The Interracial Experience: Growing Up Black/White Racially Mixed in the United States

The Invisible Segregation of Diverse Neighborhoods
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Explaining Where Mixed-Race Households Reside Available evidence suggests that mixed-race households tend to live in racially diverse neighborhoods. To explain why this might be, researchers have pointed to various social dynamics that could encourage mixed-race households to live in different kinds of areas.

Various factors could be at work, not all pushing in the same direction. Overall, mixed-race households tended to reside in neighborhoods with significantly higher levels of racial diversity. More important, over time they remained more likely than homogeneous households to live in diverse neighborhoods, even when I took into account variations in age, family income, and the characteristics of metropolitan areas. Maybe people in mixed-race households simply want to live in diverse neighborhoods, but data I collected on movements by mixed-race couples raise questions about that hypothesis.

Overall, my findings do not suggest that mixed couples always have a preference to live in diverse neighborhoods. Some observers have held out the hope that, as mixed partnerships and households become more common in American society, more and more neighborhoods are bound to become racially diverse. But by tracking movements over time, my research suggests that mixed households remain largely subject to the same types of dynamics that maintain sharp racial residential boundaries between blacks and whites in U.

Race continues to be central to how American neighborhoods form and change. In order to truly diversify neighborhoods, U. Interracial unions alone surmount racial barriers. SSN Key Findings.

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Share pdf twitter facebook. Ryan Gabriel. Brigham Young University. For example, it could be that members of mixed-race households feel more comfortable in places where their unique status is less noticeable. Economic factors could matter. When people become more economically prosperous, they tend to move to higher-quality neighborhoods.

So if mixed-race marriages often include higher-status members — at least compared to same-race marriages among minorities — then choices about neighborhoods may be due more to education and income than to race as such.

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Researchers need to take income and education into account before they draw conclusions about mixed-race couples. The inclusion of community colleges in this study also makes for a more socioeconomically diverse set of respondents. Furthermore, unlike other multiracialism studies that utilize census data e. The two primary predictive variables of interest here are respondent parentage and racial identification.

Among those who report biracial parentage, I disentangle self-identification with one of three racial groups: White, Black, and White-Black. I begin by breaking down the three parentage groups Monoracial White, Monoracial Black, and Biracial by their chosen identification with one of three racial categories White, Black, and White-Black.

Table 1 shows that, unsurprisingly, almost all respondents of monoracial parentage—over 99 percent—identify as either singularly White or singularly Black. In contrast, respondents of mixed parentage exhibit much less constraint in their identification, with 55 percent identifying as White-Black.

However, this lack of a singular Black label does not necessarily reflect a dissociation from minority ancestry, and the small percentage of biracials who opt to call themselves White demonstrates that the bounds of Whiteness essentially remain impenetrable for this group. Instead, most biracials are choosing to present themselves as belonging to multiple groups— both White and Black. TABLE 1. The five racial groups also grow up in different neighborhoods.

Relative to Monoracial Whites, Monoracial Blacks are much more likely to come from neighborhoods that are in the bottom median income quartile, and areas that are more densely populated and more Black.

Compared to Biracial Blacks, Biracial Whites grow up in neighborhoods that are much more affluent, less densely populated, and less Black—while Biracial White-Blacks grow up in areas that are only somewhat more affluent and densely populated, and about as Black. TABLE 2. Approximately half of biracials report having married parents, which is more comparable to that of Monoracial Blacks than Monoracial Whites.

As a group, biracials are significantly less religious than their monoracial counterparts, and White-Black identifiers are particularly likely to be nonreligious.

Among the three biracial groups, White identifiers are the most likely to follow Judaism, a predominantly White religion Pew , while Black identifiers are most likely to be Baptist, a religion with which Black Americans tend to affiliate Kosmin and Keysar Figure 1 presents an overview of socioeconomic characteristics across racial groups.

The patterns of family income are illustrated in the first graph, which shows that the biggest disparity for family income exists between Monoracial Whites and Monoracial Blacks. Biracials are in the middle of these two groups, and their income is correlated with identification; Biracial Whites are most similar to Monoracial Whites, Biracial Blacks are most like Monoracial Blacks, and White-Blacks fall in between.

These findings corroborate research showing that White-Black interracial couples are of higher socioeconomic status than endogamous Black couples Wang Figure 1. Overall, these significant demographic differences across groups reinforce the importance of accounting for confounding factors in the analyses of political attitudes, particularly that of religion, which may structure opinions regarding whether government should have the capacity to regulate private behavior Beck and Jennings In order to assess whether there are differences in attitudes within racial identification groups by parentage, separate regressions are run for White identifiers, Black identifiers, and biracials of any identification.

For White identifiers and Black identifiers, I employ matching before each regression to better ensure comparability along demographic characteristics. Results shown are racial outcomes, though full tables of ordered logistic regressions, as well as all question wording and variable coding, are in the Appendix. Thus any differences in political views between biracial and monoracial respondents that are found in a regression framework can be attributed to differences in parentage.

These observational data do not enable me to make causal claims about the role of racial identification on attitudes. While the regression analyses presented designate self-identification as one predictor of political attitudes, results should not be taken to mean that identification leads to attitudes. Rather, self-identification and political views may constitute a cluster of intertwined social beliefs, because the labels that some biracials choose to adopt can be a consequence—rather than a cause—of holding a particular view. For example, negative affect towards a racialized policy like welfare Gilens may engender feelings of resentment towards Blacks as a group, and push biracials away from a Black identification of any kind though it does seem less likely that nonracial attitudes, such as feelings towards same-sex marriage or abortion, would shape racial labeling.

