Meghan Markle Is ‘Changing Discussions About What It Means to Be Biracial in America’

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Social Science, United Kingdom, United States on 2018-05-19 21:28Z by Steven

Meghan Markle Is ‘Changing Discussions About What It Means to Be Biracial in America’

PEOPLE
2018-05-19

Breanne L. Heldman, Senior Editor


Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Meghan Markle didn’t just become the Duchess of Sussex on Saturday when she married Prince Harry in a gorgeous ceremony at St. George’s Church in Windsor Castle. She also became an important cultural icon of positive change in race relations around the world.

“The U.K. has one of the fastest-growing mixed-race populations in the world,” notes Dr. Sarah E. Gaither, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University who also runs the Duke Identity and Diversity Lab. “To the biracial community, she’s really serving as a symbol of this changing demographic that Britain is facing in addition to the United States.”

“Meghan and Harry’s marriage is really significant because the British monarchy has always been viewed as so, so white,” DaVette See, correspondent for Black Girl Nerds, tells PEOPLE. “Now, they will be seen as more a part of a multicultural world.”.

“Being a biracial American, I didn’t grow up with a lot of biracial exemplars in mainstream media or the books I read,” says Gaither, “so Meghan Markle is really an inspiration for a lot of women of color, a lot of girls of color across the United States in showing that you can help change the historical ties. You can start changing discussions about what it means to be biracial and what it means to be black in America and, now in Britain as well.”…

Read the entire article here.

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I am the “Rashida Jones” version of biracial. I have white skin and dark brown, wavy hair — people always assume I’m white.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-05-18 18:20Z by Steven

I am the “Rashida Jones” version of biracial. I have white skin and dark brown, wavy hair — people always assume I’m white. Mariah Carey, who has a white mother and a black, Venezuelan father, was the only white-looking biracial person I knew of growing up. She was the biracial role model I needed, and I often thought of her when I struggled with the constant denial and questioning I faced whenever I told someone I was part black.

Sarah E. Gaither, “I study biracial identity in America. Here’s why Meghan Markle is a big deal.Vox, May 18, 2018. https://www.vox.com/first-person/2018/5/14/17345162/meghan-markle-royal-wedding-2018-race.

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I study biracial identity in America. Here’s why Meghan Markle is a big deal.

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2018-05-14 20:24Z by Steven

I study biracial identity in America. Here’s why Meghan Markle is a big deal.

Vox
2018-05-14

Sarah E. Gaither, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Duke University


Photos: Getty Images. Photo illustration: Christina Animashaun/Vox

Biracial representation is sorely needed in a country with a fraught relationship with mixed-race people.

Growing up in the late ’80s as a biracial girl, I never had a mixed-race princess whose image I could sport on my backpack or my lunchbox. There was little to no representation of my identity — almost no characters in movies or television shows, no musicians or celebrities who identified as mixed-race.

For today’s biracial youth, Meghan Markle, the actress who is marrying into the British royal family — and who has defined herself publicly as “a strong, confident mixed-race woman” — represents the biracial role model I didn’t have growing up.

My mother is white and my father is black, and as a social psychologist, I research mixed-race identity and perceptions of biracial people for a living. The history of biracial couplings and children in our country is fraught: The “one drop” rule that categorized people with any African ancestry as “colored” was legally codified in a couple of states in the early 1900s. Interracial marriage was illegal in some states starting in 1664 until 1967 with the famous Loving v. Virginia case, and it wasn’t until the year 2000 when the option to “check all that may apply” for race appeared on the census…

Read the entire article here.

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She’s Biracial, And It’s Not A Secret: Meet Duke Psychologist Sarah Gaither

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2018-02-21 23:49Z by Steven

She’s Biracial, And It’s Not A Secret: Meet Duke Psychologist Sarah Gaither

The State of Things
WUNC, North Carolina Public Radio
2018-02-19

Amanda Magnus, Producer

Frank Stasio, Host


Sarah Gaither is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke, and a leading researcher in the field of biracial identity.
Courtesy of Sarah Gaither

Multiracial people are the fastest growing demographic group in the country. The U.S. Census Bureau projects the nation’s multiracial population will triple by 2060, but not much research has been done on this group. Sarah Gaither is hoping to change that. She’s an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, and she is also a biracial woman.

Listen to the interview (00:47:45) here.

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What You’ll Never Understand About Being Biracial

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-02-15 01:37Z by Steven

What You’ll Never Understand About Being Biracial

Marie Claire
2018-02-05

Brianna Moné


Courtesy from left: Samantha Ferguson, Sarah Heikkinen, Kayla Boyd

Black people don’t have freckles.”

