Learn more about Multiracial

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Image:Halle Berry,San Diego Comic-Con 2003.jpg
Actress Halle Berry was born to a white mother, and a black father.

The terms multiracial, biracial, and mixed-race describe people who are not easily classified into a single race. (Biracial refers to those with ancestors from mostly two races). It is sometimes a matter of opinion if people are mixed-race, because races themselves are not clearly defined. This has caused some problems for census-takers.

Multiracial also describes a society or group that is composed of people from more than one racial or ethnic group.


[edit] Place in society

Societal acceptance of interracial marriages and offspring varies widely from person to person and region to region. In Nazi Germany, harsh race laws were enacted to establish racial purity, although Nazi soldiers in Scandinavia interbred with local women. Scandinavians and Anglo-saxons were considered to be almost equal to Germans in the Nazi racist worldview. In the United States, especially the South, marriage between African American and Caucasian American people has historically been looked down upon and legislated against. As recently as 2003, Taylor County High School in Taylor County, Georgia has held separate prom celebrations for black and white students; however, some similar phenomena occur equally because of cultural differences and not specific prohibitions on marriage or dating. However, recent data suggests that multiracial marriages are becoming increasingly common in the United States.

  • In some parts of the world, the recessive charactaristics of blonde hair and blue eyes have been regarded in popular culture as signs of that an individual is of mixed race but in some cultures (notably that of Nazi Germany) they have been seen as a sign of racial purity.

In 2000, The Sunday Times reported that "Britain has the highest rate of interracial relationships in the world".<ref>John Harlow, The Sunday Times (London), 9 April 2000, quoting Professor Richard Berthoud of the Institute for Social and Economic Research</ref> Apparently contradicting this, more recent census data shows the population of England (as a sub-section of the UK) to be 1.4% mixed-race (2001), compared with, for example, 1.4% in the U.S. (2002 estimates; see below). However, as most of the English population is of one race (white)—even more so than in the US—there are fewer opportunities for interracial relationships in England. In support of the report's conclusions, it can be calculated that 14.4% of English residents not identified as white are mixed-race, compared with 7.5% in the U.S.

In Latin America, racial mixture was officially acknowledged from colonial times, resulting in an official nomenclature for every conceivable mixture present in the various countries. Initially, this classification was used as a type of caste system, where rights and privileges were accorded depending on one's official racial classification. Official caste distinctions were abolished in many countries of the Spanish-speaking Americas as they became independent of Spain, but several remained in common usage and remain to this day. Race and racial mixture played a significant role in the politics of many Latin American countries.

  • The Mexican philosopher and educator José Vasconcelos authored an essay on the subject, La Raza Cósmica (whence the term la raza) celebrating racial mixture. Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, who is himself of Spanish, indigenous and African ancestry, has made positive references to the mixed race ancestry of most Latin Americans from time to time.

The mixed race population of Canadians, at 1.2%, is the fourth largest group in the country, greater than the Filipino population.

Censuses notwithstanding, any count of numbers of mixed-race people is subject to dispute. People may identify themselves as members of one single racial category despite having (potentially many) ancestors belonging to other categories, for various reasons. For instance, genetic studies of Afro-Caribbean people show an ancestry that is on average 10% European and 90% African.<ref>Motherland: A Genetic Journey, BBC Documentary, 2003. This also stated that 25% of Afro-Caribbean people have a European ancestor in the paternal (Y-chromosome) line of descent.</ref> Also, a considerable portion of the U.S. population identified as Black actually have some Native American or European American ancestry. Much of these categorization phenomena occur due to current or past cultural stereotyping or segregation.

Multiracial individuals are often presumed to have struggles with identity crises, perhaps due to having a sense of identity that is very different than people who claim to be of just one race. Most multiracial people cannot or do not identify with just one group.

[edit] Multiracial Children in the United States

The proportion of multiracial children in the United States is growing rapidly. Interracial partnerships are on the rise, as are transracial adoptions. In 1990, about 14% of 18- to 19-year-olds, 12% of 20- to 21-year-olds and 7% of 34- to 35-year-olds were involved in interracial relationships (Joyner and Kao, 2005) <ref>[1]</ref>. Given the variety of the familial and more general social environments in which multiracial children are raised, along with the diversity of their appearance (vis-a-vis their component races and their family members), it can be difficult to make generalizations about multiracial children's challenges or opportunities. The racial social identity of children and that of their parents in the same multiracial family may vary or be the same.<ref>[2]</ref> Some multiracial children feel pressure from various sources to "choose" or to assimilate into a single racial identity, while others whose identity or lifestyle is perceived to be closer to some of their component races than others may feel pressure not to abandon one or more of their ethnicities. Still other children grow up without race being a significant issue in their lives.

