The terms multiracial
describe people whose ancestries come
from multiple races
Definitions of multiraciality
While defining race is
and rejected by some specialists in human
genetics,"race" remains deeply seated in popular belief. Insofar as
race is defined differently in different cultures, perceptions of
multiraciality will naturally be subjective.
According to U.S. sociologist Troy
and ethicist Pilar Ossorio:
Some percentage of people who look white will possess
genetic markers indicating that a significant majority of their
recent ancestors were African.
Some percentage of people who look black will possess
genetic markers indicating the majority of their recent ancestors
In the United States:
"Many state and local agencies comply with the
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 1997 revised
standards for the collection, tabulation, and presentation of
federal data on race and ethnicity.
The revised OMB standards identify a minimum of five
racial categories: White; Black or African American; American Indian and Alaska
Native;Hispanic ; Asian; and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific
Perhaps, the most significant change for Census 2000
was that respondents were given the option to mark one or more
races on the questionnaire to indicate their racial
2000 race data are shown for people who reported a race either
alone or in combination with one or more other races."
In the English-speaking
, many terms for people of various multiracial backgrounds
exist, some of which are pejorative or are no longer used.
are used in Spanish
in Portuguese and mulâtre
for people of multiracial descent.
These terms are also in certain contexts used in the
English-speaking world. In Canada, the
Métis are a people of mixed white
and First Nation descent.
Terms like "mulatto" for people of partly African descent and
"mestizo" for people of partly Native American descent are still
used in English, but mostly when referring to the past or to the
demography of Latin-America
" is a now old-fashioned and pejorative
term used for people of partial Native American ancestry. Mestee
, once widely used, is now used mostly for
members of old mixed-race groups, such as Melungeons
. In South Africa, and
much of English-speaking southern Africa, the term "Coloured" was
used to describe a mixed-race person but also Asians not of African
descent. While the term is socially accepted, it is becoming an
outdated term owing to its apartheid
In English, the terms "miscegenation
" have been
used for "race-mixing". These terms are now often considered
offensive and are becoming obsolete. The term "mixed-race" is
becoming generally accepted.
is the common word used to describe
multiracial people in Latin America
especially people with Amerindian
or other European ancestry.
Mestizos make up a large portion of Latin Americans including a
majority in some countries.
In Latin America, racial mixture was officially acknowledged from
colonial times. There was official nomenclature for every
conceivable mixture present in the various countries. Initially,
this classification was used as a type of caste
system, where rights and privileges were
accorded depending on one's official racial classification.
caste distinctions were abolished in many countries of the Spanish-speaking Americas as they became independent of Spain.
Several terms have remained in common usage.
Race and racial mixture have played a significant role in the
politics of many Latin American countries. In some countries,
notably Mexico, Dominican
Belize, a majority of the population can be described as
biracial or multiracial (depending on the country).
The Mexican philosopher and educator José Vasconcelos
authored an essay on
the subject, La Raza
, celebrating racial mixture. Venezuelan president Hugo
Chávez, who is himself of Spanish, indigenous and African
ancestry, has made positive references to the mixed-race ancestry
of most Latin Americans from time to time.
According to the 2000 official census, 38.5% of Brazilians
identified themselves as
skin color. That option is normally
marked by people that consider
). The term
is formally used in the official census but is not
used by the population. In Brazilian society, most people who are
multiracial call themselves moreno
. These terms are not
considered offensive and focus more on skin color than on ethnicity
(it is considered more like other human characteristics such as
being short or tall.).
The most common multiracial groups are between African and European
), and Amerindian and
). But there are also African and Amerindian
), and East-Asian (mostly Japanese) and European
). All groups are more or less found throughout the
whole country. A majority of Brazilian multiracials, however, have
all three origins: Amerindian, European and African. It is said
today that nearly 89% of the "Pardo" population in Brazil, has at
least one Amerindian ancestor from their maternal genes. In Brazil,
it is very common for Mulattoes to admit that they do not have any
Amerindian ancestry, though studies have found that if a Brazilian
multiracial can trace their ancestry to nearly 8 to 9 generations
back, they will have at least one Amerindian ancestor from their
maternal side of the family, which will explain many of their
physical features and characteristics.
Since multiracial relations in Brazilian society have occurred for
many generations, today, some people find it difficult to trace
their own ethnic ancestry. Today a majority of mixed-race
Brazilians do not really know their ethnic ancestry. Due to their
unique features that makes them Brazilian like color of their skin,
their lips, or eye color, they are only aware that their ancestors
were definitely Portuguese, Sub-Saharan African, or Amerindian.
