Biracial in America: Forming and Performing Racial Identity (Paperback)
Elected in 2008, Barack Obama made history as the first African American president of the United States. Though recognized as the son of a white Kansas-born mother and a black Kenyan father, the media and public have nonetheless pigeonholed him as black, and he too self-identifies as such. Obama's experience as an American with black and white ancestry, though compelling because of his celebrity, is not unique and raises several questions about the growing number of black-white biracial Americans today: How are they perceived by others with regard to race? How do they tend to identify? And why? Taking a social psychological approach, Biracial in America identifies influencing factors and several underlying processes shaping multidimensional racial identities. This study also investigates the ways in which biracial Americans perform race in their day-to-day lives. One's race isn't simply something that others prescribe onto the individual but something that individuals "do." The strategies and motivations for performing black, white, and biracial identities are explored.
Nikki Khanna is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Vermont.