Biracial identity development in minority/minority individuals: A relational model

Biracial identity development in minority/minority individuals: A relational model

Alliant International University, San Francisco Bay
May 2009
383 pages
Publication Number: AAT 3358398
ISBN: 9781109176018

Michelle Grady

There are a growing number of biracial individuals in America, and while some studies have examined their experiences, few have focused on the experiences of biracial minority, minority individuals, whose parents are from different racial minority groups. This study qualitatively explored, through the use of in-depth interviews, the biracial identity development experiences of 6 biracial minority, minority individuals, between the ages of 25 and 34. Interview questions were informed by the literature on biracial identity development, in particular a previous study by Kich (1982), and by Josselson’s (1992) relational theory of identity development. Transcripts were used to create a biography for each respondent; the biographies were analyzed to identify themes and factors influencing biracial identity development. A major theme which emerged included respondents’ tendencies, in childhood, to develop a stronger racial identification with the side of the family they felt more emotionally connected to. Over the course of the respondents’ lives, conflicts about identity emerged and receded, in response to environmental and relational experiences. Relationships with peers and extended family members evoked an awareness of being racially different in respondents. Peer acceptance or rejection strongly influenced respondents’ biracial identity development both positively and negatively during their childhood and adolescence. A relational model of biracial identity development was proposed which was based on themes that emerged, as respondents described their identity development. Stages of biracial identity development were characterized by a search for a sense of belonging, acceptance, and validation, as well as, over time, an increased need for self-definition and consolidation of personal identity. Respondents experienced racism, rejection, and subjective experiences of being different. Acceptance from peers and extended family, communication with family members about their biracial experience, and being taught about both cultures, were longed for experiences that seemed to contribute to a positive experience of identity, when they occurred. Recommendations for future research include further exploration of the usefulness of Josselson’s relational identity development theory for understanding biracial identity development.

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