There is a high level of integration between all groups. There is,
however, a great social and economic difference between European
descendants (found more among the upper and middle classes) and
African, Amerindian and multiracial descendants (found more among
the middle and lower classes).
In South Africa
, the Prohibition of Mixed
prohibited marriage between whites and non-whites
(which were classified as Black, Asian and Coloured
). Multiracial South Africans are commonly
referred to as coloureds
. According to the
2001 South African Census, they are the second largest minority
(8.9%) after white South Africans (9.2%).
Anglo-Indians are the mixed race, which
originated in India during the
British Raj, or the Colonial period in
The British went to India as Traders in 1616, ruled
much of its East for centuries, and left India after ruling all of
it for over 130 years, in 1947. British soldiers married or had
affairs with Indian women and their offspring were called
Anglo-Indians. The estimated population of Anglo-Indians is 600,000
worldwide with the majority living in India and the UK.
Due to its
strategic location in the Indian Ocean, the island of Sri Lanka has been a confluence for settlers from various
parts of the world, which has resulted in the formation of several
mixed-race ethnicities in the Island.
The most notable mixed
race group are the Sri Lankan
, who trace their ancestry from Arab traders who settled
on the island and intermarried with local women. Today, The Sri
Lankan Moors live primarily in urban communities, preserving their
Arab-Islamic cultural heritage while adopting many Southern Asian
are an Eurasian ethnic
group, onsisting for the most part of male-line descendants of
European colonists from the 16th to 20th centuries (mostly
Portuguese, Dutch, German and British) and local women, with some
minorities of Swedish, Norwegian, French and Irish.
are an ethnic
group who are partially descended from 16th century Portuguese
traders and the African slaves who were brought by them.The Kaffirs
spoke a distinctive creole based on Portuguese, the Sri Lanka
Kaffir language, now extinct. Their cultural heritage includes the
dance styles Kaffringna and Manja.
Singapore and Malaysia
to government statistics, the population of Singapore as of September 2007 was 4.68 million, of whom
multiracial people, including Chindians and
Singapore and Malaysia, the majority of inter-ethnic marriages are between
Chinese and Indians.
The offspring of such marriages are informally known as "Chindian
", though the Malaysian government only
classifies them by their father's ethnicity. As the majority of
these intermarriages usually involve an Indian groom and Chinese
bride, the majority of Chindians in Malaysia are usually classified
" by the Malaysian
government. As for the Malays
who are predominantly Muslim
restrictions in Malaysia make it uncommon for them to intermarry
with either the Indians, who are predominantly Hindu
, or the Chinese, who are predominantly Buddhist
. It is,
however, common for Muslims and Arabs
and Malaysia to take local Malay wives, due to a
Chitty people, in Singapore and the Malacca state of
Malaysia, are a Tamil people with
considerable Malay descent.
This was due to the first Tamil
settlers taking local wives, since they did not bring along any of
their own women with them.
Under terms of the Geneva
Accords of 1954
, departing French troops took thousands of
Vietnamese wives and children with them after the First Indochina War
. Some 100,000
Eurasians stayed in Vietnam, though after independence from French
admixture has been an ever present and pervading phenomenon in the
Philippines. The Philippines was originally settled by Australoid
peoples called Negritos
which now form the country's aboriginal
community. Admixture occurred between this earlier group and the
There has been Indian migration
and influence in the Philippines since the precolonial era. The
impact of Indian
on the Philippines profoundly affected the culture
of the Filipinos. The Brahmanistic elements in ancient Filipino
religions and the names of their gods and mythological heroes were
of Indian origin. The term Bathala
god of the ancient Tagalog) originated from the Sanskrit
Bhattara Guru, meaning "the highest of the
gods". About 25% of the words in the Tagalog
language are Sanskrit terms and about 5% of the country's
population possess Indian ancestry
been a Chinese presence in the
Philippines since the ninth century.
large-scale migrations of Chinese to the Philippines only started
during the Spanish colonial era, when the world market was opened
to the Philippines. It is estimated that among Filipinos
, 10%-20% have some Chinese
ancestry and 1.5% are "full-blooded" Chinese.
migration to the Philippines
coincided with the spread of Islam
in the archipelago.
