Multiracial or ‘mixed race’ refers to the group of people who can relate to various people of different races. These people are known by various terms like mulatto, creole, mestizo, biracial, half-and-half etc. Multiracial community makes up a significant portion of the population.
According to studies, the multiracial population is growing more than three times the rate of general population. The multiracial population is growing by leaps and bounds- increasing the need to study the diversity of the experiences of the group members. The racial dimensions have changed over the times from simply being ‘white’, ‘black’ or ‘mulatto’. ‘Hispanic’ has also been added to the categorical list.
The reason multiracial came around was because the children produced from mixed breeds often failed to identify themselves with one particular group of people. They couldn’t seem to categorise themselves in one race after having parents from different races. This led to the census accepting two or more races in 2000.
In 2000, more than 2.4 percent of the Americans showed signs of accepting themselves as multiracial. With more ten years down the drain, the percentage further increased. Across all the racial groups, multiracial people were commonly found. This concept of multiracial helped the people to remain self-aware of one’s identity.
MULTIRACIALS AND THEIR HERITAGE
Being biracial or multiracial has become extremely common in this world. Despite this, various people find it difficult to grasp the concept of being multiracial. The unclear cut out for identity makes it an interesting topic. The multiracial community has brought down a new wave of social and demographical change in the United States.
According to the United States Census Bureau, more than 2 percent of the total population is multiracial. In contrast, Pew Research Center estimates that 6.9% of the Native American population in multiracial.
According to Pew Research Survey, more than 60% of the mixed race people are proud of their multiracial heritage while 40% feel that their racial culture has opened new cultural doors to them. The social taboos against interracial marriage (earlier prohibited in 17 states) has broken down which gave rise to diversity. The decline in racism saw more acceptances from multiracial people to accept their heritage with open arms. Even the Government and other educational organisations have included a multiracial option in the forms, rather than complicate the matter for the individuals by making them choose one category.
A research was conducted where the group of students were asked to indicate their ethnic heritage by checking boxes on the form. The researchers had designated groups with- low social status (Black, Latino), high social status (White or Asian) or multiple groups (Multiracial) etc. The group identifying with multiple groups showed signs of having high psychological well being, equal social status and high social engagement. There were also no virtual differences between groups identifying themselves with high or low-status groups. The results indicated that when the individuals are forced to accept one heritage over another, it can be disconcerting to them. Individuals felt more comfortable in different cultures and could easily adopt new cultural mindsets.
REASONS FOR ACCEPTING MULTIRACIAL IDENTITY
- It makes things easier for the person to identify with more than one race. For instance, if one’s father belongs to one race and mother belongs to another, the child feels the tug of war between the two. The person gets perplexed regarding the choice of culture. He wants to accept the culture of his father’s race along with his mother’s race. With a multiracial identity, he can absorb the values from both the cultures and identify with both the cultures. This way, he doesn’t lose his self-identification. The child simply fits in.
- It helps the child to enjoy all the traditions and culture from this bi or tri ethnic-racial backgrounds. He or she is educated in the matter of all the cultures and is made to appreciate the diversity. The ambiguous look helps in blending in all kinds of the atmosphere which helps in giving a great perspective on the cultures. They become the mediator of culture. The cultural code-switching fascinates other people and they become aware of the individual. In other terms, it’s like being a spy- the individual can switch identities and reinvent himself whenever he wants to become whatever he wants. The choice lies on the shoulders of the multiracial individual.
- Cultural fluidity is another reason why multiracial identity should be more commonly embraced. Being biracial means that the person does not hold ties to any one specific group. The person has a choice of what he wants to be. By being multiracial, the line of phenotypic restrictions gets blurred.
- It can be extremely problematic and troublesome for the kids to defend their heritage every time. Multiracial kids identify with their own social identity. Identifying as multiracial boosts the growth of individual’s psychological well being and helps them in embracing their diverse ethnicity. It breaks the notion of race being absolute and concrete and helps in showing the fluidity of racial identity along with related experiences.