Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Neither Black Nor White: Three Multiracial Generations, One Family

Many scholars of race and ethnicity are looking closely at the results of the most recent U.S. census, the first census in 220 years to allow Americans to select multiple ethnic/racial identities (the first census was taken in 1790, after the American Revolution). Now that Americans are given the choice, how do they identify, and how will this affect the "official" racial composition of the country?

A new article from CNN suggests that more Americans than ever are identifying as multi-racial. So what about hypodescent and the "one drop rule"?

The "increase during the last 10 years shows how attitudes have shifted radically from the days of segregation the "one-drop rule," a defunct idea that said a person with one drop of nonwhite blood belonged only to a nonwhite race."

Considering that more multiracial people are now actually identifying as multiracial, you might wonder what this "new" category means in terms of a sense of identity? The CNN article Neither black nor white: Three multiracial generations, one family, tells the story of one family, whose members have been multiracial for three generations, in order to highlight changes in racial attitudes in the U.S. since the 1940s and the effects of this on multi-racial identity.

And here are some statistics from the 2010 census (taken from CNN article):

Multiracial Americans

9 million: People belonging to at least two races, up 32% since 2000

4.2 million: People younger than 18 belonging to at least two races, up 45.9% since 2000

57: Race combinations marked on the 2010 Census

1.8 million: People who marked black and white

1.7 million: People who marked white and "some other race"

1.6 million:
People who marked Asian and white

1.4 million: People who marked American Indian or Alaska Native and white

Note: The Census Bureau considers Hispanic/Latino an ethnicity, not a race. Respondents to the race question who reflected a Hispanic/Latino origin were classified as "some other race."

Source: 2010 U.S. Census

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