Multiracial and Black - Gender Differences in Feelings of Acceptance & Belonging
When it comes to belonging, feelings of acceptance, and peer groups for multiracial Black kids, gender* may play an important role.
Many studies on multiracial belonging have focused on the experiences of women or included a sample of all gender identities without focusing on potential differences between experiences. This study sought to understand the experience of Black multiracial men as related to belonging and acceptance with their peers.
The 39 individuals interviewed for the study shared similar racial identities in that they identified as both mixed/biracial/multiracial AND Black. They shared that they commonly felt accepted by the Black community and when others commented on their appearance they didn’t perceive hostile undertones but rather interpreted comments as jovial or joking.
Many of the interviewees noted that while they often shared some physical characteristics of their White race, they knew that they were not perceived as White and sought friendship with others that shared their Blackness. The study participants highlighted that they felt belonging with their peer groups as everyone brought some element of Black diversity. One participant was quoted saying:
“They knew that I was a mix of stuff, but like they didn’t give a shit. Like we were all just the black kids . . . we were all different. Like I was just the mixed up black kid.”
One participant shared his experience with intentionally sticking together:
“I was one of four black people in my year, you’re not gonna stop trying to wonder what blackness you are. You’re just gonna club together”
These findings are in stark contrast to how many multiracial Black women experience acceptance and belonging, and can be helpful for us parents who have both boys and girls.
If we have more than one kid, we know that our kids may have different racial identities and this is likely to change with time. It is also important to remember that each kid will experience their identity differently and we should not expect them to land on similar conclusions about who they are.
This research demonstrates that there may be trends that are relevant for boys but not girls, and vice versa. Of course, this will not be true 100% of the time, but it is helpful to think about as our children seek belonging and acceptance from various peer groups.
Should I trust these findings?
The research included interviews with 39 multiracial Black Men from the US and UK. While the researchers share that they wanted an international sample, I think this is a limitation as race and ethnicity is seen and experienced differently in each country. However, the findings offer insight that had not been explored, with recommendations for future research.
Citation: Sims, Jennifer Patrice, and Remi Joseph-Salisbury. "“We Were All Just the Black Kids”: Black Mixed-Race Men and the Importance of Adolescent Peer Groups for Identity Development." Social Currents 6.1 (2019): 51-66.
*We are using the binary male/female gender terms for this article as this is how gender was identified in the article. We know that gender is a spectrum and acknowledge this is a limitation of the article.