What Does “White” Mean? Interpreting the Choice of “Race” by Mixed Race Young People in Britain

Miri Song,  Ferhana Hashem    University of Kent


Despite the often cited idea that racial identities are socially constructed, and potentially fluid, much public policy is still based on surveys that elicit only one measure of racial identity. A number of U.S. studies have employed "best single race" questions on racial identification, in which multiracial respondents are asked to choose only one race to describe themselves. We extend some American studies by examining responses to a "best single race" survey question posed to a small sample of multiracial young people in Britain. In-depth interviews with British multiracial respondents are employed to investigate the extent to which a "best single race" (BSR) question captures someone's sense of attachment and belonging to a particular ethnic or racial group. In particular, we focus on how we should interpret East Asian/white respondents' choice of "white" as their BSR.

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