Social Construction of Ethnicity Versus Personal Experience: The Case of Afro-Amerasians

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2012-04-28 20:56Z by Steven

Social Construction of Ethnicity Versus Personal Experience: The Case of Afro-Amerasians

Journal of Comparative Family Studies
Volume 29, Issue 2 (Summer 1998)
pages 255-267

Teresa Kay Williams

Michael C. Thornton, Professor of Afro-American Studies
University of Wisconsin, Madison

The article focuses on the existence of ethnic group differences in the U.S. and how the subgroup of Black Americans, Afro-Amerasians, situate themselves in an environment that attempts to place them within established racial boundaries. Afro-Amerasians are estranged between two forces: the contrasting push of society to identify them as only Black, and the pull of their own personal and unique experience. However, instead of succumbing to these forces, these groups developed a different kind of Black identity which incorporates other parts of their heritage. They choose to situate themselves on the traditional boundaries of racial groups rather than deny important parts of who they are; thus, they choose to be marginal. They grew up in environment where they had ample opportunity to develop. These people tried to make sense of their experiences as radicalized peoples. Their struggles with personal and social accepts of identity provide sociological insight into understanding the complexities and contradictions of race and their ever-changing meanings and applications.

There are two significant contributors to ethnicity or racial group identity: a thread of historical experience that is shared by each member of the collectivity, and a sense of potency/strength inherent in the group (see Phinney, 1990). In social science research, racial identity, ostensibly feelings toward the group, is rarely examined with explicit measures of group feelings. Usually, a racial label is correlated to psychosocial development of group members. In this regard, racial group membership – and not actual experience – is normally featured.

 Thus, race is often used as a proxy for experience and attitudes, a practice embedded in premises of social science literature (Wilkinson, 1984). Deterministic views of race ignore important variations in how subgroups of Blacks relate to the larger group and to one another. Perhaps no experience better exposes the contradictions regarding how we view race in America than that of racially mixed individuals and, in particular, those with African heritage (Bonacich, 1991; King and DaCosta, 1995; Root, 1992).

Although a rare occurrence, interracial ties draw much attention because they encapsulate unresolved feelings and attitudes about race (Thomton and Wason, 1995). In a society racially stratified, where races are seen to be distinct, racial mixing has always been considered problematic (Spickard, 1992). Interracial populations muddy the dualistic view of race (i.e., that each of us is one or another race) and epitomize the inadequacies of this ideology; they lead us to question basic assumptions of how racial life is organized. In this article, we elaborate on this point by examining what would normally be considered a subgroup of Black Americans. We explore how Afro-Amerasians situate themselves in an environment that attempts to place them within established racial boundaries.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Black Group Identity

Work on Black group identity is not easy to characterize, in part because of relatively limited research on this issue, especially that which examines ethnic group differences (Porter and Washington, 1993). Typically, analysis highlights the influence of social class on identity (e.g., Landry, 1987; Farley, 1984). Some inquiry suggests that class is only a part of the puzzle. Broman et al. (1988) reveal that older, less-educated respondents in urban areas and highly-educated Blacks living outside the West were most likely to feel close to other Blacks. Gurin et al. (1989) show that identity, defined as common fate and as more Black than American, was not simply related to class. Males and those of upper-class status were more likely to feel a common fate with Blacks. Younger Blacks and those who did not work full-time were also more likely to feel more Black than American.

Usually, these studies implicitly assume that group identity is a globally positive (or negative) feeling toward a homogeneous racial referent (Allen et al., 1989). This view fails to recognize that subgroups of Blacks have attitudes about various groups within the racial category (e.g., poor versus middle-class Blacks). It is also common, within this perspective, to treat Blacks as having assimilated and thus not see identity as an alternate cultural experience (Porter and Washington, 1993). These assumptions result in an approach that rarely sees group attitudes as an admixture of positive and negative feelings. This approach does not allow for the possibility that group attitudes may involve an affinity with some aspects of subgroups within the racial category, even while coupled with attempts to disassociate from others (McAdoo, 1985; Jackson et al., 1988; Cross, 1991).

