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Regimes beyond the One-Drop Rule: New Models of Multiracial Identity

Department of Sociology, Graduate School of Arts & Science, New York University, New York, NY 10012, USA
Department of Sociology, School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
Inequality in America Initiative, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Dan Rodriguez-Garcia
Genealogy 2022, 6(2), 57;
Received: 15 February 2022 / Revised: 3 May 2022 / Accepted: 7 June 2022 / Published: 20 June 2022
The racial classification of mixed-race people has often been presumed to follow hypo- or hyperdescent rules, where they were assigned to either their lower- or higher-status monoracial ancestor group. This simple framework, however, does not capture actual patterns of self-identification in contemporary societies with multiple racialized groups and numerous mixed-race combinations. Elaborating on previous concepts of multiracial classification regimes, we argue that two other theoretical models must be incorporated to describe and understand mixed-race identification today. One is “co-descent”, where multiracial individuals need not align with one single race or another, but rather be identified with or demonstrate characteristics that are a blend of their parental or ancestral races. The other is the “dominance” framework, a modern extension of the “one-drop” notion that posits that monoracial ancestries fall along a spectrum where some—the “supercessive”—are more likely to dominate mixed-race categorization, and others—the “recessive”—are likely to be dominated. Drawing on the Pew Research Center’s 2015 Survey of Multiracial Adults, we find declining evidence of hypo- and hyperdescent at work in the United States today, some support for a dominance structure that upends conventional expectations about a Black one-drop rule, and a rising regime of co-descent. In addition, we explore how regimes of mixed-race classification vary by racial ancestry combination, gender, generation of multiraciality, and the time period in which multiracial respondents or their mixed-race ancestors were born. These findings show that younger, first-generation multiracial Americans, especially those of partial Asian or Hispanic descent, have left hypo- and hyperdescent regimes behind—unlike other young people today whose mixed-race ancestry stems from further back in their family tree. View Full-Text
Keywords: multiracial; classification; identity; hypodescent; hyperdescent multiracial; classification; identity; hypodescent; hyperdescent
MDPI and ACS Style

Iverson, S.; Morning, A.; Saperstein, A.; Xu, J. Regimes beyond the One-Drop Rule: New Models of Multiracial Identity. Genealogy 2022, 6, 57.

AMA Style

Iverson S, Morning A, Saperstein A, Xu J. Regimes beyond the One-Drop Rule: New Models of Multiracial Identity. Genealogy. 2022; 6(2):57.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Iverson, Sarah, Ann Morning, Aliya Saperstein, and Janet Xu. 2022. "Regimes beyond the One-Drop Rule: New Models of Multiracial Identity" Genealogy 6, no. 2: 57.

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