Developing and Defending Mixed Identity: Lessons from the Caribbean Diaspora

Recent increases in transnational movement have changed our understanding of diasporic communities. The geographically, culturally, and racially diverse community of the Caribbean serves as a unique case study to explore how a history of intersecting diasporas can affect mixed and multiracial individuals; this region is both the outcome of multiple ​​diasporas (e.g., African, Asian, European) as well as a cohesive ethnic group that generates its own diaspora. Through interviews with mixed and multiracial Caribbeans, the current research describes the racial rhetorics of this region, their effect on Caribbean ethnic identity development, and how this intersectional identity is deployed by the Caribbean diaspora via social media to affect the racial discourse of other people and communities.

Caribbeans use racial language overtly and "objectively" (i.e., without intended animus), while covertly maintaining colonial fixtures (e.g., whiteness as an indicator of status). Several respondents reported that these rhetorical strategies, combined with frequent representation of multiple origin communities, made them aware of race and its effects, but allowed them to develop their identity without explicit racial expectations. Furthermore, this environment provided a foundation from which to defend against identity-based attacks (e.g., "What are you?") as they moved between communities, and respondents enjoyed sharing their stories and initiating conversations via social media to affect the racial rhetoric of their social networks. By synthesizing the experiences of multiracial Caribbeans, we propose rhetorical strategies that may affect discourse and interpersonal interactions in an increasingly transnational world. ​