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To be biracial doesn’t mean life is easier

Navigating toward identity is tough

Isabell Rivera OW Contributor | 2/6/2020, midnight
Nowadays it’s not uncommon to see multiracial families. Researchers and historians..

Huffington Post contributor Alexander Williams, who is biracial, thinks it might have something to do with the fact that both racial groups carry some sort of “baggage” with them. In a personal essay, he wrote what it means for him, to not be fully White or Black.

“When you don’t fit in, you’re forced to see things through multiple viewpoints and create a balance between how you are perceived and who you actually are,” Williams wrote. “Being multiracial forces you to move between different worlds, across categories and through all definition.”

Forming attitudes towards racial groups

Psychologist Allison L. Skinner, Ph.D. thinks that “attitudes toward interracial couples may not be as positive as they seem,” despite their recent increase in number. But based on her own research, the outcome looks different. In collaboration with fellow psychologist James Rae, the two analyzed implicit and explicit attitudes in regards to Black and White interracial couples, conducted from participants.

The difference between “explicit” and “implicit biases,” is that the first is controllable and intentional and the second is unconsciously held and problematic to control. However, implicit biases are usually something that have been socially embedded into the subconscious mind of the individual. It’s the way individuals have been raised. It usually does not reflect on someone’s personality or opinions, but can shape their attitude.

Hatred from Both Races

Williams mentions the time his parents spent in the late ‘80s, living in Burbank, California, before they got married and had kids. Although, the Golden State was filled with hippy communes and liberals, hatred was still a thing towards interracial couples. His parents would often get looks or racist comments from both races.

Nearly 40 years later, society still has an issue with interracial couples.

In 2016, in Olympia, Wash., a 33-year-old White man named Daniel B. Rowe stabbed an interracial couple.

The so-called “preference for whiteness thesis,” is a psychological and anthropological theory. The theory argues that humans unconsciously classify the world in two social groups. An in and an out group, which they use to organize their own behavior. It’s common that individuals prefer an in-group, that they favor, over an out-group that they reject. Which leads to a pattern of behavior regarding treatment of specific groups in different levels of social power, such as racial groups that can result in general social inequality. Individuals would pay attention to visual cues, and categorize them into in- and out-groups, by identifying someone as White or Black, and then deciding how they will be treated. Many individuals would be categorized by how “more White” and “less Black” they were. The more they’d fit in the all-White in-groups, the more benefits they’d receive, and get higher positions than their dark-skinned counterparts.

White or Black?

Studies focus on the connection between the preference of light-skinned African-Americans over dark-skinned African-Americans, as well as the difference in the economic point of view in regards to the disadvantages for African-Americans.

“The racism I receive as a Black man in the United States isn’t just an attack to the racial heritage I carry on from my Black ancestors,” Williams continued. “It’s an attack specific to my racial mixture - and I experience this racism not only as a Black man, but as a Native American and a European.”

Williams also mentioned that although his African-American background got him to be part of the Black culture, his good grades, and his love for rock music made him look White and therefore part of the out-group. His fellow Blacks called him an “Oreo” and not “Black enough.”

“The common thread that connects all mixed- race individuals is the inclusion and exclusion we receive from our communities,” Williams wrote, “and how we all navigate through our own individual paths toward identity, acceptance and freedom.”