Those were the words that reverberated through Samantha Ferguson’s middle school–aged head after telling a boy at school that she was half-black and half-white. Classmates, confused by her appearance, had been hounding her with questions like, “What are you?”

Before middle school, Ferguson didn’t think she was different from other children. But, she says, the students at her predominately-white school, “dressed a certain way, looked a certain way, their hair was straight. My skin is not dark, but it’s a different tone, which made me stand out.”

Like all middle-schoolers Ferguson had crushes and wanted to be popular. “I could never be popular, though, because I didn’t look like everyone else. Boys didn’t have crushes on me because my hair was frizzy and I had freckles.”

It was the first time she realized that people are different colors—and receive different treatment because of that. “I didn’t know if I should tell my classmates I’m white, or if I should tell them that I’m black.” She didn’t know where she fit in. She didn’t know how to identify herself.

“Identity is understanding who we are in the world,” says Kerry Ann Rockquemore, co-author of Beyond Black: Biracial Identity in America. “Part of that is how others understand us, and the other part is how we understand ourselves.”

For many biracial people, that understanding can be both elusive and arbitrary. From checking boxes on forms to fulfilling quotas, race is used to define and control so many aspects of everyday life. And biracial people are constantly faced with a choice…

“It really upset me. I’m a human being,” recalls Ferguson, now 24, a third-grade teacher in Glen Burnie, Maryland. “I wanted to ask them, ‘What are you?’” …

…“We have an expectation in society of what a black person should look like, or what a white person should look like,” says Sarah Gaither, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University. “And if you don’t look like that, that’s disruptful.”

Gaither, who is biracial, says she’s treated like a “party game:” “‘Guess what race she is. I bet you’ll never guess,’ they say. I don’t match anyone’s expectations.”…

Read the entire article here.

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How do people with multiracial (or multicultural) backgrounds navigate their social identity?

Posted in Audio, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2017-03-30 16:48Z by Steven

How do people with multiracial (or multicultural) backgrounds navigate their social identity?

who cares? what’s the point?
Season 2, Episode 6
2017-03-27

Sarb Johal, Host

In this episode, I talk with Dr. Sarah Gaither, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University in the USA. In this conversation, we focus on Sarah’s work on understanding multiracial identities and the costs and benefits of navigating that social terrain.

The paper we talk about in this week’s show is, ““Mixed” Results: Multiracial Research and Identity Explorations”.

Here is the abstract for some context:

Multiracial individuals report that the social pressure of having to “choose” one of their racial groups is a primary source of psychological conflict. Yet because of their ability to maneuver among their multiple identities, multiracials also adopt flexible cognitive strategies in dealing with their social environments—demonstrating a benefit to having multiple racial identities. The current article reviews recent research involving multiracial participants to examine the behavioral and cognitive outcomes linked to being multiracial and pinpoints possible moderators that may affect these outcomes. Limitations in applying monoracial identity frameworks to multiracial populations are also discussed…

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How Biracial Identity Affects Behavior

Posted in Audio, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2017-03-22 15:07Z by Steven

How Biracial Identity Affects Behavior

The State of Things
WUNC 91.5, North Carolina Public Radio
2017-03-21

Charlie Shelton, Producer

Phoebe Judge, Host/Reporter


Sarah Gaither is an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University
Credit Duke University

Guest host Phoebe Judge talks with psychology and neuroscience professor Sarah Gaither about biracial identity and behavior.

Sarah Gaither is interested in how growing up with multiple racial identities shapes one’s social perceptions and behaviors.

Gaither is an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, and her work explores how racial and gender diversity can facilitate positive relationships within different social circles…

Listen to the interview (00:17:29) here.

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What Biracial People Know

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Justice on 2017-03-05 23:12Z by Steven

What Biracial People Know

Sunday Review
The New York Times
2017-03-04

Moises Velasquez-Manoff


Lynnie Z.

After the nation’s first black president, we now have a white president with the whitest and malest cabinet since Ronald Reagan’s. His administration immediately made it a priority to deport undocumented immigrants and to deny people from certain Muslim-majority nations entry into the United States, decisions that caused tremendous blowback.

What President Trump doesn’t seem to have considered is that diversity doesn’t just sound nice, it has tangible value. Social scientists find that homogeneous groups like his cabinet can be less creative and insightful than diverse ones. They are more prone to groupthink and less likely to question faulty assumptions.

