Multiracial American

Multiracial American

Overview
Multiracial Americans, US residents who identify themselves as of "two or more races"
Multiracial
The terms multiracial and mixed-race describe people whose ancestries come from multiple races. Unlike the term biracial, which often is only used to refer to having parents or grandparents of two different races, the term multiracial may encompass biracial people but can also include people with...

, were numbered at around 9 million, or 2.9% of the population, in the census of 2010. However there is considerable evidence that the real number is far higher. Prior to the mid-20th century many people hid their multiracial heritage. Consequently many Americans today are multi-racial without knowing it.

Since the 1967 Supreme Court decision
Loving v. Virginia
Loving v. Virginia, , was a landmark civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, the "Racial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v...

 that deemed anti-miscegenation laws
Anti-miscegenation laws
Anti-miscegenation laws, also known as miscegenation laws, were laws that enforced racial segregation at the level of marriage and intimate relationships by criminalizing interracial marriage and sometimes also sex between members of different races...

 unconstitutional, there has been a considerable increase in the number of interracial couples and mixed-race children.
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Multiracial Americans, US residents who identify themselves as of "two or more races"
Multiracial
The terms multiracial and mixed-race describe people whose ancestries come from multiple races. Unlike the term biracial, which often is only used to refer to having parents or grandparents of two different races, the term multiracial may encompass biracial people but can also include people with...

, were numbered at around 9 million, or 2.9% of the population, in the census of 2010. However there is considerable evidence that the real number is far higher. Prior to the mid-20th century many people hid their multiracial heritage. Consequently many Americans today are multi-racial without knowing it.

Since the 1967 Supreme Court decision
Loving v. Virginia
Loving v. Virginia, , was a landmark civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, the "Racial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v...

 that deemed anti-miscegenation laws
Anti-miscegenation laws
Anti-miscegenation laws, also known as miscegenation laws, were laws that enforced racial segregation at the level of marriage and intimate relationships by criminalizing interracial marriage and sometimes also sex between members of different races...

 unconstitutional, there has been a considerable increase in the number of interracial couples and mixed-race children. Until 1989, children continued to be classified as belonging to the race of the non-white parent, reflecting historical hypodescent
Hypodescent
In societies that regard some races of people as dominant or superior and others as subordinate or inferior, hypodescent is the automatic assignment of children of a mixed union or mating between members of different socioeconomic groups or ethnic groups to the subordinate group...

 laws. Since the 1980s, the United States has had a growing multiracial identity movement, culminating in the 2000 census, which for the first time presented the opportunity to self-identify as multiracial, and the election of Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

, the first President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 with an acknowledged multiracial background, in November 2008
United States presidential election, 2008
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat Barack Obama, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. Obama received 365...

.

History


The American people are mostly multi-ethnic descendants of various culturally distinct immigrant nationalities. Assimilation
Cultural assimilation
Cultural assimilation is a socio-political response to demographic multi-ethnicity that supports or promotes the assimilation of ethnic minorities into the dominant culture. The term assimilation is often used with regard to immigrants and various ethnic groups who have settled in a new land. New...

 and integration
Racial integration
Racial integration, or simply integration includes desegregation . In addition to desegregation, integration includes goals such as leveling barriers to association, creating equal opportunity regardless of race, and the development of a culture that draws on diverse traditions, rather than merely...

 began to take place in the second half of the 20th century, notably as the result of the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968), but the multiracial identity remains marginal, embraced by well below 5% of the population, in the 2000s.

Interracial marriage in the United States
Interracial marriage in the United States
Interracial marriage in the United States has been fully legal in all U.S. states since the 1967 Supreme Court decision that deemed anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, with many states choosing to legalize interracial marriage at much earlier dates...

, most notably between whites and blacks, was deemed illegal by anti-miscegenation laws in most states in parts of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 and the western US
Western United States
.The Western United States, commonly referred to as the American West or simply "the West," traditionally refers to the region comprising the westernmost states of the United States. Because the U.S. expanded westward after its founding, the meaning of the West has evolved over time...

 had similar laws to prohibit European-Asian American marriages until the 1950s.

Early United States history


In spite of social stigma and legal persecution, interracial and multiracial relationships have a long history in the United States, that started with the intermixing of the native population and European settlers. One of the most famous and controversial was the relationship between Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 and Sally Hemings
Sally Hemings
Sarah "Sally" Hemings was a mixed-race slave owned by President Thomas Jefferson through inheritance from his wife. She was the half-sister of Jefferson's wife, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson by their father John Wayles...

