Academic journal article Family Relations

Mixed Resilience: A Study of Multiethnic Mexican American Stress and Coping in Arizona

Academic journal article Family Relations

Mixed Resilience: A Study of Multiethnic Mexican American Stress and Coping in Arizona

Article excerpt

Guided by an integrated framework of resilience, this in-depth qualitative study examined the major stressors persons of multiethnic Mexican American heritage encountered in their social environments related to their mixed identity and the resilience enhancing processes they employed to cope with these stressors. Life-story event narratives were transcribed and inductively coded using the constant comparative method. Collectively, the 24 multiethnic Mexican American participants endorsed external supports, interpersonal protective processes, and internal protective processes to navigate stressors associated with monoracism and interethnic discrimination. Findings generated from this study contribute new insight to our understanding of the dynamic interplay of culture and context in resilient processes among mixed heritage individuals. Policy and practice implications for mixed heritage clients and families are discussed.

Key Words: ethnic discrimination, Mexican, mixed heritage, multiethnic, narrative, resilience.

According to figures from the 2010 Census, the number of persons identifying with more than one racial group has substantially increased (32%) since 2000 (Humes, Jones, & Ramirez, 201 1). The significant rise in persons who claim more than one racial background corresponds to increases in diversity, interracial partnerships, and recent changes by the Federal Office of Management and Budget allowing persons to check two or more races on federal recording forms (Jones & Smith, 200 1 ). Though persons of mixed Hispanic/non-Hispanic ethnicity (persons who have one Hispanic and one non-Hispanic parent) are not currently tracked by the Census, there is substantial evidence that this group may be growing at a disproportionately higher rate than other mixed race groups (i.e., Black and White). For example, a recent study by the Pew Research Center (2010) found that 41% of all new interracial and interethnic marriages in the United States in 2008 (280,000) were between White and Hispanic couples who most notably reside in the Southwestern United States (i.e., Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado). In addition, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, of the 9 million persons who indicated two or more races, 33% also identified being of Hispanic origin (Humes et al., 2011). From these recent figures one can approximate that a significant proportion of the mixed-race population is comprised of persons of Hispanic ethnicity.

Paradoxically, the identities of persons of mixed Hispanic heritage are virtually absent from multiracial scholarship (Jiménez, 2004). Instead, scholars continue to focus on mixed Black and White racial identity while paying considerably less attention to other racial and ethnic formations, in particular persons of Hispanic/non-Hispanic origin and mixed persons of "dual-minority" heritage (i.e., Black and Mexican; Romo, 2011). This is particularly troubling considering that the Hispanic population has surpassed African Americans as the largest ethnic minority group in the United States (Humes et al., 201 1).

There is also emerging evidence that Hispanic persons, particularly of Mexican heritage, may face additional stressors associated with acculturation or dual pressure to maintain ties to their racial or ethnic group cultures and White mainstream culture (French & Chavez, 2010; Jiménez, 2004) and ethnic discrimination stemming from rising antiimmigration sentiment (Market, 2010). For instance, recent controversial anti-immigration laws in U.S. states that border Mexico (e.g., Arizona) further perpetuate a Mexican threat narrative or the belief that Mexicans are criminal "others" who threaten the quality of life of real Americans (Aguirre, Rodriguez, & Simmers, 2011; Chavez, 2008).

The major goal of this in-depth qualitative study was to contribute new knowledge about the ethnic identity development of one of the largest and least examined groups within the growing mixed heritage population: multiethnic Mexican Americans. …

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