The terms multiracial and mixed-race describe people whose ancestries come from multiple races. Unlike the term biracial, which often is only used to refer to having parents or grandparents of two different races, the term multiracial may encompass biracial people but can also include people with more than two races in their heritage, or also may refer to the origin of more generationally distant genetic admixtures of more than one race in a person's DNA.
The actual incidence of multiracial admixture and heritage is believed to be far higher than is commonly reported, although there is evidence that this is changing as people are becoming more comfortable with revealing personal multiracial heritage. Census records and other studies also show the real number of multiracial individuals to be increasing in the United States along with an increase in marriages across race lines. Other surveys also reflect this trend in many modern nations. The term multiracial may also be used to refer to groups or populations where individuals of more than one race are counted as a part of a whole group. In this sense of the word, 'multiracial' refers to a racially heterogeneous rather than a homogeneous group or population.
- 1 Definitions
- 2 Regions with significant multiracial populations
- 3 Ethnic groups
- 4 Multiraciality in prehistory
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
While defining race is controversial, race remains a commonly used term for categorization. Insofar as race is defined differently in different cultures, perceptions of multiraciality will naturally be subjective.
According to U.S. sociologist Troy Duster and ethicist Pilar Ossorio:Some percentage of people who look white will possess genetic markers indicating that a significant majority of their recent ancestors were African. Some percentage of people who look black will possess genetic markers indicating the majority of their recent ancestors were European.—
In the United States:Many state and local agencies comply with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 1997 revised standards for the collection, tabulation, and presentation of federal data on race and ethnicity. The revised OMB standards identify a minimum of five racial categories: White; Black or African American; American Indian and Alaska Native; Asian; and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. Perhaps, the most significant change for Census 2000 was that respondents were given the option to mark one or more races on the questionnaire to indicate their racial identity. Census 2000 race data are shown for people who reported a race either alone or in combination with one or more other races.—
In the English-speaking world, many terms for people of various multiracial backgrounds exist, some of which are pejorative or are no longer used. Mulato and mestizo are used in Spanish, mulato and mestiço in Portuguese and mulâtre and métis in French for people of multiracial descent. These terms are also in certain contexts used in the English-speaking world. In Canada, the Métis are a people of mixed white and First Nation descent.
Terms like mulatto for people of partly African descent and mestizo for people of partly Native American descent are still used in English, but mostly when referring to the past or to the demography of Latin-America. Half-breed is a now old-fashioned and pejorative term used for people of partial Native American ancestry. Mestee, once widely used, is now used mostly for members of old mixed-race groups, such as Melungeons, Redbones, Brass Ankles and Mayles. In South Africa, and much of English-speaking southern Africa, the term Coloured was used to describe a mixed-race person but also Asians not of African descent. While the term is socially accepted, it is becoming an outdated term owing to its apartheid historical significance.
In Latin America, where mixtures are frequently tri-racial, a panoply of terms developed during the colonial period, including terms such as zambo for persons of indigenous-African descent. Charts and diagrams intended to elaborate these terms were common, and the famous Casta Paintings in Mexico and to some extent Peru, sought to illustrate the terms by how people of various blendings might appear. frequently, census categories reflect these ideas, but in modern censuses, for example, in Brazil, all persons of multiracial heritage tend to be thrown into the single category of "pardo".
In English, the terms miscegenation and amalgamation have been used for race-mixing. These terms are now often considered offensive and are becoming obsolete. The terms mixed-race, biracial or multiracial are becoming generally accepted.
Regions with significant multiracial populations
Multiracial US Americans officially numbered 6.1 million in 2006, or 2.0% of the population. However there is considerable evidence that the actual number is much higher. Prior to the mid-20th century many people hid their multiracial heritage. Consequently many Americans today are multi-racial without knowing it.
In 2010, the number of Americans who checked both "black" and "white" on their census forms was 134 percent higher than it had been a decade earlier.