However, an ambiguity toward the racial group might be expected for minorities who contend with negative images of their group permeating society. Some emerging works identify several reference groups within the overarching racial category. Allen et al. (1989) describe identity as containing two important referents: masses (non-mainstream) and elites (mainstream). They suggest that within the racial category is an array of boundaries and identities prioritized in a variety of ways. For example, case studies show that native Black Americans distance themselves from Black Haitians (Stafford, 1985).

Multiracial Identity

Blacks will have different views of Blackness depending on where they are positioned in the social hierarchy. The position we consider here is mixed racial heritage. Historically, this category was simple. Mixed race referred to Black-White offspring who were part of a two-tiered system: Whites and Blacks, with racially mixed people viewed as improved versions of Blacks. Changes in the racial composition of the United States have been the catalyst of emerging work accenting race relations as inclusive …

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The Multiracial Experience: Racial Borders as the New Frontier

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Census/Demographics, Gay & Lesbian, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, Teaching Resources on 2009-12-30 17:59Z by Steven

The Multiracial Experience: Racial Borders as the New Frontier

SAGE Publications
1995
512 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780803970595

Edited by Maria P. P. Root

In her bold new edited volume, The Multiracial Experience, Maria P. P. Root challenges current theoretical and political conceptualizations of race by examining the experience of mixed-race individuals. Articulating questions that will form the basis for future discussions of race and identity, the contributors tackle concepts such as redefining ethnicity when race is less central to the definition and how a multiracial model might dismantle our negative construction of race. Researchers and practitioners in ethnic studies, anthropology, education, law, psychology, nursing, social work, and sociology add personal insights in chapter-opening vignettes while providing integral critical viewpoints. Sure to stimulate thinking and discussion, the contributors focus on the most contemporary racial issues, including the racial classification system from the U.S. Census to the schools; the differences between race, ethnicity, and colorism; gender and sexuality in a multicultural context; ethnic identity and identity formation; transracial adoption; and the future of race relations in the United States. The Multiracial Experience opens up the dialogue to rethink and redefine race and social relations in this country. This volume provides discussions key to all professionals, practitioners, researchers, and students in multicultural issues, ethnic relations, sociology, education, psychology, management, and public health.

Table of Contents

The Multiracial Experience: Racial Borders as a Significant Frontier in Race Relations – Maria P. P. Root

PART ONE: HUMAN RIGHTS

  • A Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People –  Maria P. P. Root
  • Government Classification of Multiracial/Multiethnic People – Carlos A. Fernandez
  • The Real World – Susan R. Graham
  • Multiracial Identity in a Color-Conscious World – Deborah A. Ramirez
  • Transracial Adoptions: In Whose Best Interest? – Ruth G. McRoy and Christine C. Iijima Hall
  • Voices from the Movement: Approaches to Multiraciality – Cynthia L. Nakashima

PART TWO: IDENTITY

  • Hidden Agendas, Identity Theories, and Multiracial People –  Michael C. Thornton
  • Black and White Identity in the New Millenium: Unsevering the Ties That Bind – G. Reginald Daniel
  • On Being and Not-Being Black and Jewish – Naomi Zack
  • An `Other’ Way of Life: The Empowerment of Alterity in the Interracial Individual – Jan R. Weisman

PART THREE: BLENDING AND FLEXIBILITY

  • LatiNegra Lillian: Mental Health Issues of African –  Lillian Comas-Diaz
  • Race as Process: Reassessing the `What Are You?’ Encounters of Biracial Individuals – Teresa Kay Williams
  • Piecing Together the Puzzle: Self-Concept and Group Identity in Biracial Black/White Youth – Lynda D. Field
  • Changing Face, Changing Race: The Remaking of Race in the Japanese American and African American Communities – Rebecca Chiyoko King and Kimberly McClain DaCosta
  • Without a Template: The Biracial Korean/White Experience – Brian Chol Soo Standen

PART FOUR: GENDER AND SEXUAL IDENTITY

  • In the Margins of Sex and Race: Difference, Marginality, and Flexibility – George Kitahara Kich
  • (Un)Natural Boundaries: Mixed Race, Gender, and Sexuality – Karen Maeda Allman
  • Heterosexual Alliances: The Romantic Management of Racial Identity-  Francine Winddance Twine
  • Ambiguous Bodies: Locating Black/White Women in Cultural Representations – Caroline A. Streeter