, who was said to have borne several multiracial children by him. Some Africans were freed as early as the 17th century. Many of those "free Negroes" migrated to the frontiers of Virginia and North Carolina, together with other settlers.

In 1789 Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano also known as Gustavus Vassa, was a prominent African involved in the British movement towards the abolition of the slave trade. His autobiography depicted the horrors of slavery and helped influence British lawmakers to abolish the slave trade through the Slave Trade Act of 1807...

, a former slave turned abolitionist, published his autobiography, which advocated interracial marriage between whites and blacks.

In 1790, the first population census enumerators were asked to classify free residents as white or "other." Slaves were counted separately.

20th century


Although by the late 20th century, multi-racialism was becoming more acknowledged in the U.S., it was not until 1967 that miscegenation laws were ruled unconstitutional, most famously in the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 case, Loving v. Virginia
Loving v. Virginia
Loving v. Virginia, , was a landmark civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, the "Racial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v...

.

By 1990, there were more than a dozen more ethnic/racial categories on the census, reflecting not only changing social ideas about ethnicity, but the expanded regions of the world from which immigrants were arriving after changes to immigration laws in the 1960s. In a United States in which racial mixing has been increasingly acknowledged and society is becoming more diverse, identifying oneself by just one category has been difficult. The Census Bureau changed its data collection by allowing people to check off more than one classification when identifying their ancestry.

The proportion of multiracial children in the United States is growing. Interracial partnerships are on the rise, as are transracial adoptions. In 1990, about 14% of 18- to 19-year-olds, 12% of 20- to 21-year-olds and 7% of 34- to 35-year-olds were involved in interracial relationships (Joyner and Kao, 2005).

Demographics


Some multiracial individuals feel marginalized by U.S. society. For example, when applying to schools or for a job, or when taking standardized tests, Americans are sometimes asked to check boxes corresponding to race or ethnicity. Typically, about five race choices are given with the instruction to "check only one." Many other such surveys include an additional "other" box, but this unfortunately groups together individuals of many different multiracial types (ex: European Americans/African-Americans are grouped with Asian/Native American Indians).

The 2000 U.S. Census in the write-in response category had a code listing which standardizes the placement of various write-in responses for automatic placement within the framework of the U.S. Census's enumerated races. Whereas most responses can be distinguished as falling into one of the five enumerated races, there remains some write-in responses which fall into the "Mixture" heading which can't be racially categorized. These include "Bi Racial, Combination, Everything, Many, Mixed, Multi National, Multiple, Several and Various".

In 1997, Greg Mayeda, a Board of Directors person for the Hapa Issues Forum, attended a meeting regarding the new racial classifications for the 2000 U.S. Census. He was arguing against a multiracial category and for multiracial people being counted as all of their races. He argued that a "separate Multiracial Box does not allow a person who identifies as mixed race the opportunity to be counted accurately. After all, we are not just mixed race. We are representatives of all racial groups and should be counted as such. A stand alone Multiracial Box reveals very little about the person's background checking it."

There remain many circumstances in which biracial individuals are left with no real response when asked for demographic data. But multiracial people won a victory of sorts after years of effort when in 1997, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) changed the federal regulation of racial categories to permit multiple responses, resulting in a new format for the 2000 United States Census
United States Census
The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by the United States Constitution. The population is enumerated every 10 years and the results are used to allocate Congressional seats , electoral votes, and government program funding. The United States Census Bureau The United States Census...

, which allowed participants to select more than one of the six available categories, which were, in brief: "White
White American
White Americans are people of the United States who are considered or consider themselves White. The United States Census Bureau defines White people as those "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa...

," "Black or African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

," "Asian
Asian American
Asian Americans are Americans of Asian descent. The U.S. Census Bureau definition of Asians as "Asian” refers to a person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan,...

," "American Indian or Alaskan Native
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

," "Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
Pacific Islander American
Pacific Islander Americans, also known as Oceanian Americans, are residents of the United States with original ancestry from Oceania. They represent the smallest racial group counted in the United States census of 2000. They numbered 874,000 people or 0.3 percent of the United States population...

," and "Other." Further details are given in the article: Race (U.S. census). The OMB made its directive mandatory for all government forms by 2003.

According to James P. Allen and Eugene Turner from California State University
California State University
The California State University is a public university system in the state of California. It is one of three public higher education systems in the state, the other two being the University of California system and the California Community College system. It is incorporated as The Trustees of the...