According to James P. Allen and Eugene Turner from California State University, Northridge, by some calculations in the 2000 Census the actual multiracial population that is part white, by far the largest percentage of the multiracial population, is as follows: the largest part of the white bi-racial population, is white/Native American and Alaskan Native, at 7,015,017, followed by white/black at 737,492, then white/Asian at 727,197, and finally white/Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander at 125,628.
The stigma of a mixed race heritage has decreased significantly in the United States, but is not completely gone. One sign of progress in this area was the election of President Barack Obama, who had a White mother and an African father. People of mixed-race heritage can now be listed in the U.S Census by any combination of races whereas before Americans were required to select from only one category. For example they may now choose more than one race from the following list:
"White" (or "Caucasian"), "Black" (or African American), "Asian", "Native American" or "Alaska Native", "Native Hawaiian", other "Pacific Islander" or "Some other race".
Many mixed raced Americans now also use the term biracial. The U.S. has a growing multiracial identity movement, reflective of the lessening stigma and discrimination. Miscegenation or interracial marriage, most notably between whites and blacks, was historically deemed immoral and illegal in most states in the 18th, 19th and first half of the 20th century. California and the western US had similar laws to prohibit White-Asian American marriages. Many states eventually repealed these laws, and a 1967 (Loving v. Virginia decision by the US Supreme Court) overturned all remaining anti-miscegenation laws in the US.
The United States is one of the most racially diverse countries in the world. The American people are mostly multi-ethnic descendants of various immigrant nationalities culturally distinct until assimilation and integration took place, unevenly at different periods of history, depending on the American region. The "Americanization" of foreign ethnic groups and the inter-racial diversity of millions of Americans is not a new phenomenon but has been a fundamental part of its history, especially on frontiers where different groups of people came together.
The current[update] President of the United States, Barack Obama, is a multiracial American, as he is the son of a Luo father from Kenya and a European American mother. While he does acknowledge the heritage of his parents, he identifies as African-American.
Multiracial Canadians in 2006 officially totaled 1.5% of the population, up from 1.2% in 2001, although, this number may actually be far higher. The official mixed-race population grew by 25% since the previous census. Of these, the most frequent combinations were multiple visible minorities (for example, people of mixed south Asian and European heritage form the majority specifically in Toronto), followed closely by white-black, white-Chinese, white-Arab, and many other smaller mixes.
During the time of Slavery in the United States a very large but unknown number of American slaves of African descent escaped to Canada, where slavery was illegal, via the underground railroad. Many of these people married in with European-Canadian and Native-Canadian populations, although their precise numbers, and the numbers of their descendants, are not known.
Another 1.2% of Canadians officially are Métis (descendants of a historical population who were partially Aboriginal-- also called "Indian" or "Native American" in other North and South American countries mixed with European, particularly French, English, Scottish, and Irish ethnic groups). Although listed as a single "race" in Canada, the Metis are therefore multi-racial. In particular the Métis population may be far higher than the official numbers state, due to earlier racism causing people to historically hide their mixed heritage. This however is changing although many Canadians may now be unaware of their mixed race heritage, especially those of Métis descent.
This brings Canada to a total "recognized" mixed population of 2.7%, greater by percentage than that of the United Kingdom and the United States.
Mestizo is the common word used to describe multiracial people in Latin America, especially people with Native American and Spanish or other European ancestry. Mestizos make up a large portion of Latin Americans comprising a majority in most countries.
In Latin America, racial mixture was officially acknowledged from colonial times. There was official nomenclature for every conceivable mixture present in the various countries. Initially, this classification was used as a type of caste system, where rights and privileges were accorded depending on one's official racial classification. Official caste distinctions were abolished in many countries of the Spanish-speaking Americas as they became independent of Spain. Several terms have remained in common usage.
Race and racial mixture have played a significant role in the politics of many Latin American countries. In most countries, for example Mexico, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Belize, a majority of the population can be described as biracial or multiracial (depending on the country). In Mexico, over 80% of the population is mestizo in some degree or another.
The Mexican philosopher and educator José Vasconcelos authored an essay on the subject, La Raza Cósmica, celebrating racial mixture. Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, who is himself of Spanish, indigenous and African ancestry, has made positive references to the mixed-race ancestry of most Latin Americans from time to time.
