Racial Identification


People’s expectations can change how we identify our race. People always speculate on person’s race superficially by their face structure and skin color. According to “Reinventing the Color Line”(561-586), it is complex to define a person’s race when s/he is multiracial. In order to find out the reason, Jennifer Lee and Frank D. Bean recruited a group of multiracial respondents and asked them about their racial identities and how they identified themselves. It turned out that only 4 percent of the black population, which was much lower compared to the Asian and Latino groups, identified themselves as multiracial.

Although most black Americans recognize their multiracial background, they choose to identify themselves as black because others always identify them as black. As a half-white black woman male noted, “I feel if somebody is going to look at me, they’re not going to think I’m white so I put black… I know that I’m mixed, but if it were to be a choice, I would say I’m black”(573). People often have broader vision of what a black should look like, so they will consider any person of black skin or other typical features as a black.

By Comparison, Latino-whites and Asian-whites feel they have much more leeway to choose among different races. Also, when they acknowledge their white ancestries, it is easier to be accepted by Americans. For example, a Japanese American who had blonde hair and blue eyes explained, “People just think or they have a stereotype of somebody that’s white, so they will kind of treat me the same way”(P.575). Because of the increasing ratio of the multiracial among the total population of American, the racial boundaries are loosening into “white” or “non-white”. Therefore, race is becoming less significant in identifying ourselves.


Lee, Jennifer, and Frank D. Bean, Reinventing the Color Line: Immigration and America’s New Racial/Ethnic Divide. Oxford University Press, December 2007. Print.