Filipino-Muslim royal families from the Sultanate of Sulu
and the Sultanate of Maguindanao
descent even going as far as claiming direct lineage from the
. According to the American anthropologist
Dr. H. Otley Beyer, the ancestry
is 2% Arab
. This dates back to when Arab traders intermarried
with the local Malay
Filipina female populations during the pre-Spanish history of
The Philippines has also received migration from Mexico
and other Spanish
colonies in Latin America during the Spanish colonial era . The
Viceroyalty of New Spain
now Mexico, colonized the Philippines from 1565 until Mexico gained
independence in 1821 after which the Philippines was directly
administered under Spain. The Galleon
, connected and cross pollinated the cultures of Mexico,
the Philippines and Spain. This historical connection is evident in
the presence of several Aztec
and Spanish words
in common use within the various Philippine Languages
the Spanish era of the Philippines, the term "Mestizo" referred to those of mixed
indigenous Austronesian and
Spanish ancestry, being borrowed from
Latin America; however, the term soon became generic and synonymous for "mixed race.", referring to all
Filipinos of mixed indigenous Malayo-Polynesian and other
defeat of Spain during the Spanish-American War in 1898, the
Islands and other remaining Spanish colonies were ceded to the United
States in the Treaty of
The Philippines was under U.S. sovereignty
until 1946, though occupied by Japan
during World War II. In 1946, in the Treaty of Manila
, the U.S.
Recognized the Republic of the Philippines as an independent
nation. Even after 1946, the U.S. maintained a heavy military
presence in the Philippines, with as many as 21 U.S. military bases
and 100,000 U.S. military personnel stationed there. The bases
closed in 1992, leaving behind thousands of Amerasian
children.Pearl S. Buck International foundation estimates there are
the Philippines with 5,000 in the Clark area of Angeles."The
majority of the children have been abandoned by their American
fathers," said Jocelyn Bonilla, the manager of the Pearl S.
center in Angeles
However, large numbers of these people and the rest of the
Philippines were ruined, raped and or slaughtered by the Japanese
during the occupation of the archipelago resulting in further
admixture resulting in the emergence of Japinos
. When the United States granted
the Philippines independence on July 4 1946 the country was
economically devastated by the Second
and many surviving Filipino-American Mestizos with
the financial capacity to travel to the United States did so but
the majority were too impoverished and thus remained in the
Now, modern day Filipino mestizos include Filipinos of Chinese
, African, Indian
and Mesoamerican ancestries
. This is due to the
historical and contemporary immigrations and colonizations of the
Philippines and also as the product of the global Philippine Diaspora
genetic study by Stanford University indicates that at least 3.6% of the population are
European or of part European
descent from both Spanish and American colonization.
Currently however, there are no official statistics on the number
of mestizos living in the Philippines, or Filipinos of mestizo
descent living abroad, or Filipinos with Chinese and or Arab
admixture, there are only guesstimates. This is due to the lack of
documentation of racial backgrounds in government censuses.
However, many Filipino mestizos
also hide their ancestry in order to avoid a social negative
stereotype stigma which alienates them from the population with
predominantly indigenous appearance.
In the United States, intermarriage among Filipinos with other
races is common. They have the largest number of interracial marriages
immigrant groups, as documented in California. It is also noted
that 21.8% of Filipino Americans are of mixed lineage, second among
Asian Americans after the Japanese, and is the fastest
In terms of ethnic origins, the population of Australia is diverse.
A significant percentage of the population has multiple ethnic
backgrounds, as Australia has one of the highest incidences of
interethnic marriages and relationships in the world. A significant
number of the Aboriginal Australian population has European
Large scale European colonisation and settlement of New Zealand
since the 1840s has led to a large racial mixing of them and the
local Maori and Pacific populations. There are also smaller
poulations of mixed European and Pacific Island people, as well as
mixing between European and Asian populations. All of New Zealand's
half million Maori can claim some Pakeha parentage. Especially
common mixtures are Irish Maori, Scottish Maori and Anglo Maori.
Less common are Jewish Maori (Nathan and Benjamin are common Maori
surnames) and Dutch Maori (Both mostly since 1950s). Because ones'
race and culture in New Zealand is often a form of self
identification, actual numbers are hard to gauge. (Statistics New
Zealand, Census of Population and Dwellings 2006). In the last
census (2006) many New Zealanders refused to state their ethnicity,
or claimed multiple ethncities and 19% chose New Zealander (Source
New Zealand Herald 2006). Examples of these people include Dame Kiri Te Kanawa
actress Rena Owen
and ex Governor General
Sir Paul Reeves
The Sunday Times
reported that "Britain has the highest rate of interracial relationships in the
world" and certainly the UK has the highest rate in the European Union. The 2001 census
showed the population of England (a sub-section of the UK) to be 1.4%
mixed-race, compared with U.S. estimates of 1.4% in 2002 (see
below), although this U.S. figure did not include mixed-race people
who had a black parent.
