‘1-drop rule’ still persists for biracial individuals in our society

December 9th, 2010 - 5:46 pm ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama Washington, Dec 9 (ANI): A new study has shown that we still tend to see biracials not as equal members of both parent groups, but as belonging more to their minority parent group.

The centuries old ‘one-drop rule’, i.e., assigning minority status to mixed-race individuals appears to live on in our modern-day perception and categorization of people like Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, and Halle Berry.

“Our work challenges the interpretation of our first biracial president, and the growing number of mixed-race people in general, as signaling a color-blind America,” said Arnold K. Ho at Harvard University.

“One of the remarkable things about our research on hypodescent is what it tells us about the hierarchical nature of race relations in the United States,” said James Sidanius, professor of psychology and of African and African American studies at Harvard.

“Hypodescent against blacks remains a relatively powerful force within American society.”

Ho and colleagues presented subjects with computer-generated images of black-white and Asian-white individuals, as well as family trees showing different biracial permutations. They also asked people to report directly whether they perceived biracials to be more minority or white.

The researchers found, for example, that one-quarter-Asian individuals are consistently considered more white than one-quarter-black individuals, despite the fact that African Americans and European Americans share a substantial degree of genetic heritage.

They also found that individuals who were a 50-50 mix of two races, either black-white or Asian-white, were almost never identified by study participants as white.

Furthermore, on average black-white biracials had to be 68 percent white before they were perceived as white; the comparable figure for Asian-white biracials was 63 percent.

“The United States is already a country of ethnic mixtures, but in the near future it will be even more so, and more so than any other country on earth,” said Mahzarin R. Banaji, Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard.

“When we see in our data that our own minds are limited in the perception of those who are the products of two different ethnic groups, we recognize how far we have to go in order to have an objectively accurate and fair assessment of people. That’s the challenge for modern minds.”

“The persistence of hypodescent serves to reinforce racial boundaries, rather than moving us toward a race-neutral society,” Ho said.

Their research appears in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. (ANI)

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