PART FIVE: MULTICULTURAL EDUCATION

  • Making the Invisible Visible: The Growth of Community Network Organizations – Nancy G. Brown and Ramona E. Douglass
  • Challenging Race and Racism: A Framework for Educators – Ronald David Glass and Kendra R. Wallace
  • Being Different Together in the University Classroom: Multiracial Identity as Transgressive Education – Teresa Kay Williams et al
  • Multicultural Education – Francis Wardle

PART SIX: THE NEW MILLENIUM

  • 2001: A Race Odyssey – Christine C. Iijima Hall
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Racial Thinking in the United States: Uncompleted Independence

Posted in Anthologies, Books, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2009-10-28 03:12Z by Steven

Racial Thinking in the United States: Uncompleted Independence

University of Notre Dame Press
2004
376 pages
Cloth ISBN 10: 0-268-04103-2
Cloth ISBN 13: 978-0-268-04103-8
Paper ISBN 10: 0-268-04104-0
Paper ISBN 13: 978-0-268-04104-5

Edited by:

Paul Spickard, Professor of 20th Century U.S. Social and Cultural History
University of California, Santa Barbara

G. Reginald Daniel, Professor of Sociology
University of California at Santa Barbara

Racial Thinking in the United States is a comprehensive reassessment of the ideas that Americans have had about race. This useful book draws on the skills and perspectives of nine scholars from the fields of history, sociology, theology, American studies, and ethnic studies. In thirteen carefully crafted essays they tell the history of the American system of racial domination and of twentieth-century challenges to that racial hierarchy, from monoracial movements to the multiracial movement.

The collection begins with an introduction to how Americans have thought about race, ethnicity, and colonialism. The first section of the book describes the founding of racial thinking in the United States along the racial binary of Black and White, and compares that system to the quite different system that developed in Jamaica. Section two describes anomalies in the racial binary, such as the experiences of people of mixed race, and of states such as Texas, California, and Hawai`i, where large groups of non-Black and White racial groups co-exist. Part three analyzes five monoracial challenges to racial hierarchy: the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, the Chicana/o movement, the Asian American movement, Afrocentricity, and the White studies movement. Part four explores the multiracial movement which developed in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, and assesses whether it constitutes a successful challenge to racial hierarchy and binary racial thinking.

Racial Thinking in the United States provides excellent summaries of historical events and cultural movements, as well as analysis and criticism. It will be a welcome text for undergraduate courses in ethnic studies and American history.

Contributors: Paul Spickard, G. Reginald Daniel, Stephen A. Small, Hanna Wallinger, Lori Anne Pierce, Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval, William Wei, Michael C. Thornton, and Zipporah G. Glass.

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The Sum of Our Parts: Mixed-Heritage Asian Americans

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Books, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2009-10-15 20:55Z by Steven

The Sum of Our Parts: Mixed-Heritage Asian Americans

Temple University Press
June 2001
296 pages
7×10
2 tables 4 figures 3 halftones
paper: EAN: 978-1-56639-847-3 (ISBN: 1-56639-847-9)

edited by Teresa Williams-LeĂłn and Cynthia L. Nakashima, foreword by Michael Omi

Largely as a result of multiracial activism, the US Census for 2000 offers people the unprecedented opportunity to officially identify themselves with more than one racial group. Among Asian-heritage people in this country and elsewhere, racial and ethnic mixing has a long but unacknowledged history. According to the last US Census, nearly one-third of all interracial marriages included an Asian-descent spouse, and intermarriage rates are accelerating. This unique collection of essays focuses on the construction of identity among people of Asian descent who claim multiple heritages.

