The Emerging Multicultural Identity
Growing up on the north side of Chicago, my Black father and Mexican mother taught me to be proud of all aspects of my identity. I am Black and I am Mexican. At home, that came easy. Family dinners consisted of collard greens and fried chicken as often as carne asada and pozole. I learned to speak English at the same time as Spanish. I watched television programs and listened to music in both languages.
Publicly, this was much harder. Throughout life, I felt insecure about my background. The idea that I have been grasping for my Blackness and Mexicanness and, in some cases feeling like I cannot identify with either has been a struggle. In terms of physical appearance, my racial identity has been questioned numerous times. Being told I am not Black because I look too Mexican or vice versa has caused me to ask: Why isn’t there a formal way to identify myself?
This struggle to explain my biracial identity is faced by others as well. In the United States, people are barely beginning to understand how to accept and respect racial ethnicities, but there’s been no talk about communicating with biracial people. The 2020 Census reported that 3.2% of the United States population self-identify as multiracial. This group increasingly wants to be recognized; however, the extent of those labels which are helpful to quickly self-identify do not exist for the time of growing racial possibilities. By reinventing this language, it allows us to represent all that we are.
Many in the biracial community can speak to being a part of some of the most aggrieved groups in our nation’s history. They can also amplify the struggles associated with being either.
My family has experienced police brutality while dealing with the threat of deportation. For many biracial families, there can be tension on all sides. As a child, I can speak to being forced to choose sides on the school playground or rejected by both.
As these diverse populations continue to grow, marketers and communicators need to know that there is no one biracial experience. Now that the opportunity to self-identify as more than one race or ethnicity has increased, the population has seen exponential growth, and according to the 2020 Census report the white population in the United States has shrunk for the first time in history. An increase in the Black and Hispanic population has grown significantly in addition to the largest growth seen in the multiracial communities.
We can push forward to look past White, Black, Hispanic, Indian, Asian, Jewish, etc., in singular terms and understand that all these combinations represent many Americans today.