Race Self-Labeling Choices of Multiracial Individuals



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In 2000, the U.S. Census allowed multiracial people to select more than one race on the official U.S. Census survey for the first time in U.S. history. This resulted in a multiracial population of approximately seven million people that increased to approximately 9 million people on the 2010 U. S. Census survey (Humes et al. 2001; Jones and Symens Smith 2001; Mackun and Wilson 2011). The 32 percent increase in the multiracial population was significant in comparison to the overall U.S. population increase of only 9.7 percent in the same time frame. The growing prominence of the multiracial population in the United States is prompting new questions about the importance of social identities on race self-labeling decisions. Race is a subjective social construct with real social, political, and economic consequences (Albuja et al. 2017; Saperstein and Penner 2012; Shih and Sanchez 2009). Multiracial individuals have race labeling options available to them that single race individuals do not. I review and expand on a growing body of research on this population that focuses on identifying and describing non-racial categories important to shaping racial identities. Specifically, I utilized a national survey of U.S. adults administered by the Pew Research Center in order to investigate how social identities defined by non-racial categories such as gender, social class, and political party affiliation influence the race self-labels chosen by multiracial individuals in the United States. In addition, I take into account factors of discrimination, socialization, and racial identity importance and their potential influence on race self-labeling decisions. The findings indicate that gender, social class, and political party affiliation are potential predictors of the race self-labeling choices of multiracial individuals. After adding the factors of discrimination, socialization, and racial identity, social class and political party affiliation, but not gender, remained as significant predictors of racial self-labeling. In addition, the results for social class and political party affiliation reinforce the actuality that a pervasive racial hierarchy and social stratification system is embedded within the U.S. social class system. Assessing the labeling decisions of multiracial individuals provides insight on how non-racial categories inform the contextual nature of race and reinforce the existing social construction of race in the United States.



Race Self-Labeling, Multiracial