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Riley Strickland
Ms. Caruso
UWRT 1103-001
2 August 2015
The Struggle For Self Identity When You Seem Unidentifiable
Throughout this summer session writing course I have researched into the topic of raising
a biracial child and continually circled around the ideas of self identity, self worth and
confidence. Self identity is the recognition of one's potential and qualities as an individual,
especially in relation to social context (Oxford Dictionaries). Without self identity who would
we be and what would we consider to be our self worth? How would we relate to one another if
we felt no self confidence or similarity between others? These are some of the questions that I
have researched and looked into when studying the habits and thoughts of biracial children in
society today. My conclusions and research led me to the creation of my genre piece, a drawing
that came to me when considering different ways to express self identity and the struggles faced
on a day to day basis.
My drawing is not just a sketch to be taken at face value nor is it something with deep
symbolism thats hard for someone, say a child, to understand. My piece of work is a compilation
of the actions, physical appearance and moods biracial children, as well as many other people are
experiencing. There are questions going back and forth in the minds of any tormented,
unconfident child as well as strangers attempting to pry into the lives of these children of mixed
races in hopes to understand who they are, when, in reality it comes across as rude or arrogant.
This picture I have drawn has been made in hopes to make people think, listen and start

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conversations. This drawing will be held in a childrens museum, in a section dealing with the
mind or physical appearances of people. My drawing is an interactive piece; I have written some
questions and statements throughout the border of the drawing and want children who come
across it to write the questions they ponder over about themselves, or get asked by people around
them. As for the actual picture, I hope this depiction of a child covering his face, with questions
floating through his head and being asked all around him will be enticing to children of all ages
and parents. I dont want this audience to solely be those of mixed races, but everyone, so that all
become aware and realize what biracial children might be going through.
How young children perceive and treat people who are different with them says a lot
about their upbringing. People like to think and assume that young children are color innocent,
that racial and ethnic differences carry little meaning in their lives, and that they are not
implicated in the racialized dynamics of society (Powell). While its nice to want to believe
children and some people are color innocent, its just not the case and thats not necessarily a bad
thing. Seeing differences and learning about other types of people is the way to move towards a
better and more accepting society, pretending like everyone is the same and not talking about
differences leads to problems arising. In short, self theories tell us that the development of the
sense of self is a matter of first learning to distinguish oneself from others by means of visual,
auditory, and still other perceptual modes (Proshansky, Fabian, Kaminoff). My picture will
hopefully help develop these senses of self and aid children who need a push in developing their
sense of self. Kids can express the questions they have about them self, why they arent the same
as others, why they are self conscious, and what else they want others to know about their
insecurities and so forth. This source that wrote, Place Identity, tells us that how people perceive

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them self is based off of how they notice they are different or the same as others. With this
information I wanted to incorporate something into my drawing that expressed an inner struggle
besides hands just covering a face. Expanding on my idea with the thought in mind of how some
children may never notice or appreciate their characteristics because they are too worried with
how they are observed, I placed questions around the child that point out differences and show
how a question or statement that might not have been meant to cause harm, did. Children pick up
on everything, and recent studies show that children not only have been introduced to the
concept of race but also have learned to base their evaluations of people on race (Park 2011).
With young people making assumptions on people and having biases solely based on color of the
skin we are back tracking in the progress modern society has made. To develop color within
my portrait I went about it by shading. I shaded in places darker than others, or left it without any
shade to incorporate an essence of individuality. Skin color isnt just white or black, tan or pale,
there are so many tones in between and areas shaded gray that we ignore. According to the
Census Bureau the number of Americans identifying as two or more races in the 2010 census,
increased from 6.8 million to 9 million since the 2000 census (Jones and Jungmiwha). With
populous numbers like these there needs to be recognition of peoples differences and how to
minister to them with respect. The fact that self identity and confidence is an issue with the
young people of the world is a red flag within itself. Society needs to build everyone up, not tear
them down due to the shade of their skin or their parents background. My wish is children and
adults alike will learn to accept and respect the different shades of people and the beautiful
differences that make up the human race through my picture and that areas of gray will become

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better understood. With a biracial child they will be seen to some as more white or, looking
more black which are presumptions in themselves and judgements being made prior to even
knowing the person. Judgements and assumptions are learned and heard behaviors that the
offender may not even realize they are stating. My drawing will make these people think before
they speak and become knowledgable rather than assumptive.
Identity of self and confidence go hand in hand with tensions in society and in the
community. Since society often pressures mixed-race individuals to choose just one race
because of the outdated one-drop rule which mandated that Americans with any African
heritage be classified as black. It wasnt until 2000 that the U.S. Census Bureau allowed citizens
to identify as more than one race (Nadra Nittle). Biracial children can experience an inner fight
that makes them feel the need to choose a side, the sides being white and black or whatever
their races may be. Sanchez talks about how adolescents who do not have a stable racial identity
show lower self-esteem. As such, it is vital for mixed race families to speak to their biracial or
multiracial children about their mixed race and foster pride in their background (Sanchez et al.,
2009). Through art as a form of therapy and an outlet children can develop their self esteem and
confidence, they can express their difficulties and questions just like I have done within my
genre product. With biracial children their identity may get lost because they feel they cant
relate, through my drawing they can discover that outlet and communicate with others going
through the same issues they are. This discussion comes back to expressing the different
ethnicities the child belongs to and how parents need to be open to their child and start
discussions. Bullying is a concern for most parents as well as society, and we are all aware of the

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black or white jokes people say, maybe not meaning any harm from them but no matter what
they are racist. With biracial children, they can be perceived to others as being white or black
solely and then as a result be made extremely uncomfortable from these nasty jokes. This is a
focal point of how I hope my drawing will open peoples eyes and minds to what these children
are experiencing and shed new light on the matter.

Children in distress over the color of their skin, or discomfort because someone asked
what they are I hope will look at my picture and realize they aren't alone. Society is compiled
of all types of people, and it takes these people becoming aware and enlightened of all the
members who make up our big melting pot in order to succeed and thrive. With people and
ancestry, heritage and all the like its never just black and white, there are areas of gray. Areas of
gray that take time and discussion to understand and appreciate, it might not come easily or be
accepted instantly but its a work in progress just like a piece of art.