As the mixed-race population grows, the stigma of the past fades

As the mixed-race population grows, the stigma of the past fades (Journal and Courier)
Lafayette – West Lafayette, Indiana

Taya Flores

Gerald and Susan Thomas experienced a hurtful racial climate in Greater Lafayette when they dated during the 1970s.

A drive-by verbal assault in Lafayette early in their marriage is one Gerald still remembers today.

He said the couple was driving in a convertible when some white men called out a racial insult. “Those type of things happen. Fortunately, now I think it’s more subtle,” he said. “It’s still there, but it’s much more subtle than it was in the past.”…

…There can also be discrimination from people who might not approve of a person’s interracial parentage, said Carolyn Liebler, a University of Minnesota sociology professor who studies ethnicity.

That is more common among older generations.

Initially, Robinson’s maternal grandparents did not approve of her parents’ interracial relationship.

“I know my grandparents (mom’s parents) didn’t approve of my mom and dad being together, but once my (older) sister was born they accepted the fact,” she said.

Some black-white biracials can penetrate the color line because they have white relatives. These relatives broaden the biracial’s social connections and improve their access to resources such as good schools or employment networks, Liebler said.

These biracials tend to be better off than their minority counterparts but worse off than whites, according to Liebler…

For example, the percentage of black-white biracials who reported fair to poor health (13.4 percent) was closer to whites than blacks who had relatively poorer health.

However, the percentage for white-Asians (7.8 percent) was closer to Asians. But Asians had relatively better health than whites, according to a sociology study published online in the February edition of the journal Demography.

The research was conducted by Rice University sociologists Jenifer Bratter and Bridget Gorman. They used a seven-year (2001-2007) sample from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a national health survey, to examine differences in health as reported by participants.

Many social inequalities, such as poverty or health disparities, are passed down from generation to generation. Factors besides race, such as parents’ occupation and family wealth, childhood upbringing and education, also play a role in a person’s success, Liebler said. But racial stereotypes and discrimination have historically caused differences in these socioeconomic factors even among biracial people.

“This is not turning the world upside down. It’s just sort of adding a nuance,” she said…

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