispanics provide, in favor of identifying them solely as Hispanic. Indeed, the introduction of official multiple-race reporting is meaningful for the racial interpretation of Latinos for two reasons.

Second, the shift to multiple-race data may offer insights into contemporary American thinking about race that can shed light on how the racial classification of Latinos may evolve in the future. Vocal protest by multiracial organizations and individuals set in motion a bureaucratic round of self-examination that culminated in the first set of revisions to Directive 15 since its promulgation 20 years earlier.

This suggests a path for Latino activists who might wish to lobby the government for a new approach to racial categorization. It must be noted, however, that the revisions may actually discourage further racial classification revisions in the medium term. The drawn-out process of soliciting public opinion, commissioning studies, deliberating, and instituting change— all under the watchful eyes of an engaged press and public— may not be one that the Office of Management and Budget is eager to revisit before the census.

As a result, the racial treatment of Hispanics is likely to be at the heart of debates about census classification in , just as the multiracial population was at the center of controversy about the census of In this new version of the question of how to deal with multiracial people, the solution will again be to disregard the diversity of identities that result from self-reporting, and constrain them to fit our traditional black, white, red and yellow categories. And we will likely do so at the expense of higher item non-response rates on the part of Latino respondents.

On the census form, this would effectively mean combining the separate race and Hispanic ethnicity questions into one. Moreover, this seems to be the option that Hispanics themselves most prefer. In other words, public discourse about the categorization of mixed-race people may be most relevant to Latinos simply because it reveals the contemporary attitudes and conditions that shape our enumeration of both groups.

We have already seen that despite the shift to multiple-race reporting, the federal government continues to translate the data into single-race statistics in practice, signaling a real reluctance to discard our traditional racial categories. Even if we are not willing to alter the set of races, we may be amenable to shifting the dividing lines between them, so that people who were once in one race are now in another.

Pagination

These days, he doesn't get asked, "What are you? In , the comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, both of whom have a black father and a white mother, were named the festival's storytellers of the year. Please try again later. Table 1 shows that blacks make up 8. Reports Apr 4, The sample of single-race Native Americans was too small to analyze.

Our informal, unspoken decision rules for assigning individuals to races are central to the way we approach the racial enumeration of multiracial and Hispanic people. In other words, American society has shown much more flexibility about who belongs to which race than it has over the dogma that there are four races: white, black, yellow, and red.

Here the size of the Latino population may hold the key. At a time when the share of the non-Hispanic white population is falling, Hispanics have the potential to play a pivotal role in turning the tide Yancey, The prediction that whites will fall into the minority in the United States i. One hundred years ago, the nation was coping with a wave of immigrants such as Italians, Jews, and Slavs whose whiteness was uncertain; Jacobson argues there was a fracturation of whiteness in this period.

We are puzzled about how to racially type our new immigrants— from Mexico, from the Caribbean, from India— and at the same time, we are grappling with the classification of those who claim hybrid lineages. In this light, our racialisation of both mixed-race and Hispanic people are expressions of a common drive to clarify, rebuild and strengthen racial identities that have become fractured. If this convention holds true in our case as well, it implies that both multiple-race classification, as well as our racial categorization of Hispanics, will not ultimately disturb— but rather will reinforce— our underlying belief that all human beings can be reduced to shades of red, yellow, white, and black.

Ethnic and Racial Studies 27, pp. Bratter Jennifer L. San Francisco, CA. Chew Kenneth S. Eggebeen, and Peter R.

Stanford scholar examines biracial youth’s political attitudes and self-identification factors

Daniel G. Reginald More than Black? Davis Floyd James Who is Black? Federal Register 68, pp. Forbes Jack D. Gaines James R. Gans Herbert J.

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Goldstein Joshua R. Grieco Elizabeth M and Rachel C. But when Latinos are asked whether they consider being Hispanic to be part of their racial or ethnic background, the survey finds that about two-thirds of Hispanics say it is, at least in part, their race. For the majority of this report, Hispanic origin is treated as an ethnicity, rather than a race, and multiracial Hispanics are those who say they are Hispanic and two separate races for example, someone who is Hispanic and also chooses black and white as his or her races. This is consistent with how the Census Bureau counts mixed-race Hispanics.

However, because Hispanic identity is tied to both race and ethnicity for many Latinos, Chapter 7 of this report explores a broader definition of mixed race. The survey finds that many multiracial adults, like other racial minorities, have experienced some type of racial discrimination, from racist slurs to physical threats, because of their racial background. A similar pattern is evident for other types of racial discrimination. For multiracial adults with a black background, experiences with discrimination closely mirror those of single-race blacks.

