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Multiracialism is an ideology which aims to acknowledge that most societies are composed of people from more than one race, cultural background, ethnicity, language, phenotype, religion or tradition, while seeking to avoid supporting the policies and ideology associated with Multiculturalism.
Multiracial describes people whose ancestry is composed of two or more racial categories such as White (European), Black (Sub-Saharan Africa, Black American, parts of India, New Zealand, Melanesia), Indigenous American (North, Central, South), West Asian (Arab, Persian, etc.), South Asian (Tamil, Malay, Filipino, etc.), East Asian (Chinese, Korean, etc.) or others as defined by region.
Multiethnic/Multicultural describes people whose cultural heritage is composed of or influenced by people of differing languages, geographies, practices and norms. Multiethnic/cultural people can be of a singular race (ex: Black person who has one American parent and one African parent) or multiple races as described above.
In the United States, the federal agency, or Office of Management & Budget are the ones who determine racial and ethnic classifications. Examples of racial groups in the United States: White, Black, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian or Pacific Islander and Hispanic. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Bureau of Census adopted its racial classification scheme that showed that approximately 10 percent of Americans considered themselves non-white, and of that group, nearly all considered themselves as black. Since then, things have changed such as the notion of race due to an increase in intermarriage, and an increase in the growth of the Asian American and multiethnic Latino American populations. This resulted in one out of four Americans considering themselves White, Black, Asian, and/or Latino American.
Racial classification in America
From 1790 to 1990, the classification of racial categories changed and so did the nation’s demographics. There were two premises that the government instilled upon Americans. “First it makes policy sense to put every American into one and only one of a limited number of discrete race groups, with the decennial census being a primary vehicle by which the counting and classifying should take place. Second, when policy treats Americans differently depending on what race they belong to, it should make use of this government classification.” Policies such as who can vote, buy alcohol, own property be drafted, and so on since 1970 have always had set boundaries and little dispute. However, racial categories have not been as straightforward. From 1977, the government tried to better the countries racial categories but had some revisions along the way. It was not until 2000 that the U.S. census was the first to allow respondents to record numerous racial classifications.
Debate over a multiracial background
The motivational basis for this behavior is varied, starting from socialization, private philosophy, to, Sexual orientation, biological (phenomenal). Throughout history, there have been mixed marriages, and unions, occurring between different racial and ethnic groups. Before 1970, it was less likely for interracial marriages to occur and most people wanted to marry within their group. However miscegenation has long occurred within the individual races due to slavery, the inadequacy of race labels applied by the United States Census and covert common law marriages. Throughout the past thirty years, interracial marriages have tripled. There are many advantages and disadvantages to growing up with a multiracial background. Children growing up in a multiracial family can sometimes face issues with identity formulation and classification. An important aspect in the lives of multiracial children is the way they are labeled by themselves, their families, and society. By being classified and labeled, this provides children with a sense of self–empowerment and self-determination.
Disadvantages of a multiracial background
There are some multiracial families that are against the idea of racial labeling because it downgrades them to a lower status. They classify the members in their families solely as “human” instead of labeling the multiple components of their heritage.Although, it is also common to explain the mixed heritage of this human. Also, some individuals consider themselves multiracial but have a hard time identifying themselves by every constituent of their heritage. Some may not feel close to some parts of their heritage or even all parts of their heritage. "Concern has been raised that this approach to multiracialism cannot provide individuals with a sustained sense of community because the group's only commonality is the "ambiguous status" of its members, and such a tenuous connection is not enough to provide the emotional support that multiracial people need." A multiracial person can also face complexities such as deciding whether to identify themselves with their father's or mother's racial group or both. This can be problematic when society does not support them with their decision. Furthermore, societal racism and discomfort with interracial marriage exists as well. There are people who have a strong prejudice for intermarriage and people marrying outside their race. They believe that those who cross ethnic lines are rejecting their heritage and the distinction and certain values that their heritage has.
Sometimes multiracialism is used to create even deeper strata and hierarchies amongst oppressed people. For example, in many Western and colonized nations, mixed race people with European ancestry are deemed kinder, smarter or more attractive than single race individuals and those mixed with non European blood (such as black/indigenous mix). This grants privilege to lighter skinned individuals over darker skinned individuals and serves to distract both groups from identifying the larger issue which is white supremacy. See colorism for more on this topic.
Advantages of a multiracial background
The majority of mixed race and multi ethnic families seek to help their children to identify themselves with all parts of their ancestry. Some believe that their different heritages should be maintained and celebrated equally. These families aim to provide their children with more cultural education about their heritage because this gives them a broader sense of their identity and world. If their upbringing encourages it, multi ethnic/racial people may be more accepting of different cultures and languages, though this can be the case for anyone regardless of racial or ethnic makeup.
The main benefit of this ideology is that people learn to embrace and coexist with those who are different and have different languages, colors, features, religions, expressions and ways of being.
- "Google Scholar". scholar.google.com. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
- Dalmage, Heather M. (2004-06-23). The Politics of Multiracialism: Challenging Racial Thinking. SUNY Press. ISBN 9780791461549.
- Biagi, Shirley; Kern-Foxworth, Marilyn (1997-01-24). Facing Difference: Race, Gender, and Mass Media. SAGE Publications. ISBN 9780803990944.
- Schwartz, Wendy "The Identity Development Of Multiracial Youth" Clearinghouse on Urban Education 1998