ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Is America Coming To Terms With A Changing Biracial And Multiracial Identity?

Updated on June 25, 2014

This is a research paper I wrote for my college anthropology class.



This paper touches on the sensitive issues surrounding the identity of biracial and multiracial people in America. From early in America’s history, to changing developments in race relations over time, to the nation’s seeing its first black President, America has undergone a change in its once singular identity where there was a fine line drawn between black and white. Today those colors are mixed.

This paper will discuss how those changes came about, how biracial and multiracial identities affect people especially youth today, and how Americans identify themselves today. The hot button and current issues regarding people’s opinions of interracial marriages will be addressed.

The paper also mentions the issues regarding race and racism, discrimination in education, the workplace, and society. Lastly, the paper will conclude on where America stands at the present and what hopes may lie in the future for this nation’s changing racial identity.

A Biracial and Multiracial America

Is America Coming To Terms with Its Changing Biracial and Multiracial Identity?

Race is an important issue in this nation and has been since the early days of colonization, slavery, and the existence of strong barriers between races. Through America’s history, the idea of people staying within the limits of their own race was strictly enforced.

People of different races and backgrounds were not allowed and many times shunned from interracial marriage. A child born of a White mother and Black father, or Asian mother and Hispanic father was looked down on and treated unfairly by those in the majority of the population.

Even fellow minorities held the view that interracial marriages and mixed children were to be avoided and treated differently. Therefore, the topic of biracial and multiracial backgrounds in America has been surrounded by controversy involving racism, hate, prejudice, and discrimination over the years.


Not As Taboo

Yet in present society, many of the issues regarding race are changing. “Today, children of biracial or multiracial marriages try to build their own identities in a country that seems intent on placing them in some single, traditional category” (Schaefer, 2012).

The idea of seeing a mother and father from different racial backgrounds and their mixed child is not as taboo as it once was. However, what defines a biracial or multiracial person? The term biracial describes a person whose parents are from two different races, such as a Hispanic mother and a White father.

Whereas a multiracial describes a person whose parents each have more than two races in their background, such as a mother or father that are both mixed.

Since America is the most culturally and racially diverse country in the world, it only follows that Americans once singularly recognized backgrounds would begin to change as people became more socially accepting of other races and the once high barriers were lowered, allowing for greater acceptance of mixed marriages.

Identifying As Biracial Or Multiracial

In America today, “increasing numbers of people are identifying themselves as biracial or multiracial or, at the very least, explicitly viewing themselves as reflecting a diverse racial and ethnic identity” (Schaefer, 2012).

Seeing as racism among minorities and the majority has died down since the effective use of civil rights for people of color, the nation as a whole has come to admit or recognize its diversity in the background of its people.

Surveys suggest that more and more Americans identify with a diverse background and where they once only identified with one race, they now acknowledge multiple races.

This fact is especially true for America’s youth who are growing up with the challenge of being biracial or multiracial in a society where a Caucasian majority dominates the education, healthcare, and workplace. So what is to be said for a person who is White with a biracial or multiracial background?


Lines Are Blurring

It is possible as “France Twine, a cultural anthropologist who did a case-study on biracial females, explains in her article that race is culturally determined and how someone classifies themselves can depend on tradition, history, or personal experiences” (McClarin, 2009).

Among America’s youth, the lines between color and race are blurring. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, Americans were first given the option of checking two or more races for their ethnicity. This option was not available in any of the U.S. Census in time past. More Americans took advantage of this new option.

Mono Or Singular Race?

However, some still checked only one box even though they are from mixed racial backgrounds. The fact that many Americans still think in mono or only a singular race was evident in President Barrack Obama’s race selection on the 2010 census.

As we witnessed “President Obama’s answer to the race question on the 2010 census: Although his mother was white and his father was black, Mr. Obama checked only one box, black, even though he could have checked both races” (Saulny, 2011).

Why is it that while a number of Americans are engaging in mixed relationships and marriages and yet people of diverse backgrounds only choose to predominantly identify with one race?


One Train Of Thought

Data from the Pew Research Center shows that “one in seven new marriages is between spouses of different races or ethnicities, according to data from 2008 and 2009” (Saulny, 2011).

