The Stigma of Privilege: Racial Identity and Stigma Consciousness Among Biracial Individuals

The Stigma of Privilege: Racial Identity and Stigma Consciousness Among Biracial Individuals

Race and Social Problems
Volume 5, Issue 1 (March 2013)
pages 41-56
DOI: 10.1007/s12552-012-9083-5

Leigh S. Wilton
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Diana T. Sanchez, Associate Professor of Psychology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Julie A. Garcia, Associate Professor of Psychology
California Polytechnic State University

Racial identification is a complex and dynamic process for multiracial individuals, who as members of multiple racial groups have been shown to self-identify or be identified by others differently, depending on the social context. For biracial individuals who have white and minority ancestry, such identity shifting (e.g., from minority to white, or vice versa) may be a way to cope with the threats to their racial identity that can be signaled by the presence or absence of whites and/or minorities in their social environment. We examine whether stigma consciousness (Pinel in J Pers Soc Psychol 76(1):114–128, 1999; i.e., the chronic awareness of the stereotyping and prejudice that minorities face) interacts with the sociocultural context to predict social identity threat, belonging, and racial identification. Using experience sampling methodology, minority/white biracial individuals (27 Asian/white, 22 black/white, and 26 Latino/white) reported the racial composition of their environment, social identity threat for their component racial identities, overall feelings of belonging, and racial identification over a 1-week period. Results suggest that stigma consciousness predicts the extent to which biracial people identify with their white background and experience belonging in different racial contexts. We discuss racial identity shifting in response to context-based threats as a protective strategy for biracial people, and identity where participants’ sociocultural contexts and experiences with racial identity and threat differ as a result of their minority racial group or ascribed race.

Read the pre-publication proof here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,