This is interesting. I’m sure folks remember all the flack that Tiger Woods caught when he mentioned in an interview that, as a child, he had constructed the term “Cablinasian” to describe his heritage of [Ca]ucasian, [Bl]ack, American-[In]dian, and [Asian]. This of course demonstrated the internalization of the old “one-drop” rule. It makes since that there would be pressures in a community where some folks chose to escape prejudice by “passing” as white, that there would be a stigma attached to denying one’s African-American heritage. But as much historical and sociological sense it makes for that attitude to exist, that is not a justification for its continued currency. Some folks (Barak Obama seems to be an example) may find it helpful to identify solely with one aspect of their ethnic heritage. But, it seems like common sense to me that it is generally more healthy for folks to accept the totality of who they are. I’m surrprised it took Psychologists this long to figure it out. Then again, maybe I’m not. Any thoughts?
[Note: I think the headline is misleading. The question is not really whether children of mixed ethnicities are more well adjusted than children of one, but rather, whether those who eschew an aspect of their heritage are less healthy than those who embrace the entirety of who they are.]
Americans like answers in black and white, a cultural trait we confirmed last year when the biracial man running for President was routinely called “black”.
The flattening of Barack Obama’s complex racial background shouldn’t have been surprising. Many multiracial historical figures in the U.S. have been reduced (or have reduced themselves) to a single aspect of their racial identities: Booker T. Washington, Tina Turner, and Greg Louganis are three examples. This phenomenon isn’t entirely pernicious; it is at least partly rooted in our concern that growing up with a fractured identity is hard on kids. The psychologist J.D. Teicher summarized this view in a 1968 paper: “Although the burden of the Negro child is recognized as a heavy one, that of the Negro-White child is seen to be even heavier.”
But new research says this old, problematized view of multiracial identity is outdated. In fact, a new paper in the Journal of Social Issues shows that multiracial adolescents who identify proudly as multiracial fare as well as — and, in many cases, better than — kids who identify with a single group, even if that group is considered high-status (like, say, Asians or whites). This finding was surprising because psychologists have argued for years that mixed-race kids will be better adjusted if they pick a single race as their own.
Read it all via Are Mixed-Race Children Better Adjusted? – TIME.
By the way: I use the term ethnicity rather than race, because the use of the term Race has a checkered history. People used to talk about the “German Race” or “Jewish Race” or “Anglo-Saxon Race” and ascribe various traits to each group. I see very little difference between that and contemporary uses of the term “race” to indicate Caucasian, African/African American, Asian, American Indian etc… It may sound cliche, but I believe it is a much more helpful view, to say that “there is only one race and that’s the human race,” and to instead talk about various ethnicities.