Multiracial in America
Multiracial Americans are at the cutting edge of social and demographic change in the U.S.—young, proud, tolerant and growing at a rate three times as fast as the population as a whole.
As America becomes more racially diverse and social taboos against interracial marriage fade, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that majorities of multiracial adults are proud of their mixed-race background (60%) and feel their racial heritage has made them more open to other cultures (59%).
At the same time, a majority (55%) say they have been subjected to racial slurs or jokes, and about one-in-four (24%) have felt annoyed because people have made assumptions about their racial background. About one-in-five (19%) say it has been an advantage, and 76% say it has made no difference.
While multiracial adults share some things in common, they cannot be easily categorized. Their experiences and attitudes differ significantly depending on the races that make up their background and how the world sees them. For example, multiracial adults with a black background—69% of whom say most people would view them as black or African American—have a set of experiences, attitudes and social interactions that are much more closely aligned with the black community.
A different pattern emerges among multiracial Asian adults; biracial white and Asian adults feel more closely connected to whites than to Asians. Among biracial adults who are white and American Indian—the largest group of multiracial adults—ties to their Native American heritage are often faint: Only 22% say they have a lot in common with people in the U.S. who are American Indian, whereas 61% say they have a lot in common with whites.
The share of multiracial babies has risen from 1% in 1970 to 10% in 2013. And with interracial marriages also on the rise, demographers expect this rapid growth to continue, if not quicken, in the decades to come
In addition to painting a portrait of multiracial Americans, the survey findings challenge some traditional ideas about race. The Census Bureau currently recognizes five racial categories: white, black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. Hispanic origin is asked about separately as an ethnicity and is not considered a race.
The survey finds that many multiracial adults, like other racial minorities, have experienced some type of racial discrimination, from racist slurs to physical threats, because of their racial background.
Again, the specific races that make up an individual’s background matter. For example, while about four-in-ten mixed-race adults with a black background say they have been unfairly stopped by the police because of their racial background, only 6% of biracial white and Asian adults and 15% of white and American Indian adults say they have had this experience. A similar pattern is evident for other types of racial discrimination.
Demographically, multiracial Americans are younger—and strikingly so—than the country as a whole. According to Pew Research Center analysis of the 2013 American Community Survey, the median age of all multiracial Americans is 19, compared with 38 for single-race Americans.
The Pew Research survey finds that multiracial adults also are less likely than other adults to be college graduates and less likely to be currently married. But when they do wed, mixed-race Americans are more likely than other adults to marry someone who also is multiracial. Mixed-race adults are also more likely than the general public to have close friends or neighbors who are multiracial.
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