McNair Scholars Research Journal


In recent years, Children’s Literature has seen a notable increase of texts involving racial diversity. One area that does not garner as much attention is Young Adult fiction with biracial protagonists. With the growing number of families in the United States identifying as biracial or multi-racial, it is important to examine the representations of biracial characters offered to readers. Poston has noted that biracial adolescents often experience crisis and alienation, as they are forced to choose an identity that does not fully encompass their complex racial background (Nuttgens 2010). Sarah Jamila Stevenson’s The Latte Rebellion (2011), Joan Steinau Lester’s Black, White, Other (2011), and Sandra Forrester’s Dust from Old Bones (1999) work against the idea that people should have to choose a racial identity that alienates them from a part of themselves, arguing instead that the world is not divided into stark identity categories, though recognizing racial differences remains of the utmost importance. The characters in these novels are able to navigate the channels of being biracial, while developing a sense of what Lourdes India Ivory calls “biracial competency” and “biracial efficacy,” allowing them to function successfully within both racial groups (Ivory 2010). This research analyzes authorial depictions of biracial characters, and the effect these depictions have on character identity development throughout the novels.