[edit] Categorization and censuses

Some multiracial individuals feel marginalized by U.S. society. For example, when applying to schools or for a job, or when taking standardized tests, Americans are asked to check boxes corresponding to race or ethnicity. Typically, about five race choices are given with the instruction to "check only one." Many other such surveys include an additional "other" box, but this unfortunately groups together individuals of many different multiracial types (ex: Caucasian/African-Americans are grouped with Asian/Native American Indians), as well as individuals who feel their race or ethnic identity is not included in the standard groups (ex: Arabs, Asian Indians). Perhaps most acceptable in the "multiple choice" format of race is to both provide an "other" box and to allow selection of multiple boxes, but some individuals will not be satisfied with any box checking.

There remain many circumstances in which biracial individuals are left with no real response when asked for demographic data. But multiracial people won a victory of sorts after years of effort when in 1997, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) changed the federal regulation of racial categories to permit multiple responses, resulting in a new format for the 2000 United States Census, which allowed participants to select more than one of the six available categories, which were, in brief: "White", "Black or African American", "Asian", "American Indian or Alaskan Native", "Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander", and "Other." Further details are given in the article: Race (US Census). The OMB made its directive mandatory for all government forms by 2003.

In contrast, the United Kingdom Census 2001 offered specific mixed-race categories: "Mixed White and Black Caribbean", "Mixed White and Black African", "Mixed White and (South) Asian", and "Other Mixed", as well as "Other ethnic group."

[edit] Formal recognition of legitimacy

Anti-miscegenation laws in the U.S. not only applied to African Americans and Caucasians, but also to Asian Americans, and less often to American Indians. Hispanics of white, African, and/or Native American descent were also legally forbidden to marry whites in a few states. In December 1912, an amendment to the Constitution was introduced to abolish racial intermarriage: "Intermarriage between negros or persons of color and Caucasians . . . within the United States . . . is forever prohibited." These anti-miscegenation laws were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967, in Loving v. Virginia.

[edit] Cultural differences

Many Latino immigrants in America discover they're considered Black when they enter the U.S. "In this country, if you are not quite white, then you are black", said Jose Neinstein, a native white Brazilian and executive director of the Brazilian-American Cultural Institute in Washington. But in Brazil, he added, "If you are not quite black, then you are white." <ref>[</ref> In South Africa, Colored people are individuals of mixed ancestry—usually the offspring of an African and a white settler or an Indian. While many of the colored people look black, they identify themselves as colored and are offended by individuals who try to classify them as black.<ref>[ 09 04/africa.html</ref>

[edit] Beyond admixture

Although scientists argue that Ethiopians resemble Caucasoids more than they resemble Negroids they have historically been viewed, socially, as Black and are widely considered Black today.

Admixtures is not the only way individuals can be genetically in between two different races. Although Ethiopians are widely considered Black both historically and by the census, a 2001 Oxford genetic cluster study stated: 62% of the Ethiopians fall in the first cluster, which encompasses the majority of the Jews, Norwegians and Armenians, indicating that placement of these individuals in a 'Black' cluster would be an inaccurate reflection of the genetic structure. Only 24% of the Ethiopians are placed in the cluster with the Bantu and most of the Afro-Caribbeans.<ref>[3]</ref> In addition some anthropologists have argued that their craniofacial features resemble those of Caucasoids.<ref>[4]</ref> However the cause of their alleged genetic and physical resemblance to both Negroids and Caucasoids (terms not usually used by scientists today) are not explained by admixture because there is none. Scientists believe that modern humans originated in Africa, and that all non-Africans carry a later mutation that occurred in what is today known as Ethiopia. The man who first carried this mutation is known as the Eurasian Adam, and lived in what is today Ethiopia.<ref>[5]</ref> .

[edit] See also

[edit] References

<references />

  • Joyner, Kara and Grace Kao. 2005. “Interracial Relationships and the Transition to Adulthood.” American Sociological Review 70(4):563-582.

[edit] External links

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