& mixing

New perspectives on mixed-race Britons

A CRE eConference · 4-6 September 2007

Forum: Day 3, Participation
Representations of mixedness
Posted on: 06/09/2007 01:14:00
Posted by: hamish
Participation isn't just about civic life - it can also about participating and being represented inother aspects of public life such as the arts and the media. What is the state of play with regards to mixedness?

Posted on: 06/09/2007 02:20:00
Posted by: Wildcard User2
Historically, in mainstream society, Mixedness has always been downplayed for monoracialism... However, our developing online presence shows our promise... I reflect on how, historically, other Communities have become Visible, Respected, Accepted & Established:
It ALWAYS involves Extreme Collective Revolutionary Action [ECRA].

-Kahlil Crauford de LaFontaine
Louisiana Creole Heritage Center

Posted on: 06/09/2007 09:00:00
Posted by: jasvinder
I hope this forum can continue in some form,its promotion and availability for mixed communities and their friends will be a source of representation...the knowledge here has already opened up a whole lot of new learning...and some areas, that I have thought about for years without much afffirmation, have been a great help to me.

Posted on: 06/09/2007 10:33:00
Posted by: eveahmed
With regard to our representation in the arts and media - why are mixed people almost invisible in these? Why don't famous mixed people say they are mixed? I don't mean they need to go on and on about it, but just a mention, just a comment, reflecting on their mixedness. It would mean so much to non famous mixed people, who look for role models. It doesn't make you a navel gazing race obsessive if you happen to mention your mixed ethnicity. Why don't we have a 100 great mixed britons list, or a mixed rich list, as, respectively, the black and south Asian communities do? We need to raise our profile. Instead of being so shy, we need to be talking out - publicly, not just on this forum. Being mixed is a wonderful state of being - more people ought to know that.

Re:Representations of mixedness
Posted on: 06/09/2007 10:40:00
Posted by: Hamish
Sir Keith Ajegbo has left this comment on Sharron Hall's paper that I thought would be good to transfer into the forum: "I want to comment on a point Sharron made in reflecting on a contribution on day 2. The point was about shadism and how mixed race people are sometimes not black enough. She quoted Barack Obama(although I think there are other positives about him!) In my article I said it was pleasing to see mixed race faces abound in fashion etc. I read her comment to say that mixed race faces were used because they were the acceptable white face of blackness. My question and my concern is should mixed race people feel pleased to see there images in this context or should they feel 'I'm only there because the media prefer my colour to black'. Once you get into this argument it creates what I find can be a bind of being mixed race of not being chosen because you are you. I understand the historical implications of shadism but is the point being made that to use mixed race images is just a lesser form of racism. If the answer to that is use black faces where does that leave the argument?"

Being Mixed
Posted on: 06/09/2007 11:39:00
Posted by: Wildcard User2
Mixed faces have always been abundant in the media. The problem [which this Conference addresses] is the MISREPRESENTATION of our faces. We have, for too long now, allowed ourselves to be miscategorized.
What this conference is doing is EXPOSING shadism so as to self-liberate us from monoracialism.

Blacks [and ALL other monoracials] are a separate race with separate issues. This conference & mouvement should remain focused on OURS.


Re:Being Mixed
Posted on: 06/09/2007 15:44:00
Posted by: Jessica
While I do agree that the topic of the conference should stay focused on mixedness, but Ethnic minorities, ‘mixed’ or ‘mono’ do have similar issues. For example in Britain, mixed statistics of care, or education or criminal justice are similar for both the White/Black Caribbean group and Black Caribbean group. Similarly goes for the Asian/White category and Asian category. Perhaps there are parallels in personal experience for people of different ‘mixes’ but with regard to accessing institutions, I do not think it is useful to generalize mixed people as a separate race or entity.

Re:Re:Being Mixed
Posted on: 06/09/2007 20:54:00
Posted by: Hamish
I think this is an important point. A rather procedural but maybe instructive set of questions that have always lurked in my mind since I started work around this area is for any particular mixed person 1) How much of their experience is in common with their particular 'mix'
2) How much of their experience is in common with other mixed-race people generally?
3) How much is in common with their (for want of a better word) component heritages
4) How much is in common with ethnic minorities

Of course there will commonalities with peopel of their age, gender, class etc. and maybe it's unhelpful to stop at No. 4 but...

It seems that traditionally the emphasis has often been about 3) and in particular other people trying to emphasise (or deny) their links with one or other of their cultural backgrounds.

This e-conference has highlighted a strong movement to start recognising 2)
perhaps as a way of challenging 3 (is this making sense?).

But as Jessica points out, we shouldn't forget any of the commonalities if we really want to understand mixedness.