, Northridge, by some calculations in the 2000 Census the actual multiracial population that is part white, by far the largest percentage of the multiracial population, is as follows: the largest part of the white bi-racial population, is white/Native American and Alaskan Native, at 7,015,017, followed by white/black at 737,492, then white/Asian at 727,197, and finally white/Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander at 125,628.

In 2010, 1.6 million Americans checked both "black" and "white" on their census forms, a figure 134 percent higher than the number a decade earlier.

Identity



Given the variety of the familial and general social environments in which multiracial children are raised, along with the diversity of their appearance (vis-a-vis their component races and their family members), it can be difficult to make generalizations about multiracial children's challenges or opportunities.

The racial social identity
Social identity
A social identity is the portion of an individual's self-concept derived from perceived membership in a relevant social group. As originally formulated by Henri Tajfel and John Turner in the 1970s and 80s, social identity theory introduced the concept of a social identity as a way in which to...

 of children and that of their parents in the same multiracial family may vary or be the same. Some multiracial children feel pressure from various sources to "choose" or to assimilate into a single racial identity, while others whose identity or lifestyle is perceived to be closer to some of their component races than others may feel pressure not to abandon one or more of their ethnicities. Many other have chosen to create a whole new type of racial category as in the case of Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods
Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods is an American professional golfer whose achievements to date rank him among the most successful golfers of all time. Formerly the World No...

, who has claimed this he is not just an African American but "Cablinasian," a mixture of Caucasian, African American, Native American, and Asian.

Still other children grow up without race being a significant issue in their lives.

African Americans



Americans with Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

n ancestry for historical reasons (one-drop rule
One-drop rule
The one-drop rule is a historical colloquial term in the United States for the social classification as black of individuals with any African ancestry; meaning any person with "one drop of black blood" was considered black...

, one-eighth law) tend to self-identify as African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 even if they have significant European American
European American
A European American is a citizen or resident of the United States who has origins in any of the original peoples of Europe...

 or Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 ancestry.
For African Americans, the one-drop system of pigmentocracy
Colorism
Colorism is prejudice or discrimination in which human beings are accorded differing social treatment based on skin color. The preference often gets translated into economic status because of opportunities for work. Colorism can be found across the world...

 was a significant factor in ethnic solidarity. African Americans generally shared a common lot in society and, therefore, common cause, regardless of their multiracial
Multiracial
The terms multiracial and mixed-race describe people whose ancestries come from multiple races. Unlike the term biracial, which often is only used to refer to having parents or grandparents of two different races, the term multiracial may encompass biracial people but can also include people with...

 admixture or social and economic stratification. Another factor adding to the difficulty of people of African American descent learning about their Native American heritage is elder family members withholding pertinent genealogical information. Tracing the genealogy of African Americans can be a very difficult process, especially for descendants of Native Americans, because African Americans who were slaves were forbidden to learn to read and write, and a majority of Native Americans neither spoke English, nor read or wrote it.
In the 1980s, parents of mixed-race children began to organize and lobby for the addition of a more inclusive term of racial designation that would reflect the heritage of their children. When the U.S. government proposed the addition of the category of "bi-racial" or "multiracial" in 1988, the response from the public was mostly negative. Some African American organizations, and African American leaders such as Congresswoman Diane Watson
Diane Watson
Diane Edith Watson is a former US Representative for , serving from 2003 until 2011. She is a member of the Democratic Party...

 and Congressman Augustus Hawkins, were particularly vocal in their rejection of the category, fearing massive defection from the African American self-designation.
During the 1990s and 2000s, the terms mixed-race, biracial, and multiracial were used increasingly, although it still remains common for those who possess any visible traits of black heritage to identify or be identified solely as blacks or African Americans.
Thus, Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

, who is of East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

n and White American
White American
White Americans are people of the United States who are considered or consider themselves White. The United States Census Bureau defines White people as those "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa...

 ancestry to equal parts (excepting that, according to his memoir, his mother may have had Cherokee
Cherokee
The Cherokee are a Native American people historically settled in the Southeastern United States . Linguistically, they are part of the Iroquoian language family...

 as well as White ancestry) self-identifies as African American, A majority of Asian and African Americans consider Obama black, while a majority of White and Latin Americans of any race classify him as biracial.

