How interracial Marriage Affects Children What do you think that your reactions would be if your sibling or friend introduced their spouse, who happened to be from another race? Would you be taken aback? Would you never accept the situation? If that would be the case, it is the time to face the reality. These days, mixed-color families and couples are common. I have personally seen many cases. Interracial marriages happen everywhere. Even in Korea where people are proud of a five thousand year of history of homogeneous population, interracial marriages occur. What is the interracial marriage?
It means marriage between different races that is a form of exogamy. The term of interracial marriage is synonymous with interethnic marriage, multiracial marriage, multiethnic marriage, and mixed marriage. I am using the term “interracial marriage” in this research paper. In recent years, the number of interracial marriages has gone up. According to the Census Bureau’s research in 2005, about two million American children come from mixed race families. The number of marriages between blacks and whites has increased 400 percent in the last 30 years – from 65,000 in 1970 to 422,000 in 2005.
Between whites and Asians, marriages have had a 1000 percent increase. It is surprising to see how much the numbers have jumped since the U. S. Supreme Court abrogated a Virginia statute barring marriage between whites and nonwhites on June 12, 1967. (Crary and Associated Press) Interracial marriages are now commonplace, but how are the children and the marriages affected? Children are the most important result of marriage no matter what ethnic group is involved. I will use the term of “multiracial children” in this paper. Is being a multiracial child easy, as interracial marriages are commonplace?
Multiracial children face different issues from their parents. Many believe that multiracial children usually have a difficult time establishing a racial identity. There are other issues at stake as well, that create same problems for multiracial children. What are some negative effects that the interracial families have on their children? First, the biggest negative effect multiracial children may face is that they usually have hard time identifying themselves. People tend to think every person can be categorized in specific one group according to skin color.
We usually divide people into four groups: Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. Multiracial children seem not to fit into any of those categories. Marta Cruz-Janzen, who is an assistant professor of secondary education at the Metropolitan States College of Denver, says in his thesis that “multiracial children believe they are invisible. One reason for this belief is that they do not see themselves in newspapers, books, TV, or any other mass communication. ” However, in the recent years, this phenomenon has been changed as the media illuminates multiracial people in different ways.
I will talk about the details later in the paper. Racial and ethnic identity and the concepts associated with racial and ethnic diversity are developmental tasks that begin in early childhood. (Derman-Sparks qtd. in Wardle) Sociologist, psychologists, and interracial parents believe that children who identify their races at early age have fewer identity problems (Cruz-Janzen). The issue of racial identity is the most common problem that multiracial children face. This phenomenon can be explained by Maslow’s theory of “Hierarchy of needs. Maslow, who was a well-know American psychologist, explained human’s fundamental human needs by depicting a pyramid consisting of five levels. According to his theory, human’s need can be divided five levels: physiological needs, safety needs, love/belonging/social needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs (370-96). This case of multiracial children is explained with love/belonging/social needs of the theory. Belonging is one of the top fundamental needs of people and should not be ignored. When this belonging needs is not fulfilled, the children have a problem of self-esteem also.
Moreover, regardless of their own inner problems with identity, there would be negative effects from outside. The first social group that children meet is family; parents’ role is specially important and has the biggest impact in their lives. Multiracial parents are different races from the child. Between parents, a multiracial child might try to choose one identity. One parent might try to pull child in one direction while the other parent tries to pull the child in a different direction. At times, if one parent is not chosen, he/she gives the child negative feedback to their child.
This can cause lack of supporting that the children should get from parents, and it may influence children’s emotional stability. Even though at times parents and child agree on the child’s identity, society does not accept their decision. In both cases, children might lay blame on their parents, and it brings resentment in a family. (“Int erracial Marriages”) The other problem that the children may face in the family is conflict with relatives or siblings (Rosenblatt, Karis, and Powell). Most times, grandparents are close to the multiracial child.
However, sometimes because of their traditional views, grandparents might be afraid of being associated with children of another color. In other words, “they feel fear from being stigmatized whey they are seen with their multiracial grandchildren. ” At times, the child might be pushed the one side of the family of the parents that the child resembles more. Gallup’s recent “Minority Rights and Relations survey” shows that the percentage of approval in marriages between different racial groups has gone up overall among older generation regardless of the ethnicity. Carroll) The percentage of approval interracial marriage is still less than 70%, which shows that racism still exists. For older generations, it might be still hard for them to accept another color of person as their family members. Siblings are another potential issue in families for multiracial children. The children in a family may not the same color, which means one can be whiter than another member of the family. It is hard for the children to take the fact that they are different from their siblings. Among multiracial children, at times the whiter child receives more social privileges than darker one.
It can cause a barrier to sibling bonds and may cause the resentment in the family (Rosenblatt, Karis, and Powell) An identity crisis arises when the child cannot decide to what group they belong, and many times the child does not want to belong to any group when the decision is reached at an older age. It shows how important roles of family members are for their establishing identities. When a child grows up, he/she meets other social groups out of family, and it tends to be more critical. American racism is inclined to be harsh in defining the group in their category system.
Usually, if a child has never been exposed to other races or seen different types of family constructor, their first reaction is to think “strange. ” When children do not understand something, they tend to react by teasing or laughing. By these reactions, multiracial children are hurt because they do not know how to defend themselves, and begin to feel ashamed of their families. These are the problems that multiracial children might face. However, the problems can be solved by good parenting. Here are some suggestions for educating multiracial children. First, expose parents’ heritage to them, and let them hoose. There will be a great pressure for them to face the differences in their communities. Establish open communication in the families, and allow curiosity about differences such as different hair texture, skin color, or facial features. Interracial parents view the their children’s identity in one of four different ways (Morrison and Rodgers qtd. in Wardle): 1) my children is black (or a certain race); 2) my child is a human being with no specific racial identity; 3) I’m not sure, so I’ll let my child decides; and 4) my child is proudly multiethnic or multiracial.
