Definitions

Multiracialism

Multiracialism

[muhl-tee-rey-shuhl, muhl-tahy-]
Multiracialism is a concept or ideology that promotes a society composed of various races, while accepting and respecting different cultural backgrounds. It is a society that consists of a diverse mix of people, whether it be relative to their ethnicity, language, culture, religion, and traditions.

Examples of Multiracialism

Countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, are good examples of societies that promote multi-ethnic and diverse populations. Over the past four decades, the increase of immigration has led to the increase of racial and ethnic diversity in the United States.

History

In the United States, the federal agency, or Office of Management Budget are the ones who determine racial and ethnic classifications. There are four racial groups in the United States: White, Black, American Indian or Alaskan Native, and Asian or Pacific Islander. 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.

The Debate over a Multiracial Background

Are interracial marriages such a bad thing? For many years, there have been mixed marriages 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. 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. 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 pride that their heritage has.

Advantages of a Multiracial Background

The majority of families seek to help their children to identify themselves as multiracial. Based on their heritage and background, they believe that their different heritages should be maintained equally. These families aim to provide their children with a more cultural education about their heritage because this gives them a broader sense of the world. They are also more accepting of different cultures and embrace their language. Moreover, “They often are able to identify multiple aspects of a situation where other people see only one, and to see both sides of a conflict.”

References

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