Multiracial Identity, Color-Blind Racial Ideology, and Discrimination: Professional Counseling Implications

By McDonald, C. Peeper; Chang, Catherine Y. et al. | Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD, January 2019 | Go to article overview

Multiracial Identity, Color-Blind Racial Ideology, and Discrimination: Professional Counseling Implications


McDonald, C. Peeper, Chang, Catherine Y., Dispenza, Franco, OHara, Caroline, Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD


Although race is an age-old construct that is weaved into the history of the United States, it continues to evolve. As the U.S. population continues to grow more diverse, the multiracial population has proven to be one of the fastest growing groups, increasing 32% from 2000 to 2010 (Jackson, Yoo, Guevarra, & Harrington, 2012; Rockquemore, Brunsma, & Delgado, 2009; Shih & Sanchez, 2005). Although research related to multiracial individuals in the United States is limited, most of the research on this population has focused on detrimental psychological challenges that multiracial persons experience (Giamo, Schmitt, & Outten, 2012; Jackson et al., 2012; Shih& Sanchez, 2005), identity development in relation to counseling competencies and outcomes (e.g., Chao, 2012; Middleton, Ergiiner-Tekinalp, Williams, Stadler, & Dow, 2011), and the creation of racial developmental models (Poston, 1990; Root, 2001; Smith, 1991). Given this limited scope of research, it is important to expand on the multicultural counseling literature by investigating the way in which identity, racial attitudes and beliefs, and experiences of discrimination intersect for the ultimate purpose of providing competent counseling practice and education related to this population. More specifically, we explored the intersectionality between experiences of discrimination, color-blind racial ideology (CBRI), and multiracial identity integration (Mil).

Several developmental models exist to explain minority racial identity, but these models often focus only on biracial identity (consisting of two racial identities), ignoring developmental concerns for multiracial individuals (i.e., Poston, 1990; Smith, 1991). Aside from being fairly outdated, further criticisms include the apparent pathologizing of the biracial experience (e.g., feelings of guilt and resentment toward themselves) and lack of sound empirical support (Evans & Ramsay, 2015; Rockquemore et al, 2009). Although Root's (2001) research has aided in the understanding of the fluidity of multiracial identity, it has been criticized for focusing solely on adolescents, thus limiting the developmental scope of understanding (Evans & Ramsay, 2015). Henriksen and Paladino (2009) developed a newer and more inclusive model, the multiple heritage identity development model, whereby multiple heritage includes not only individuals who could identify as biracial or multiracial, but also those who could broadly identify with a variety of other characteristics (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, national origin). Multiple heritage identity development serves as an overarching umbrella to understand the intersection of identities, but it appears to minimize race and does not specifically aid in the understanding of racial identity for biracial/multiracial individuals because of the purported idea that all people are multiple heritage individuals, whereby the intersection of all their identities and the impact thereof is the focus. Alternatively, one construct that narrows the focus of intersecting identities to solely center on multiracial identity and is more current than past biracial models is the Mil model (Cheng & Lee, 2009). The Mil model aims to illustrate the racial identity negotiation that occurs in multiracial individuals by describing their perception of their racial identities as conflictual or agreeable to one another (Cheng & Lee, 2009; Lou & Lalonde, 2015). Researchers have investigated the way in which Mil has predicted outcome variables, such as racial attitudes and beliefs, but very few studies have used Mil as the outcome variable (Fisher, Reynolds, Hsu, Barnes, & Tyler, 2014; Gaither, 2015; Stepney, Sanchez, & Handy, 2015). Additionally, Jackson et al. (2012) investigated the relationships among Mil, perceived discrimination, and psychological adjustment and concluded that experiences of perceived racial discrimination are a risk factor for multiracial individuals and that having an integrated multiracial identity could serve as a protective factor for psychological adjustment. …

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