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The Diversity Paradox: Immigration and the Color Line in Twenty-First Century America



African Americans grappled with Jim Crow segregation until it was legally overturned in the 1960s. In subsequent decades, the country witnessed a new wave of immigration from Asia and Latin America-forever changing the face of American society and making it more racially diverse than ever before. In The Diversity Paradox, authors Jennifer Lee and Frank Bean take these two poles of American collective identity-the legacy of slavery and immigration-and ask if today's immigrants are destined to become racialized minorities akin to African Americans or if their incorporation into U.S. society will more closely resemble that of their European predecessors. They also tackle the vexing question of whether America's new racial diversity is helping to erode the tenacious black/white color line. The Diversity Paradox uses population-based analyses and in-depth interviews to examine patterns of intermarriage and multiracial identification among Asians, Latinos, and African Americans. Lee and Bean analyze where the color line-and the economic and social advantage it demarcates-is drawn today and on what side these new arrivals fall. They show that Asians and Latinos with mixed ancestry are not constrained by strict racial categories. Racial status often shifts according to situation. Individuals can choose to identify along ethnic lines or as white, and their decisions are rarely questioned by outsiders or institutions. These groups also intermarry at higher rates, which is viewed as part of the process of becoming "American" and a form of upward social mobility. African Americans, in contrast, intermarry at significantly lower rates than Asians and Latinos. Further, multiracial blacks often choose not to identify as such and are typically perceived as being black only-underscoring the stigma attached to being African American and the entrenchment of the "one-drop" rule. Asians and Latinos are successfully disengaging their national origins from the concept of race-like European immigrants before them-and these patterns are most evident in racially diverse parts of the country. For the first time in 2000, the U.S. Census enabled multiracial Americans to identify themselves as belonging to more than one race. Eight years later, multiracial Barack Obama was elected as the 44th President of the United States. For many, these events give credibility to the claim that the death knell has been sounded for institutionalized racial exclusion. The Diversity Paradox is an extensive and eloquent examination of how contemporary immigration and the country's new diversity are redefining the boundaries of race. The book also lays bare the powerful reality that as the old black/white color line fades a new one may well be emerging-with many African Americans still on the other side. Copyright © 2010 by American Sociological Association. All rights reserved.
Canadian Studies in Population 38, No. 3–4 (Fall/Winter 2011):153–6.
The Diversity Paradox: Immigration and the Colour Line
in Twenty-First Century America
by Jennifer Lee and Frank D. Bean
New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2010
ISBN 978-0871540416
Hardcover $37.50, 240 pp.
Reviewed by Sharon M. Lee
Department of Sociology
University of Victoria
This book by Jennifer Lee and Frank Bean, sociologists at the University of
California (Irvine), examines the role of three processes—the “new” (post-1965)
immigration, intermarriage trends, and multiracial identity—in increasing racial
and ethnic diversity in the U.S. and how these may be contributing to a redrawing
of the historical black/white colour line in that country.
The subject of how U.S. racial boundaries may be changing is of great interest
to researchers and the general public: the former shown by an extensive research
literature, the latter reected in numerous stories on race and multiraciality in the
mass media, including extensive coverage of President Barack Obama’s election in
2008 as the rst black and multiracial U.S. President. The idea of potentially new
colour lines emerging in the U.S., and what this may mean for notions of race,
“whiteness,” and “blackness,” is therefore intriguing for a country where race has
been—and, many believe, continues to be—a central organizing principle in daily
The book is divided into three parts, with ten chapters. Part I discusses the
historical background, theoretical framework, and sociodemographic context for
the study. There are four chapters in Part I, including one on racial categories in
the U.S. census and the role of the new immigration in altering ethnoracial1 diver-
sity in the U.S., particularly in metropolitan areas where immigrants tend to settle.