A 2003 study found an average of 18.6% (±1.5%) European admixture in a population sample of 416 African Americans from Washington, DC.
African Americans can be classed into two types for genetic purposes, based on ancestry: those who are "mostly African" (less than 25% European) and those who are "mostly mixed" ("over 25% European"); according a 2006 study, African Americans fall primarily into the first group with 80% of the population being "mostly African".
20% has more than 25% European ancestry, reflecting long history of both groups in the U.S. The "mostly African" group is substantially African, as 70% of African Americans in this group have less than 15% European ancestry.
The 20% African Americans in the "mostly mixed" group (2.7% of US population) are almost entirely between 25% and 50% European.
If the "mostly mixed" African Americans are included in the count, the demographic segment of US residents of mixed-race ancestry would rise to some 15 million, or 5% of population. In addition, more recent studies agreed by some historians estimate that most African Americans have significant Native American heritage due to many different circumstances in different families. African Americans with Native American descent have been accused either of not having Native American ancestry or of possessing little Native ancestry. One reason for this may be that the genetic tests used to test for how much Indian Blood a person has does not present a complete picture, as argued by numerous geneticists, because tests trace direct male or female bloodlines only and thus exclude most ancestors.

For example, the short series African American Lives
African American Lives
African American Lives is a PBS television miniseries hosted by historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr., focusing on African American genealogical research...

 was greatly criticized because the program did not acknowledge nor inform those who were tested that not all ancestry may show up in the tests, especially for those who claimed part-Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 descent. The genetic tests done only research a few ancestors, resulting in false negatives being given to the test taker. It is possible that while some Native American groups sampled did not share the pattern of markers being searched for, others might, since these genetic markers do not exclusively belong to any one group of our existing racial, ethnic, linguistic, or tribal typologies. In addition, not all Native Americans have been tested, so scientists do not know for sure that Native Americans have only the genetic markers they have identified, even when their maternal or paternal bloodline does not include a non-Native American.

Admixture


On census forms, the government depends on individuals' self-identification. Due in part to a centuries-old history within the United States, historical experiences pre- and post-slavery, and migrations throughout North America, contemporary African Americans possess varying degrees of admixture with European ancestry. A percentage also have various degrees of Native American ancestry.

Based on Mark Shriver's research, historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr., is an American literary critic, educator, scholar, writer, editor, and public intellectual. He was the first African American to receive the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship. He has received numerous honorary degrees and awards for his teaching, research, and...

 put African American ancestry in these terms:
  • 58 percent of African Americans have at least 12.5 percent European ancestry (equivalent of one great-grandparent);
  • 19.6 percent of African Americans have at least 25 percent European ancestry (equivalent of one grandparent);
  • 1 percent of African Americans have at least 50 percent European ancestry (equivalent of one parent); and
  • 5 percent of African Americans have at least 12.5 percent Native American ancestry (equivalent to one great-grandparent).


The most numerous families of free African Americans in the Upper South by the end of the 18th century were descended from white women, free or servant, and African men, slaves, free or indentured servants, who worked and lived closely together during the colonial period in Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

. Their free descendants migrated to the frontier of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina in the 18th and 19th centuries. There were also similar free families in Delaware and Maryland, as documented by Paul Heinegg. In addition, many Native American women turned to African American men due to the decline of Native American men. Native American women were also buying African slaves but unknown to European sellers the women were freeing the African men and marrying them into their respective tribe. Furthermore, it was beneficial for an African American man to have children by a Native American woman because children followed the status of their mother making them free.

In their attempt to ensure white separatism, in the early 20th century some southern states created laws defining a person as black if the person had any known African ancestry. This was a stricter interpretation than what had prevailed earlier and went against commonly accepted social rules of judging a person by appearance. It became known as the one-drop rule
One-drop rule
The one-drop rule is a historical colloquial term in the United States for the social classification as black of individuals with any African ancestry; meaning any person with "one drop of black blood" was considered black...

, meaning that a single drop of "black blood" made a person "black". Some courts called it the traceable amount rule. Anthropologists called it the hypodescent
Hypodescent
In societies that regard some races of people as dominant or superior and others as subordinate or inferior, hypodescent is the automatic assignment of children of a mixed union or mating between members of different socioeconomic groups or ethnic groups to the subordinate group...

 rule, meaning that racially mixed persons were assigned the status of the subordinate group.

