Navigating the Color Complex: How Multiracial Individuals Narrate the Elements of Appearance and Dynamics of Color in Twenty-First-Century America

Chapter

Abstract

Contained herein are interview data for three groups of multiracial individuals including Black-White, Asian-White, and Hispanic-White. While appearance is typically limited to discussions about one’s phenotype as skin color and so forth, the narratives of these multiracial individuals also reveal use of a variety of cultural markers, such as clothing, language, or music, to accentuate, and sometimes facilitate, one’s perceived race or ethnicity by others in context. As the data show, it is not only the context of the spaces of which multiracial individuals have to be aware and gauge as they move through various public and private spaces but also the color of the context that affects the ways in which multiracial individuals can and do navigate their day-to-day lives. Rather than lending credence to the contemporary attempts to deracialize policies and politics, we urge future research to address the inequalities informed by the underlying race-based structures of American society.

Keywords

Skin Color Racial Identity Black People White People Dark Skin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Ali, S. (2003). Mixed race, post-race: Gender, new ethnicities, and cultural practices. London/New York: Berg.Google Scholar
  2. Brunsma, D. L. (2005). Interracial families and the racial identification of mixed-race children: Evidence from the early childhood longitudinal study. Social Forces, 84(2), 1113–1158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brunsma, D. L., & Delgado, D. J. (2008). Occupying the third space: Hybridity and identity in multiracial experience. In K. E. Iyall Smith & P. Leavy (Eds.), Hybrid identities: Theoretical and empirical examinations. Boston: Brill.Google Scholar
  4. Clancy, J. (1995). Multiracial identity assertions in the sociopolitical context of primary education. In N. Zack (Ed.), American mixed race: The culture of microdiversity (pp. 213–221). Lanham: Lanham, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.Google Scholar
  5. Herring, C., Keith, V. M., & Horton, H. D. (2004). Skin/Deep: How race and complexion matter in the “color blind” era. Urbana/Chicago: Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy and University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  6. Hersch, J. (2010). The persistence of skin color discrimination for immigrants. Social Science Research, 40(5), 1337–1349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hochschild, J. (2007). The skin color paradox and the American racial order. Social Forces, 86(2), 643–670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hunter, M. (2005). Race, gender, and the politics of skin color. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Katz Rothman, Barbara. (2006). Weaving family: Untangling race and adoption. Boston: Beacon.Google Scholar
  10. Kich, G. K. (1992). Eurasian: Ethnic/racial identity development of biracial Japanese/white adults. PhD dissertation, Psychology, Wright Institute, Berkeley, CA.Google Scholar
  11. McDonough, S. (2005). What are you?: A sociological study on the racial identity development in multiracial individuals. Undergraduate thesis, Department of Sociology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA.Google Scholar
  12. Poston, W. S. C. (1990). The biracial identity development model: A needed addition. Journal of Counseling and Development, 69(2), 152–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Rockquemore, K. A., & Brunsma, D. L. (2001). The new color complex: Phenotype, appearances, and (bi)racial identity. Identity, 1(3), 225–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Rockquemore, K. A., & Brunsma, D. L. (2002). Beyond black: Bi-racial identity in America. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  15. Rockquemore, K. A., Brunsma, D. L., & Delgado, D. (2009). Racing to theory or re-theorizing race: Understanding the struggle to build valid multiracial identity theories. Journal of Social Issues, 65(1), 13–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Root, M. P. P. (1992). Racially mixed people in America. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  17. Root, M. P. P. (1996). The multiracial experience: Racial borders as new frontier. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  18. Roth, W. D. (2005). The end of the one drop rule? Labeling of multiracial children in black intermarriages. Sociological Forum, 20, 35–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Twine, F. W. (1996). Brown skinned white girls: Class, culture, and the construction of white identity in suburban communities. Gender, Place, and Culture, 3(2), 205–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Villarreal, A. (2010). Stratification by skin color in contemporary Mexico. American Sociological Review, 75(5), 652–678.Google Scholar
  21. Wijeysinghe, C. L. (1992). Towards an understanding of the racial identity of bi-racial people: The experience of racial self-definition of African American/Euro-American adults and the factors affecting their choices of racial identity. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA.Google Scholar
  22. Wijeysinghe, C. L. (2001). Racial identity in multiracial people: An alternative paradigm. In B. W. Jackson & C. L. Wijeysinghe (Eds.), New perspectives on racial identity development: A theoretical and practical anthology (pp. 129–152). New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA

Personalised recommendations