Biracial Identity Development Essay

1376 words - 6 pages

It has been said that the physical variations in the human species have no meaning except the social one that humans put on them. Society has placed stigmas on race dating all the way back to the 1600s. Still in the 21st century the American society is still trying to work through racial boundaries. With such stigmas being placed on them, biracial individuals often self-identify or be identified by others differently, depending on the social context. A biracial individual’s racial identity development is contingent upon many factors, both internal and external. With the dramatic increase in the number of individuals with a bi or multiracial background it is important for us to recognize the complexity of the racial identity development of this culture. It is critical to understand the hardships as well as the advantages of being biracial, to help them avoid any negative behaviors which could yield lifelong consequences. The healthy development of one’s racial identity is imperative for a biracial child to be able to achieve and maintain a positive psychological and social adjustment throughout the lifespan.
Before 1967, interracial unions were illegal. Once the legislature overturned the ruling of the laws against interracial unions, the biracial population increased. Census data reveals that the US’ multiracial population has approached more than nine million individuals. In 1997, due to this dramatic increase, a change was made which allowed the biracial population to check off more than one racial category on the 2000 United States Census. This feat was not accomplished without controversy. A federal task force was set up to investigate the political and social implications of creating a new racial classification. This alone illustrates that having more than one racial identity challenges America’s perception about race and racial categories. The controversy surrounding the 2000 census prompted psychologist to begin studying the biracial individual and multiracial families. In particular, the studies have focused on the difficulties biracial individuals face with their identity development.
The most recent biracial identity model is called the variant approach. Included in this model are various theories about stages of development. While some stages differ, there are two that are common to all. The first being that eventually every biracial individual feels tension and conflict about their racial identity. Secondly, that there is a final stage in the identity process in which they are able to accept, appreciate, integrate, and value all parts of their biracial identity. However, upon reaching their acceptance they may face many hardships along the way.
The biracial population will encounter challenges, during their development, which their monoracial peers will not have. Many times early on, conflict between private and public definition occur. So they see themselves as biracial, but the public perception of them...

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