Part II consists of four chapters, which document and describe trends in intermar-
riage and multiracial identity, and results from interviews with various intermarried
and multiracial respondents. Part III contains two chapters: additional analysis in
Chapter 9 claries the relationships between ethnoracial diversity, intermarriage,
multiracial identity, and the diversity paradox of the book’s title, and the last chap-
ter is a conclusion that discusses possible future paths for America’s colour lines,
1. The authors use the term, “ethnoracial” to refer to the following ve categories:
Asians, blacks, Latinos, whites, and others.
Canadian Studies in Population 38, No. 3–4 (Fall/Winter 2011)
given the evidence. There are also an appendix describing the methodology used,
a list of references, and an index.
This volume is a welcome and important addition to the extant literature on
ethnoracial diversity in the United States. The authors combine quantitative analy-
sis, based on the 2000 census and 2007 and 2008 American Community Survey
data, with qualitative insights from personal interviews with a small sample of
intermarried and multiracial respondents in California to support their argument
that race in the U.S., historically centered on the black/white divide, is on the cusp
of a dramatic redrawing of colour lines. Findings from quantitative analysis con-
tain implications for the role of compositional and structural factors, while qualita-
tive ndings point to shifts in attitudes and sociocultural factors.
The quantitative analysis consists of descriptive trends in intermarriage and
multiracial reporting, and additional compositional analysis to map the geography
of increased ethnoracial diversity brought about by immigration, intermarriage,
and multiracial reporting. The quantitative analysis is carefully done and reects
the strong sociological and demographic perspectives brought to the volume by
the two primary authors (Lee and Bean) and their co-authors (James Bachmeier
and Zoya Gubernskaya in Chapter 4, and Bachmeier in Chapter 9).
The key ndings from the quantitative analysis show that the U.S. population
is indeed in the midst of dramatic transformations, mainly because of three inter-
related processes. First, contemporary immigration has introduced large popula-
tions of Latinos or Hispanics and Asians into a population historically made up of
a large white majority and small black minority. Latinos, at 15 per cent of the total
population, have replaced blacks as the largest minority, and the Asian popula-
tion has increased from just 1 per cent of the total in 1970 to 5 per cent by 2007.
Second, increased diversity has not dampened the secular trend of increased in-
termarriage reported by other researchers. This is an interesting nding, given the
expectation that increased group size of minority groups would reduce exogamy.
Indeed, intermarriage rates by Asians and Latinos (the two largest immigrant-
based populations) continue to exceed those of blacks, although intermarriage
rates have increased for all groups.
Finally, the trend of increased reporting of multiracial identity appears to
have continued since the landmark decision to allow the reporting of more than
one race in the 2000 census, despite an apparent decline if one were to simply
compare the 2.4 per cent who reported more than one race in the 2000 census
and the 2.2 per cent in the 2008 American Community Survey. The authors sug-
gest that the apparent decline was mostly due to respondents’ confusion over the
“other” race category that was offered as an option, and increased immigration.
Other reasons not discussed by the authors are that American Community Survey
data are not directly comparable with decennial census data, and the well-known
instability of racial and ethnic origin responses because of period, context, instru-
ment, and other factors.
The qualitative data derived from interviews with 36 intermarried couples
and 46 multiracial respondents residing in California provided additional insights
into how racial boundaries may be changing. The main qualitative ndings reveal
stark differences separating couples with one black partner from other intermar-
ried couples, and between black multiracials (that is, a multiracial person who re-
Lee review of Lee and Bean. 2010. The Diversity Paradox: Immigration and the Color Line
ported black and another background) and Asian and Latino multiracials (that is, a
multiracial person who reported either Asian or Latino and another background).
Intermarried blacks indicated greater opposition and difculties from their non-
black partners’ families and, for some, from their own families, while intermarried
Asians and Latinos generally reported that their race or background was not an
issue for their own or their partners’ families. For intermarried Asians and Latinos,
marriage with whites was perceived as part of “becoming American.”
A similar pattern emerged from interviews with multiracial respondents.