By 2020 the mixed race population is
expected to become Britain's largest ethnic minority group with the
highest growth rate.
Britain, many multi-racial people have Caribbean, African or Asian heritage.
Some, like Formula One
driver, Lewis Hamilton
, are referred
to or describe themselves as 'mixed
The 2001 UK Census
included a section
entitled 'Mixed' to which 1.4% (1.6% by 2005 estimates) of people
responded, which was split further into White and Black
Caribbean, White and Asian, White and Black African
. Despite this, 2005 birth records for the
country state at least 3.5% of new born babies as mixed race.
Cities/ Regions with notable Multiracial/ Mixed Race
populations (England and Wales)
Multiracial Canadians in 2006 totaled 1.5% of the population, up
from 1.2% in 2001. The mixed-race population grew by 25% since the
previous census. Of these, the most frequent combinations
were multiple visible minorities (for example, both black
and South Asian multiracial people form the majority specifically
in Toronto), followed closely by white-black,
white-Latin American, white-Chinese,
white-Arab, and many other smaller mixes.
Another 1.2% of Canadians are Métis
(descendants of a
historical population who were partially Aboriginal
, particularly French
, and Irish
brings a total mixed population of 2.7%, greater by percentage than
that of the United
Kingdom and the United States.
Multiracial US Americans
million in 2006, or 2.0% of the population. They can be listed in
the U.S Census by any combination of races White or Caucasian,
Black or African American, Asian, Native American or Alaska Native,
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, "Some other race") and
ethnicities. The U.S. has a growing multiracial identity movement.
or interracial marriage
, most notably
between whites and blacks, was deemed immoral and illegal in most
states in the 18th, 19th and first half of the 20th century.
California and the western
US had similar laws to prohibit White-Asian American marriages
until 1967 (Loving v.
decision by the US
Supreme Court) which overturned all remaining anti-miscegenation
laws in the US.
However, demographers state that the American people are mostly
multi-ethnic descendants of various immigrant nationalities
culturally distinct until assimilation
took place in the mid-20th
century. The "Americanization" of foreign ethnic groups and the
inter-racial diversity of millions of Americans is not a new
phenomenon but has been a fundamental part of its history,
especially on frontiers where different groups of people came
The President of the United States, Barack
, is a multiracial American, as he is the son of a
father and a Euro-American
Types of mixed-race people
- "Not surprisingly, biomedical scientists are divided in their
opinions about race. Some characterize it as 'biologically
meaningless' ", citing .
- Carolyn Abraham, Molecular Eyewitness: DNA Gets a Human Face
(quoted from Globe and Mail, June 25, 2005), racesci.org
- SOUTH VIET NAM: The Girls Left Behind. Time.
September 10, 1956.
- Women and children, militarism, and human rights:
International Women's Working Conference | Off Our Backs | Find
Articles at BNET.com
- Tuesday, June 19, 2001
- Stanford Publications
- John Harlow, The Sunday Times (London), 9 April 2000, quoting Professor Richard Berthoud of the
Institute for Social and Economic Research
- Changing Face of Britain, BBC,
- 3.5% of newborns in the UK are mixed race
Association of MultiEthnic Americans, Inc., founded 1988
- MixedChild.com, Online resource for people of mixed
heritage, founded 2009
- Multiethnic Education Program offering resources and
strategies (including videos, publications & trainings) to
support mixed race children in educational settings.
Foundation, an organization advocating for mixed heritage
people and families
US-based mixed community, founded in 2000
- MOSAIC UK, a UK-based organisation for mixed race
- Turquoise Association, a UK-based organisation
celebrating mixed race heritage
Multiracial Activist: an online activist publication registered
with the Library of Congress, focused on multiracial individuals
and interracial families since 1997
Multiracial Movement, the first Brazilian mixed-race
organization, founded in 2001
- ProjectRACE, an organization leading the movement for
a multiracial classification
- People in
Harmony UK, founded in 1972
- Notable Multiracial People
- CNN's Betty Nguyen profiles Kip Fulbeck's Multiracial
Project - "Growing Up Hapa"
- Asian-Nation Hapa/Multiracial Asian Americans
- Intermix, a UK based online presence for mixed-race
individuals, their families and carers and those in racially mixed
- Sex and Race in the Black Atlantic The first
book to place the self-fashioning of mixed-race individuals in the
context of a Black Atlantic