Racial and Ethnic Identities of Mexican-White Couples in Texas



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This thesis is a result of qualitative research conducted with individuals in interracial, Mexican-White couples in Southeast, Texas. This study calls into question the ways in which individuals in these relationships self-identify and how they perceive and are perceived by their partners. There are several conclusions reached during this study. First, the results partially support Omi and Winant?s (1994) argument that racial and ethnic identities are fluid and dynamic among non-White individuals, as is shown by the availability of labels and the variation in selecting those identities. Second, the analysis shows that Whites impose the label ?Hispanic? onto their Mexican partners, regardless of how these self-identify. Finally, the identity of Whites does not support Omi and Winant?s (1994) argument that racial and ethnic identities are fluid and dynamic. On the contrary, behaviors and attitudes among Whites shift, but their identity is static. This reflects the retention of White power and privilege associated with White identity. This analysis utilized forty in-depth interviews of individuals living in a small to medium sized metropolitan area in Texas, and who were asked to discuss ethnic and racial identity as it is self-identified, and perceived and imposed by their partners. Respondents revealed extensive variation in responses as to how individuals in these couples racially and ethnically self-identified, identified their partners, as well as, what factors may or may not affect those identifications. Results indicate a complex relationship between individuals in interracial and interethnic relationships and their constructions of identity that influence racial and ethnic identifications.