The Consequences of Trying to Find our Identity through Race

by Rosemarie on November 12, 2016 - 8:45pm

Udry, Li, and Hendrickson-Smith (2003) compared the risk of behaviour and health problems in mixed-race adolescents compared to single-race adolescents. Their main hypothesis is that mixed-race adolescents are at higher risk to have health and behaviour problems than single-race adolescents because of the stress of having to find an identity. Their stress might also come from the cultural experience of their different races.
They collected their data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, which includes mixed and single race Americans adolescents who are in grade 7 to 12 in the years 1994-1995.
The variables observed in this study are the risk variables and nonrisk attributes. The risk variables are overall health, substance use, access to guns, suicidal thoughts, sexual behaviour and school behaviour, which were assessed through school questionnaires and home interviews. The nonrisk attributes are vocabulary score, grade point average, family structure and education, which were assessed through school and home surveys.
Udry et al. (2003) found that mixed race individuals are at higher risks of having health and behaviour problems than those who identify with one race. Mixed-race adolescents had more poorer health, lower academic achievement and higher substances abuse than single race individuals.
The researchers concluded that stress caused by conflict of identities might be the cause of higher behaviour and health risks among mixed race adolescents, although there is no way to directly test this hypothesis. Mixed race might be the cause of the stress, or it might be some other indirect variable that cannot be tested. Nevertheless, Udry et al. insist on the fact that the exact source of stress in mixed race groups should be identified in order to try to reduce this problem.

I think the topic of this study is very interesting because it shows the consequences of trying to identify as a race, when some people don’t really know which race to identify with because of their multi cultural background. The good points of this study is the multiple factors the researchers used to evaluate the health and behaviour risks in adolescents, which shows good accuracy, as well as the large and representative sample they used. However, I think the study lacked some evidence as to how identifying as mixed race can cause health and behavioural problems. After all, their findings only lies on the hypothesis that struggling with finding an identity can cause stress, but is identifying as mixed race really a cause of stress? Perhaps yes, and if that is the case, more should be done to put an end to the myth of race. Because as we saw in my class, race is a social construct and there is no biological evidence for it. It’s quite outrageous to see that a concept based on a social construct can cause so much damage to people. Let’s try to see people as they are internally and appreciate them for their true-self, instead of trying to put them into categories that don’t biologically exist.

Udry, J. R., Li, R. M., & Hendrickson-Smith, J. (2003). Health and behavior risks of adolescents with mixed-race identity. American Journal of Public Health, 93(11), 1865-70. Retrieved from ProQuest database.


What drew me to this post was the title. This made me curious to find out what could be consequences to find out identity through race. I was surprised when I learned that kids with mixed races had a higher risk of having health and behavioural problems. Maybe one step that could help solve the problem is to raise awareness. This is the first time that I have heard of this problem of multi racial kids having a higher risk of health and behavioural issues and I am sure many other people have never heard of this issue. One way I have seen an example of this problem in my hometown that i hadn’t realized until this was brought to my attention is that the kids in my school who were biracial had trouble fitting in and were usually the troublemakers in our school. This hay have something to do with the challenge of trying to find out what their identity is supposed to be.

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