Biracial and Bicultural Identity Formation: Lessons Garnered from Sense of Belonging and Code-Switching in Fostering Optimal Psychological Wellbeing and Mental Health
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In an era of systemized racial discrimination, the U.S.A. is in search of resolution to ameliorate the chronic racial divide, which has led to the declaration of racism being a public physical and mental health issue. The national epidemic of racism has given way to cultural health disparities for People of Color (POCs) that require our urgent attention as a nation, which are attributed to racial trauma that compromises POCs physical and psychological wellbeing. The belief that the answer to resolve the racial health crisis and racial divide may lie in the achievement of a healthy and developed biracial/bicultural identity. Therefore, the current study sought to create a new biracial/bicultural identity development model and measure. This new biracial/bicultural identity development model seeks to increase awareness to lessons for our nation to garner from biracials’ successful achievement of a healthy, integrated, and achieved biracial identity. The achievement of a healthy biracial identity will lead to greater life success through a sense of belonging and fluency in code -switching skills to successfully, and seamlessly, navigate multiple cultural worlds. Adult participants, who identified as biracial and/or bicultural, were recruited for online study assessing a sense of belonging, sense of not belonging, internal identity conflict, and a healthy, evolved biracial/bicultural identity as the independent variables. In this repeated measure, 2x2x2x2 between-subjects factorial design, all four independent variables were assessed for their subsequent impact on the dependent variables of each participants’ psychological wellbeing, psychopathology, as well as their ability to code-switch. It was found that a high sense of belonging and a healthy, evolved biracial/bicultural identity reported high levels of psychological wellbeing, and low levels of psychopathology; while, a high sense of not belonging was found to be indicative of higher levels of psychopathology. However, it was found that regardless of one’s sense of belonging or sense of not belonging, biracial/bicultural individuals still produced high levels of code-switching abilities. These findings speak to biracial identity success and ability to code-switch as stemming from a greater understanding of their two divergent heritages of majority and minority culture from which they learn.