Biracial Identity Development in Black/White Biracial Individuals

Biracial Identity Development in Black/White Biracial Individuals

Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association
Montreal Convention Center
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

21 pages

Monique Porow

An increase in the population of biracial individuals in the U.S. has caused the proliferation of theories of biracial identity development and maintenance. Presently theories on biracial identity development do not fully capture the complexity of biracial identity formation for the black/white biracial population in the twenty-first century. In my work I conceptualize identity categories for biracial individuals that reflect this complexity. I present a model of biracial identity development that reevaluates the weight given to specific influences on identity, and explores the complexity of various influences on racial identity. In this model I identify previous models of racial identity formation for biracial individuals and expand these models to include dynamics of this process that are neglected. This new model will elaborate on existing models of racial identity development, and will stress the two factors I believe influence the racial identity formation process most: an individual’s appearance and the neighborhood’s tolerance of a biracial identity. The model suggests that these two factors, along with other factors, contribute to biracial individuals choosing a black, white, or biracial identity, developing a marginal identity, fluctuating between a singular or biracial identity circumstantially, or an individual choosing not to adopt a racial identity at all. This work also attempts to add to the body of literature on biracial identity by explicitly identifying the ways in which culture and racial identity diverge in the black/white racial population.

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