A New "What About the Children" Question: Examining the Experiences of Second-Generation Black-White Multiracials

Haley Pilgrim, University of Pennsylvania


For four decades, scholars have analyzed the experiences of individuals on the nexus of multiple racial categories to understand racial identity and racial boundaries. However, most of the research on how Multiracials navigate racial lines is limited to first-generation Multiracials. To my knowledge, there has yet to be a qualitative study on how those in the second-generation of racial mixing racially identify and are identified by others (reflected race). I argue that including second-generation multiracials provides new insights to our understanding of racial identities and boundaries through interviews with 99 second-generation Black-White Multiracials. I find that second-generation Multiracials have higher Multiracial categorizations in Article 1 on racial categorizations and few are exclusively viewed as Black in Article 2 on reflected race. Additionally, I find that they experience racial imposter syndrome, or feeling like a racial fraud, as a result of not being in the first-generation of racial mixing in Article 3. My dissertation reveals the necessity of including the monoracial parent’s background when looking at generational status as racial categorizations, reflected race, and racial imposter syndrome differ between those with a monoracial White parent and those with a monoracial Black parent. I argue that these findings point to a shift in widening of Whiteness and narrowing of Black boundaries.

Subject Area

Sociology|Demography|Ethnic studies|Cognitive psychology|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Pilgrim, Haley, "A New "What About the Children" Question: Examining the Experiences of Second-Generation Black-White Multiracials" (2021). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI28652731.