An illustrated graphic featuring various text such as: #Blackipino, #Blaxican, #Hapa, #Blasian.

The Shifting Definition of Mixed-Race in America

Radical changes in U.S. demographics are reinventing what it means to be multiracial

Kristal Brent Zook
Published in
4 min readSep 23, 2019


“Raise your hand if you would see me on the street and think I’m Black?”

Several hands went up in an auditorium full of college students.

“Okay. What about biracial?”

More hands.

“Hmm… And what if I wore my hair in an Afro?”

Still more hands flew into the air.

What are you?

Multiracial people field that question daily.

Not long ago — before, during, and just after the civil rights era — there was often an unspoken understanding that those of us who are biracial should answer to only one race. One reality. One allegiance. Even today, a majority of adults who are multiracial choose not to identify that way.

But others are beginning to question that arrangement.

#Blackipino #Blaxican #Hapa #Blasian

“It’s very much the norm for young people to see themselves as multiracial today,” says Reginald Daniel, a professor of sociology at the University of California Santa Barbara and editor of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies. “That was not the case 30 years ago. There is less contestation now. The conversation is different.”

Official estimates put the multiracial population in this country somewhere between 2% and 7%. However, most experts agree that this number lags well behind the reality.

In 1997, Tiger Woods became a laughingstock among Black folk for referring to himself as “Cablinasian” (Caucasian, Black, Indian, and Asian). But today, that kind of insistence on embracing all aspects of one’s heritage is common. More and more multiracial youth are insisting that who they are inside, who they feel themselves to be, is what matters most, whether or not this identity “matches” the way they look, or fits into societal expectations.

The number of multiracial young people in the United States has skyrocketed. Fourteen percent of infants born…



Kristal Brent Zook
Writer for

Award-winning journalist/professor; race, women, justice. My latest book is #1 in New Releases for Mixed Race/Multiracial! Order @