Some interracial families oppose this concept of classifying their children simply as human. Some people think that other than “White” relegates them to a lower status, so by labeling them as human they give them an exit. Some interracial families oppose classifying their members as multiracial based on the components of their particular background. In this case, the term of “multiracial” also functions as one of the race, so that they give themselves the membership. The preparation for multiracial children to grow up emotionally healthy is to help them appreciate their identity without forcing a label on them.
Parents have to allow their children to decide how identify them. The good news for multiracial children is that the explosive increase of interracial families’ number has pushed the federal government to allow Americans to identify themselves in more than one racial category for the first time. (Nakasima) This means that at least they will not have the problem of not fitting into one of the little fill-in bubbles on survey. One of the other suggestions is choose carefully where to live, and which school the children attend. Human beings are products of environment.
If a school is conservative and do not accept diversity, it is hard for the children to attend. They end up never wanting go back, and their school work be negatively would influence. Also, it is important to place the children in an area where is supportive of interracial families. Neighborhoods are integrated, so it is important to live in a community where is accepting. (Wardle) Another suggestion is to expose children to both extended families and different cultures (Wardle). During this contact with others, the children discover what it means to be black, white, or something else.
For instance, if a black-white child has no contact with their black families, he or she might grasp an idea of being black through media, which tends to show negative stereotypes. By experiencing extended families’ cultures, the children can enjoy and learn their real heritage. Help them to enjoy both cultures. However, when the parents expose both cultures to the children, there are some things that parents have to be aware of. When they meet single-culture activities, celebrate the events in an inclusive way in which all children can participate, and learn.
Children should not be expected to put down part of his or her heritage to celebrate another part, so support multiracial and multi-ethnic children’s celebration of each part of their heritage. If these are practiced thoroughly, the problems the children face will be greatly reduced. The society keeps changing. There are some significant changes from the past. As I mentioned before, the media reflects multiracial people differently. Of course, the increasing number of marriages across racial lines promotes this change.
However, another factor contributing to this change is the growing number of multiracial celebrities. Tiger Woods is the leading example. The popularity of this multiracial golfer, whose ancestry is one-eighth white, one-eighth Native American, one-fourth African American, one-fourth Thai, and one-fourth Chinese, has had a great influence on the change of the media’s view. Even though the press often refers to him as black, Woods prefer to define himself as “Cablinasian”-Caucasian, black, Indian, and Asian. (Lindry 328) Scientists believe that multiracial people possess certain genetic advantages.
As generally known, hybrids, which means genetic combination of two or more species, are strong than one single species from biological point of view because they have positive genetic advantages from both species. Randy Hill, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico, says Genetic diversity decreases the chances of catching diseases and genetically defects than single species. (qtd. in Bloomfield) Moreover, According to the experiment by Gillian Rhodes, a psychologist at the University of Western Australia, multiracial people’s faces are more beautiful and attractive than mono-race people’s faces.
Evolutionary psychologists say that humans, like other animals, tend to look for a genetically healthy partner for reproducing, and multiracial individuals appear healthier. (qtd. in Adams) Exclusive of the assertion that multiracial people look more attractive, they have some other advantages. The best benefit of being multiracial is heritage – their diversity and unique family blend. The families provide children with a cultural education that is broader than that of mono-racial children. They have an enhanced sense of self and identity.
They have different physical appearances, experiences, and viewpoints. Their understanding toward minority group culture makes them to be able to relate people in more than one racial group. (Thornton) Depending on how society perceives an individual and the individuals’ encounter with the world, viewpoints are changed. If the viewpoint and the values are developed in a positive way, when they confront a conflict they are able to see the situation and bring the solution by identifying problems with multiple aspects.
They are able to see the problems in both aspects when other people see the problems with just one aspect. (Kerwin, Poterotto, Jackson, and Harris) In addition, by bringing up the multiracial child, parents also learn something about their own sense of identity. It helps both parents and children. Individuals in the union are also affected because the children challenge the negative racial attitudes. (Kelly) People have prejudices against certain people or things when they do not know or understand. When they get to know and understand, the prejudice disappears. Let us go back to education advantages.
By having more chances to access several languages at a young age, children have more chances to meet the expectations that required by globalization. For instance, one of my friends has a Japanese father and a Brazilian mother; she lived in a Spanish speaking country, and came to the United States to learn English. As a result, she is fluent in Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, and English. She is able to connect intimately with many more groups than others who are not multiracial. Another advantage is that a multiracial child can gain the educational advantages which are given to children of color.
One example is United Negro college fund. These benefits have been established to achieve educational goals for the whole population and attempt to reduce the damage caused by racism. (Rosenblatt, Karis, and Powell ) In additional, Because of the number and visibility of mixed race individuals’ increase, over 30 universities now sponsor multiracial student organizations, as well. (Clemetson) The number of interracial families in the world is increasing significantly because of interracial relationships, marriages, and adoptions. The society is changing in a good way for multiracial children.
However, despite of laws and people’s evolving attitudes; interracial children still face significant challenges since our society is still judgmental with race. The concept of race has nothing to do with biological bodies. Race is a social construction rather than biological concept. Racial labels are not fixed but are rather constantly changing. The negative effects of being multiracial are all about social problems; the problems are from people’s distorted thoughts and their refusal to accept something different from themselves.
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