Analyzing The Effects Of Being Of A Mixed Race Background Or Mixed Cultural Background Research Paper Samples
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Race and culture are historically controversial matters due to their use as sociological bases for superiority or inferiority. The perception that one race or culture is superior compared to another brings forth an unwanted set of stereotypes unknowingly used by people to judge people based on which racial or cultural groups they belong in. When a person belongs to a racial or cultural group that is historically and socially deemed inferior, he is more or less disadvantaged in that he inevitably bears the blame in situations where the likes of him are typically to blame, albeit unjustified. At the same time, a person belonging to a racial or cultural group considered as superior holds the privilege in terms of treatment, their engagement in controversies notwithstanding, to the extent that those are not treated as a racial or cultural matter at all. Given the prevalence of a racially and culturally-stereotypical milieu embodied by the foregoing examples, it is thus noteworthy to consider the plight of those who are of mixed race backgrounds or mixed cultural backgrounds.
People of mixed race backgrounds or mixed cultural backgrounds understandably get what many of them deem as “the best of both worlds” (Choy, n.d.). Whereas people of mixed race backgrounds or mixed cultural backgrounds do enjoy the privileges afforded to them by their superior race or culture, the fact that they have a background characterized by either a race or culture deemed as inferior still makes them vulnerable to the disadvantages attributed to people of racial or cultural backgrounds viewed as inferior (Peery & Bodenhausen, 2008). With that premise at hand, this study analyzes the effects of being of a mixed race background or a mixed cultural background. Do people of mixed race backgrounds or mixed cultural backgrounds see themselves as vulnerable to discrimination, or are alienated in any way compared to their homogeneous counterparts? This study posits that people of mixed race backgrounds or mixed cultural backgrounds are also susceptible to discrimination and alienation due to their mere possession of the “other” – that is, the race or culture they possess seen as subordinate to dominant ones.
Effects of Mixed Race/Mixed Culture
Understanding the effects of being of mixed race backgrounds or mixed cultural backgrounds require a deeper understanding on what it means to belong to the “other,” which tackles on historical elements. Choy (n.d.), in recounting the underpinnings of the “banana” moniker Chinese people raised in North America like him are called, explained that the sufferings of his immigrant ancestors from outright discrimination is instrumental to the formation of his identity. Coming to the defense of “banana” – yellow on the outside but white on the inside, which was said to be of playful origins among Chinese immigrants in North America, Choy (n.d.) detailed the tensions brought forth to him by his mixed cultural background. On one hand, the fact that Choy (n.d.) grew up in a quintessentially North American milieu, complete with American and Canadian cultural facets he deemed as more sophisticated than Chinese “traditionsvillage historiesTaoist ritual, Taoist manners,” has placed him at loggerheads with the constant reminders of his far more traditional elders in the Chinatown he grew up in that he must “never forget--you still be Chinese.” Choy (n.d.) ultimately came to embrace his “banana” identity amid his internal conflicts – a matter viewed positively by Bodenhausen (2010) in her treatise on individual social identity complexity and social diversity. According to Bodenhausen (2010), “experiencing diverse group environments provides individuals with opportunities to develop greater creativity and more integratively complex self-understandings.” What Choy (n.d.) has gone through, for instance, has led him to diversify his world-view vis-à-vis his Chinese heritage. Being a “banana,” therefore, has provided Choy (n.d.) with greater opportunities to improve individually – something that transcends discrimination and alienation he and his ancestors have experienced (Bodenhausen, 2010).