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Mixed-race adults with an Asian background are about as likely to report being discriminated against as are single-race Asians, while multiracial adults with a white background are more likely than single-race whites to say they have experienced racial discrimination. Demographically, multiracial Americans are younger—and strikingly so—than the country as a whole. According to Pew Research Center analysis of the American Community Survey, the median age of all multiracial Americans is 19, compared with 38 for single-race Americans.

The Pew Research survey finds that multiracial adults also are less likely than other adults to be college graduates and less likely to be currently married. But when they do wed, mixed-race Americans are more likely than other adults to marry someone who also is multiracial. Mixed-race adults are also more likely than the general public to have close friends or neighbors who are multiracial.

Even so, shared multiracial backgrounds do not necessarily translate into shared identity. It was less than 50 years ago that the U. Supreme Court, in the case bearing the evocative title Loving v. Virginia, struck down laws prohibiting mixed-race marriages. And it has been only 15 years since the U. Census Bureau first allowed Americans to choose more than one race when filling out their census form. Since then the multiracial population has grown significantly. In addition to self-reported race, Pew Research took into account the racial backgrounds of parents and grandparents.

This approach led to the estimate that multiracial adults currently make up 6. The relatively small share of all U.

The Biracial Advantage | Psychology Today

If current trends continue—and evidence suggests they may accelerate—the Census Bureau projects that the multiracial population will triple by Feeding this growth is the increase in mixed-race couples and, as a natural consequence, births of children who have a multiracial background. For example, since the share of marriages between spouses of different races has increased almost fourfold from 1.

The share of multiracial children is growing at an even faster rate. As the multiracial population in the U. Multiracial identity is complicated, as much an attitude that can change over a lifetime as it is a genetic or biological certainty. Individuals were allowed to select multiple reasons. A quarter of biracial adults with a white and American Indian background say they consider themselves multiracial.

For some mixed-race Americans, the pressure to identify as a single race is a significant part of the multiracial experience. A similar share says they have attempted to look or behave a certain way in order to influence the way others perceive their race. The way racial identity is classified in the U. Since , respondents have had the option to choose more than one race. People who mark two or more races in their answer to the race question are included in the multiple-race population by the Census Bureau.

Although respondents are also asked, in a separate question, about their Hispanic or Latino origin, only answers to the race question are used in classifying people into the multiple-race population. Our defined multiracial group includes people who indicate that they, their parents or their grandparents are of Hispanic or Latino origin, as long as they also select two or more census races.

In addition to looking at the broader group of multiracial adults, we analyze subsets of this group. For example, we look at the following biracial groups: white and black, white and Asian, white and American Indian, and black and American Indian. At times, we may also look at all multiracial adults with a black or Asian background, for example, regardless of what other races are included in their background, and compare them to single-race blacks or Asians, respectively.

These biracial and multiracial subgroups, as well as the single-race groups, exclude Hispanics. In our survey, for example, roughly two-thirds of Hispanics say being Hispanic is part of their racial background. With that in mind, a separate part of our analysis includes an expanded definition of multiracial that includes Hispanics who report one census race for themselves, their parents and their grandparents and also say they consider being Hispanic part of their racial background.

Chapter 7 of this report focuses on the experiences and attitudes of multiracial Hispanics, using both the census-based and the expanded definitions. For a more detailed description of our methodology, see Appendix A. While these views are broadly shared by each of the five biggest multiracial groups, the large proportion of white and Asian biracial adults who see their racial background as an advantage stands out.

Race and Ethnicity in the U.S.

This collection of new essays enters one of the most topical and energetic debates of our time--the subject of ethnicity. The recent vigorous debates being waged. Multiracial Americans are Americans who have mixed .. Colonial records of French and Spanish slave ships and sales in other areas have found differing percentages of ethnicity.

In the other four groups, only about one-in-four or fewer say their racial heritage has been as helpful. This contrast further sharpens when white and Asian biracial Americans are compared with single-race whites and Asians. Mixed-race adults often straddle two or more worlds, and their experiences and relationships reflect that. For biracial adults who are white or black and American Indian, their connections with the white or black community are often stronger than the ones they feel toward Native Americans; about one-in-four or fewer in each group say they have a lot in common with American Indians.

Other survey findings suggest these differences may slow the development of a multiracial group identity similar to the sense of linked fate and shared experience that unites many blacks and other minority groups. As a group, mixed-race adults are much more likely than all married adults to have a spouse or partner who is also multiracial, the survey finds.

A similar pattern emerges when the focus turns to the friendships formed by multiracial Americans.