However, many biracial and multiracial individuals identify with only a single race because of the way such Census functioned in the past. Many Americans still seem programmed to one train of thought and therefore they identify with the dominant racial features they think they possess.

But as Susan Graham, the president of the non-profit organization Project Race, stated that the classification of being “multiracial is important so children have an identity; having to check 'other' on a form means they are different, and that is a label no person should have to bear” (“Catching up to”).

A Controversy

Unfortunately, biracial and multiracial people are still being discriminated against. Still considered as minorities, people of diverse backgrounds face problems with race in society as a whole in education, the workplace and even the media.

For example, earlier this year a controversy occurred over a Cheerios commercial on many televisions across America. The simple commercial featured a mixed child with her white mother and black father.

Yet there was an uproar from some racially biased Americans and even racist groups across the country that protested the commercial for the fact that it featured a mixed family.

However, even with the negative views of some, “publicity surrounding prominent Americans of mixed cultural heritage, such as athletes, actors, musicians, and politicians, has highlighted the issues of multicultural individuals and challenged long-standing views of race” ("Multiracial children," 2011).

International adoptions of children from other races have also added to the increase in racial diversity within American families.


Prejudice Against Mixed Backgrounds

It is not only America’s youth that faces issues regarding race but also even the President has had his challenges in office. President Obama being black man with a biracial heritage, a father who is black and a mother who is white, has had his share of facing racial tensions, not only with Republicans but also with those prejudice against people with a mixed background.

Yet the facts are clear that “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” (Patterson, 2011).

In America today, “multiracial people now number 9 million, about 2.9 percent of the total U.S. population” (Patterson, 2011). The nation’s largest group of mixed couples is between Blacks and Whites.

Discrepancies Because Of Race

Sadly, however, minorities still make up a high percentage of the population in America’s jails including Blacks and Hispanics. There are more black males in prisons than in colleges. Also, Hispanics and Blacks reside at the lowest income levels in America.

It is evident that Whites Americans make a great deal more in income, receive more healthcare advantages, and paths to education. In the workplace, more White Americans hold roles in management and higher levels than those of minorities, and those of biracial and multiracial background struggle in the areas of work advancement as well.

Obstructions such as glass walls and glass ceiling prevent minorities from moving forward or advancing to certain positions within the work force. Even the area of education proves to have its challenges when biracial and multiracial individuals face discrepancies because of their racial backgrounds.

New Growth

In conclusion, biracial and multiracial Americans have faced issues of discrimination, racism, and prejudice over the course of the nation’s history.

However, there have been advancements through these racial barriers to an America today that has a population growing in a diverse background, a changing image, and new growths toward social acceptance of mixed races.


  • Catching up to the fact of biracial America. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • McClarin, L. (2009). Being multiracial in a country that sees black and white. Retrieved from
  • Multiracial children. (2011, March). Retrieved from
  • Patterson, T. (2011, April 18). Neither black nor white: Three multiracial generations, one family. Retrieved from
  • Saulny, S. (2011, January 29). Black? White? Asian? More young Americans choose all of the above. Retrieved from
  • Schaefer, R.T. (2012). Racial and Ethnic Groups, 13th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Photos from


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Raine Law Yuen profile image

      Raine Law Yuen 

      4 years ago from Cape Town

      Hi Lanese, Just found your hub. Thank you for this. it is well written and informative. I have two Eurasian children and recently published a hub on teaching children about bi-racial identity after doing broad research on the subject. I find that America's experience of multi-racialism/culturalism is very similar to the experience in many similar multicultural societies including South Africa from where I write -I feel there is a sense of shared history and kinship with those that have ancestry through migration to countries with Britain influence through colonization or historical ties. The trends towards a merging mixed race majority are similar in countries such as Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Excellent paper and Hub, Lanise. We have come a long way in regards to race relations in this country. Multi or bi-racial relationships are much more common. I have been in one for the past 7 years. There are still stigmas attached but they are slowly fading away. Our younger generations are much more tolerant and I see great hope with them.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)