Dr. Maria Root presenting Mixed Race Identities workshop

  • Overview
  • Sample keynote address
  • Sample workshop description
  • Sample workshop schedule
  • Overview

    I have provided the opening address for more than 20 conferences internationally. In recent years, my work has focused on the topic of race relations particularly in the context of multiracial issues, such as the historical change to racial classification in the Census 2000, and the rapidly increasing number of multiracial people who are identifying as biracial, mixed, or multiracial.

    I enjoy providing workshops to professionals and students interested in increasing their knowledge and competency working with multiracial families and multiracial people. I have offered workshops and keynoted conferences in different countries on this topic. Besides increasing knowledge and skills, the themes present in this type of workshop provide an opportunity to constructively challenge the assumptions we make based upon race and continue personal transformation. Multiracial families and people allow us to look at internalized notions of race, the mythology, and the difficulties we have letting go of ‘old truths.’

    I also provide workshops on discrimination in the workplace. This training is primarily oriented to examine how lack of policy or lack policy enforcement can create a negative environment in which racism and ethnocentrism can flourish. My workshop also outlines the ways in which this type of discrimination and harassment can affect an individual’s self-confidence, work, personality, and outlook on life. These workshops have evolved out of my experience as an expert witness in the legal arena used to render opinions related to how people are affected by racism and ethnocentrism in the workplace.

    I have a set fee of $2000.00 plus transportation and expenses for each keynote address or workshop day. I usually require all equipment for a Powerpoint presentation. For workshops, I additionally require a VCR set up. A workshop may not be any longer than 6 hours in a day. I accept a limited number of invitations and advanced booking increases my ability to accept an invitation.

    Below, I provide a sample of a recent keynote address, a sample workshop description, and a sample workshop schedule on multiracial issues. Invited addresses or workshops can expand or take up any of the themes presented below.


    Sample Keynote Address

    Based upon opening lecture for the 13th Annual Culture Conference of the Multicultural Family Institute and Behavioral Research and Training Institute in 2004, New Jersey.

    Love’s Revolution: The Intersection of Race, Gender and Culture in Interracial Couples

    Committed interracial unions prove an opportunity to examine the assumptions we make about love, particularly when it crosses color lines. A host of emerging sociocultural factors appear to contribute to the increase in interracial unions such as the increased geographical distance from family of origin, the pervasiveness of divorce, and the increased opportunities for some young women to have financial independence from their parents before marriage.


    Sample Workshop Description

    Workshop was presented for the American Psychological Association, July 2004, Honolulu, Hawai’i.

    Mixed Race Identities: Theory, Research and Practice Implications

    Since 1992, when the first edited research volume on mixed race people was published (Racially Mixed People in America), the research literature across disciplines has vastly grown. Well-documented racial and ethnic identity development theories neither predict nor account for the process or identity choices that many persons of mixed racial heritage declare, particularly under 35 years of age. All of the prevailing “monoracial” theories assume that one returns or immerses themselves in their racial reference group for psychological rest, affirmation, and reenergizing. Because of the implicit rules that guide race and the oppressive processes that have kept “monoracial” reference groups necessary, mixed race people are not guaranteed the rest, affirmation, or reenergizing that these theories suggest.

    In the previous census, 6.8 million persons checked “other” in response to the race question with many persons writing in racial affiliations that did not fit into the monoracial four race system. The historical 2000 Census responded to a growing presence of multiracial families and their offspring. In this population count, 2.4 percent of the population checked more than one race. This is a younger population with 42 percent (2.9 million people) of this group being under 18 compared to only 25 percent who checked only one race being under 18. This changing younger population demographic is likely to influence how we think, talk, teach, and formulate research questions relevant to race.

    This workshop will provide a guide to the phenomenological experience that informs identity formation for mixed race people in the U.S. A theoretical framework derived from symbolic interactionism will be provided to understand why mixed race persons do not declare uniform identities across different contexts. They may identify differently from parental or societal socialization or from each other. This framework is helping for also guiding assessment interviews relevant to racial and ethnic identity formation. It allows for a conceptual foundation to differentiate normative identity declarations from identities reflecting psychological derailment. For example, whereas persons of mixed race heritage who used to identify as white were deemed confused or self-hating, this is not necessarily true of a small percentage of younger mixed heritage people who do not seem to abide by the conventional rules of race? Generational, geographical, gender, familial, community, and individual differences will be used to understand the complexities of these identities.

    Phenotype or physical appearance is also a significant part of what signifies ‘race’ and presumed racial identification to onlookers. Phenotype issues will be outlined. The interaction of physical appearance with gender, sexuality, and class will be outlined. This discussion will necessarily allow a discussion of the sexualization of race by gender and ‘minority-minority’ mixes vs. ‘minority-majority’ mixes.

    This teaching format will allow participants to reflect on their own implicit and explicit rules of racial formation, the assumptions they make about racial identification, and how they can update their current thinking about racial identity and the role it plays in social interactions. Dr. Root will use research, narratives, film, role plays, and participant exercises to engage participants.


    Sample Workshop Schedule

    Proposed schedule for Workshop for Clinical Social Workers of Savannah, presented May 16, 2003

    Families, Race, and Biracial Children

    9 - 10:30 The Business of Family When Race Is a Commodity

    This will use analogies of franchises, mergers, and acquisitions to discuss family dynamics in the extended families of interracial couples. The 10 Truths of Interracial Marriage will be provided. Statistics on interracial marriage and biracial children will be provided.

    10:30 - 10:45 Break

    10:45-noon A Framework for Understanding Biracial Identities and Their Development

    Generational differences will be discussed to illuminate why some individuals and families are choosing public biracial identities. Fifty experiences common to the biracial experience will be outlined and provided in a handout. Developmental issues around racial identity are reviewed.

    Noon - 1 Lunch

    1 - 2:30 A Framework (continued)

    A model for understanding how 5 different types of biracial identities emerge is presented. The 5 different types of identity are discussed in a generational context. Therapeutic issues for counselor and client are introduced. Necessary Counselor Knowledge is outlined.

    2:30 - 2:45 Break

    2:45 - 4:00 Application of Current Knowledge

    My Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People will be presented to explore counselor biases and generational differences in thinking about biracial identities. These attitudes impact the therapeutic process. Participants will engage in an exercise to provide a self-assessment of the knowledge acquired in this workshop.

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