Mixed-Heritage Individuals and Systemic Risk During Negotiation of Identity

Aurora Tsai*, Brenda Straka, Daisuke Kimura

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Poststructuralist research in language and identity demonstrates how individuals exert agency to enact alternative identities, reshape power structures, and gain access to resources. However, this approach to agency carries immense risk for minoritized individuals, who must regularly negotiate their identities under systemic racism and linguistic discrimination. We focus on mixed-heritage individuals (MHIs), who are regularly questioned about or denied their ethnoracial identities through everyday microaggressions, and examine 293 MHIs’ responses to open-ended survey questions, describing the strategies they use and risks experienced during negotiation of identity. Findings reveal MHIs use explanations, cultural capital, and linguistic styling to express ethnoracial identities; however, experiences of denial, objectification, racial imposter syndrome, and anxiety lead many to assess which situations are safe to enact their identities and which are not. Consequently, we discuss the importance of recognizing systemic risk during negotiation of identity for racialized individuals.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Language, Identity and Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Agency
  • language and ideology
  • multilingual
  • multiracial
  • race
  • raciolinguistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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