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ECU professor examines emerging multiracial, multiethnic trend

Aug. 19, 2013

By Jamitress Bowden
ECU News Services

An East Carolina University professor examined his own family members and the stigmas they face while analyzing a growing trend in America: multiracial and multiethnic families and individuals.

Dr. Eric J. Bailey, professor of both anthropology and public health, looks into historical patterns and how those patterns have created social stigmas that individuals and families are beginning to embrace and talk about openly.

In “The New Face of America: How the Emerging Multiracial, Multiethnic Majority Is Changing the United States,” Bailey explained that he chose the census results from 2000 and 2010 because the U.S. Census Bureau introduced a change those years in identification options. The census began to provide a choice to mark more than one race and ethnicity for self-identification.

Bailey said that increase in awareness of multiethnic and multiracial persons has carried over into the classroom with his students.
“They’re willing to talk about it and that’s the greatest thing,” said Bailey. Previously students were hesitant to self-identify as a multiracial or multiethnic individual, explained Bailey, mostly because multiracial individuals did not openly discuss their backgrounds.

In 2002, only 2.9 percent of marriages in the country were interracial, but there has been a 33 percent increase since 2000 in the numbers of people who identify as multiracial, according to Bailey.

Bailey uses census data and other research to present readers with information about health, adoption and celebrities within the multiracial and multiethnic communities in America.

The book also examines health and physical aspects of the lives of multiracial people. Bailey presents information about adoption, physical features and health issues. For example, Bailey discusses issues that may arise with bone marrow transplants. Because a donor must have exact genetic typing as the patient, it becomes more difficult to find an unrelated donor with only two percent mixed race registered donors.

His interest in writing the book emerged from his own family’s diversity and his desire to know how interracial people define themselves. His mother told Bailey and his siblings that they have relatives of Creole, European, and Native American backgrounds. Multiracial and multiethnic matters were once again brought to his attention when his older brother married a woman of a different race and the couple had children.

Bailey has been with ECU since 2005. He teaches in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences and Brody School of Medicine. Bailey’s studies are focused on applied medical anthropology and public health in the area of hypertension, cancer, HIV/AIDS and diabetes. This is his seventh book.

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