Black/white multiracials reported that they usually identied as black or perhaps
multiracial, but seldom as white, whereas Asian/white and Latino/white multira-
cials expressed greater exibility in their choice of racial identity. For these multi-
racials, racial identity appeared to be more situational and symbolic than ascribed.
The “diversity paradox” of the book’s title refers to what the authors termed
“black exceptionalism.” Blacks intermarry at a lower rate than Asians and Latinos,
intermarried blacks are more likely to experience negative responses to their ex-
ogamy, and multiracial blacks are more constrained in their choice of racial iden-
tity. To further clarify the relationship between increased diversity, intermarriage,
and multiracial identity, the authors conducted additional quantitative analysis with
data from the 1990 and 2000 censuses and 2007 and 2008 American Community
Surveys, using census metropolitan areas as the unit of analysis. Findings from
path analysis conrmed that increased ethnoracial diversity contributes to loosen-
ing of group boundaries for blacks, Asians, and Latinos, but a pattern of black
exceptionalism persists: increased size of the black population is related to lower
multiracial reporting, a nding that the authors attribute to a greater perceived
threat from an increased black population and, therefore, a hardening of racial
boundaries between blacks and others.
In the concluding chapter, the authors discuss the broader and long-term
implications of the ndings for the colour line in 21st-century America. Will the
concept and group boundary of “white” expand to incorporate Asians and La-
tinos, but with blacks remaining on the other side of an enduring white/black
divide? Or will Asians and Latinos remain neither white nor black, but in fact
more like white—an option that again leaves blacks on the other side? The authors
believe that the evidence detailed in this volume suggests that a black/non-black
colour line is re-emerging in the U.S., with profound implications for the status
and experience of all ethnoracial groups, but particularly for blacks who remain
marginalized on one side—hence, the sub-heading for the chapter: plus ça change,
plus c’est la même chose.
This is an impressive book and warrants reading by all who are interested
in contemporary racial and ethnic demography in the U.S. Findings from the
extensive empirical analyses are thoughtfully discussed and theoretically informed.
However, no work is perfect. One minor complaint is the repetition of material
(in some cases, the same sentences and phrases) in different parts of the book.
A tighter editing would have avoided this. A more important issue is the authors’
overly strong conclusions about their ndings.
Specically, while multiracial Asians and Latinos appear to have greater ex-
ibility in choice of ethnoracial identity, this population remains a small minority
of the Asian and Latino populations (around 12–14 per cent of Asians and per-
Canadian Studies in Population 38, No. 3–4 (Fall/Winter 2011)
haps 18 per cent of Latinos report more than one race). To conclude from the
quantitative ndings, and additional qualitative ndings, based on interviewing 16
Asian/white and 8 Latino/white multiracials in California that Asians and Latinos
may be “next in line to become white” seems a bit of a stretch. What about the
ethnoracial identity and experience of the over 80 per cent of monoracial Asians
and Latinos? It is doubtful that in their daily experiences, monoracial Asians and
Latinos are perceived and treated as more like whites than as ethnoracial minori-
ties in a U.S. society with its obvious ethnoracial hierarchy. Studies of several more
generations of exogamous and multiracial Asians and Latinos are needed before
one can conclude that a new colour line, be it an expanded white boundary that
includes multiracial Asians and Latinos (leading to a different white/black divide),
or a black/non-black line, has emerged. It therefore remains to be seen if and what
new colour lines are emerging in 21st-century America.
... The so-called 'contact theory' (Allport 1954;Enos 2017) builds upon the argument that interaction and contact between different groupsat least under certain conditionslead to more tolerance and positive perceptions between these groups (Gundelach and Freitag 2014;DeFina and Hannon 2009;Ellison and Powers 1994), and so decreases the votes for far-right parties (Sørensen 2016). In contrast, 'group conflict theory' argues that majority group members feel threatened by the presence of another racial or ethnic group (Lee and Bean 2010), leading to negative attitudes towards migrants and, therefore, to an increase in votes for the anti-immigration far-right (Becker and Fetzer 2016). ...
