Bi-Racial Essay, Research Paper
Table Of Contents
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IV. Glossary ??????????????????? 12
V. Works Cited ??????????????????? 13
It?s 3rd grade. I?m late for school, and my mother had to walk me in to class so that my teacher would know the reason for my tardiness. My mom opens the door to my class room, and there is a hush of silence. Everyone?s eyes are fixed on my mother and me. She tells the teacher why I was late, gives me a kiss goodbye and leaves for work. As I sit down at my seat, all of my so-called friends start to call me names and tease me. The students tease me not because I was late, but because my mother is white.
Situations like this are hard for a young child to deal with. These type of situations are what bi-racial children deal with every day. The term bi-racial means a child?s heritage is made up of two cultures or ethnic groups. In this paper I will compare the advantages and disadvantages of having dual heritage. I will also tell about the most often misconstrued problems the public perceives about a bi-racial child, with black and white heritage. These children encounter issues such as: Grasping self concept or identity and acceptance of their personal appearance.
Dual heritage is most often looked at as different, good or bad. Sometimes people having dual heritage are seen as outcasts of society. These are just small things that have to do with having dual heritage. One advantage of having both a black and white parent is that the child learns to look at both cultures equally. This is an asset since all people need to live in a multi-racial world. From this the child can form a bridge between the two cultures. Moreover, if the child was raised by both parents, the child can easily distinguish the different characteristics of both cultures. By the child knowing these different characteristics, it is found that a bi-racial child finds it easier to have close friends, a boyfriend or girlfriend, who is white or black, than a monoracial child.
On the other hand, young people with dual heritage have been noted more likely to report experiences of racism than those with two black parents (Tizard and Phoenix 166). In the British society, having dual heritage could be seen as a definite advantage because of the insight to both cultures; however, in a society such as ours, where one culture is seen as less powerful and inferior in society, people with dual heritage are sometimes isolated and rejected by both cultures (Tizard and Phoenix 67). It is found that people who are miscegenetic1 and that see themselves as black are most often criticized by black people (Spencer 36). Being a bi-racial child is harder as a child because children engage in name-calling and other cruel behaviors. Also, just because adults may be better than children in the treatment of bi-racial people, this does not erase the memory of the abuse as a child. Furthermore, this sometimes creates a sensitivity to some of the other forms of abuse or bias that bi-racial people experience from blacks or whites (Spencer 36).
Some different strategies of dealing with racism on adolescents have been ignoring the source, tackling the situation directly, reinterpreting abuse and combining different strategies. Children involved in a study were asked what kind of situations with racism they were involved in, and how they confronted each one. Ignoring racist incidents was a strategy used by all of the young people. It was used most often. One particular student attending a predominately white school commented on the discrimination:
?I seem to just accept the fact that it is going to happen sometimes, you have just got to learn to try to ignore it.?
Ignoring the situations was also used in potentially dangerous situations. Some bi-racial adolescents commented on how the area they are growing up in is rough. They reported how some people have been beaten up. Others have preferred to tackle the problem directly. One situation given by a bi-racial adolescent was:
?Me and my friends were walking past someone and they said ?Oh you black this,? and you think, well, I can?t ignore that, and you say ?Shut up you, blah?, but in some situations you might just go, well, I?m by myself, I?ll ignore that (Tizard and Phoenix 110).?
This strategy was not used that often though. One girl who was only eight at the time of her dealing with racism told about her account. She said that she had an argument with one of her friends, and the word got out and the whole school was calling her names such as: pick and mix, mixed blessings, breed and ?Your dad comes from the jungle?. She said it upset her a lot, but as she thought about she told her self ?Well I?m a bit of both, so in a way I?m better than you, I?m black and I?m white, and I can?t ever be racist, so I thought of that and I just really took no notice of it.? (Tizard and Phoenix 110-111). This way of dealing with racism are usually beyond the intellectual capacity of a small child, but as seen above this eight year old girl was able to accomplish it.
The last way that was used most often was the combination method. One boy chose to use different methods with people of different social levels, meaning people more or less popular than himself. He quoted:
?If there is someone who personality-wise is very much lower than I am, if they are very stupid, and if they call me something, I find it more offensive than somebody who a lot more people respond to. I suppose because if I have a go at someone who is of lower personality, I offend less people (Tizard and Phoenix 116).?
