Diversity: Categorizing Mixed Race

In 2015, in the western world, people of mixed race are being forced into a category of either black or white. Every time a mixed race individual completes official documents they are given the options: Black, White, Asian/Island Pacific, Native American, or other. There should be an option for Mixed Race because by making a person identify as only one race is un-rightfully categorizing them. This article is intended to show how categorizing individuals is detrimental to society and how the policy is flawed based on a retired history.

History: Formation of Racial Categorization

Identifying people by race was highly enforced by white supremacist during the time of segregation. Categorizing people for statistical purposes began with Census in 1790. Today, Census is the only legal document that has an option for mixed race. Other documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, school registrations, medical documents, welfare forms, employment applications, federal taxes, and many other forms ask for a person’s racial identity. This information is claimed, by the federal government, to be collected for statistical reasons only. The purpose is to develop demographics, allocate government funding properly, and account for citizens.

Here is what you should know:

  1. Interracial marriage was legally banned in 1664 but said to be socially illegal long before that time.
  2. The “one-drop” law states that any person with one drop of black blood should be categorized as black. During the time of segregation blacks were considered property.
  3. The “one-drop” law was a socially accepted norm since 1822 but was adopted as a law in Tennessee in 1910.
  4. The “one-drop” law and the ban on interracial marriage was abolished in 1967 with the Loving v. Virginia declaring the racial integrity act.
  5. Racial categories remain on official documents to allocate funding for particular demographics in need.

Collecting Flawed Evidence

Government documents collaborate information collected to properly allocate funding for particular demographics. This specifically applies to minorities and people of lower socioeconomic status. The information being collected is flawed because documents force individuals into a single racial category instead of allowing them to identify as mixed race. Government funding for Hispanics may not get to them because they are of mixed race and they are forced to identify as black or white. Even funding in education is flawed. Some grants and scholarships are based on race. A person of mixed race may not qualify for a scholarship intended for African Americans or Italians regardless of their true racial identity. Current statistics that are provided to the public they are skewed. With the information provided to the public certain areas of demographics are portrayed incorrectly. An example of this is an elementary school’s statics show 90 percent of the students are black but in reality only 50 percent of the students are black; the remaining 40 percent are mixed race that are forced to identify as black on school documents. Funderburg says many people still believe that if that the “one-drop” law still applies. In which case, these individuals identify their children as black.

Categorization’s Effects on Society

The categorization of people begins at birth. A mother of a mixed race child has to choose which single race their child will identify as. Even if race is not identified within the home, as a child enters elementary school they are forced to identify their race by peers. Sometimes as early as five years old, “What are you?” is the inevitable question asked be peers. This is unfair to the child because they have to make the decision at a very young age as to which parent they want to identify as. Studies show that children are likely to identify with the race that accepts them best, which tends to be based on physical appearance, due to the maturity level of elementary children. Studies also show that one of two lifestyles tend to form with mixed race children. The first is that the individual has a decent childhood, makes friends throughout school, and identifies as the a particular race which is specifically similar to their friends. The problem lies when they leave high school. When they go off to college or the workplace they often have to build new friendship which changes their perception of who they are. The second lifestyle is that of a lonely isolated child. These are usually the students that question their identity in adolecent years instead of later in life. These children are more likely to identify as mixed race. Mixed race individuals that experience either lifestyle are also more likely to have self-esteem issues, suffer from depression, and create a self-isolation. As this progresses to college and career life for a mixed race person they are more likely to suffer from mental illness. Suffering from anxiety, depression, identity crisis, or isolation has a negative effect on a person’s ability to perform. In college grade suffer. In a career the business suffers. According to the studies provided in Funderburg’s Black, White, Other: biracial individuals talk about race and identity, Mixed race students are less likely to be involved in ethnic clubs. Also, Mixed race employees tend to show less social interaction with other employees outside of the workplace.

Time for a change

As a society we want future generations to be successful. At this point in time we are limiting individuals which is not beneficial to society as a whole. We are categorizing individuals based on a law that was created in 1910 with segregation and abolished in 1967 with integration. We can continue to collect funding for the purpose of statistical data to allocate funding and account for population but the information collected needs to be accurate. This requires all official documents to include mixed race as an option. Without including a mixed race option on official documents, people are forced into categories that provide flawed data and have detrimental effects on society.

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