To those singing praises of what a desegregated melting pot America is today, Pamela R. Bennett, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, says we haven’t come as far as they may think. Although the growth of multiracial Americans suggests greater racial tolerance, there is still racial segregation among these groups, her new study has found.
Using where people live as a symbol of their social status, Bennett studied the residential location of people who identified themselves with more than one racial group when filling out their 2000 and 2010 census forms. For both years, Bennett found that the social position of multiracial groups falls between blacks and whites, but multiracial groups have their own racial breakdowns. There was a lesser degree of segregation among people who are both black and white when compared to those who only identified as black; yet the black-white multiracials appear to be more segregated than Asian-white or American Indian–white multiracials across various segregation measures.
“For patterns of segregation in 2000, taking socioeconomic status into account does not change that picture,” Bennett said. “So while some scholars and activists view official recognition of multiracial identities as a movement toward the deconstruction of race, I caution against such an optimistic narrative for now.”
While it isn’t necessarily surprising to the black community that those mixed without any African ancestry would be higher up on the social totem pole, it knocks a bit of steam out of arguments suggesting multiracial people are a sea of harmoniously blended faces all subjected to the same issues.
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.