In the U.S., discussions of race generally center on matters of black and white; mixed heritage Asian Americans usually figure in conversations about race as an undifferentiated ethnic group or as exotic Eurasians. The contributors to this book disrupt the standard discussions by considering people of mixed Asian ethnicities. They also pay particular attention to non-white multiracial identities to decenter whiteness and reflect the experience of individuals or communities who are considered a minority within a minority. With an entire section devoted to the Asian diaspora, The Sum of Our Parts suggests that questions of multiracial and multiethnic identity are surfacing around the globe. This timely and provocative collection articulates them for social scientists and students.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword – Michael Omi
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Reconfiguring Race, Rearticulating Ethnicity – Teresa Williams-LeĂłn and Cynthia L. Nakashima
  • Part I: Multiraciality and Asian America: Bridging the Hybrid Past to the Multiracial Present
    • 1. Who Is an Asian? Who Is a Pacific Islander? Monoracialism, Multiracial People, and Asian American Communities – Paul Spickard
    • 2. Possibilities of a Multiracial Asian America – Yen Le Espiritu
    • 3. Servants of Culture: The Symbolic Role of Mixed-Race Asians in American Discourse – Cynthia L. Nakashima
    • 4. “The Coming of the Neo-Hawaiian American Race”: Nationalism and Metaphors of the Melting Pot in Popular Accounts of Mixed-Race Individuals – John Chock Rosa
  • Part II: Navigating Sociocultural Terrains of Family and Identity
    • 5. Factors Influencing the Variation in Racial and Ethnic Identity of Mixed-Heritage Persons of Asian Ancestry – Maria P. P. Root
    • 6. Alaska’s Multiracial Asian American Families: Not Just at the Margins – Curtiss Takada Rooks
    • 7. The Diversity of Biracial Individuals: Asian-White and Asian-Minority Biracial Identity – Christine C. Iikima Hall and Trude I. Cooke Turner
    • 8. Black, Japanese, and American: An Asian American Identity Yesterday and Today – Michael C. Thornton and Harold Gates
  • Part III: Remapping Political Landscapes and Communities
    • 9. A Rose by Any Other Name: Names, Multiracial/Multiethnic People, and the Politics of Identity – Daniel A. Nakashima
    • 10. Multiracial Comedy as a Commodity in Hawaii – Darby Li Po Price
    • 11. Doing the Mixed-Race Dance: Negotiating Social Spaces Within the Multiracial Vietnamese American Class Typology – Kieu Linh Caroline Valverde
    • 12. The Convergence of Passing Zones: Multiracial Gays, Lesbians, and Bisexuals of Asian Descent – Teresa Williams-LeĂłn
    • 13. Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall: Mapping Discussions of Feminism, Race, and Beauty in Japanese American Beauty Pageants – Rebecca Chiyoko King
    • 14. Mixed but Not Matched: Multiracial People and the Organization of Health Knowledge – Cathy J. Tashiro
  • Part IV: Asian-Descent Multiraciality in Global Perspective
    • 15. “We Paved the Way”: Exemplary Spaces and Mixed Race in Britain – David Parker
    • 16. A Dutch Eurasian Revival? – Mark Taylor Brinsfield
    • 17. Multiethnic Lives and Monoethnic Myths: American-Japanese Amerasians in Japan – Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu
    • 18. The Racial Politics of Being Dogla and of “Asian” Descent in Suriname – Loraine Y. Van Tuyl
    • 19. The Tiger and His Stripes: Thai and American Reactions to Tiger Woods’s (Multi-) “Racial Self” – Loraine Y. Van Tuyl
  • Bibliography
  • About the Contributors
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Racially Mixed People in America

Posted in Anthologies, Autobiography, Books, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2009-10-14 00:31Z by Steven

Racially Mixed People in America

SAGE Publications, Inc.
1992
400 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780803941021

Edited by Maria P. P. Root

Recipient of the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in the United States 1993 Outstanding Book Award.

America has been the breeding ground of a “biracial baby boom” for the past 25 years. Unfortunately, there has been a dearth of information regarding how racially mixed people identify and view themselves and how they relate to one another. Racially Mixed People in America steadily bridges this gap and offers a comprehensive look at the social and psychological adjustment of mixed-race people, models for identity development, contemporary immigration and marriage patterns, and methodological issues involved in conducting research with mixed-race people, all in the context of America’s mixed race past and present. Including contributions by ethnohistorians, psychologists, and sociologists, this powerful volume will provide the reader a tool for examining ideologies surrounding race, race relations, and the role of social science in the deconstruction of race. Racially Mixed People in America is essential reading for researchers and practitioners in cross-cultural studies, psychology, family studies, sociology, and social work.

