NCFR Members' Research Highlighted on Multiracial Families

NCFR members Roudi Nazarinia Roy, Ph.D., CFLE, and Anthony G. James Jr., Ph. D., CFLE, were invited to be the guest editors for a special section in the Journal of Child and Family Studies (JCFS) on multiracial families in the United States. Dr. Roy and Dr. James identified a need for a greater representation of diverse family experience in family focused theories.

“At this moment in our history, America is struggling to reckon with the legacies of racism at a time when our population is more diverse than ever,” said JCFS editor and NCFR member Anne Farrell, Ph.D. “As the number of interracial couples increases, so does the number of interracial children, and it is no longer an issue of Black and White.” 

Over the last decade there has been a 276% increase in multiracial people in the U.S. The articles in the special section describe the unique challenges that multiracial families face, and their unique strengths in health outcomes and resilience when faced with adversity.   

According to Dr. James, the impetus of the project was an NCFR conference poster symposium in 2019. NCFR members that contributed articles to the special section include Alethea Rollins, Ph.D., Maureen Perry-Jenkins, Ph.D., Yolanda T. Mitchell, Ph.D., Joseph G. Grzywacz, Ph.D., and Christina Albina Rowley, M.S.

The following articles from the issue (Vol. 31, Issue 3) are free to read for a limited time. Other articles require a subscription to access.

Multiracial Families: the Challenges, Strengths and Work that Remains, by Roudi Nazarinia Roy, Alethea Rollins, Anthony G. James Jr., and Maureen Perry-Jenkins. This introduction to the special section provides an overview of the unique experiences of multiracial families in the United States. The authors observe a set of themes, starting with the fact that the demography of multiraciality is changing along with that of America. Multiracial families face unique challenges to their health and well-being. They answer the challenges of discrimination in equally diverse ways, but common among them is the development of new assets and forms of resilience.  

Counting Families, Counting Race: Assessing Visible Family Structural Change among Multiracial Families, 1980-2018, by Jenifer Bratter, Raul S. Casarez, Allan Farrell, Sharan Kaur Mehta, Xiaorui Zhang, and Michael Carroll. This study tracked the prevalence and racial composition of multiracial families where parents are married and unmarried from 1980 until 2018. The authors observed that as interracial marriage increases, so do multiracial families. Unmarried families are increasingly multiracial, with the most growth among White unmarried women.  

She’s Biracial, but She’s Still Black: Reflections from Monoracial African American Parents Raising Biracial Children, by Yolanda Mitchell. In this commentary, a scholar of Black families blends observations from her research with those from personal experiences. Mitchell observes that Black parents engage in racial socialization as a protective factor (against racism and discrimination) in their children’s development.  

Race, Multiraciality, Income, and Infant Mortality: Markers of Racial Equity, by Catherine Kothari, Katherine Corbit, Joi Presberry, Terra Bautista, Brenda O’Rourke, and Debra Lenz. This report looks at infant health outcomes by family racial structure, examining the degree to which income interacts with family racial composition to predict infant health. Among racial groups, Black infants have the highest mortality rates and higher prematurity than other groups.  Black multiracial families who are higher income are more likely to achieve health equity.  

Loving Across Racial Lines: Associations between Gender and Partner Race and the Health of Young Adults, by Byron Miller, Anthony G. James, Jr., and Roudi Nazarinia Roy. This paper examines the moderating effects of gender and partner race on self-rated health and mental health of White, Black, and Hispanic young adults. Interracial romantic relationships are associated with both positive and negative outcomes. Depressive symptoms and health of romantically involved young adults varied by the couple’s racial composition. Among interracial dating couples who are Black, White, or Latinx the highest self-rated health and well-being is among men whose partners are Black women.