Prior to the one-drop rule, different states had different laws regarding color. More importantly, social acceptance often played a bigger role in how a person was perceived and how identity was construed than any law. In frontier areas there were fewer questions about origins, and the community looked at how people performed, whether they served in the militia and voted. When questions about racial identity arose because of inheritance issues, for instance, litigation outcomes often were based on how people were accepted by neighbors.

In Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 prior to 1920, for example, a person was legally black if he or she had at least one-eighth black ancestry. The one-drop rule originated in some Southern United States in the late 19th century, likely in response to whites' attempt to limit black political power following the Democrats' regaining control of state legislatures in the late 1870s. The first year in which the U.S. Census did not count mulattoes separately was 1920, evidencing a shift in the American conception of what an African American is.

For African Americans, the one-drop system of pigmentocracy
Colorism
Colorism is prejudice or discrimination in which human beings are accorded differing social treatment based on skin color. The preference often gets translated into economic status because of opportunities for work. Colorism can be found across the world...

 became a significant factor in ethnic solidarity. The binary division of society by race forced African Americans to share more of a common lot in society than they might have after the Civil War, given widely varying ancestry, educational and economic levels. The binary division altered the separate status of the traditionally free people of color in Louisiana, for instance, although they maintained a strong Louisiana Créole culture related to French culture and language, and practice of Catholicism. African Americans began to create common cause—regardless of their multiracial
Multiracial
The terms multiracial and mixed-race describe people whose ancestries come from multiple races. Unlike the term biracial, which often is only used to refer to having parents or grandparents of two different races, the term multiracial may encompass biracial people but can also include people with...

 admixture or social and economic stratification. In further changes, during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, the African American community increased its own pressure for people of any portion of African descent to be claimed solely by the black community.

By the 1980s, parents of mixed-race children (and adults of mixed-race ancestry) began to organize and lobby for the ability to show more than one ethnic category on Census and other legal forms. They refused to be put into just one category. When the U.S. government proposed the addition of the category of "bi-racial" or "multiracial" in 1988, the response from the general public was mostly negative. Some African American organizations and political leaders, such as Senator Diane Watson
Diane Watson
Diane Edith Watson is a former US Representative for , serving from 2003 until 2011. She is a member of the Democratic Party...

 and Representative Augustus Hawkins, were particularly vocal in their rejection of the category. They feared a loss in political and economic power if African Americans abandoned their one category.

This reaction is characterized as "historical irony" by Daniel (2002). The African American self-designation had been a response to the one-drop rule, but then people resisted the chance to claim their multiple heritages. At the bottom was a desire not to lose political power of the larger group. Whereas before people resisted being characterized as one group regardless of ranges of ancestry, now some of their own were trying to keep them in the same group.

The African-American experience


Some black scholars have argued that the term "African-American" should refer strictly to the descendents of West or Central African slaves and free people of color who survived the slavery-era, and not the sons and daughters of black immigrants who lack that ancestry. The argument being that grouping all blacks together regardless of their unique ancestral circumstances would inevitably deny the lingering effects of slavery with in the American slave descendent community, in addition to denying black immigrants recognition of their own unique ancestral backgrounds.

In the book The End of Blackness published by author Debra Dickerson
Debra Dickerson
Debra J. Dickerson is an American author, editor, writer, and current contributing writer and blogger for Mother Jones magazine. Dickerson has been most prolific as an essayist, writing frequently on race relations and racial identity in the United States.-Early life:She dropped out of Florissant...

, she warned against drawing favorable cultural implications from Obama's political rise: "Lumping us all together," Dickerson claimed it, "erases the significance of slavery and continuing racism while giving the appearance of progress." On the liberal website Salon
Salon.com
Salon.com, part of Salon Media Group , often just called Salon, is an online liberal magazine, with content updated each weekday. Salon was founded by David Talbot and launched on November 20, 1995. It was the internet's first online-only commercial publication. The magazine focuses on U.S...

 Dickerson wrote, "African-American", in our political and social vocabulary, means those descended from West African slaves, because Obama is not a descendant of West Africans brought involuntarily to the United States as slaves, he is not African-American".