Table 3 displays opinion estimates on explicitly racial issues for each identification group. In line with prior research, Monoracial Whites express the least support for racial issues and are 30 percentage points less supportive than Monoracial Blacks of affirmative action and less likely to think it is important to promote racial understanding. Figure 2 presents the regression estimates of racial attitude differences. Panel a shows differences in attitudes between White identifiers, panel b shows differences between Black identifiers, and panel c compares the three biracial groups, by self-identification.

As panel a illustrates, when other correlates are held constant, Biracial Whites are as likely as Monoracial Whites to believe that racism is a major problem. Thus while their identification reflects the absence of a minority label, Biracial Whites do seem to be influenced by their minority parentage. In contrast to Whites, there is no substantive difference in racial attitudes among Black identifiers, as panel b illustrates. Figure 2. Panel c shows that despite their identification as partly White, Biracial White-Blacks evince racial attitudes that are mostly comparable to those of Biracial Blacks, all else equal.

At roughly similar rates, Biracial White-Blacks and Biracial Blacks agree that racial discrimination is a problem and believe it is important to promote racial understanding. However, biracials who identify as White are 10 to 15 percent less likely to subscribe to these views, suggesting that the choice to call oneself White is also correlated with less liberal racial attitudes. In sum, on matters explicitly racial in nature, labeling oneself as at least partly Black is a key correlate of liberal attitudes and a greater commitment to racial progress.

Across these issues, Monoracial Blacks are again the most liberal and Monoracial Whites the most conservative. However, the range in attitudes is not as wide, and often ten or fewer percentage points. Findings on implicitly racial issues parallel those on explicitly racial issues. Biracial White-Blacks are again largely indistinguishable from Monoracial Blacks, suggesting that Biracial White-Blacks share a racial awareness with their minority-identified counterparts.

These findings hold up in the ordered logistic regression models in Figure 3. Once other sociodemographic factors are accounted for, singular-identified biracials are not much different from monoracials who share their identification, though results also suggest that the political effects of biracial parentage can endure even when individuals do not label themselves as such. This is evident in panel a , which shows that—all else equal—Biracial Whites express greater opposition to the death penalty and greater support for gun control than Monoracial Whites.

Figure 3. Table 5 presents opinions on nonracial social attitudes: abortion, support for married women working outside the home and family, and support for same-sex couples being afforded the right to legal marital status. On abortion, biracials—regardless of identification—express the most liberal views. Monoracial Blacks, in contrast, are the most conservative group in every area; their support ranges from 12 to 20 points lower than that expressed by Biracial White-Blacks. Figure 4 reveals that these effects persist in the presence of statistical adjustments.

For White identifiers, differences in racial parentage do not necessarily lead to differences in social attitudes; for two of the three issues under examination abortion and same-sex marriage , Biracial Whites share the views of Monoracial Whites. Figure 4. This is not the case for respondents identifying as Black. Among Black identifiers, net of all covariates, parentage is consistently and strongly predictive of opinion. Panel b shows that Biracial Blacks are significantly more liberal than Monoracial Blacks on all nonracial issues.

The largest difference in opinion here has to do with same-sex marriage; Biracial Blacks are 10 percent more approving than their Monoracial Black peers, all else equal. Thus despite their congruous racial identification, Blacks of biracial parentage possess markedly less traditional social attitudes than Blacks of monoracial parentage, even when accounting for many other factors within a regression framework. Panel c shows that on abortion, all three groups have similar levels of support, while on attitudes towards married women, biracial White-Blacks express the most progressive opinions.

Taken together, these results indicate that on nonracial social matters, individuals of biracial parentage who identify as racial minorities i. Results indicate that by overlooking the role of racial identification and parentage, prior research on the political attitudes of mixed-race Americans has simplified a complex social phenomenon.

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Here, I address the role of parental influences and personal experiences in greater depth. In doing so, I supplement the Freshman Survey findings with in-depth interviews of biracial college students to help disentangle the mechanisms at work. Research on parental socialization has shown that children generally have value orientations that are similar to their parents Hyman ; Thomas ; Troll, Neugarten, and Kraines Yet parents often do not transmit specific attitudes to their children Connell ; Jennings and Niemi ; Niemi and Jennings Adolescents tend to be more progressive and tolerant than their parents Owen and Dennis ; Tedin ; relative to older generations, Millenials express more socially egalitarian views and more liberal opinions when it comes to race, gender, gay rights, and abortion Stoker and Bass Unfortunately, the absence of parental political questions from the surveys preclude me from doing so.

But as Jennings notes, when direct measures of parental political traits are lacking, family influence can be evaluated with parental socioeconomic traits.


The number of black-white mixed marriages increased by % in the last 25 years. By offering relevant demographic, research, and sociocultural data as well as a series of intensely personal and revealing. The Interracial Experience: Growing Up Black/White Racially Mixed in the United States [Ursula M. Brown] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.

In order to shed some light on the political influence that interracial parents have on their biracial children, I assess the effects of parental covariates from the ordered logistic regressions. Statistically significant results are denoted in Table 6. TABLE 6. Demographic Predictors of Attitudes for Biracial Respondents. Several noteworthy findings emerge from this analysis.

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Overall, mixed-race households tended to reside in neighborhoods with significantly higher levels of racial diversity. Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date. About this Item Language: English. Librarian view Catkey: See what's been added to the collection in the current 1 2 3 4 5 6 weeks months years.

First, religion is a significant predictor of political views across the board.