Biracial Families in Park and Recreation Spaces: A Case Study of Six Families, Implications and Possibilities




Biracial, community-engaged theater, family diversity, park and recreation settings, race, racism, storytelling, U.S. families


The basis of this article is an original study of interviews with biracial African-American and European-American couples with at least one child, noting what members of these families experience in recreational activities that connects to their lived racial identity. Although there is growing research on mixed-race families’ experiences in park and recreation spaces, there is still limited research on the leisure patterns, barriers and choices of mixed-race couples with children. Employing a qualitative design, the authors gathered data on the leisure and recreation experiences of this sample which resulted in findings of social isolation due to racial identity and experiences of racism in family relationships, recreation settings, and public spaces. The families studied expressed a desire for recreational activities that could support the biracial couple experience and that might help balance their biracial reality as a mixed-race family in the United States.

In response to these findings, the discussion explores possibilities of community-engaged theater, storytelling practices, and the positive potential of play-based community activities that address issues of race and racial identity. Developing creative programming in park and recreation settings could support mixed-race families and provide a counter to experiences of racism. Suggestions for creative programming possibilities that help support racial dialogue and healing through play and recreation are made. By offering such programming, park and recreation settings can invite participants to connect around personal and societal experiences of racism and racial identity. 

The potential for biracial families is a low-stakes gathering for the purpose of play and community which could meet family needs. The potential for communities is a contribution to community engagement efforts and conversations around race. With programming that is geared toward mixed-race families in this way, the potential of park and recreational spaces is thus widened, as gatherings could serve as community and relationship-building outlets. 

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Author Biographies

Caroline M. Kisiel, DePaul University

Assistant Professor

School for New Learning

Dan K. Hibbler, DePaul University

Associate Professor

School for New Learning





Special Issue: Social Justice Issues in Park and Recreation