"I'm the best of both worlds" : factors influencing the racial identities of biracial youth Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/rx913s149

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  • This study examined the social and contextual factors that lead to differences in the way biracial adolescents interpret their racial identity. Using 11 interviews with a sample of biracial youth between the ages of 14 and 17-years-old, this study also explores the strategies these individuals use to achieve social validation for their preferred racial self-understanding. Theoretically, the factors shaping identity construction and the strategies used to negotiate identity are studied through both a bioecological model and a symbolic interactionist framework. The findings from this study provide new insights into adolescent biracial identity that involve issues ranging from cultural racism to the impact of video media on adolescent development. The main themes emerging from youth narratives suggest that four primary factors shape how biracial youth understand and reconcile their racial identities. First, community messages about race define the parameters of adolescents' racial identity options. Secondly, social meanings attached to physical appearance play a pivotal role in how racial identities are understood by self and others. Thirdly, peer endorsements of color-based stereotypes, especially those derived from popular media images of Black entertainers, are crucial to how these adolescents frame their racial identity options. Lastly, racial socialization in the familial context provides an important, though often ambiguous, piece to biracial identity formation. As well, four strategies surfaced in this study that biracial adolescents appear to use when negotiating identity claims in interactions with others. These strategies include compromise, evoking mixed parentage, emotion regulation, and using humor.
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