Ethnic Identity Among Mixed-Heritage People In Hawaii

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2010-01-07 22:52Z by Steven

Ethnic Identity Among Mixed-Heritage People In Hawaii

Symbolic Interaction
Volume 14, Number 3 (Fall 1991)
Pages 261–277
DOI 10.1525/si.1991.14.3.261

Cookie White Stephan, Emeritus Professor of Sociology
New Mexico State University

In this study, intensive interviews were used to explore the identity of a sample of mixed-heritage Hawaiian college students from a variety of ethnic groups. The great majority of respondents listed at least one multiple-heritage identity (e.g., Chinese-Japanese). While cultural exposure and ethnic identity were strongly associated, cultural exposure is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for ethnic identity to occur. Differences in perceptions of ethnic identity between respondents with stable and situtionally changing identities were discussed. The conceptions of identity proposed by processual and structural symbolic interactionists both received some support in these data.

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Whiteness as Stigma: Essentialist Identity Work by Mixed-Race Women

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, Women on 2010-01-07 18:39Z by Steven

Whiteness as Stigma: Essentialist Identity Work by Mixed-Race Women

Symbolic Interaction
Volume 22, Number 3 (1999)
Pages 187–212
DOI 10.1525/si.1999.22.3.187

Debbie Storrs, Professor of Sociology
University of Idaho

Historically, in both the social sciences and the general public, racial mixing has been stigmatized. This stigmatization was fueled by whites’ desire to protect their racial privileges as well as the belief that hybridization between “pure” and superior white racial stocks and inferior non-white stocks produces an inferior being. While this view has been challenged within the social sciences, the general public’s sentiment toward racial mixing remains consistently negative. The low interracial marriage rate, particularly among blacks and whites, points to the lack of popular acceptance of racial mixing. This article reveals an unusual and creative reversal of the racial mixing problem by historically stigmatized mixed-race women. The women in this study reject dominant patterns of stigma by reassigning stigma to their European ancestry. Given this reversal, women articulate and embrace non-white identities. This article explains the reversal of the racial mixing problem as well as the identity work of women as they particulate the meaning of race and racial belonging within dominant racial logic. The identification of macro constraints and the illustration of individual agency in the negotiation of identity extends the symbolic interactionist perspective on identity formation.

I didn’t like my skin color, I really didn’t. I’m much too light. I don’t tan… All my brothers and sisters have more color to their skin. I just want pigment? I’m just tired of looking white… I just wish I were darker because I’m so pale. I am very pale
(Jamie, a mixed-race young woman)

For many, the statement above is counterintuitive, perhaps even amusing or bewildering, because of the historical tendency in the United States to stigmatize people of color based on the assumption that whiteness is not only normative but desirable, beautiful, and generally superior to non-whiteness. Using Goffman’s (1963) term, non-white identities are “stigmatized” by the dominant members of society. Jamie’s wish for pigment challenges the somatization of non-whiteness and the long held conception of whiteness. Through an analysis of mixed-race women’s narratives, this research reveals how women…

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