Book Review: Mixed-race youth and schooling: the fifth minority

Book Review: Mixed-race youth and schooling: the fifth minority

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Published online: 2016-06-01
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2016.1190852

Remi Joseph-Salisbury
University of Leeds

Mixed-race youth and schooling: the fifth minority, by Sandra Winn Tutwiler, Abingdon, Routledge, 2016, xv + 241 pp., £29.95 (paperback), ISBN-13 978-1138021938

Mixed-race youth and schooling offers a welcome contribution to a sparse area of academic inquiry. Making the case that as a group mixed-race individuals are constitutive of the ‘fifth minority’ in the United States, the book is interested in the schooling of children of ’minority/non-minority’ and ‘minority/minority’ parents.

With a primary target audience of school teachers and educationalists, the book of nine chapters is divided into three sections. Section one considers how race constitutes a determinant factor in lived experiences in the United States, and how this implicates mixed-race individuals particularly. In section two, Winn Tutwiler turns to look at how mixed-race children interact with their families, peers, communities and schools and how these interactions impact upon schooling experiences. The third and final section of the book focuses on how mixedness is constructed in the school, and by teachers. This section concludes by outlining how schooling environments can be supportive of mixed-race students.

Chapter one looks at the emergence and permanence of race, white supremacy, and the racial stratification of society. The chapter refutes notions that race is reducible to class before beginning to probe how mixedness impacts upon race discourse and stratification.

Building on this, the second chapter considers how, historically, white supremacist power structures have responded to the potential challenges mixed-race people present to ’societies wanting uncomplicated divisions by race’ (28). This chapter considers different responses to mixedness and explores interesting distinctions between different mixed-race groups. Winn Tutwiler shows that white America has a deep-rooted and abiding moral aversion to racial mixing and historically this engendered a proliferation of anti-miscegenation laws and morals.

In Chapter three, Winn Tutwiler seeks to provide a knowledge base for educators on the processes of racial identity formation for mixed-race youth. This endeavour, Win Tutwiler explains, is essential to countering teachers’ ideas that may be based upon stereotypes and misinformation. Emphasizing the importance for the ‘social, emotional and academic well—being’ of mixed-race youth, this chapter gives an overview of some of the (predominantly) psychological literature on racial identity (57). Winn Tutwiler unpicks what she sees as some often fundamental inadequacies in the application of theories developed for monoracial identities to mixed-race children. Although perhaps understandable due to the predominance in existing literature, this chapter seems to focus heavily on Black-white mixed-race identity and thus it is unclear how widely applicable some of the cited research is to other mixed-race groups.

As the focus shifts slightly to look at how these identities are constituted and lived, chapter four considers the role of the family in the lives of mixed-race…

Read or purchase the review here.

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