... The conditions under which individuals live might affect how they react to the exposure to asylumseekers and the presence of asylum-seekers' reception centres. In neighbourhoods characterised by a poor socio-economic situation and higher unemployment natives might feel more threatened by asylum-seekers (Coenders et al. 2008)e.g. because these are perceived as competitors on the job market or for access to other limited resources, like financial support (Lee and Bean 2010;Putnam 2007) and, hence, be more likely to vote for far-right parties (see Bolet 2020; Halla, Wagner, and Zweimüller 2017; Barone et al. 2016). Therefore, our second hypothesis states: H2: The negative foreseen impact of exposure to asylum-seeking migration on votes for the AfD is expected to be bigger in rich or better-off districts compared to poor or worse-off districts. ...
... If an immigrant group is already present in a context, any positive effects of the arrival of new groups of asylum-seekers on far-right voting behaviour might be reduced. The presence of many different groups lessens the salience of any single group (Lee and Bean 2010). Therefore, geographic proximity to already settled immigrants tends to dilute negative reactions to more recent migrant flows and farright voting. ...
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This article analyses the impact of exposure to asylum-seeking migration during the European ‘refugee crisis’ on votes for the far-right Alternative für Deutschland at the 2019 European elections in Berlin. While other scholars investigated the relationship between locals’ exposure to asylum-seekers and far-right voting, we analyse this relationship at a very small scale (electoral district level), adopting an innovative methodological approach, based on geo-localization techniques and high-resolution spatial statistics. Furthermore, we assess the impact on this relationship of some previously neglected variables. Through spatial regression models, we show that exposure to asylum-seeking migration is negatively correlated with AfD vote shares, which provides support for so-called ‘contact theory’ and that the relationship is stronger in better-off districts. Remarkably, the relationship is weaker in districts containing bigger reception centres, which suggests that the effects of asylum-seeking migration depend on the perceived contact intensity (and, therefore, a moderating effect of reception centre size). Finally, the effects of districts’ socio-economic deprivation on the relationship between exposure to asylum-seeking migration and AfD vote shares is different in districts located in former East and West Berlin, which suggests an effect of socio-cultural history on the relationship between exposure to migration and far-right voting.
... The population that identifies with two or more races increased dramatically between 2010 to 2020, from nine million to more than 34 million (U.S. Census, 2021). This massive shift continues the ongoing narrowing of social distance between racial groups through intimate interactions (Alba & Nee, 2005;Lee & Bean, 2010;Qian & Lichter, 2011) as well as the generation of complex racial identities amongst American children and adults (e.g., Burton et al., 2010;Pew Research Center, 2015). As captured amongst current unions using the U.S. Census, referred to hereafter as the Census, and American Community Survey data, multiracial families have become more common over the past 40 years. ...
... Despite the legal victories of the Civil Rights era that dismantled de jure segregation, including the Supreme Court decision nullifying bans against interracial marriage (Loving v. Virginia, 1967), segregation persists in neighborhoods, churches, schools, and occupations (Emerson & Smith, 2000;Krysan & Crowder, 2017). However, the growth of interracial coupling, mixed-race offspring, and recognition of multiracial identities in recent decades represent critical exceptions to these patterns (Campbell & Herman, 2014;Lee & Bean, 2010). Importantly, race still stratifies how one marries more so than education or religion (Rosenfeld, 2008) demonstrating the endurance of racial boundaries, even in the lives of those who cross them to form families and rear children (Campion, 2019). ...
... We observe that racial divides are very much still at work in drawing boundaries around interracial partnerships and family types, and remain durable over time. While intermarriage has long been regarded as a critical measure to demarcate racial boundaries in the U.S. (Lee & Bean, 2010), these racial divides remain for interracial partnerships outside of marital contexts. Thus, interracial unions and interracial parentage rather than interracial coupling alone may serve as a more comprehensive measure of social distance across racial groups as families continue to change (Powell et al., 2016). ...