Stanley Crouch
Stanley Crouch
Stanley Crouch is an American music and cultural critic, syndicated columnist, and novelist, perhaps best known for his jazz criticism, and his novel Don't the Moon Look Lonesome?- Biography :...

 wrote in a New York Daily News piece "Obama's mother is of white U.S. stock. His father is a black Kenyan," in a column entitled "What Obama Isn't: Black Like Me." During the 2008 election African-American columnist David Ehrenstein
David Ehrenstein
David Ehrenstein is an American critic who focuses primarily on issues of homosexuality in cinema.-Life and career:Ehrenstein was born in New York City. His father was a secular Jew with Polish ancestors, and his mother was of African American and Irish descent. His mother raised him in her...

 of the LA Times
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It was the second-largest metropolitan newspaper in circulation in the United States in 2008 and the fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country....

 accused white liberals of flocking to Obama because he was a "Magic Negro", a term that refers to a black person with no past who simply appears to assist the mainstream white (as cultural protagonists/drivers) agenda. Ehrenstein went on to say "He's there to assuage white 'guilt' they feel over the role of slavery and racial segregation in American history."

Reacting to media criticism of Michelle Obama during the 2008 presidential election, Charles Kenzie Steele, Jr.
Charles Kenzie Steele, Jr.
Charles Steele, Jr. is an American businessman, politician and civil rights leader. He was the first African American elected to the City Council of Tuscaloosa and one of the first African Americans elected to the Alabama State Senate...

, Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is an African-American civil rights organization. SCLC was closely associated with its first president, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr...

 CEO said, “Why are they attacking Michelle Obama, and not really attacking, to that degree, her husband? Because he has no slave blood in him." He later claimed it was just meant to be "provocative" but declined to expand on the subject. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, and was the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush...

 (who was famously mistaken for a "recent American immigrant" by French President Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy is the 23rd and current President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra. He assumed the office on 16 May 2007 after defeating the Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal 10 days earlier....

), said "descendants of slaves did not get much of a head start, and I think you continue to see some of the effects of that." She has also rejected an immigrant designation for African-Americans and instead prefers the term "black" or "white" to denote the African and European U.S. founding populations.

Native Americans


Interracial relations among Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 and Europeans did occur, beginning with the French and Spanish explorers and trappers. Even though Europeans considered both Africans and Native Americans inferior and made efforts to make both of them enemies, European impact was immediate, widespread, and profound—more than any other race that had contact with Native Americans during the early years of colonization and nationhood.
Europeans living among Native Americans were often called "white indians". They "lived in native communities for years, learned native languages fluently, attended native councils, and often fought alongside their native companions."

Some early male settlers married Native American women. Early contact between Native Americans and Europeans was often charged with tension and emotion, but also had moments of friendship, cooperation, and intimacy. Marriages took place in both English and French colonies between European men and Native women. On April 5, 1614, Pocahontas
Pocahontas
Pocahontas was a Virginia Indian notable for her association with the colonial settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. She was the daughter of Chief Powhatan, the head of a network of tributary tribal nations in Tidewater Virginia...

 married Englishman John Rolfe
John Rolfe
John Rolfe was one of the early English settlers of North America. He is credited with the first successful cultivation of tobacco as an export crop in the Colony of Virginia and is known as the husband of Pocahontas, daughter of the chief of the Powhatan Confederacy.In 1961, the Jamestown...

, and they had a child called Thomas Rolfe
Thomas Rolfe
Thomas Rolfe was the only child of Pocahontas by her English husband, John Rolfe. His maternal grandfather was Wahunsunacock, the chief of Powhatan tribe in Virginia.-Early Life:Thomas Rolfe was born in Virginia...

.

In the early 19th century, the Native American woman Sacagawea
Sacagawea
Sacagawea ; was a Lemhi Shoshone woman, who accompanied the Lewis and Clark Expedition, acting as an interpreter and guide, in their exploration of the Western United States...

, who would help translate for the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Lewis and Clark Expedition
The Lewis and Clark Expedition, or ″Corps of Discovery Expedition" was the first transcontinental expedition to the Pacific Coast by the United States. Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson and led by two Virginia-born veterans of Indian wars in the Ohio Valley, Meriwether Lewis and William...

, was forced to married to French trapper Toussaint Charbonneau
Toussaint Charbonneau
Toussaint Charbonneau was a French-Canadian explorer and trader, and a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He is also known as the husband of Sacagawea.-Early years:...

. A Native American man had to get consent of the European parents in order to marry a white woman, and when such marriages were approved, it was with the stipulation that "he can prove to support her as a white woman in a good home". In the late 19th century, three European-American middle-class female staff members married Native American men they had met during the years when Hampton Institute ran its Indian program. Charles Eastman
Charles Eastman
Charles Alexander Eastman was a Native American physician, writer, national lecturer, and reformer. He was of Santee Sioux and Anglo-American ancestry...

 married his European-American wife Elaine Goodale
Elaine Goodale
Elaine Goodale Eastman and Dora Read Goodale were American poets and sisters, who published their first poetry as children still living at home, and were included in Edmund Clarence Stedman's classic An American Anthology .Elaine Goodale taught at the Indian Department of Hampton Institute,...

 whom he had met in Dakota Territory when Goodale was a social worker and the superintendent of Indian education for the reservations.

