Biracial Identity Development
- `Biracial Identity Development'
In 1990, W.S. Carlos Poston developed
a model of `Biracial Identity'.
He identified five stages.
These stages `mirror' some of the work done by Cross
in his theory of 'African American "racial" development
[as the African-Americans are actually a largely `mixed'-race
"ethnic" group and not a "racial" group of any sort at all]:
1). Personal Identity:
Individuals at this stage are young.
At this stage, children do not see
themselves as having a racial identity.
2). Choice of Group Category:
In this stage, individuals gain an increased
awareness of their race/ethnic heritage
and are pushed to choose an identity.
Typically there are two choices:
identify with one group or the other.
This choice is motivated mostly
by families, peers, and/or social groups.
The choice made at this stage involves a number of
interrelated factors such as neighborhood, physical
appearance, parental presence and influence, and
influence of others (peer groups, church, family, school, etc.)
In this stage, an individual usually experiences emotional
tension (confusion, guilt, self-hatred) because claiming
one identity does not fully express who they are.
In many cases, a biracial person feels that his or her
identity choice makes it difficult to identify with both parents.
At this stage, a biracial adolescent make be scared to have
friends meet his or her parent whose racial background is
different than the norm in the neighborhood or school.
Eventually the child most resolve the anger
and or guilt and learn to appreciate both
parental cultures, or stay at this level.
At this stage, individuals attempt to learn more about all
of the racial/ethnic cultures that make up who they are.
Although an appreciation of diverse cultures exist, biracial
persons still primarily identify with one ethnic or racial group.
At this final stage, integration is crucial to
identity development because it is
closely tied to positive mental health.
Through integration, individuals are able to carve
out an identity that reflects their complete selves.
Excerpted from Interracial Communication:
Theory Into Practice, Mark Orbe and Tina
Harris (Wadsworth, 2001, pages 90-91)