Black and White Mixed-Race Experiences: The Voices of Young People

Prof Doc Thesis

Levy, Carla Selena 2011. Black and White Mixed-Race Experiences: The Voices of Young People. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsLevy, Carla Selena
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Official records show that the mixed-race population represent the fastest growing
ethnic minority 'group' in Britain, and young people of a black and white 'racial'
mix constitute considerable numbers. Such information resulted from changes in
the 2001 census, where mixed-race people were first recognised as a distinct
ethnic 'group'. There are two main streams of research around mixed-race
individuals: traditional research, and a more recent 'new wave' of 'insider-led'
research. The former pathologised these individuals, perceived to be 'marginal',
'mixed up', and confronted with problematic 'racial identities'. In contrast, the
latter highlighted a more celebratory view, where mixed-race individuals
themselves have indicated advantageous experiences, with fluid, multiple, yet
stable racial identities across contexts. Nevertheless, such research presumes
that 'racial identity' and categorisation are valid factors underlying individuals'
experiences. This study took an exploratory psychological approach in order to
listen to the voices of mixed-race young people. There was a focus on African
Caribbean black and white mixed-race individuals as there have been concerns
about them within social systems. Hence, seven black and white mixed-race
young people were interviewed about their mixed-race experiences. An
Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the data indicated that such
experiences increase in complexity across levels of context. A deconstructionist
approach to self-definition, without any reference to 'racial identity', was
highlighted. In addition, being categorised by others was experienced as
restrictive and invalidating, highlighting issues of power. Shifting and binary
positions of "difference" were identified, where being "in between" positions was
experienced as conflict, or as a both/and experience. Rejection through racism
was highlighted to lead to anger, where supported and independent coping
strategies were utilised. An understanding of racism increased with age and
education. Talking about mixed-race was powerful as it moved participants into a
position of "difference" or therapeutic relief, however generally led them into a
defensive position about their mixed-race. Implications for professional practice
are discussed which highlight areas for training and policy development across
services. Study limitations are explored, and further research is suggested

Publication dates
PrintMay 2011
Publication process dates
Deposited24 Jan 2014
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