Who’s White? Who’s Black? Who Knows?

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2010-12-13 22:29Z by Steven

Who’s White? Who’s Black? Who Knows?

Time Magazine: Healthland
Friday, 2010-12-10

Jeffrey Kluger, Senior Editor

Never mind what you’ve heard. Halle Berry was not the first black woman to win an Academy Award for Best Actress. She was actually the 74th white one. And never mind all this talk about America electing its first black President;  Barack Obama is actually the 44th white man to hold the job.

That, at any rate, is as fair a conclusion as any, given that Berry and Obama and millions like them are the products of one black parent and one white one. And yet it’s a conclusion that almost no one ever reaches. Part-black generally means all-black in Americans’ minds. Just as part-Asian or part-Hispanic or part-anything-else usually puts individuals in those minority-groups’ camps. Such a curious bias is as old as the nation itself, and a new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology illustrates just how stubborn it is—and suggests just what may be behind it.

It was in 1662 that the colony of Virginia first tried to codify the legal definition of people whose racial pedigree was less than completely pure. To make things simple in a land in which plantation owners were already taking sexual liberties with their slaves, the lawmakers established what they called the “one-drop” rule—also known as hypodescent—declaring that any person with mixed blood who resulted from such a pairing would be assigned the race of the nonwhite parent…

…But this much can be said for the folks who wrote such nasty rules: They may have been no better than most other Americans, but they were no worse either, at least in their tendency to apply the hypodescent rule in their own minds, often unconcsiously. To test how this phenomenon applies today, a team of Harvard University psychologists led by Ph.D. student Arnold K. Ho gathered a sample group of black, white and Asian volunteers and showed them computer-generated images of individuals designed to look either black-white or Asian-white. They also showed them family trees that depicted various degrees of racial commingling…

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Study Looks at Biracial Assignment

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, New Media, Social Science, United States on 2010-12-13 21:24Z by Steven

Study Looks at Biracial Assignment

The Harvard Crimson
2010-12-13

Hana N. Rouse, Crimson Staff Writer

People classify biracial children as members of the minority parent group

People have the tendency to classify those of biracial descent as members of their minority parent group rather than as equal members of both races, according to a recent study published by Harvard psychologists.

The study, led by Harvard psychology graduate student Arnold K. Ho and co-authored by Harvard Professors James Sidanius and Mahzarin R. Banaji and Vanderbilt Professor Daniel T. Levin, employed computer generated faces of varying ethnicities and fictional family trees to test people’s intuitive racial classifications.

Study results suggest that participants classified half-white and half-minority persons as part of a minority. Researchers used computer generated faces of varying ethnicities and fictional family trees to test people’s preferences…

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‘One-drop rule’ persists: Biracials viewed as members of their lower-status parent group

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2010-12-11 23:16Z by Steven

‘One-drop rule’ persists: Biracials viewed as members of their lower-status parent group

Harvard Gazette
Harvard Science: Science and Engineering at Harvard University
2010-12-09

Steve Bradt, Harvard Staff Writer

Arnold K. Ho (right), a Ph.D. student in psychology at Harvard, and James Sidanius, a professor of psychology and of African and African-American studies at Harvard, researched the “one-drop rule.” They say their work reflects the cultural entrenchment of America’s traditional racial hierarchy, which assigns the highest status to whites, followed by Asians, with Latinos and blacks at the bottom.

The centuries-old “one-drop rule” assigning minority status to mixed-race individuals appears to live on in our modern-day perception and categorization of people like Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, and Halle Berry.

So say Harvard University psychologists, who’ve found that we still tend to see biracials not as equal members of both parent groups, but as belonging more to their minority parent group. The research appears in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

“Many commentators have argued that the election of Barack Obama, and the increasing number of mixed-race people more broadly, will lead to a fundamental change in American race relations,” says lead author Arnold K. Ho, a Ph.D. student in psychology at Harvard. “Our work challenges the interpretation of our first biracial president, and the growing number of mixed-race people in general, as signaling a color-blind America.”…

…“One of the remarkable things about our research on hypodescent is what it tells us about the hierarchical nature of race relations in the United States,” says co-author James Sidanius, professor of psychology and of African and African-American studies at Harvard. “Hypodescent against blacks remains a relatively powerful force within American society.”…

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