Having a wide range of strategies seemed to help the young people feel that they had some control. Those young people that used only the technique of ignoring or tackling the situation in some cases appeared to feel helpless at times.
The public often perceives bi-racial children as having a dual heritage, to have trouble in grasping self concept of a personal identity. A child having dual heritage can benefit from this because he will have more first-hand experience in dealing with both cultures. There are many factors that influence a bi-racial child?s identity. Some of the factors that contribute to a bi-racial child?s identity are: A bad or good relationship with one parent influences the race in which the child identifies the most with and the appearance of the child also has an influence (Tizard and Phoenix 162). Of course, parents can influence their children to which race he/she relates most with. Most young people say that their parents? views on race and racism hadn?t influenced them in any way. A lot of times young people tend to lean towards their mother rather than their father on the subject of race and racism. Most of the young people said that their fathers were thought to go on too much about racism. Some of the young people said that they did not even listen to their father because they disagreed with his views. One girl who did not agree with her father went on to say:
?Yes, well, my dad can be a bit negative, I find him being a little bit racist against white people. I?ve learned not to be like that, but to try and treat people the same whatever the color they are (Tizard and Phoenix 125).?
In a survey done on the Internet, a bi-racial person who was raised by two black parents wrote in about his upbringing.
?In my childhood, I was forced to deny my white heritage and only claim my Black identity.?
Whether a bi-racial child chooses to relate more toward the black, white or maybe neither side, most often, the child still in most cases has no problems with knowing his self identity. A teenage bi-racial girl that had been brought up by white non-racist people was asked by her black father:
?Are you black, or are you white?? Her answer to this was, ?I?m neither, I?m like a cup of tea,? (Tizard and Phoenix 55).
Besides today bi-racial people have a more positive outlook on there identity than in the past. Furthermore, 86 per cent of young people from mixed-parentage have quoted that they did not want to be just another color (Tizard and Phoenix 55). Appearance is found to be a large influence on a young person?s attitude on their identity. In a study, on fifty young people, that Tizard and Phoenix conducted, they asked if any of the young people would change their appearance. Two-thirds of the young people said that there was, but none of them wished to be fairer. One girl wished to be darker like her African mother. Most of the wishes were to lose weight. However, ten percent of the boys and girls wanted more straighter and longer hair, another girl wanted green eyes. From the study taken only a small portion were dissatisfied with their appearance.
Here in the U.S. we are seeing more and more interracial marriages every day. This is a result of the social interactions between ethnic groups becoming more frequent. The 1990 Census reported at least 900,000 bi-racial married couples in the U.S. The Census Bureau also counted 65,000 black/white interracial marriages in 1970 and 218,000 in 1989. This is an increase of 300% in less than 20 years (Matusov May 22, 1997).
In a study done in 1992, there was an estimated one million bi-racial and adolescent children in the USA (Gibbs and Hines 223). Black and white bi-racial people usually have no problem identifying themselves, but they usually pick one of these two choices. They try to sustain a balance with both cultures or choose one culture and ignore the other. Bi-racial people that try to sustain a balance between both cultures see themselves as bi-racial and see nothing wrong with this, but those that try to choose one culture and ignore the other mostly do this because of upbringing or schooling.
A child?s upbringing has a lot to do with it because, if a child was brought up around mostly the black or white side of the family, the child will most likely lean to the side that he/she was mostly around. Also, if the child was in a school that was predominately white, the child would relate more toward the white side of his/her heritage. Likewise, if the child went to a predominately black school, he/she would relate more toward the black part of his/her heritage.
There is a lot more to be said and learned about the advantages and disadvantages of having dual heritage and the problems encountered by a bi-racial child, such as: grasping self concept or identity and acceptance of their personal appearance. By learning more about this topic, we as a people will grow to understand each other more.
1. Miscegenetic- Characteristic of having parents from different races.
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Comer, James P. Beyond Black and White. Nelson, Foster & Scott: Toronto, 1972
Dodd, Carley H. Cross-Cultural Communication. Dodd, 1977
Gabriel, John Children Growing Up. American Elsevier Publishing Company, 1968
Gibbs, J. and A. Hines. Racially Mixed People in America. Sage, 1992
Matusov, Eugene. Biracial Children?s Identity Problem. Online. Internet. 22 May 1997
Available FTP: www.ematusov.com/cd170
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Tizard, Barbara, and Ann Phoenix. Black, White or Mixed Race?. Routledge, 1993