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Racially mixed children are a rapidly expanding segment of American families, signaling the ongoing blurring of racial boundaries. Most of what is known about multiraciality is drawn from analyses of two-parent families even as marriage became decreasingly tied to childbearing. The current study tracked the prevalence and racial composition of multiracial families where parents are married and unmarried from 1980 until 2018 using data from the U.S. Census and American Community Survey. We find that multiracial families are increasingly common amongst married and unmarried parents with the greatest growth occurring among White unmarried mothers, nearly 15% of whom have multiracial children as of 2018. Additionally, we find that Asian-White and Hispanic-White children are more likely to live in married families while Black-White and dual minority children are disproportionately represented amongst single-parent families. Ultimately, capturing the complexity of racialized contexts where multiracial children are found, as well as how the prevalence of these contexts has changed over time, requires accounting for family structure differences.
... Notably, this man and a woman preferring whites explicitly said "no blacks" when describing their preferences. Our participants' exclusion of blacks from their dating pool corroborates previous intermarriage research documenting black exceptionalism, that is, boundaries involving blacks are more rigid than those involving non-blacks Tienda 2017, 2018 ;Lee and Bean 2010). ...
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In light of the growing racialized immigrant population in Canada and advances in dating technologies, this study examines Chinese immigrants' partner preferences and mate selection processes through the lens of online dating. We draw on in-depth interviews with 31 Chinese immigrants who have used online dating services in Metro Vancouver to search for different-sex partners. Chinese immigrant online daters show strong preferences for dating Chinese. They emphasize permanent residency status and similarity in age at arrival when evaluating potential partners. Given their preferences, Chinese immigrants strategically choose the dating platforms they primarily use. Men exhibit higher selectivity in their preferences and choices of platforms. Notably, platforms catering to Chinese users create "digital ethnic enclaves" where Chinese immigrant daters congregate. The findings illuminate the intersection of race, gender, immigrant status, and age at arrival in shaping divergent experiences of mate selection and immigrant assimilation in the digital era.
... While media reports headline the growth of the multiracial population, the reporting of this data does not acknowledge that multiracial individuals and groups have vastly differentiated experiences based upon their racial group membership and appearances. For example, the rate of interracial marriage between whites and Asians and Latinos is considerably higher than that between white and Black individuals (Lee and Bean 2010). Colorism among Latinx communities and the tendency of Latinx to identify as white more than any other minoritized group (Davenport 2016) potentially signal differentiated strategies into whiteness. ...
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In this article, I examine how political and media discourses of multiraciality are deployed to justify guilt and innocence. I trace the deployment of multiraciality to determine who is deserving of life or death in media coverage, political rhetoric, and court records during Obama’s presidency, in George Zimmerman’s 2013 acquittal, and in the 2021 killing of Daunte Wright. I examine the weaponization of discourses of multiracial identities as tools of white supremacy and anti-Blackness. Through such weaponization, the construction of the multiracial man as an index of racial progress and post-racism evident in the Barack Obama era enabled the violence and miscarriages of justice in the killings of Trayvon Martin and Daunte Wright. I consider how transnational and U.S. narratives of multiraciality, joined with anti-Blackness and white supremacy, enabled the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Furthermore, I examine how white womanhood and fears of Black masculinity facilitated the sympathy garnered towards Kim Potter. In considering the killing of Daunte Wright, this paper shows how multiraciality and racial malleability are valuable only when utilized for preserving racial hierarchies.
