Volume 12

The Gray Area: Exploring the Black-White Binary's Exploitation of the Multi-Racial Identity

by Landon Myers

As the United States developed as a nation, much of its history has been inundated with polarizing racial categories that have resulted in widespread racism. Even before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, America played host to various versions of subordination, ranging from indentured servitude and convict leasing to becoming the largest contributor of many of today’s deep-seeded tensions throughout the nation and its people: slavery. The common unifying factor that each instance has contributed to is the creation of the black-white binary. Because this binary has become so ingrained in conversations about race in America, the binary frames the conversation around the conventions of black and white, even using this approach when referring to the experiences of those of Hispanic, Chinese, Asian/Pacific Islander, or any other racial or ethnic descent. Although several classifications fall outside the binary, this Note focuses on the racial classification that developed alongside the binary but is oftentimes left out of the conversation: the multi-racial identity.

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