And of course this isn't particular to people who are mixed-race - we all have different commonalities with different groups but maybe the Mixed group are the ones to force us collectively to recognise this.

Re:Re:Representations of mixedness
Posted on: 06/09/2007 15:44:00
Posted by: toby
keith's point touches upon something isabel mentioned in her post, about public life being something that needs to change itself before she will fully join it. both the media, and fashion are their own beasts. they are industries that strive for increasing profitability and to some extent notoriety, above the sensitivities of a specific community. to this end they will use whatever sells. black faces still don't sell at the same level without the usual music and sport references attached-unless you're an exception to prove the rule, like naomi campbell or tyra banks. i don't think that a load of smiling brown faces of whatever shade are going to make much difference to anything-as beautiful as they are-without solid, real-life role models.
one bob marley, anish kapoor or sir keith ajegbo can make the difference in a way no amount of vogue covers and bland billboards can.
and how hard are these real people finding it to get recognition compare to their 'white' counterparts?

Re:Representations of mixedness
Posted on: 06/09/2007 12:11:00
Posted by: eveahmed
I've just read - on Times newspaper website - an extract from Barack Obama's autobiography. The piece is prefaced by the Times as Obama talking about his experiences as a young black man, and Obama then goes on to describe moments that showed him how racist US society is. But he's not black! He's mixed! Can someone out there explain to me what makes a mixed person call themselves black? I know he's free to call himself whatever he damn well likes but what process do mixed people go through that makes them define themselves not as mixed, not as white - but as black? Does he mean he is black politically? Does he mean the world sees only his skin colour, which is dark, so he might as well go along with that world view and if he's going to be viewed as black, by a hostile white world, then he'll play that role to the hilt? When even the prospective president of the united states won't call himself mixed, what does that say about the rest of us? Is being mixed something he is ashamed of and if so, why, when we all know there are huge benefits to being dual heritage.

Re:Re:Representations of mixedness
Posted on: 06/09/2007 13:49:00
Posted by: toby
when reading about the likes of barack obama, colin powell, tiger woods etc, it seems as though mixed race people act as a mirror on society, reflecting what their specific society thinks about the issue of race. The US is recovering from the fallout of slavery and segregation.This seems to encourage anyone with links to the african diaspora to self identify and be identified with the all-encompassing 'black'. Maybe that is because if you were aware that members of your family had suffered in such ways, you also would be unable to block out the feelings of identity with those people. If you have links to peoples of the world who are unfairly treated, you will feel an undeniable empathy toward them. clear examples can be found amongst 'white' people: the irish diaspora, the jewish diaspora. these are 'white' people who are aware that their anscestors have been grossly mistreated, and that notable discrimination still occurs. In the UK we have not had to suffer the out and out wrongness of segregation, apartheid or slavery on every doorstep. this is not a land of plantations.
i'm not sure that we can follow the US too closely on this issue.
Also, i think that this conference and movement is ALL ABOUT monoracial people as well as mixed race people. after all, many mixed race people have monoracial parents, and monoracial partners. it is the fact that those monoracial people have mixed together, that we are here in the first place. that is a hugely positive thing and should be celebrated and understood.
it's not just the mixedness, but the mixing which is important.
by being inclusive, we can use this as an opportunity to be a lot more honest about our feelings toward each other, rather than simply creating another division.

Re:Re:Representations of mixedness
Posted on: 06/09/2007 13:50:00
Posted by: Jasvinder
Eve,I recently went to a talk given by Jessie Jackson who was touring here from america. I am not an academic,but neither am I afriad to speak with academics,however my response to why mixed race people dont come out is simply understood by what Jessie had to say...repeat after me...I AM...I CAN...I WILL...we need the same confidence that he was speakig about for the black community...if we fear,or think that we are not good enough for something, or someone,and we hold the fear that we learnt about from the dynamics of the different communities we came from.Why do mixed race people hide sometimes?Because its much harder to come out.We have to work on this process,be it that we have to define who we are...because only that is tangible...the academic thinking behind it is all very well...but we have to do something with it all...if we are so passionate about it.

Re:Re:Re:Representations of mixedness
Posted on: 06/09/2007 14:29:00
Posted by: toby
The ultimate public representation of mixing and mixedness has been and gone... Notting Hill Carnival! A two day celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture, using the Arts to full effect.
...and attracting as many non Afro-Caribbean people as i can remember.
so, does the government and arts funding bodies readily support this awesome event?
no. it is a struggle each and every year for the Afro-Caribbean community and the West London Community to fund and support their efforts. Efforts that encourage mixing and cultural appreciation more than anything else in the year. Not to mention the human races undeniable right to dance in the streets together, as one without fear of oppression.