According to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Dominican Republic was the sixth largest contributor of immigrants to the United States in the 1980s and the fifth largest in the 1990s. Dominicans bring with them a different understanding of racial classification than exists in American society. The main sociocultural trend in the Dominican Republic is intermediate racial categorization, allowing people to distance themselves from blackness. Upon migration to the United States, Dominicans confront a binary system of racial categorization that classifies them simply as black. Moreover, after immigration, they are designated as Latino, a distinctively American multiracial pan-ethnic group. When forming ethnic and racial identity, how do second generation Dominican Americans find their way between the cultural system of racial classification of their parents and that of mainstream American society?
To answer this question, Jose Itzigsohn of Brown University has devised a study to search for patterns of identity among second generation Dominican Americans and to explore the association between patterns of racial identity and participation in ethnic and mainstream organizations. Itzigsohn will survey 150 second generation Dominican Americans, asking them about their attitudes towards American society, their past experience with discrimination, and their feelings towards other racial and ethnic groups. He will produce two journal articles on the basis of this research. The first will report empirical findings and the second will analyze methodological issues in the study of immigrant identity formation. Itzigsohn plans to use this research as a starting point for a larger study of identity formation among several minority groups.