According to the 2000 official census, 38.5% of Brazilians identified themselves as pardo skin color. That option is normally marked by people that consider themselves multiracial (mestiço). The term pardo is formally used in the official census but is not used by the population. In Brazilian society, most people who are multiracial call themselves moreno: light-moreno or dark-moreno. These terms are not considered offensive and focus more on skin color than on ethnicity (it is considered more like other human characteristics such as being short or tall).
The most common multiracial groups are between African and European (mulato), and Amerindian and European (caboclo or mameluco). But there are also African and Amerindian (cafuzo), and East-Asian (mostly Japanese) and European/other (ainoko, or more recently, hafu). All groups are more or less found throughout the whole country. Brazilian multiracials with the following three origins, Amerindian, European and African, performs the majority. It is said today that 89% or even more of the "Pardo" population in Brazil has at least one Amerindian ancestor (most of brancos or White Brazilian population have some Amerindian and/or African ancestry too and most Brazilians know about national mixed-race huge majority despite of nearly half of country population self-labeled Caucasian appearance at censuses. In Brazil, it is very common for Mulattoes to admit that they do not have any Amerindian ancestry, though studies have found that if a Brazilian multiracial can trace their ancestry to nearly 8 to 9 generations back, they will have at least one Amerindian ancestor from their maternal side of the family, which will explain many of their physical features and characteristics.
Since multiracial relations in Brazilian society have occurred for many generations, some people find it difficult to trace their own ethnic ancestry. Today a majority of mixed-race Brazilians do not really know their ethnic ancestry. Due to their unique features that makes them Brazilian-looking like skin color, lips and nose shape or hair texture, they are only aware that their ancestors were definitely Portuguese, African and/or Amerindian. There is also a high percentage of Brazilians of Jewish descent (10,000,000-30,000,000), mostly found in the northeast of the country who cannot be sure of their ancestry as they descend from the so-called "Crypto-Jews" (Jews who practiced Judaism in secret while outwardly pretending to be Catholics, also called Marranos or New-Christians, often considered Portuguese); according to some sources, 1 out of every 3 families to arrive there from Portugal during the colonization was of Jewish origin. There is a high level of integration between all groups. However, has been existed a great social and economic difference between European descendants (found more among the upper and middle classes) and African, Amerindian and multiracial descendants (found more among the lower classes), what is called Brazilian apartheid.
In 2000, The Sunday Times reported that "Britain has the highest rate of interracial relationships in the world" and certainly the UK has the highest rate in the European Union. The 2001 census showed the population of England to be 1.4% mixed-race, compared with 2.7% in Canada and 1.4% in the U.S. estimates of 1.4% in 2002, although this U.S. figure did not include mixed-race people who had a black parent. Both the US and UK have fewer people identifying as mixed race, however, than Canada. By 2020 the mixed race population is expected to become Britain's largest ethnic minority group with the highest growth rate.
In Britain, many multi-racial people have Caribbean, African or Asian heritage. For example supermodel Naomi Campbell, who has African, Jamaican, and Asian roots. Some, like Formula One driver, Lewis Hamilton, are referred to or describe themselves as 'mixed'.
The 2001 UK Census included a section entitled 'Mixed' to which 1.4% (1.6% by 2005 estimates) of people responded, which was split further into White and Black Caribbean, White and Asian, White and Black African and Other Mixed. Despite this, 2005 birth records for the country state at least 3.5% of new born babies as mixed race.
Cities/ Regions with notable Multiracial/ Mixed Race populations (England and Wales)
- Nottingham – 3.70%
- Manchester – 3.23%
- London – 3.15%
- Lambeth – 4.83%
- Slough – 3.00%
- Birmingham – 2.90%
- Sheffield – 2.60%
- Wolverhampton – 2.70%
- Luton – 2.56%
- Leicester – 2.30%
- Coventry – 2.20%
- Liverpool – 2.20%
- West Midlands – 2.14%
- Bristol – 2.08%
- Derby – 2.00%
- Gloucester – 2.00%
- Cardiff – 1.99%
- City of Leeds – 1.80%
In South Africa, the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act prohibited marriage between whites and non-whites (which were classified as Black, Asian and Coloured). Multiracial South Africans are commonly referred to as coloureds. According to the 2001 South African Census, they are the second largest minority (8.9%) after white South Africans (9.2%).
