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The terms multiracial, biracial and mixed-race describe people whose ancestors are not of a single race. (Biracial strictly refers to those with ancestors from exactly two races). One example might be a person with an Asian mother and African father. Another might be the Mestizo people of Mexico (and other Latin American countries) who are descended from Spanish and indigenous ancestors. It is sometimes a matter of opinion if people are mixed-race, because races themselves are not clearly defined. This has caused some problems for census-takers.

Multiracial also describes a society or group that is composed of people from more than one racial or ethnic group.

Societal acceptance of mixed-race marriages and offspring varies widely from person to person and region to region. In Nazi Germany, "racial purity" was considered by the government to be an important goal for society. In the United States, especially the southeast region, marriage between African American and Caucasian people has historically been looked down upon. (As recently as 2003, Taylor County High School in Taylor County, Georgia has held separate Prom celebrations for black and white students.) However, recent data suggests that multiracial marriages are becoming increasingly common in the United States.

In 2000, The Sunday Times reported that "Britain has the highest rate of interracial relationships in the world". Apparently contradicting this, census data shows the population of England (in lieu of the UK) to be 1.3% mixed-race (2001), compared with, for example, 1.4% in the USA (2002 estimates, see blow). But most of the English poulation is of one race (white), even more so than in the US, so there are fewer opportunites for interracial relationships in England. In support of the report it can be calculated that 14.4% of those in England who are not white are mixed-race, compared with 7.5% in the US.

(This, however, remains controversial since many persons in the United States may identify themselves as members of one single category -- e.g., Black -- despite having ancestors belonging to more than one category. For instance, it has been shown that a large section of the US Black population is of European and/or Native American descent.)

Table of contents
1 Categorization and censuses
2 Multiracial terms
3 See also
4 Sources

Categorization and censuses

Some multiracial individuals feel marginalized by US society. For example, when applying to schools, for a job, or taking standardized tests, all Americans are asked to check boxes corresponding to race or ethnicity. Typically, about four or five race choices are given with the instruction to "check only one." Many other such surveys include an additional "other" box, but this unfortunately groups together individuals of many different mulitiracial types (ex: Caucasian/African-Americans are grouped with Asian/Native American Indians), as well as individuals whom feel their race or ethnic identity is not included in the standard groups (ex: Jewish, Arab, Asian Indian). Perhaps most acceptable in the "multiple choice" format of race is to both provide an "other" box and to allow selection of multiple boxes, but some individuals will not be satisfied with any box checking.

There remain many circumstances in which biracial individuals are left with no real response when asked for demographic data. But multiracial people won a victory of sorts with the 2000 United States Census, which allowed participants to select more than one of the 6 available racial categories. (Briefly: White, Black, Asian, Native North American, Pacific Island, Other.)

In contrast, the 2001 United Kingdom census offered specific mixed-race categories: "Mixed White and Black Caribbean", "Mixed White and Black African", "Mixed White and [South] Asian", and "Other Mixed", as well as "Other ethnic group"

Two million mixed-race Americans vanish

The 2000 US census [1] recorded 6.8 million mixed-race people. But population estimates for 2002 [1] reduce this figure to 4.2 million. The explanation seems lie with people who recorded themseleves as, for instance, mixed "White" and "Other", with the "Other" race being an hispanic one. The census takers had intended "White" to include hispanic people, so these people disappeared from the mixed-race figures in the 2002 estimates.

Multiracial terms

See also

List of multiracial people