Similar to the effects of having a mixed cultural background Choy (n.d.) has detailed, the dilemma faced by those of a mixed race background also deserves thorough deliberation. The practice of the principle of hypodescent, discussed by Peery and Bodenhausen (2008), which assigns people of mixed race backgrounds to their subordinate racial groups, is a particular problem of note. The vulnerability of mixed race backgrounds to discrimination and alienation essentially arises from the prejudicial treatment of subordinate racial groups. The fact that mixed race backgrounds have part of the features of subordinate racial groups hailing from their parents makes them likely victims of discrimination and alienation under a hypodescent milieu (Peery & Bodenhausen, 2008). The exposure of the multiracial history of a person, as found by Peery and Bodenhausen (2008), would inevitably portray him as a hypodescent. “Stereotype activation,” in the words of Peery and Bodenhausen (2008), arises out of the principle of hypodescent as it makes “one aspect of a mixed-race person’s identity particularly salient.” The instrumentality of visual perception, face processing and several other temporal dynamics among people of mixed race backgrounds provides key implications on the principles of hypodescent (Freeman et al., 2008; Peery & Bodenhausen, 2008). The high frequency of “rapid categorization” (Freeman et al., 2008; Peery & Bodenhausen, 2008) of “racially-ambiguous faces into monoracial categories” (Freeman et al., 2008) continues to threaten people of mixed race backgrounds of discrimination and alienation.
Findings reflecting greater ease in categorizing monoracial features over multiracial features to the extent that the latter is oft-mistaken from the former is a problem many people of mixed race backgrounds face, in that their fears over discrimination and alienation are highlighted (Peery & Bodenhausen, 2008). In an experiment conducted by Chen and Hamilton (2012) supportive of the foregoing, their hypothesis that “perceivers would make fewer multiracial categorizations of multiracials and that these categorizations would take longer than monoracial categorizations” is supported by their empirical findings. Chen and Hamilton (2012) found that their respondents did not quickly recognize black-white faces, simulated and real ones, as multiracials in the same way as they did with black and white monoracial faces. The same experiment was also done on Asian-white faces. Factors that led to difficulties in making correct multiracial categorizations include the time constraints involved and perceptive misjudgments. The same, however, did not apply to monoracial categorizations (Chen & Hamilton, 2012). Therefore, one may take perceptions on people of mixed race backgrounds based on the experiments of Freeman et al. (2008) and Chen and Hamilton (2012) as aggravating factors to their plight against discrimination and alienation. Nonetheless, social diversity, as argued by Bodenhausen (2010) can also benefit people of mixed race backgrounds in the same way as it does to people of mixed cultural backgrounds, in that they can develop eclectic worldviews and a more holistic sense of creativity.
It is, indeed, tenable to hold that people of mixed race backgrounds and mixed cultural backgrounds can become more exposed to discrimination and alienation. The fact that people of mixed race backgrounds and mixed cultural backgrounds have characteristics of subordinate races or cultures makes them susceptible to the unfounded negative judgments of people, particularly with the prevalence of the principle of hypodescent and the general difficulty of differentiating multiracials from monoracials. However, the effects of being of mixed race backgrounds and mixed cultural backgrounds is not entirely negative. With the growing acceptance towards social diversity worldwide, people of mixed race backgrounds and mixed cultural backgrounds stand to benefit from their wide-ranging views of the world provided by their ambiguous heritages. Future studies must therefore focus on how the experience of people of mixed race backgrounds and mixed cultural backgrounds has contributed to the growth of social diversity, alongside other salient related concerns.
Bodenhausen, G. (2010). Diversity in the person, diversity in the group: Challenges of identity complexity for social perception and social interaction. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 1-16.
Chen, J., & Hamilton, D. (2012). Natural ambiguities: Racial categorization of multiracial individuals. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 152-164.
Choy, W. (n.d.). I'm a Banana and Proud of It. In Dhlphenuse. Retrieved March 22, 2015, from http://www.geocities.ws/dhlphenuse/banana.html.
Freeman, J., Pauker, C., Apfelbaum, E., & Ambady, N. (2008). Continuous dynamics in the real-time perception of race. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 179-185.
Peery, D., & Bodenhausen, G. (2008). Black + white = black: Hypodescent in reflexive categorization of racially ambiguous faces. Psychological Science, 19(10), 973-977.
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