As I am starting to conduct my research on how biracial students experience secondary education, I cannot help but notice certain themes are starting to come develop. The particular theme that continues to service among the participants is when I ask the questions about how they would feel if they identified themselves as White but everyone else identified them as Black. Almost majority of the students stated they have never thought about that and they would not want to identify with being White. That further led me to ask why they would not want to identify as being White. It seems that since they are not seen as being White, then they cannot see the benefits to them as identifying as White.
The students identified White, while being in school, as someone who hardly ever got into trouble, the person who turned in their work, the person who spoke proper, and the teacher called on a lot. The students in my study felt that since they did not act that way all the time, and only some of the time, their teachers did not see them as White.
The school culture can permanently place students into social economical divisions, without even consciously realizing it. What I discovered through my research is that biracial students are not learning about historical biracial persons, and schools are not broadening their students learning about different historical African Americans beside the ones from the Civil Rights Movement. There are so many African American historians that are biracial, but since their White side did not accept them, they felt compelled to and accepted by their Black side. The question still remains, who is responsible for the identity development of biracial students?
The Parents of Biracial Students
Let us look at the role the parents have in identity development. The students that I have interviewed, I have received mixed views on the influence their family will have on their identity. The students with a African American father, who is living in the home, stated that their family does have an impact on their identity development, while the participants that do not have a father living in the home, believe their family will not have a influence on their identity.
This leaves me to wonder about the biracial students who do not have their father in the home, where will they go to shape their identity. But what about the mom? Surely she can have influence on her child’s identity. What I found is that even though mom is there, their skin complexion does not look like their mother, so even though they came from their mother, they feel that there mother can not relate to them as being identified as Black. I am not saying White mothers cannot influence their biracial child, as I am sure there is more to raising children than just their identity. The impact of family influence can vary, but what needs to be consistent is the value of the biracial student and their identity.
Society and the Biracial Student
Societal influences can have a strong influence in how biracial students develop. With this misrepresentation, biracial people can start develop a false, non-healthy identity of themselves. Without the proper influence, we as parents of biracial children will lose our connection with our children, and our children may find out through experiences what their true identity may be. The importance of being well grounded in your identity could avoid unhealthy risk factors. Research states that biracial students may be more prone to try drugs and alcohol. Although there has not been a direct correlation of the previous stated comment and biracial students identity, through my research I found young biracial men who do not have a father figure who is of minority descent, will begin to act in ways society has portrayed minority men, not really getting a positive imagery.
What I am saying is this, it is important for parents to educated themselves on biracial/multiracial identity development, this will allow them a foundation of which direction to take when their child is beginning to display signs of identity crisis. It is also equally as important for schools to understand the identity models of biracial/multiracial students. I can not stress the importance of having a solid foundation on where children or even how to identity where children are as they transition through the identity model. Postion, 1990, and Root 1990 models, both models have strong evidence of how and what biracial students can experience to transition through to a healthy identity.
My next writing with break down the models and how parents can utilize the steps in each model.
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