“A Mongrel Breed of Citizens”: Animus Against Multiracial People

…One might argue that discrimination against multiracial people is merely a subset—perhaps even a milder one—of discrimination against monoracial individuals. In other words, a person who is identified as partially Black might be subject to the same kind of animus as one who is identified as fully Black. This Part aims to disprove that notion and demonstrate that animus against people identified as multiracial is a unique phenomenon.

I readily acknowledge some overlap between what we might call monoracial and multiracial animus: a racist who dislikes people who she views as Asian might well dislike an individual whom she identifies as part-Asian for some of the same reasons. But viewing someone as part-Asian also lends itself to unique forms of animus not directed at those perceived as monoracial. A mixed-race person may be viewed as polluted, defective, confusing or confused, passing, threatening, or—in our diversity-obsessed society—as opportunistic, gaining an advantage by identifying with a group in which he is at best a partial member. These negative associations may be distinguished from those directed at people perceived as monoracial.

I use history, sociology, and jurisprudence to buttress my claim that animus against multiracial people is a unique form of animus that is distinguishable from animus directed at any monoracial group. In the process, I hope to demonstrate that animus against racially mixed individuals is anything but benign or mild.

Other scholars have attempted to illuminate the reason underlying the persistent discomfort with racial mixing and racial mixedness. My own view is that different groups’ discomfort with mixing is so heterogeneous that any theory attempting to explain animus toward multiracial people will by necessity be quite complicated. While I believe that development of such a theory is an important project, it is one I do not address in this Article. Instead, I focus on demonstrating that racism directed at people who are viewed as multiracial is a real phenomenon that may result in tangible negative consequences to the lives of the people thus identified…

Nancy Leong, “Judicial Erasure of Mixed-Race Discrimination,” American University Law Review, Volume 59, Number 3 (2010): 483-484.