Sociohistorical Constructions of Race and Language: Impacting Biracial Identity

Sociohistorical Constructions of Race and Language: Impacting Biracial Identity

A chapter in The Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination. By Jean Lau Chin (Editor). (Santa Barbara, California. Praeger Publishers, 2004. 1,000 pages. ISBN: 0-275-98234-3, ISBN-13: 978-0-275-98234-8)

Matthew J. Taylor, Assistant Professor of Psychology
University of Missouri, St. Louis

Historically, race has been constructed within the American psyche as a dichotomous variable–and either-or proposition.  Moreover, our construction and use of language have developed to mirror the is reality, which ultimately aids in its perception.  Has this divergent approach to race outlived its usefulness and applicability?  Is it realistic, given the face of today’s changing demographic landscape?  At present, there remain cultural and linguistic disconnects between the phenomenological experience of the biracial individual and the expectations of the dualistic society within whichthey reside.  On the individual level, there are implications for psychosocial development (Hall, 2001; Root, 1995).  More broadly speaking, what will develop from the resolution of the dilemma is a new paradigm impacting how the citizens of this country view race and racial identity.  This paper explores the impact that the sociohistorical constructions to race and language have on the lives of biracial individuals.  To this end, the author, who is biracial, will blend sociohistorical conceptions of race and linguistic philosophy with personal narrative components and conclude with implications for multiracial identity development…

Read the entire chapter here.

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