What’s true of groups is also true for individuals. A small but growing body of research suggests that multiracial people are more open-minded and creative. Here, it’s worth remembering that Barack Obama, son of a Kenyan father and a white Kansan mother, wasn’t only the nation’s first black president, he was also its first biracial president. His multitudinous self was, I like to think, part of what made him great — part of what inspired him when he proclaimed that there wasn’t a red or blue America, but a United States of America.

As a multiethnic person myself — the son of a Jewish dad of Eastern European descent and a Puerto Rican mom — I can attest that being mixed makes it harder to fall back on the tribal identities that have guided so much of human history, and that are now resurgent. Your background pushes you to construct a worldview that transcends the tribal…

…Consider this: By 3 months of age, biracial infants recognize faces more quickly than their monoracial peers, suggesting that their facial perception abilities are more developed. Kristin Pauker, a psychologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and one of the researchers who performed this study, likens this flexibility to bilingualism…

Early on, infants who hear only Japanese, say, will lose the ability to distinguish L’s from R’s. But if they also hear English, they’ll continue to hear the sounds as separate. So it is with recognizing faces, Dr. Pauker says. Kids naturally learn to recognize kin from non-kin, in-group from out-group. But because they’re exposed to more human variation, the in-group for multiracial children seems to be larger.

This may pay off in important ways later. In a 2015 study, Sarah Gaither, an assistant professor at Duke, found that when she reminded multiracial participants of their mixed heritage, they scored higher in a series of word association games and other tests that measure creative problem solving. When she reminded monoracial people about their heritage, however, their performance didn’t improve. Somehow, having multiple selves enhanced mental flexibility…

Read the entire article here.

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Priming White identity elicits stereotype boost for biracial Black-White individuals

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2015-09-23 18:46Z by Steven

Priming White identity elicits stereotype boost for biracial Black-White individuals

Group Processes Intergroup Relations
Volume 18, Number 6 (November 2015)
pages 778-787
DOI: 10.1177/1368430215570504

Sarah E. Gaither, Provost’s Career Enhancement Postdoctoral Scholar
University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Jessica D. Remedios, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts

Jennifer R. Schultz
Department of Psychology
Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts

Samuel R. Sommers, Associate Professor of Psychology
Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts

Psychological threat experienced by students of negatively stereotyped groups impairs test performance. However, stereotype boost can also occur if a positively stereotyped identity is made salient. Biracial individuals, whose racial identities may be associated with both negative and positive testing abilities, have not been examined in this context. Sixty-four biracial Black-White individuals wrote about either their Black or White identity or a neutral topic and completed a verbal Graduate Record Examination (GRE) examination described as diagnostic of their abilities. White-primed participants performed significantly better than both Black-primed and control participants. Thus, biracial Black-White individuals experience stereotype boost only when their White identity is made salient.

Read or purchase the article here.

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The Psychological Advantages of Strongly Identifying As Biracial

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2015-05-24 18:38Z by Steven

The Psychological Advantages of Strongly Identifying As Biracial

New York Magazine
2015-05-22

Lisa Miller

As I reported in the most recent issue of New York, a new program at an elite private school in New York aims to combat racism by dividing young children, some as young as 8 years old, into “affinity groups” according to their race. The program has been controversial among parents, many of whom believe it is their job, and not the school’s, to impart racial identity to their kids. This feeling is particularly strong among parents who have multi-racial kids. Their identities, many of them say, don’t fit into any established racial category but instead live on the frontier of race.

These sorts of questions about racial identity are only going to become more prominent given ongoing demographic changes in the United States. Multi-racial births are soaring — to 7 percent of all births in the U.S., according to the last Census — a result of more inter-racial coupling and also a broader cultural acceptance of the tag “multi-racial.” (Only as recently as 2000 did the Census even offer a “multi-racial” category — for hundreds of years, stigma has compelled multi-racial people to choose one or the other of their parents’ racial identities, both on government forms and in society.).

But even as multi-racial people take prominent and visible places in all the nation’s hierarchies — golf, pop music, cinema, finance, and, of course, in the executive branch of the United States government — very little psychological research has been done on what it means to have a multi-racial identity, and how that identity is different from having a “mono-racial” one. Now a new literature review, published in Current Directions in Psychological Science by Sarah Gaither, a post-doc at the University of Chicago (who is herself biracial), assesses the psychological landscape of multi-racial identity and points to new directions for research.

Here are some of the key findings:…

Read the entire article here.

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