Resources That Explore Identity for Multicultural or Mixed-Race Families

The picture of the modern U.S. family is changing as the country grows more racially and ethnically diverse. 

By 2060, 11 percent of children under age 18 will be multiracial (PDF, 407 KB), according to the latest Census Bureau projections. This new generation is much more likely to identify with multiple racial groups. What does this mean for multiracial families? And what does it mean for social workers, teachers and other professionals who work with them? These resources can be a helpful starting point for exploring mixed-race identity and other issues children may face. 

Helping multiracial children process their views and experiences with race and identity starts with talking about it. Yet a review of the literature on racial-ethnic socialization in multiracial families found that most parents do not discuss multiracial identity with their children. Those conversations probably aren’t happening at school either.

“They are the fastest-­growing youth population in the United States, yet we don’t exactly know how they fit into these curricula and interventions,” Sarah Gaither, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, told the Monitor on Psychology.

How do you engage children in a conversation about race? Just start talking, suggests EmbraceRace, an organization dedicated to creating and distributing resources for racial socialization that cater to young children. But that can be easier said than done. 

To help facilitate those conversations, Social Work License Map has collected these resources that can be a helpful starting point for exploring mixed-race identity and other issues children may face.

Resources to Help Families Explore Identity

Resources for Parents

6 Things to Stop Saying to Kids of Different Races and Ethnic GroupsParents: Even if they are well-intentioned, these phrases can be hurtful. 

Three Ways to Support Your Biracial Child, Magination Press: Children’s book author Lynnette Mawhinney, Ph.D., offers suggestions parents can use to assist in the emotional development of their biracial children. 

How to Talk to Multiracial Kids About Race, KQED: This news article covers multiracial families’ experiences with identity and provides experts’ advice on having these conversations. 

The Benefits of Teaching Children to See Race, PBS KIDS: This article written by a white social worker and mother of four adopted Black and biracial children explores when, why and how to talk to kids about race and diversity. 

The Fight for the Right to Marry: The Loving v. Virginia Case, U.S. National Archives: This blog gives the history of the Loving v. Virginia interracial marriage case, including photos and court documents. 

Raising Anti-Racist Children, American Psychological Association, Monitor on Psychology: Psychologists explore the processes by which young children learn about race and how to prevent prejudice.

Racial Literacy: Key Terms, The Conscious Kid: Definitions of words and phrases that can be helpful to understand when discussing race and identity.  

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Resources for Social Workers

Familial Racial-Ethnic Socialization of Multiracial American Youth: A Systematic Review of the Literature With MultiCritDevelopmental Review: This journal article examines the seven types of racial-ethnic socialization messages and suggests additional factors to consider in the process of racial-ethnic socialization for multiracial families.

What Is RES? American Psychological Association: The definition of Racial and Ethnic Socialization (RES), the process through which children learn about race.

How to Talk to Parents About Race If You’re Adopted or Multiracial, NBC News: This article may help social workers understand the issues faced by some multiracial and multicultural families and facilitate discussions between children and their parents about race. 

Multiracial Adoptees Developing Bicultural Identity, Family Process journal: An interpretive analysis of interviews with 25 adult multiracial adoptees found four patterns in their bicultural identity formation.

Competencies for Counseling the Multiracial Population (PDF, 336KB), American Counseling Association: A 50-page resource written by counselors Mark and Kelley Kenney, who also wrote the book Counseling Multiracial Families.

The Kamala Harris identity debate shows how America still struggles to talk about multiracial people, Vox: This article gives context about the pressure biracial people can feel to choose one identity over another, as well as the “double discrimination” they can experience from both communities they are members of.

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First-Person Perspectives 

I’m a Teen of Mixed Race: Here’s What It’s Like to Grow Up Biracial in America TodayParents: A teen writes about her experience growing up and how parents can help their children navigate the complexities of being biracial with single-race friends and family.

Diverse Army Families Reflect on the Legacy of Loving v. Virginia, U.S. Army website: This article features a biracial family discussing how the landmark civil rights decision overturning the interracial marriage ban in 1967 affected them.