Anglo-Indians are the mixed race, which originated in India during the British Raj, or the Colonial period in India. The estimated population of Anglo-Indians is 600,000 worldwide with the majority living in India and the UK.
As with India, Burma was ruled by the British, from 1826 until 1948. Many European groups vied for control of the country prior to the arrival of the British. Intermarriage and mixed-relationships between these settlers and merchants with the local Burmese population, and subsequently between British colonists and the Burmese created a local Eurasian population, knows as the Anglo-Burmese. This group dominated colonial society and through the early years of independence. Most Anglo-Burmese now reside primarily in Australia, New Zealand and the UK since Burma received her independence in 1948 with an estimated 52,000 left behind in Burma.
Due to its strategic location in the Indian Ocean, the island of Sri Lanka has been a confluence for settlers from various parts of the world, which has resulted in the formation of several mixed-race ethnicities in the Island. The most notable mixed race group are the Sri Lankan Moors, who trace their ancestry from Arab traders who settled on the island and intermarried with local women. Today, The Sri Lankan Moors live primarily in urban communities, preserving their Arab-Islamic cultural heritage while adopting many Southern Asian customs.
The Burghers are a Eurasian ethnic group, consisting for the most part of male-line descendants of European colonists from the 16th to 20th centuries (mostly Portuguese, Dutch, German and British) and local women, with some minorities of Swedish, Norwegian, French and Irish.
The Kaffirs are an ethnic group who are partially descended from 16th century Portuguese traders and the African slaves who were brought by them.The Kaffirs spoke a distinctive creole based on Portuguese, the Sri Lanka Kaffir language, now extinct. Their cultural heritage includes the dance styles Kaffringna and Manja, as well as the Portugese Sinhalese, Creole, Afro-Sinhalese varieties.
Singapore and Malaysia
In Singapore and Malaysia, the majority of inter-ethnic marriages are between Chinese and Indians. The offspring of such marriages are informally known as "Chindian", though the Malaysian government only classifies them by their father's ethnicity. As the majority of these intermarriages usually involve an Indian groom and Chinese bride, the majority of Chindians in Malaysia are usually classified as "Indian" by the Malaysian government. As for the Malays, who are predominantly Muslim, legal restrictions in Malaysia make it uncommon for them to intermarry with either the Indians, who are predominantly Hindu, or the Chinese, who are predominantly Buddhist and Taoist. It is, however, common for Muslims and Arabs in Singapore and Malaysia to take local Malay wives, due to a common Islamic faith.
The Chitty people, in Singapore and the Malacca state of Malaysia, are a Tamil people with considerable Malay descent. This was due to the first Tamil settlers taking local wives, since they did not bring along any of their own women with them.
Philippines was a Spanish colony for about 300 years, and then by the Americans when the Spanish was defeated. This is the cause of many mixed race filipinos of filipino-Spanish and filipino-American descent.
After the defeat of Spain during the Spanish-American War in 1898, the Philippines and other remaining Spanish colonies were ceded to the United States in the Treaty of Paris. The Philippines was under U.S. sovereignty until 1946, though occupied by Japan during World War II. In 1946, in the Treaty of Manila, the U.S. Recognized the Republic of the Philippines as an independent nation. Even after 1946, the U.S. maintained a heavy military presence in the Philippines, with as many as 21 U.S. military bases and 100,000 U.S. military personnel stationed there. The bases closed in 1992, leaving behind thousands of Amerasian children. Pearl S. Buck International foundation estimates there are 52,000 Amerasians scattered throughout the Philippines with 5,000 in the Clark area of Angeles.
