Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Shawn Utsey


The Black-White biracial population is the largest and fastest growing subgroup of multiracial individuals in the United States. Despite substantial research literature on the positive relationship between Black racial identity and psychological wellbeing, Black-White biracial individuals are underrepresented in studies that provide evidence for this relationship. Root (1998) put forward an Ecological Metamodel of Biracial Identity, comprised of several factors related to contextual (e.g. class, regional history of race-relations, parental identity, extended family) and intra-psychic processes (e.g. social skills, coping skills). The ecological metamodel served as the theoretical framework for the current study. This study is a comprehensive investigation of the ecological system of one Black-White interracial family living in Virginia. Using an ethnographic research design, race-related messages delivered in environmental contexts (e.g. school, community, and home) and racial socialization messages received by Black-White biracial individuals were examined. The family recruited for this study consisted of four members: a White mother, a Black father, a 15 year-old male, and an 11 year-old female. Over the course of 6 months, the researcher conducted individual interviews with nuclear and extended family members; administered the White Racial Identity Attitudes Scale, the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity, the African Home Environment Inventory, and a genogram exercise; and engaged in participant observation and direct observation of the family in the home and at community events. Using an interpretive phenomenological analysis, themes were identified within and between data sources. Results revealed that parents communicate that race is not as important as other characteristics of an individual (e.g. honesty, work ethic). The majority White community environments frequently communicated stereotypes of Blacks and that the children are “different.” The children expressed differences in their racial identities, which is related to significant race-related events and perhaps gender effects. Because of the differing community and home race-related messages, the findings demonstrate the importance of understanding racial identity in multiple environmental contexts, which is particularly important for clinical applications for Black-White interracial families and Black-White biracial individuals in therapy. Future studies should explore possible reasons for gender differences in Black-White biracial identity and the interaction between socioeconomic status and race-related messages.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2012