More children identify as ‘biracial’: just a choice or a good thing?
The Washington Post
Mary C. Curtis
It’s been happening for a while — census data show it. The number of mixed-race babies has quickly grown in the last decade, a trend that’s no surprise in an increasingly diverse country. Men and women are choosing partners of different races and identifying their children using the array of hyphenated options now available on forms that still ask the question.
More than 7 percent of the 3.5 million children born in the year before the 2010 Census were of two or more races, up from 5 percent a decade earlier, the Washington Post reports. In the story, William H. Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer who analyzed the information, said, “I think people are more comfortable in identifying themselves, and their children, as mixed race.” He added, “It’s much more socially acceptable, more mainstream, to say, ‘That’s what we want to identify them as.’ ”
What is come down to is choice, and if it remained just that, it would be fine. But Frey goes on to assign value to this particular choice. “This is a huge leap,” he said. “This is a ray of hope that we’re finally moving into an era where this very sharp black-white divide is breaking apart.”
That’s where he makes a leap, that it’s a matter of, well, black and white. Identifying as biracial is a choice now, but does it have to be better? Is Tiger Woods’ “Cablinasian” option more enlightened than Halle Berry’s decision to self-identify as black?
Frey isn’t the only one who judges the trend as a “ray of hope,” a necessary step forward in relationships between races. When President Barack Obama checked off one race, black, on his census form, he was criticized by some, accused of somehow denying his white mother. It may have marked the first time such indignation over the issue reached a fever pitch, though if it were Barack the bank robber I hardly think whites would be clamoring to claim him.
At the time, a white woman married to a black man told me she was angry and disappointed for her two children’s sake. “He’s president. He could have been an example,” she told me. That we were walking through a Charlotte science museum exhibit “Race: Are We So Different?” that proved the many ways humans are more alike than any other species made our discussion both fraught and beside the point. Since she wanted freedom to choose, how could she criticize the president for his? I asked her. He would certainly know his motives better than a stranger whose reaction might have more to do with her own…
…My grown-up son fills out his own census form now, a black man with a white father and a special relationship with a white grandmother he loves with all his heart. It’s not confusing at all…
Read the entire article here.