Table of Contents

  • PART ONE: RACIAL ECOLOGY
    • Within, Between, and Beyond Race — Maria P. P. Root
    • The Illogic of American Racial CategoriesPaul R. Spickard
    • The Human Ecology of Multiracial Identity — Robin L. Miller
    • Developmental Pathways — Deborah J. Johnson
    • Toward an Ecological Theoretical Formulation of Race Identity in Black/White Biracial Children
    • Mixed Heritage Individuals — Cookie White Stephan
    • Ethnic Identity and Trait Characteristics
    • The Quiet Immigration — Michael C. Thornton
    • Foreign Spouses of US Citizens, 1945-1985
    • Beauty and the Beast — Carla K. Bradshaw
    • On Racial Ambiguity
  • PART TWO: RECOVERING THE MULTIRACIAL PAST
    • Passers and Pluralists G. Reginald Daniel
    • Subverting the Racial Divide
    • Blood Quantum — Terry P. Wilson
    • Native American Mixed Bloods
    • La Raza and the Melting Pot — Carlos A. Fernandez
    • A Comparative Look at Multiethnicity
    • From Dust to Gold Kieu — Linh Caroline Valverde
    • The Vietnamese Amerasian Experience
    • An Invisible Monster — Cynthia L. Nakashima
    • The Creation and Denial of Mixed Race People in America
  • PART THREE: WHAT OF THE CHILDREN
    • Back to the Drawing Board Maria P. P. Root
    • Methodological Issues in Research on Multiracial People
    • Identity Development in Biracial Children — James H. Jacobs
    • Between a Rock and a Hard Place — Ana Mari Cauce et al
    • Social Adjustment of Biracial Youth
    • Negotiating Ethnic Identity — Jewelle Taylor Gibbs and Alice M. Hines
    • Issues for Black/White Biracial Adolescents
    • Offspring of Cross-Race and Cross-Ethnic Marriages in Hawaii — Ronald C. Johnson
    • Please Choose One — Christine C. Iijima Hall
    • Ethnic Identity Choices for Biracial Individuals
    • Interracial Japanese Americans — Amy Iwasaki Mass
    • The Best of Both Worlds or the End of the Japanese American Community?
    • Prism Lives Teresa — Kay Williams
    • Identity of Binational Amerasians
    • The Developmental Process of Asserting a Biracial, Bicultural Identity — George Kitahara Kich
  • PART FOUR: CHALLENGING THE CENSUS
    • Is Multiracial Status Unique? The Personal and Social Experience — Michael C. Thornton
    • Coloring Outside the Lines — Christine C. Iijima Hall
    • Multicultural Identity and the Death of Stereotypes — Philip Tajitsu Nash
    • Beyond Black and White — G. Reginald Daniel
    • The New Multiracial Consciousness
    • From Shortcuts to Solutions — Maria P. P. Root
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Policing the Borderlands: White- and Black-American Newspaper Perceptions of Multiracial Heritage and the Idea of Race, 1996–2006

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2009-08-22 03:32Z by Steven

Policing the Borderlands: White- and Black-American Newspaper Perceptions of Multiracial Heritage and the Idea of Race, 1996–2006

Journal of Social Issues
Volume 65, Number 1 (March 2009)
pages 105-127
DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.2008.01590.x

Michael C. Thornton
University of Wisconsin-Madison

By employing a new policy of “check all that apply,” the Census Bureau accommodated a mushrooming multiracial lobby demanding that its members be allowed a right to self-identification. With its implied shifting meaning of race, newspapers portrayed the reaction to this change as a firestorm of debate along racial fault lines, highlighted by Black-American inferences that this was a perilous decision. Using textual analysis, I examine from 1996 to 2006 how five Black-American and three White-American newspapers characterized multiracial people. White-American papers framed the discussion in two ways: (a) multiracial people epitomize a new era in which race has lost its bite, and (b) Black America stands in the way of their gaining their civil rights.  There were also two frames for the Black-American papers: (a) The lobby advocates individual identity and is undergirded by denial or distancing from Blackness, and (b) that focus undermines Black America’s future by playing into the misguided notion that race is socially insignificant.

Read or purchase the entire article here.

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