“What is black, white and yellow all over?”: An analysis of the racial experiences of people of Asian/white and Asian/black heritage

“What is black, white and yellow all over?”: An analysis of the racial experiences of people of Asian/white and Asian/black heritage

University of Southern California
May 2007
208 pages

Bruce Calvin Hoskins

Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Southern California In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Sociology)

It has been argued that the increase of people of multiracial heritage in our society represents the fulfillment of the assimilation process. People of Asian/white and Asian/black heritage have been singled out in multiple works as posing a direct challenge to how race is understood in the United States and that this group’s assertion of their multiracial identity will ultimately lead to a raceless society (Williams-Leon and Nakashima 2001; Root 1996; Hollinger 1995; Root 1992). Therefore, this research uses in-depth interviews of thirty-two (32) people of Asian/white and Asian/black heritage and six (6) sets of interracial Asian and white and Asian and black parents to critically analyze to what degree their lived experiences are consistent with a society that has assimilated people of different racial categories.

In order to determine levels of assimilation for these groups, this research will use a racial formations framework to examine how racial categories are constructed through “racial logic” and how race is given meaning within the lives of multiracial people and through parents of multiracial children. This will be done by showing situations where society will ascribe a race onto a person of multiracial heritage, how the person of multiracial heritage will use their “biology” to support or refute these claims, and how that same multiracial person might develop a racial identity that may or may not be consistent with how they look or their actual racial heritage.

Demonstrating how race is socially constructed will reveal how being mixed with white is fundamentally different than being mixed with black. This will be shown by demonstrating that Asian/white people have more identity options than Asian/black people, how families socially enforce to their children which races are considered acceptable marriage partners, and how society uses a universal anti-black context to discriminate against people of Asian/black heritage.

Table of Contents

  • Dedication
  • Abstract
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2
    • Literature Review
    • Chapter Endnotes
  • Chapter 3
    • Methodology
    • Chapter Endnotes
  • Chapter 4: “What Are You?”
    • How Multiracial People Construct an Internal Racial Identity
    • Chapter Endnotes
  • Chapter 5: “What are you?” Part II
    • The creation of external and expressed racial identity
  • Chapter 6: “Can’t We All Just Get Along?”
    • The External Context of Racial Identity Formation
  • Chapter 7: All in the Family
    • Learning Racial Hierarchy from the Ones You Love
    • Chapter Endnotes
  • Chapter 8: Conclusions
    • From the Beginning to the End then Back to the Beginning
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices
    • Appendix A: Questions for Multiracial Person
    • Appendix B: Questions for Interracial Parents

Read the entire dissertation here.

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