Being mixed: Who claims a biracial identity?

Being mixed: Who claims a biracial identity?

Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
Volume 18, Number 1 (January 2012)
pages 91-96
DOI: 10.1037/a0026845

Sarah S. M. Townsend, Visiting Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations and Postdoctoral Fellow
Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Stephanie A. Fryberg, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Affiliate Faculty in American Indian Studies
University of Arizona

Clara L. Wilkins, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Wesleyan University

Hazel Rose Markus, Davis-Brack Professor in the Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University

What factors determine whether mixed-race individuals claim a biracial identity or a monoracial identity? Two studies examine how two status-related factors—race and social class—influence identity choice. While a majority of mixed-race participants identified as biracial in both studies, those who were members of groups with higher status in American society were more likely than those who were members of groups with lower status to claim a biracial identity. Specifically, (a) Asian/White individuals were more likely than Black/White or Latino/White individuals to identify as biracial and (b) mixed-race people from middle-class backgrounds were more likely than those from working-class backgrounds to identify as biracial. These results suggest that claiming a biracial identity is a choice that is more available to those with higher status.

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