In the United States, intermarriage among Filipinos with other races is common. They have the largest number of interracial marriages among Asian immigrant groups, as documented in California. It is also noted that 21.8% of Filipino Americans are of mixed lineage, second among Asian Americans after the Japanese, and is the fastest growing.
Under terms of the Geneva Accords of 1954, departing French troops took thousands of Vietnamese wives and children with them after the First Indochina War. Some 100,000 Eurasians stayed in Vietnam, though after independence from French rule.
Large scale European colonisation and settlement of New Zealand since the 1840s has led to a large racial mixing of them and the local Maori and Pacific populations. There are also smaller populations of mixed European and Pacific Island people, as well as mixing between white and Asian populations. All of New Zealand's half million Maori can claim some Pakeha parentage. Especially common mixtures are Irish Maori, Scottish Maori and Anglo Maori. Less common are Jewish Maori (Nathan and Benjamin are common Maori surnames) and Dutch Maori (Both mostly since 1950s). Because ones' race and culture in New Zealand is often a form of self identification, actual numbers are hard to gauge. (Statistics New Zealand, Census of Population and Dwellings 2006). In the last census (2006) many New Zealanders refused to state their ethnicity, or claimed multiple ethnicities and 19% chose New Zealander (Source New Zealand Herald 2006). Examples of these people include Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (opera singer) actress Rena Owen and ex Governor General Sir Paul Reeves.
Fiji has long been a multi-ethnic country, with a vast majority of people having multi-racial heritages even if they do not self-identify in that manner. The indigenous Fijians themselves are actually a mixture of Melanesian and Polynesian ancestry resulting from years of migration of islanders from various places mixing with each other during and after the various waves of migration. Fiji Islanders from the Lau group especially physically look and are more prone to verbalise mixed race ethnicity, after much intermarriage with Tongans and other Polynesians over the years. The overwhelming majority of the rest of the indigenous Fijians, though, can be genetically traced to having mixed Polynesian/Melanesian ancestry, as evidenced in physical and body characteristics of both groups.
The Indo-Fijian population is also a hodge-podge of South Asian immigrants (called Girmits in Fiji), who came as indentured labourers beginning in 1879. While a few of these labourers managed to bring wives, many of them either took or were given wives once they arrived in Fiji. The Girmits, who are classified as simply "Indians" to this day, came from many parts of the Indian subcontinent of present day India, Pakistan, and to a lesser degree Bangladesh and Myanmar. It is easy to recognize the Indian mixtures present in Fiji and see obvious traces of Southern and Northern Indians and other groups who have been categorised together. To some degree, even more of this phenomenon would have likely happened if the religious groups represented (primarily Hindu, Muslim and Sikh) had not resisted to some degree marriage between religious groups, which tended to be from more similar parts of the Indian subcontinent.
Over the years, particularly in the sugar cane growing regions of Western Viti Levu and parts of Vanua Levu, Indo-Fijians and Indigenous Fijians have mixed. It is also not uncommon to find people of Chinese/Fijian ancestry, Indo-Fijian/Samoan or Rotuman ancestry, and European/Fijian ancestry (often called 'part-Fijians'). The latter are often descendents of beachcombers (particularly shipwrecked sailors) and settlers that came over during Fiji's colonial rule. Further settling and subsequent mixing of islanders from a dozen or more different Pacific countries (Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Vanautu, Samoa, and Wallis and Futuna being the most prevalent) have added to the melting pot that is Fiji. Without a doubt, it is the most racially mixed nation in the Pacific, it's only rival being the US State of Hawaii.
The following is a list of ethnic divisions that are a mixture of two or more racial groups.
