Mixedness
& mixing

New perspectives on mixed-race Britons

A CRE eConference · 4-6 September 2007

Forum: Day 2, Interaction
  
  
Reaching out
Posted on: 05/09/2007 10:33:00
Posted by: Ashley Chisholm
How can we help mixed couples faced with family opposition? What practical steps can be taken to change the mindset of families who care more about community opinion than the safety and wellbeing of their own children?

        
Re:Reaching out
Posted on: 05/09/2007 12:33:00
Posted by: Wildcard User2
How can we help mixed couples faced with family opposition? What practical steps can be taken to change the mindset of families who care more about community opinion than the safety and wellbeing of their own children? "coat" their children with a FIRM mixed identity...educate, educate, educate..."

-Kahlil

        
Re:Reaching out
Posted on: 05/09/2007 12:54:00
Posted by: Eve Ahmed
It will come down to mixed people reaching a critical mass in numbers, so that they are seen as 'normal' by society, and by mixed people coming out and saying that that is what they are. In other words, being proud of their identity, instead of hiding it away, because has always been deemed to be an inconvenient truth.

                
Re:Re:Reaching out
Posted on: 05/09/2007 13:20:00
Posted by: Ashley Chisholm
There is a chicken and egg scenario here though, where more traditional communities are concerned. If the BEST that will happen when you come forward with a mixed partner is that you lose all contact with your family, you have very little incentive to stand up and be counted.

Some form of gentle, re-educating intervention is surely necessary to counter these extreme, negative reactions.

        
Re:Reaching out
Posted on: 05/09/2007 13:17:00
Posted by: Wildcard user
I think this e-conference is part of the process. Surely the growing dialogue on mixed-race issues can help mixed couples on a personal level, and hopefully on a policy level too.

The very act of mixing is breaking down barriers between perceived ethnic groups; what has been and is still lacking is support for those who face difficulties, which is why we hear stories of negative experiences. But with more dialogue, we must hope that the ignorance that leads to problems for mixed families will begin to be addressed.

Speaking from my own experience, I can think of a number of situations within my extended family where people with a set of deep-rooted values have been forced to re-evaluate their outlook when faced with situations in their immediate family. Personal experience, and sharing it with others in an open, public setting can provide invaluable support for mixed couples facing prejudice.

Veli

        
Re:Reaching out
Posted on: 05/09/2007 13:25:00
Posted by: Ashley Chisholm
Where we are talking about the Asian community, I would like to be very clear that I don't think it's all bad news. There are many young (and older) Asian people who genuinely 'get it' when it comes to mixing. However, the structure of eg. temple/gurdwara/mosque gossip networks, and to an extent a more overtly patriarchal group structure, means that voices who dissent from traditional views are disparate and hard to hear.

What we need is a public recognition of the problems, so that those WITHIN each community who want to see changes can feel emboldened to speak up.

Unless they have some sort of external backing when they debate, it will be hard for them to fight their corner.

                
Re:Re:Reaching out
Posted on: 05/09/2007 13:50:00
Posted by: Wildcard User2
The debate about mixedness needs to be taken into the places where it is currently taboo, that is within religious communities, and internationally in terms of law and human rights. Perhaps the government and non-governmental organisations who uphold the freedoms that underlie mixing (freedom to form relationships, and all the other individual freedoms that matter in our society) could be more proactive in promoting the debate about how those freedoms should be defended when religions, cultures and ethnic exclusivity challenges them. I think we need to understand as well that the struggle for the acceptance of mixedness and with it the integral right- necessity even of each of us to reach our own definition of identity- is only just beginning in many societies around the world and this does has an impact on what happens in Britain.
i agree with Eve about a critical mass, but we're not there yet!
Heather Al-Yousuf


        
Re:Reaching out
Posted on: 05/09/2007 14:16:00
Posted by: Hamish Macpherson
Ashley - I imagine oganisation like yours (www.mixtogether.org) are critical. Reading some of the testimonies on your site it seems that where relationships persist resistant families do often develop acceptance. But it takes years! If there are peer suport mechanisms (for families and couples) - including stories that prove the world doesn't end when someone falls in love with someone supposedly different - maybe the process can be sped up. It might be interesting to start to delve a little deeper into the recurrent polls (one relased a few weeks ago) about approval of mixed relationships to understand the motivations better.

        
Re:Reaching out
Posted on: 05/09/2007 16:55:00
Posted by: Rob
I don't think you should underestimate the power of the media and community media. There are clearly lessons to be learnt from the struggle for gay rights. In a remarkably short space of time, attitudes towards gay relationships have changed markedly (admittedly there is a still great deal of homophobia in existence and admittedly it is often higher among minority ethnic and faith-based communities). Media campaigning has changed the way in which the debate has been undertaken - from Eastenders and Hollyoaks, to magazine articles and advertising, visibility has been key. It has also given people confidence to speak out.

                
Re:Re:Reaching out
Posted on: 05/09/2007 18:04:00
Posted by: Ashley Chisholm
If I could get these issues in an 'Enders script, I'd be there in a second! Likewise with the media coverage. But how to get this kind of exposure?! It is hard to get on the news agenda.