Meghan Markle: I’m More Than An ‘Other,’ Elle: Before she became a royal, the then-actress wrote about creating her identity and finding her voice as a mixed-race woman. 

Gigi Hadid on Being Mixed Race and Raising Her DaughterTeen Vogue: The model, whose father is Palestinian and mother is Dutch, discusses the struggles and privilege she’s experienced as a mixed-race, white-passing woman.

‘Mummy, Am I White?’ What I’ve Learned From Raising Biracial ChildrenToday’s Parent: A South Asian mother writes about her and her children’s racial identity. 

What Not to Say to a Multiracial Child and Their FamilyParentMap: a Japanese Greek American woman shares comments she received growing up, and a better way to establish relationships with people of color. 

The Loneliness of Being Mixed Race in America, Vox. “I had to figure out the language to describe myself”: Six mixed-race people on shifting how they identify.

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Podcasts and Videos

How Cute! Is He Yours? The Longest Shortest Time podcast: In this episode, a Black woman and mom with a biracial son talks about what it’s like to be mistaken for the nanny by people of all races, and her comeback to that persistent question about her child. 

One Drop Featuring Dr. Yaba Blay and the Mixed Aunties, Militantly Mixed podcast: This episode discusses the work of the author of One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race and the term “one drop” as it pertains to mixed-Black identified people.

Other: Mixed Race in AmericaThe Washington Post: A five-part podcast series featuring interviews with multiracial people about what their racial identities mean to them. 

How Kids Learn About Race, EmbraceRace: A webinar and transcript looking at the childhood landscape of racial learning and what factors, beyond what adults say to them explicitly, shape what children learn about race. 

How Multiethnic People Identify Themselves, NPR, Talk of the Nation: A discussion with the lead author of a study showing that most people who are mixed race self-identify as biracial. But in many instances, multiethnic Americans change the way they self-identify depending on the context.

Nick News Presents: Kids, Race, and Unity: Hosted by Alicia Keys, Nick News talks with founders and leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement, offers tools for families, including mixed-race families, to have constructive conversations about race and highlights teen activists who are fighting racial injustice.

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Diverse BookFinder: A searchable database of children’s picture books published since 2002 featuring Black and Indigenous people and people of color (BIPOC). Categories include Multiracial Families in Recent Picture Books.

Book Lists, The Conscious Kid: Curated lists of books on different topics of anti-racism, resilience and racial literacy.

How to Talk to Kids About Race: Books and Resources That Can Help, Brightly: Ideas and book recommendations for adults and children to foster discussions about race and identity. 

How Young Adult Literature Can Help Biracial Teens Find Themselves, We Need Diverse Books: A doctor and author discusses how YA fiction can help multiracial teens figure out where they belong and how they fit in.

Children’s Books Featuring Biracial Children and Families, Nashville Public Library: A family literacy coordinator compiled this list for parents and children who don’t see themselves represented in many books. 

Raising Multiracial Children: Tools for Nurturing Identity in a Racialized World, by Farzana Nayani: This book offers parents and caregivers practical guidance for exploring race with their children, including how to consciously foster racial identity development and cultivate a sense of belonging. It provides strategies, resources and developmentally appropriate milestones relevant to raising multiracial children from infancy through adulthood. 

Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World, by Sharon H. Chang: Asian and multiracial are the fastest growing self-identified groups in the United States, yet young multiracial Asian children are underrepresented in the literature on racial identity. This book is drawn from research and interviews with 68 parents of multiracial children.

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Creating a Family: A national adoption and foster care education and support nonprofit offering resources on their website and podcast for parents and professionals. 

Mixed Race Studies: Scholarly perspectives on the mixed race experience with a roundup of podcasts, news articles, journal articles and blog posts.

Project RACE: A national volunteer advocacy organization involved in multiracial education, community awareness and inclusion. The group’s website features a blog, stories about multiracial families and event announcements, such as the annual Multiracial Heritage Week. 

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