... Whether such higher income is a cause, effect, or byproduct of being multiracial remains unclear, although existing literature suggests that it may be all of these. The desegregation movement itself, driven by growing racial acceptance, has fostered multiracial social networks and environments, at work, in classrooms, and neighborhoods (Alba & Nee, 2003, Alba & Yrizar Barbosa, 2016, Gordon, 1964, Le Gall & Meintel, 2015, Lee & Bean, 2010, Livingston & Brown, 2017, Simons et al., 2012. These shared relationships and spaces have spurred the momentum for integration, opening doors to educational and economic opportunities hitherto unavailable to individuals of minority race (Bratter & Whitehead, 2018, Canales, 2000, Hunter, 2007, Luke & Carrington, 2000. ...
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Little is known regarding how family racial structure and income intersect to produce health outcomes. We assessed infant health outcomes (weeks gestation and first year infant mortality rates (IMR)) by family racial structure (specific race group affiliation, and whether multiracial), examining the degree to which income (insurance type as proxy) interacts with family racial composition to predict infant health outcomes. This cross-sectional study utilized secondary data analysis of birth records and linked infant birth/death records spanning a 14 year period (2006–2019) for a single U.S. county. Income was dichotomized into low income and high income based upon insurance type. Race and ancestry data from infant, maternal, and paternal sources were combined into six pan-ethnic categories (Black, Asian, White, Native-American, Latino, and Middle Eastern). We used Generalized Estimating Equation to obtain the associations between a composite race x multiracial x income predictor and outcomes (infant death, weeks gestation), accounting for repeated mother births. Findings reveal that infants with Black heritage have the worst outcomes (12.34 IMR). Multiracial infants (20.5% of the population) tend to be from higher income families than monoracial minority infants. Looking further, we find that this translates to better outcomes depending on racial group and multiraciality. Multiracial higher-income Black families have substantially better outcomes (2.85 IMR) than their single Black race (12.63 IMR) or lower income multiracial peers (16.16 IMR). Single race White families also see health gains with higher income (3.60 IMR versus 6.02 IMR). Other minority race families, whether single or multiracial, see little health gain with higher income; instead, whether this group is multiracial or not is the determining feature (being single-race rather than multiracial is associated with better outcomes (0.97 IMR versus 5.39 IMR)).
... Within the U.S., the number of marriages involving partners from different racial and ethnic backgrounds has risen sharply over the past few decades (Lee & Bean 2010, Qian & Lichter 2011, Wang, 2012. In the 1980s, only about 3% of marriages were interracial, meaning partners were of different races (Wang, 2012), by 2017, approximately 17% of marriages were between spouses of different races and/or ethnicities (Livingston & Brown, 2017). ...
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Within the United States, approximately 17% of marriages occur between spouses of different races and/or ethnicities, while 1 out of every 7 children born identify as multiracial. Research suggests that, compared with monoracial couples, multiracial couples are at increased risk for negative relationship outcomes including divorce or separation. Although little research explores why these disparities exist, we surmise that poorer relational outcomes in multiracial families may be the result of heightened conflict caused by a greater difference in partners’ values and beliefs. In an understudied sample of expectant couples working in low-wage jobs, we examine differences in partner gender ideology and parenting beliefs as possible mechanisms underlying differential outcomes in relationship quality among multiracial families. This study examines whether the relationship between couple’s racial and ethnic composition (i.e., same versus different racial/ethnic backgrounds) and relationship quality (conflict, love, satisfaction) is mediated by differences in parenting beliefs and gender ideology. It is hypothesized that one mechanism that explains poorer outcomes (i.e., more conflict, less love, less satisfaction) is greater cross-racial differences in parenting beliefs and gender ideologies. Results indicated that multiracial families have lower love and relationship satisfaction and greater partner differences in gender ideology beliefs, however, gender ideology did not mediate the relationship between couple type and relationship quality. Overall, this study highlights the need for more longitudinal research and the exploration of other mechanisms underlying the different relationship outcomes for monoracial and multiracial families like social support, religiosity, and multicultural values.