However, if the CRE brought up the issue even once, it would stimulate a lot of public and media debate.

If it can talk about 'sleepwalking into segregation' then surely a strong comment about mixed couples would not be out of the question?

                        
Enders and such
Posted on: 05/09/2007 18:08:00
Posted by: Hamish
How effective is portrayal of mixed relationships where they do occur? Is this something keep an eye ot for at all? (see next thread on films)

                
Re:Re:Reaching out
Posted on: 05/09/2007 18:46:00
Posted by: eve
Rob mentions the power of the media in changing perceptions, as has happened with how the public perceive being gay. I think he is right - the media can change perceptions. But, speaking as a freelance journalist who is always trying to get mixedness articles commissioned by newspaper and magazine editors, there seems to be a great reluctance to discuss some of the stories. I think this is because the 'issues', which is what drives newspaper agendas, are not as clear-cut as they are for being accepted for being gay. Papers love the shock horror principle so would run stories about gay-bashing and how wrong that was/is. But what are the headline-grabbing stories about mixedness? And I sense that mixed people themselves are often reluctant to talk about issues, for fear of being portrayed as being part of that tragic mulatto/a stereotype. I would love to do stories on successful mixing, but struggle to get them commissioned. For instance, I've been trying to get a non fiction book off the ground, featuring interviews with celeb mixed icons, but publishers have come back saying - no one is interested, apart from mixed people, and anyway, we know what these icons would say - there would be no surprises. Well, I don't know how they know what my interviewees would say about being mixed, as most of them have never spoken publicly about it before!

                        
Re:Re:Re:Reaching out
Posted on: 05/09/2007 20:48:00
Posted by: Ashley Chisholm
Thanks for that Eve- that's really interesting. It fits in very well with my experiences of the media. I have been trying to get this problem on the news agenda for the last 2 years, with little effect. If it's shock-horror stuff they want, there is plenty of it out there around this issue. From honour killings, to kidnap, to assault, to psychological torture and disownment, some people (particularly girls) have an awful time of it. Unfortunately the media looks at eg honour killings as separate crimes, not as the most severe of a range of sanctions aimed at mixed couples.

You and I could plug away for years and still not manage to focus journalistic concentration on the issue.

That's where I think some follow-through on this conference could go a long way.

If the CRE were prepared to make a statement or press release about what they have learned from this conference, it would immediately create an item on the news agenda.

All it would take is one statement- the media could then explore the issues further by themselves.

The CRE has the ability to create space for these issues in the news, overnight.

                                
Re:Re:Re:Re:Reaching out
Posted on: 05/09/2007 21:12:00
Posted by: Hamish
I'm not too sure a balanced synopsis of the complex points being raised over these three days would make headlines. Editors want drama. CRE Chair Kay Hampton launched the e-conference with a nuanced article on Comment is Free but apart from that not many picked up our press release and statement. Compare this with the attention received by comments by Trevor Phillips last year in he focussed on statistics about some of the problems faced by the mixed-group or Lowrie Turner's recent article about being the mother of a mixed-race child.

        
Re:Reaching out
Posted on: 05/09/2007 17:43:00
Posted by: Hamish
I wonder if it's helpful for perspective to look at how much other relationships are opposed? -In 2005, 10% of all people would be opposed to their child having a mixed marriage
-A further 15% would have deep reservations about it
-And 7% of all people said there was no tolerance in Britain for mixed race marriages (ICM 2005)

-In 2002, 12% of people did not think it is acceptable for couples to choose to live together rather than get married (NOP 2002)

-In 2002, 22% of people felt that homosexuality is a way of life that should not be accepted by society (Pew Research Centre 2002)

I don't mean to trivialise the reality of this feeling but perhaps there will always be a chunk of the population that have a problem with how and who other people decide to fall in love with each other.

        
Re:Reaching out
Posted on: 05/09/2007 21:47:00
Posted by: Jasvinder
Besides the work we need to do through institutions,services etc...we have to keep the focus on mixed couples themselves...offering appropriate services such as support,counselling,and dare I say mediation and advocacy to deal with families and community. This is vital if couples are to have a chance in the survival of their relationship but also more important for the future of their children. Somewhere perhaps where families can also feel they go to enable them to make sense of their responses and how they can keep their relationship with their child/sibling/parent...A bit like the post adoption service provides for adopted children and their families...but on another level.

        
Re:Reaching out
Posted on: 05/09/2007 21:47:00
Posted by: Jasvinder
Besides the work we need to do through institutions,services etc...we have to keep the focus on mixed couples themselves...offering appropriate services such as support,counselling,and dare I say mediation and advocacy to deal with families and community. This is vital if couples are to have a chance in the survival of their relationship but also more important for the future of their children. Somewhere perhaps where families can also feel they go to enable them to make sense of their responses and how they can keep their relationship with their child/sibling/parent...A bit like the post adoption service provides for adopted children and their families...but on another level.