Family Identity | Individual Identity


A Multiracial family is a family whose heritage—as a group—includes ancestors from two or more different socially-designated races. Some argue that a family with one Black family member is now a Black family. This idea erases the rest of the family’s heritage and some of the family members’ individual racial identities. If a family has Cherokee, Scottish, French, and African American ancestry, how does this family choose a monoracial identity? Identifying this family as Black follows the archaic traditions of hypodescent and the one-drop-rule. Identifying this family as a “family of color” is also misleading if any family members have monoracial White ancestry.


It is imperative for all members of multiracial families to acknowledge their family’s complete heritage. White American is not an ancestral group. Know where in the world your family originated (your specific European ethnicity(s) in the case of White Americans) if at all possible.


Whether or not it is visible to the world, each family member is connected to the ancestors and heritage of all family members. Every one of a family members’ racial identities is part of the whole: the unique multiracial family identity.


Of Many Colors:
Portraits of Multiracial Families

Interviews by Peggy Gillespie, Photographs by Gigi Kaeser

Interviews with individuals in 40 multiracial families, accompanied by black-and-white photographs of those families together.

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Tripping on the Color Line:
Black-White Multiracial Families in a Racially Divided World

By Heather M. Dalmage

Readable academic writing. Information most useful for families with one Black parent and one White parent.

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Who is Multiracial?

A multiracial person has ancestry from two or more different socially-designated races. This term includes all racially mixed people. Related terms: biracial, blood-quantum, hypodescent, one-drop-rule. (See the Glossary for definitions)

Know Your Heritage

Teach your children about all parts of their racial and ethnic heritage. A person can have three Black grandparents and one White grandmother and identify as Black, while still acknowledging their European American—or specifically Irish—heritage as well.


An individual can have multiple racial identities. The choice of what terms a person uses to identify themself racially and ethnically is first a decision for parents, and then a decision for children themselves as they get older. A person can be simultaneously: Asian, White, Asian American, European American, Amerasian, Eurasian, hapa, biracial, and multiracial. The same person may also identify ethnically as Japanese and Norwegian.

Appearance and Perception

Physical appearance affects how individual are racially perceived and thus treated by society. Individual family members with the same ancestry may look—and racially identify themselves—differently.

Evolving Identity

A multiracial individual may change the way they racially identity themselves throughout their life, or how they verbally identify their race or ethnicity in different situations.

Two must-read books for parents of multiracial children

Multiracial Child Resource Book:
Living Complex Identities

Edited by Maria P.P. Root and Matt Kelley

A comprehensive guide covering all aspects of identity and life as a multiracial child and young adult.

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or Purchase from the Publisher

Does Anybody Else Look Like Me?:
A Parent’s Guide to Raising Multiracial Children

By Donna Jackson Nakazawa

A how-to guide for parents to help their multiracial children be proud of their heritage and comfortable with their identity.

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(good for parents, too)

What Are You?
Voices of Mixed Race Young People

Edited by Pearl Fuyo Gaskins

Essays by and interviews with multiracial teens and young adults about their experience growing up as a multiracial person in the United States.

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Picture books featuring multiracial families, children, and parents

The Hello, Goodbye Window
Written by Norton Juster, Illustrated by Chris Raschka

A beautifully written and illustrated book about a multiracial girl visiting her grandparents’ house. Her grandparents are an interracial couple, and so are her parents who arrive to pick her up at the end of the story. A rare book featuring a multiracial character and two interracial couples, with no mention of skin color or race.

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Five for a Little One
Written and Illustrated by Chris Raschka

A black and white bunny counts to five using its senses. The reader meets the two parent bunnies in the final section: one is black and one is white. Another rare book that includes a ‘multiracial’ family and main character, and the story itself is not about race or color.

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Black is Brown is Tan
Written by Arnold Adoff, Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

The classic poem about a Black-White multiracial family with two children. Two versions now available: one showing contemporary family life, and the original 1970s illustrations.

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For multiracial people


The MAVIN Foundation is based in Seattle, WA and explores the experiences of mixed heritage people, transracial adoptees, interracial relationships, and multiracial families.


The Association of MultiEthnic Americans focuses on advocacy and education in support of the multiethnic, multiracial and transracial adoption communities.