This study examines thematic content and discourse surrounding multiracial socialization between Black and non‐Black multiracial families on multiracial mommy blogs. Mommy blogs have been recognized as a medium through which mothers challenge dominant representations of motherhood, create community with other mothers, and seek out advice. But little is known about how mothers write about and discuss race, racism, and multiracial socialization online. This study addresses this knowledge gap by analyzing how a niche of bloggers—mothers to multiracial children—construct narratives surrounding race, multiraciality, and multiracial socialization online and how their narratives differ by the racial makeup of the blogger's family. Using a MultiCrit framework, this study analyzes 13 mommy blogs written by mothers of color with multiracial children. Blogs were analyzed for thematic content related to race, racial identification, multiraciality, and multiracial socialization. The findings demonstrate that mothers' orientations to multiracial socialization vary depending on whether the blogger has Black or non‐Black multiracial children. Bloggers who are mothers to Black multiracial children blogged frequently about their engagement in safety socialization, whereas mothers with non‐Black multiracial children did not. The stark difference between thematic content from bloggers with and without Black multiracial children highlights the differing experiences among Black and non‐Black multiracial people, for mothers of Black multiracial children, and the implications anti‐Black racism has on family processes.
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The study of multiracial people in the United States has typically focused on the experiences of Black–White racially-mixed individuals. In this article, we review and analyze the theoretical and evidence base for the White-leaning characterization of Asian–White multiracials. Historically, Asian Americans have been positioned as a “racial middle” group in relation to White and Black Americans. In line with this perceived racial position, Asian–White multiracials have been generally characterized as being more White than Black–White multiracials, as well as “leaning White” in terms of self-identification. While there is growing recognition of the variability of experiences among Black–White multiracials, the depiction of Asian multiracials as White-leaning—though based on limited empirical evidence—continues to be prominent, revealing the tendency to view Asian–White individuals through a “White racial frame.” The racial identifications and experiences of Asian–White multiracials are far more complex than such a view suggests. We argue for the need to advance studies on Asian mixed-race people to accurately capture their racial positioning within a system of White supremacy, including the diversity of their identifications, political views, and racialized experiences.
We leverage the emerging multiracial population to reexamine prominent theories of the American color line. A Black exceptionalism hypothesis suggests that Black heritage will be more restrictive of biracials' social and political assimilation prospects than Asian or Latino heritage. Black exceptionalism better explains biracials' sorting into the racial hierarchy than does classic assimilation theory or a people‐of‐color hypothesis. In the American Community Survey, Black heritage dominates subjective racial self‐identification among biracial adults and identity assignments to children of interracial marriages. In the 2015 Pew Survey of Multiracials, Black‐White biracials' social identity, social networks, perceptions and experiences of discrimination, and political attitudes relevant to race resemble those of monoracial Blacks, whereas Latino‐Whites and Asian‐Whites are more similar to monoracial Whites than to their minority‐group counterparts. Results suggest that even in a more racially mixed future, Black Americans will continue to be uniquely situated behind a most impermeable color line.
There is a growing group of adolescents and young adults in the USA who identify as multiracial. However, very little research, especially health research, focuses on understanding multiracial identification and health and behavioral outcomes for multiracial populations in comparison to their single-race counterparts. Understanding the intersectional influences on this identification process is critical to updating the literature on racial and ethnic identity and health with more accurate identifications and categories. It is especially critical that there is an explicit focus on understanding the impact of structural racism and discrimination when studying the process of racial identification and the impact on health. This review takes an interdisciplinary approach relying on a review of multiple research literatures: the historical literature on race, racism and categorization, psychological and adolescent medicine literatures on adolescent development, the sociological literature on racial and ethnic identification, and the limited public health research beginning to disentangle multiracial health outcomes. An empirically testable conceptual framework is offered to frame the organization of this review—demonstrating the multiple spheres of influence on racial and ethnic identification and the implication for health outcomes.
