Beyond Black & White: Multiracialism in America

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On Thursday, October 4, 2018, Emory's James Weldon Johnson Institute hosted an evening panel discussion on multiracial identities and politics in 21st-century America.

Event Description: In 2000, the US Census Bureau allowed Americans to classify themselves into more than one racial category for the first time. In that census, 2.5% of Americans identified with more than one race. Ten years later, that number increased to 2.9%.

These numbers both foreshadow the increase in Americans who will likely identify as multiracial in the future and perhaps underestimates the number of people who currently have recent ancestors of different races. According to the Pew Research Center, 6.9% of American adults have parents or grandparents of different races. In 2015, 17% of marriages in the US involved partners of different races.

Some of these changes reflect differences in self-reporting. Some reflect differences in attitudes regarding the acknowledgement of interracial relationships. In either case, these changes reflect the reality Americans of mixed race heritage have always been a part of America.

In this dialogue, we explored what it means to be multiracial from a social, legal, historical and cultural sense. Our panel of interdisciplinary experts have spent years considering the question of mixed raced identity and provided helpful and incisive commentary on these questions.


Greg Carter
Gregory Carter
Associate Professor of History
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Author, The United States of the United Races: A Utopian History of Racial Mixing
Michelle Elam
Michelle Elam
William Robertson Coe Professor of Modern Thought & Literature
Stanford University
Author, The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millennium
Tanya Hernandez
Tanya Hernandez
Archibald R. Murray Professor of Law
Fordham University School of Law
Author, Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination 
Natalie Masuoka
Natalie Masuoka
Associate Professor of Political Science
Tufts University
Author, The Politics of Belonging: Race, Public Opinion and Immigration