Whenever a study is released about children from interracial couples, a friend immediately sends it to me because he finds it fascinating, that even though I’m from an interracial marriage, he never sees me in the study.
Take for example this recent study from Lauren Davenport, professor of political science at Stanford. According to her research, daughters of interracial couples are more often describing themselves as multiracial, because it makes them seem more intriguing.
My friend, who has known me since I was 9, found it hilarious that they used the word ‘intriguing’, especially since it’s nothing I would use to describe myself, and also because I’ve never referred to myself as multiracial, biracial, or anything but black; even though my father is Irish. I typically joke around with friends and say that I’m “Barack Biracial”…meaning I’m brown, if I didn’t tell you I was biracial, you’d just think I was black. And I’m fine with that. And my father was the one who made it clear to me as a kid, “Say it loud, you’re black and you’re proud”.
But back to the study.
She discovered that gender played a big role in whether children of interracial parents identified themselves as multiracial. Among children of black-white unions, 76% of the female freshmen defined themselves as multi-racial. Only 64% of male freshmen from the same background did.
A similar pattern held true for children of Latino-white unions, with 40% of females defining themselves as multi-racial, but only 32% of guys, and for children of Asian-white unions, with 56% of females, and only 50% of males.
Why? Davenport speculates in her study that in general it may be easier for biracial women to cross between societies, because they are stereotyped as “a mysterious, intriguing racial ‘other,’’ while biracial men may be more likely to be perceived simply as ‘people of color.’ Davenport’s argument: “the different ways that biracial people are viewed by others influences how they see themselves.”
“How biracial people choose to identify is more than an assertion of their racial group attachments,” she writes. “It also has real political consequences.” These include the distribution of political resources, the implementation of affirmative action policies, and the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws.”
Some people may say that I’m denying my Irish background, which I’m quite fond of, if I only say that I’m black. But the only thing I’m denying is the fact that I don’t need anyone to tell me how to define myself. But if there are those out there who feel think it’s more intriguing, then I’m just going to assume that’s the only thing they have going for themselves.