Interracial relations between Native Americans and African Americans has been a part of American history that has been neglected. The earliest record of African and Native American relations occurred in April 1502, when the first Africans kidnapped were brought to Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

 to serve as slaves. Some escaped, and somewhere inland on Santo Domingo, the first Black Indians were born. In addition, an example of African slaves' escaping from European colonists and being absorbed by Native Americans occurred as far back as 1526. In June of that year, Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon established a Spanish colony near the mouth of the Pee Dee River
Pee Dee River
The Pee Dee River, also known as the Great Pee Dee River, is a river in North Carolina and South Carolina. It originates in the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina, where its upper course above the mouth of the Uwharrie River is known as the Yadkin River. It is extensively dammed for flood...

 in what is now eastern South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

. The Spanish settlement was named San Miquel de Guadalupe. Amongst the settlement were 100 enslaved Africans. In 1526, the first African slaves fled the colony and took refuge with local Native Americans.

European colonists created treaties with Native American tribes requesting the return of any runaway slaves. For example, in 1726, the British governor of New York exacted a promise from the Iroquois to return all runaway slaves who had joined them. This same promise was extracted from the Huron Nation in 1764, and from the Delaware Nation in 1765, though there is no record of slaves ever being returned. Numerous advertisements requested the return of African Americans who had married Native Americans or who spoke a Native American language. The primary exposure that Africans and Native Americans had to each other came through the institution of slavery. Native Americans learned that Africans had what Native Americans considered 'Great Medicine' in their bodies because Africans were virtually immune to the Old-World diseases that were decimating most native populations. Because of this many tribes encouraged marriage between the two groups, to create stronger, healthier children from the unions.

Eurasian Americans



According to the United States Census Bureau
United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau is the government agency that is responsible for the United States Census. It also gathers other national demographic and economic data...

, concerning multi-racial families in 1990:
According to James P. Allen and Eugene Turner from California State University, Northridge, by some calculations the largest part white bi-racial population is white/American Indian and Alaskan Native, at 7,015,017, followed by white/black at 737,492, then white/Asian at 727,197, and finally white/Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander at 125,628.

The US Census categorizes Eurasian responses in the "Some other race" section as part of the Asian race. The Eurasian responses the US Census officially recognizes are Indo-European, Amerasian, and Eurasian.

Afro-Asian Americans


In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed and Chinese
Chinese people
The term Chinese people may refer to any of the following:*People with Han Chinese ethnicity ....

 workers who chose to stay in the U.S. could no longer be with their wives who stayed behind in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. Because European American
European American
A European American is a citizen or resident of the United States who has origins in any of the original peoples of Europe...

s looked at Chinese labor workers as stealing employment, they were harassed and discriminated against. Many Chinese men settled in African American communities and in turn married black women.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods
Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods is an American professional golfer whose achievements to date rank him among the most successful golfers of all time. Formerly the World No...

, a famous golf
Golf
Golf is a precision club and ball sport, in which competing players use many types of clubs to hit balls into a series of holes on a golf course using the fewest number of strokes....

 player, is of Dutch, Chinese, Native American, Thai, and African American descent; his father being half African American heritage and half Asian while his mother is of mostly Asian heritage. R&B singer Amerie
Amerie
Amerie Mi Marie Rogers , known professionally as Amerie or Ameriie, is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and actress. She debuted in 2002 with the album All I Have, primarily co-written and produced by Rich Harrison, and was well-received in the urban market...

 is another famous Afro-Asian American, with her father being African American and her mother Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

n. Hines Ward
Hines Ward
Hines E. Ward, Jr. is an American football player who currently plays the wide receiver position for the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, where he is the longest-tenured current player on the team. He was voted MVP of Super Bowl XL. He played college football at the University of Georgia...

, an NFL football player, is also an Afro-Asian. He currently plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

.

As of the census of 2000, there were 106,782 Afro-Asian individuals in the United States.

