UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The impact of black/white interracial relationships on identity formation and trust Adkins, Jennifer


Interracial relationships are often viewed as indicators of social change. Scholars tend to interpret an increased number of these relationships to be a wider acceptance and integration of racial diversity, and the closing of the racial divide. However, few studies examine how couples respond to the historically based and politically charged social pressures of racial mixing. The purpose of this research is to extend the literature in the subfield by investigating the impact of these pressures and the tools that the couples employ to navigate them. To better understand how interracial couples perceive race and cope with racism, I used purposive sampling to select individuals in Black/White unions from both Vancouver and Toronto, Canada. I conducted two- hour, semi-structured, face-to-face interviews with 37 participants. The results revealed through flexible coding are three-fold. First, after considering the literature on Black identity formation and development, and isolating the responses of the Black participants, the data showed that Black identity is too narrowly depicted and defined. It excludes the many expressions of blackness. The Black participants in this study engaged in restructuring and reframing their identity based on circumstances and experiences. Second, perspective and identity shifts were evident in the White participants. Witnessing racism directed toward their partners and children led them to shift from a white racial frame into a process that I call racial frame convergence. Third, while focusing on the Black/White couple as the unit analysis, I identified processes of racialized trust development and maintenance.

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