Catholic University of America
A DISSERTATION Submitted to the faculty of the National Catholic School of Social Service of The Catholic University of America
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree Doctor of Philosophy
This study explored the development of healthy racial identity in multiracial young adults. The design of the study was qualitative with a constructivist epistemology, and data were analyzed via the grounded theory methods of constant comparative analysis. The conceptual frameworks grounding the study were Symbolic Interaction theory, identity theory, and racial identity theory. The sample of 15 participants was drawn from a larger non-random purposive sample by their scoring in the “ethnic identity achieved” range on the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM). The researcher engaged the participants in one to two hour face-to-face semi structured interviews in which she explored their lived experiences to understand their perspectives of the process of developing a healthy multiracial identity and to understand their ability to border cross. Border crossings are strategies used by individuals in their daily interactions with others and within the environment of multiple groups. They include having the ability to carry multiple racial and or ethnic perspectives simultaneously, and being able to shift one’s racial identity with regards to the situational context or the environment (Miville et al., 2005; Root, 1996). From the analysis of the interview data 119 categories emerged that were collapsed into eight subcategories and ultimately three core categories. From the core categories, three themes emerged: (1) an early supportive environment provided a stable foundation that allowed participants the opportunity to figure out who they are; (2) a strong multiracial identity was facilitated through the frequent challenge in growing up of the ubiquitous question from others, “What are you?”; and, (3) Those with a healthy multiracial identity have developed the capacity to travel with ease across the borders of different racial, ethnic, and cultural groups of people. Participants appreciated and integrated their racial heritages. They embraced the uniqueness of being multiracial, continued to explore their racial identity, and as a result developed a whole and integrated healthy multiracial identity.
Read the entire dissertation here.Tags: Catholic University of America, Lisa Sechrest-Ehrhardt