As America become more racially diverse, six in 10 multiracial adults are proud of their mixed-race background and feel their racial heritage has made them more open to other cultures, according to a new survey.
At the same time, a majority (55 percent) say they have been subjected to racial slurs or jokes and about one-in-four (24 percent) have felt annoyed because people have made assumptions about their racial background, a Pew Research Centre survey found. Still, few see their multiracial background as a liability with their numbers growing at a rate three times as fast as the US population as a whole with social taboos against interracial marriage fading, it found.
In fact, only 4 percent say having a mixed racial background has been a disadvantage in their life. About one-in-five (19 percent) say it has been an advantage, and 76 percent say it has made no difference. The survey does note separately list people of Indian origin as the US Census Bureau currently recognizes only five racial categories: white, black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.
While multiracial adults share some things in common, their experiences and attitudes differ significantly depending on the races that make up their background and how the world sees them, the survey noted. For example, multiracial adults with a black background have a set of experiences, attitudes and social interactions that are much more closely aligned with the black community.
A different pattern emerges among multiracial Asian adults; biracial white and Asian adults feel more closely connected to whites than to Asians. Among biracial adults who are white and American Indian – the largest group of multiracial adults – ties to their Native American heritage are often faint. Only 22 percent say they have a lot in common with people in the US who are American Indian, whereas 61 percent say they have a lot in common with whites.
The survey found that many multiracial adults, like other racial minorities, have experienced some type of racial discrimination, from racist slurs to physical threats, because of their racial background. But the experiences of specific races vary. For multiracial adults with a black background, experiences with discrimination closely mirror those of single-race blacks.
Among adults who are black and no other race, 57 percent say they have received poor service in restaurants or other businesses, identical to the share of biracial black and white adults who say this has happened to them. Again 42 percent of single-race blacks say they have been unfairly stopped by the police, as do 41 percent of biracial black and white adults. Mixed-race adults with an Asian background are about as likely to report being discriminated against as are single-race Asians, while multiracial adults with a white background are more likely than single-race whites to say they have experienced racial discrimination.
A majority of multiracial adults say they are proud of their mixed racial background (60 percent), more see their racial background as an advantage than a disadvantage (19 percent vs. 4 percent), and they overwhelmingly say they have rarely if ever felt ashamed or like an outsider because of their mixed racial background.
While these views are broadly shared by each of the five biggest multiracial groups, the large proportion of white and Asian biracial adults who see their racial background as an advantage stands out, the survey noted. About six-in-ten in this group (58 percent) say their racial background has been an advantage to them in life. In the other four groups, only about one-in-four or fewer say their racial heritage has been as helpful.
This contrast further sharpens when white and Asian biracial Americans are compared with single-race whites and Asians. According to the survey, white and Asian biracial Americans are even more likely than single-race whites (58 percent vs. 32 percent, respectively) or Asians (15 percent) to say their racial background has been an advantage.