Being Biracial: The Struggle of Trying To Exist In Two Worlds

By: Elashia Rosado-Cartagena, UWO Peer Wellness Educator

Walking in the world as a biracial individual means that you are the best of both worlds and your existence is just as valid as anyone else’s.

One of the fastest growing racial populations in America are those who identify as having one or more races within them. This term is known as being Biracial and or multiracial, with 9 million Americans who identify as being made up of one or more identities. This racial census makes up 6.9% of racial identity in the United States (Census Scope; 2017). Being biracial is one of the most unique and complex experiences. Though there is a struggle in belonging to two or more races. Many times there is a feeling like one is straddling the fence between these identities. The experience of constantly feeling like one doesn’t fully fit in one race or another is a phenomenon that many mixed race people describe dealing with on a day to day basis.

Being mixed-raced also comes with having to deal with the constant backlash of friends, family, associates and even strangers who makes one feel like they have to identify as one race or the other but never both. Many mixed-raced individuals express feeling alienated from their respective cultural groups for either being not considered “authentic enough” and or may appear to be racially too ambiguous. ( David; 2017.). Being mixed-race an individual may also experience prejudice, stigmas and biases not only from the outside society but also within one’s own race(s).

Mixed raced individuals also face a unique kind of prejudice which is known as “anti-miscegenation”, the current manifestation of this term and belief can be seen by those who advocate for the preservation of authentic and or racial purity because of the belief that traditions would lost through cultural dilution or race mixing. (David; 2017.) Also in being biracial one may live with feeling as if they must meet and exceed the expectations that both races put on them because they are not mono-racial. Living daily through these experiences can cause the person to develop feelings of Anxiety, Shame, depression, frustration and confusion among other things.  

Because of these phenomenons and experiences many biracial individuals may decide to play up or completely reject a side of their identity so that they may feel more included or accepted into their desired race.  As a result of this the individual may develop a sense of double consciousness in which they view themselves constantly through the lens of how others accept and or reject them. This causes feelings of disconnection to their ethnic heritages and racial views.

Having to constantly battle these obstacles and navigate through these thoughts on a daily basis  can leave these individuals emotionally and mentally drained , it leaves them frustrated with not only themselves but with the outside world who continually bombards them with expectations of what their identities should look like.  Navigating the world feeling as if you are two split identities can be tough but it can be done, it helps to speak about experiences with other biracial individuals to help solidify that the experiences that you have felt and gone through are valid. Walking in the world as a biracial individual means that you are the best of both worlds and your existence is just as valid as anyone else’s.

 

References

“Biracial Identity and Its Relation to Self-Esteem and Depression in Mixed Black/White Biracial Individuals.” Taylor and Francis Online, 9 May 2013, www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15313201003771783.

“Census Form.” CensusScope — Demographic Maps: An Aging Population, 9 Apr. 2017, www.censusscope.org/us/chart_multi.html.

David , E. J. R. “Confronting Complex Multiracial Realities.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 1 July 2017,  www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/unseen-and-unheard/201706/confronting-complex-multiracial-realities.

Moreno, Carolina. “Multiracial Population Three Times Larger Than Census Count.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 Dec. 2017, www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/12/pew-center-survey-multiracial-population_n_7572694.html.

“Understanding the Unique Experiences of Multiracial Individuals.” Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy, 11 Mar. 2018, societyforpsychotherapy.org/understanding-the-stressors-and-types-of-discrimination-that-can-affect-multiracial-individuals-things-to-address-and-avoid-in-psychotherapy-practice/.