Ask Code Switch: 'Since You're Black, You Must Be ... '
It's annoying and offensive to be stereotyped, and it sucks to feel the need to constantly explain your background and interests. Actually, it's more than just annoying — "stereotype threat" is a documented phenomenon that studies have shown can hold people back at work, in school and in their social lives. (It's what happens when an Asian person, for example, is subtly reminded that they're "not supposed to be a good driver" and then winds up running over a curb.) And it can affect people in all sorts of arenas, from women in chemistry labs to black students in college to white dudes on the basketball court.
And research has shown that, on average, people who belong to multiple racial groups tend to experience what you're feeling a little more frequently than other folks. Sarah Gaither, a psychology professor at Duke University and an expert on multiracial identity, recently talked with Code Switch about this. Constant "identity denial," she says, means that multiracial people tend to have, "higher levels of different types of mental health outcomes ... because they have this identity crisis, this identity struggle, where they're trying to constantly fit into their respective in-groups."
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