Amerasian



In its original meaning, an Amerasian is a person born in Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, to a U.S. military
Military of the United States
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 father and an Asian
Asian people
Asian people or Asiatic people is a term with multiple meanings that refers to people who descend from a portion of Asia's population.- Central Asia :...

 mother. Colloquially, the term has sometimes been considered synonym
Synonym
Synonyms are different words with almost identical or similar meanings. Words that are synonyms are said to be synonymous, and the state of being a synonym is called synonymy. The word comes from Ancient Greek syn and onoma . The words car and automobile are synonyms...

ous with Asian American
Asian American
Asian Americans are Americans of Asian descent. The U.S. Census Bureau definition of Asians as "Asian” refers to a person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan,...

, to describe any person of mixed Asian and American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 parentage, regardless of the circumstances.

Passing



"Passing
Passing (racial identity)
Racial passing refers to a person classified as a member of one racial group attempting to be accepted as a member of a different racial group...

" is a term for a person whose ancestry is in part that of the dominant group with some ancestry of a subordinate group, but who is seen as only being part of the majority group.

Multiracial families



In an article about mixed-race children having identity problems, Charlotte Nitary states:
In her book Love's Revolution: Interracial Marriage, Maria P. P. Root writes:
In 2009, Keith Bardwell, a justice of the peace
Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions...

 in Robert, Louisiana
Robert, Louisiana
Robert is an unincorporated community in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, United States. It lies east of Hammond, at the intersection of US 190 and LA 445, from which it has a signed exit on Interstate 12...

, refused to officiate a wedding for an interracial couple and was summarily sued in federal court. See refusal of interracial marriage in Louisiana.

In fiction


Charles W. Chesnutt
Charles W. Chesnutt
Charles Waddell Chesnutt was an American author, essayist, political activist and lawyer, best known for his novels and short stories exploring complex issues of racial and social identity in the post-Civil War South, where the legacy of slavery and interracial relations had resulted in many free...

 was one of the authors who explored the stereotypes in the depiction of multiracial characters as portrayed in fiction and early films.
The figure of the "tragic octoroon" was a stock character
Stock character
A Stock character is a fictional character based on a common literary or social stereotype. Stock characters rely heavily on cultural types or names for their personality, manner of speech, and other characteristics. In their most general form, stock characters are related to literary archetypes,...

 of abolitionist literature: a light-brown-skinned woman raised as if a white woman in her father's household, until his bankrupty or death has her reduced to a menial position She may even be unaware of her status before being reduced to victimization. The first character of this type was the heroine of Lydia Maria Child's "The Quadroons". This character allowed abolitionists to draw attention to the sexual exploitation in slavery, and unlike the suffering of the field hands, did not allow slaveholders to retort that the sufferings of Northern mill hands were no easier, since the Northern mill owner would not sell his own children into slavery.

Mulattos, as with abducted white people, were often used to arouse sentiments against slavery by showing Northerners slaves who were visually indistinguishable from them.

See also

  • Race in the United States
    Race in the United States
    The United States is a racially diverse country. Modern issues of "race", as well as its impact in the political and economic development of the nation, have been examined by numerous historians and researchers across a variety of academic disciplines....

  • Racial and ethnic demographics of the United States
  • Colored
    Colored
    Colored is a term once widely used in the United States to describe black people and Native Americans...

  • Race of the Future
  • Loving v. Virginia
    Loving v. Virginia
    Loving v. Virginia, , was a landmark civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, the "Racial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v...

  • Dreams from My Father
    Dreams from My Father
    Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance is a memoir by United States President Barack Obama. It was first published in July 1995 as he was preparing to launch his political career, five years after being elected the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review in...

  • British Mixed-Race
    British Mixed-Race
    Mixed is an ethnicity category that has been used by the United Kingdom's Office for National Statistics since the 1991 Census. Colloquially it refers to British citizens or residents whose parents are of two or more different races or ethnic backgrounds...


Literature

  • G. Reginald Daniel, More Than Black?: Multiracial Identity and the New Racial Order, Temple University Press (2002) ISBN 978-1-56639-909-8.
  • Teja Arboleda, In the Shadow of Race: Growing Up As a Multiethnic, Multicultural, and Multiracial American (1998) ISBN 978-0-585-11477-4.
  • Yo Jackson, Yolanda Kaye Jackson, Encyclopedia of Multicultural Psychology (2006), ISBN 978-1-4129-0948-8.
  • Joel Perlmann, Mary C. Waters, The New Race Question: How the Census Counts Multiracial Individuals (2005), ISBN 9780871546586.

External links