Chapter 16 in the Evans et. al’s (2010), Student Development in College: Theory, Research, and Practice, talks about Multiracial Identity Development. Having a white father and an Asian mother myself, I found this chapter to be of interest. The first section of the chapter that caught my attention was the one that discussed the different ‘stage theories’ of multiracial development. As it was noted in the chapter, the ‘goal’ of the stage theories in general was to identify monoracially, or biracial. The truth be told, I don’t really think identifying biracially is not much different than identifying racially. Though, it’s been awhile since I’ve been an undergraduate.
A significant portion of the chapter was devoted to Renn’s Ecological Theory of Mixed-Race Identity Development. The key aspect of Renn’s theory is identity is fluid and non-exclusive (Evans et al, 2003). The identity patterns Renn described are: Monoracial Identity, Multiple Monoracial Identity, Multiracial Identity, Extraracial Identity, and Situational Identity. At times, I believe I have identified myself with four of the five patterns — the pattern I haven’t identified with is multiracial.
Growing up in a almost exclusively white community, I identified with being Asian — mostly because I wasn’t really White. Between graduating high school and starting college, the family took a trip to my mother’s native country. As a result, I learned I wasn’t Asian. As far as the folks in that country were concerned, I was White, and had to pay the ‘white’ admission price to get into anything. I eventually started identifying myself as Asian-American.
Though towards the end of my undergraduate experience, I didn’t feel Asian-American, Multi-Monoracial Identity really fit me — I didn’t migrate here. I starting identifying myself extraracially; my preference was ‘Other’. According to Evans et al, individuals in this pattern may opt out of racial categorization. That’s how I would describe myself at this point overall. Though, it’s interesting because opting out may seem like taking a color-blinded approach. Color-blinded approaches are sometimes seen as racists — though that’s a post for another time…