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Interracial marriages between blacks and majority group members often face higher social sanctions than other types of interracial marriages. Therefore, majority group members in interracial marriages with a black partner may learn to conceptualize racial issues differently than those without black partners. This paper conducts a preliminary investigation into whether the racial perspectives of white spouses in interracial marriages with blacks are different from the perspectives of whites in interracial marriages with non-blacks. White partners of twenty-one interracial marriages are interviewed. While whites married to non-blacks alter their racial perspectives, they do not experience racism as do whites married to blacks. These experiences of racism may change white perspectives on specific racial issues such as affirmative action and racial profiling. This research suggests the experiences of whites in interracial marriages vary depending on the race of their marital partners.
The multiracial movement has raised public awareness that millions of individuals with mixed-race backgrounds do not fit into the racial categories established by the government. What this movement has ignored however, are the ways in which existing racial categories expand to incorporate groups once considered outside of a particular racial category. The social and physical markers that define whiteness are constantly in a state of flux, shifting in response to sociohistoric conditions. Groups once on the margins of whiteness, such as Italians and the Irish, are now part of the dominant group. National survey data and my interviews with whites suggest a process similar to the incorporation of Southern and Eastern Europeans into the "white" race is taking place among certain parts of the Asian and Latino populations in the United States. I argue that the racial category "white" is expanding to include those ethnic and racial groups who are recognized as being socially, culturally, and physically similar to the dominant group.
The majority of new immigrants still settle in the traditional gateway cities; but as Douglas Massey and Chiara Capoferro show in chapter 2 of this volume, California and New York became much less dominant in the 1990s and during the early years of the new century than they were during the 1970s and 1980s. Immigrants now settle in small towns as well as large cities and in the interior as well as on the coasts. Immigrants have discovered the Middle West (see chapters 7 and 8 of this volume, by Katherine Fennelly and David Griffith, respectively) and the South (see chapter 6, by Katherine Donato and Carl L. Bankston III; chapter 9, by Helen B. Morrow; and chapter 10, by Jamie Winders) as well as traditional gateways in the East and West (see chapter 11, by Debra Lattanzi Shutika, and chapter 12, by Michael Jones-Correa). Given the virtual absence of immigrants in many regions of the United States up to 1990, even a small shift away from traditional gateways implied huge relative increases at new destinations. The absolute numbers of new immigrants arriving in Georgia, North Carolina, and Nevada may number only in the hundreds of thousands, but in relative terms the growth of immigrant communities in these areas is frequently off the charts.
This article examines the ethnic identity of the offspring of Mexican/white (non-Hispanic) intermarriages, or multiethnic Mexican Americans, using 20 in-depth interviews with multiethnic Mexican Americans in California. Interviews indicate that respondents gravitate toward a Mexican American ethnic identity since it is the most salient ethnicity in their social environment. But as respondents choose their identities, they confront ethnic boundaries, or sharp division between ethnic categories, that influence the extent to which they feel free to assert any one particular identity. They respond to these boundaries by taking a symbolic approach, a Mexican American approach, a multiethnic approach to their ethnicity, and a combination of these approaches.
Objective. Assimilation and enclosure models of ethnicity developed for European-American populations predict that ethnic identity is maintained in contexts of structural and cultural isolation, but becomes fluid and optional outside of those contexts. The research tests the applicability of these models to the Hispanic-origin population. Methods. We analyze data for respondents who self-identified with a Hispanic origin in response to the first survey administered to the High School and Beyond (HS&B) panel. We estimate a logistic regression model to identify correlates of reporting non-Hispanic identity in response to the second-wave survey, administered two years later. Results. English monolingualism and attendance at a school with few Hispanic students are strongly associated with inconsistent reporting of Hispanic identity. Increasing socioeconomic status has a weaker effect. Inconsistent Hispanic identification is less common in urban areas and in census divisions with large Hispanic populations. Conclusions. Assimilation and enclosure models do apply to the sampled population. Hispanic identity becomes inconsistent for Hispanic-origin teenagers who do not speak Spanish. Growth of Hispanic-origin populations may counteract this effect in the future.