- Afro-Asian mostly native to the Americas and Africa
- Coloured Southern African
- Creoles of color
- Afro Asians (African Asians) native to Asia, some sub-groups within this demographic are biracial
- Burgher people
- Indo people
- Lipka Tatars
- Romani people
- Siberian peoples
- Sri Lankan Moors
- Black Dutch
- Black Irish of the American South
- Black Irish of the Caribbean
- Black Irish of Ireland
- British Mixed
- Rhineland Bastards
- Atlantic Creole
- Black Indians
- Cherokee freedmen
- Chestnut Ridge people
- Métis people (Canada)
- Métis people (United States)
- Miskito Zambo
- Habesha people
*individual members of these groups may instead be biracial
- Atlantic Creole
- Brass ankles
- Brazilian people
- Cuban people
- Louisiana Creole people
- Puerto Rican people
- Redbone Possibly Quadri-Racial, or of four races, in some communities
- We-Sorts/Proctors of Southern Maryland
Within Native American Tribal Nations
Many Native American tribes have significant minority populations, or in some cases even majority populations, of people with multi-racial origin. However many of these individuals will identify simply as tribal members of that Nation. Official standards for what degree of blood heritage constitutes a tribal member varies dramatically between different Indian Nations. Some Tribal Nations have strict blood standards and some use standards of cultural identification with a less strict blood standard.
Multiraciality in prehistory
Recent DNA studies have shown that many populations within groups heretofore considered to be of a single race actually have an ancient multi-racial heritage. For example, Haplogroup R1b (Y-DNA), 'ethnic' DNA found in high amounts amongst European populations, can also be found in some North African, and Central Asian populations dating back no more than 18,500 years ago (fairly recent in human history), and it is likely that this cross-migration came much later than this—since the 18,500 year number is the estimated time of the very beginning of this Haplogroup, meaning any cross-migrations would likely have come later.
There are also numerous other more recent Afro-European DNA connections in some parts of Europe, especially between North Africa and Southern Europe, although not exclusively so. For example the DNA of Berber peoples (a North African ethnic group) has been found in small but consistent amounts (about 5% on average) in many parts of Ireland, and also Eastern Scandinavia, as well as parts of Spain. Rather than relating to single migrations, these admixtures could possibly be reflective of numerous population influxes, and out-fluxes over long periods of time. Similar, and very complex patterns of interrelationship can be found between some African, Asian, and the Pacific Islander populations as well. If one looks even further back it is well-established that all current modern human populations have recent paleoanthropological origins in Africa, meaning that all races of currently living people have common origins. This widely held theory is called the "Recent African origin of modern humans", which holds to the recent single origin of modern humans in East Africa, and has become the near-consensus view within the scientific community.
- Interracial Marriage
- Melting pot
- Mixed Race Day
- Race (classification of human beings)
- Race and genetics
- One-drop rule
- Origins of Tutsi and Hutu
- Pre-Columbian theories I
- Pre-Columbian theories II
- Race Traitor
- Social Race
- William Loren Katz
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- Blended People of America, US-based non-profit organization representing the interests of the mixed race community, founded 2007
- Mixed Race UK is a UK-based non-profit organization representing the interests of the mixed race community the UK
- THE HAFU PROJECT - A study of half Japanese people, London, Munich, Tokyo based not for profit organisation, "photographs and interviews" project + events program
- The Association of MultiEthnic Americans, Inc., founded 1988
- MixedChild.com, Online resource for people of mixed heritage, founded 2009
- Multiethnic Education Program offering resources and strategies (including videos, publications & trainings) to support mixed race children in educational settings.
- MAVIN Foundation, an organization advocating for mixed heritage people and families
- Swirl, US-based mixed community, founded in 2000
- MOSAIC UK, a UK-based organisation for mixed race families
- Turquoise Association, a UK-based organisation celebrating mixed race heritage
- The Multiracial Activist: an online activist publication registered with the Library of Congress, focused on multiracial individuals and interracial families since 1997
- Brazilian Multiracial Movement, the first Brazilian mixed-race organization, founded in 2001
- ProjectRACE, an organization leading the movement for a multiracial classification
- People in Harmony UK, founded in 1972
- Notable Multiracial People
- CNN's Betty Nguyen profiles Kip Fulbeck's Multiracial Project – "Growing Up Hapa"
- Asian-Nation Hapa/Multiracial Asian Americans
- Intermix, a UK based online presence for mixed-race individuals, their families and carers and those in racially mixed relationships.
- Sex and Race in the Black Atlantic The first book to place the self-fashioning of mixed-race individuals in the context of a Black Atlantic
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