& mixing

New perspectives on mixed-race Britons

A CRE eConference · 4-6 September 2007

Forum: Day 2, Interaction
The elephant in the room
Posted on: 05/09/2007 13:15:00
Posted by: Ashley Chisholm
I would like to take my MixTogether hat off for a minute and comment on Tania Dutta's excellent piece as just myself, a white English guy. Tania uses the analogy of the elephant to describe the issue of Asian/Black mixed relationships- everyone knows it's there, but nobody will talk about it.

I would expand this analogy to all kinds of non-white prejudice, eg Carribean vs Somali/African, Indian vs Pakistani, Black and Asian prejudices against whites etc.

It just strikes me that for equality to really work- to be a whole system- these kinds of prejudice need to be aired and confronted.

It is jaw-dropping, as a white person, to read something like "for some, there was a perception that [talking about Black vs Asian racism] was an unwelcome distraction from the battle against dominant white racism". This is because most white people do not understand that they are the black sheep of the equality debate, put at a disadvantage simply because they are not a minority.

Yet most white people subconsciously understand that there is a missing piece in the puzzle. They see incidents like the Lozells riots, or a child or sibling being rejected from a mixed relationship, and notice that not much gets said about these issues.

So they go about their business and comply with equality legislation. But there is a funny feeling in the back of their minds that the sticks and carrots used to make them more equality-minded are not applied equally elsewhere. They smell a rat, but this is only expressed privately for fear of being branded with one of the myriad negative labels created for white people over the last few decades.

Early in my forum posting days, I had an interesting encounter. A young Asian girl informed me that her university tutor- a black lady- had told her that people from minorities could not actually BE 'racist'. They could only be 'prejudiced', 'racist' being exclusively a white label.

Ideas like that may not seem ridiculous to those who dream them up. However from the point of view of creating a society where EVERYONE lives in harmony, they are nonsense.

You cannot deal with different communities in an un-equal way and then demand equality.

Tony Robbins (the US success guru) says that insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. It would be good to bear this in mind during the conference.

The increase in mixing offers all communities the opportunity to see each other differently, and learn something new about each other. If you want Puttnam's 'bridging capital', look no further than a happy mixed couple! But if there is no bravery in tackling barriers to mixing (omlettes and eggs...) we will not reap the full benefit from this capital.

Re:The elephant in the room
Posted on: 05/09/2007 13:45:00
Posted by: Hello999
Hi Ashley, I completely agree. Racism and prejudice are issues which need to be tackled by all. No one is exempt!

Just because someone is a member of a minority does not mean that they cannot be racist in their thinking. Just believing that people are somehow different just based on "racial" characteristics is wrong.

People in interracial relationships are at the frontier of these socially constructed barriers. They are frequently the targets of the abuse and the hatred that these false beliefs create. The courage of mixed couples needs to be acknowledged and greatly appreciated. They sometimes have to deal with the psychological torment and bullying inflicted by family members, "friends" and their community.

Racism is ignorant and ugly.

Re:Re:The elephant in the room
Posted on: 05/09/2007 16:44:00
Posted by: Rob
I agree that Tanya's work is really important and I really enjoyed listening to the radio programme that is linked from the conference pages - as it is important to hear the voices of people who are facing the particular challenges, often without support (even tacit) because of the silence on the issue. I think the experience of the riots in Lozells in 2005 ended the myth that black and minority ethnic people's only concern in terms of racism was white people. There have been moments of solidarity where people came together under politcial banners - but in reality these moments were exceptions rather than the rule. Racisms' histories in terms of empire and slavery, and its present in terms of cultural racisms, are complex and pervasive.

I think if Tanya had dug further she would have found similar tensions between African and Caribbean, West and East African, Muslim and Hindu.

While a huge amount of effort was expended after the 2001 riots in the northern towns to develop work between nominally white working class communities and nominally Muslim communities(interesting how the middle classes escape opprobrium), the policy agenda has not really been extended to reflect on how Black communities interact with Asian communities - despite the fact that in our larger cities they so often live cheek by jowl. An analysis of 'parallel lives' might have been even more appropriate here.

Does anyone know of any successful/interesting projects that are expressly aimed at creating dialogue between minority ethnic communities, rather than between White and 'other'?

Re:Re:Re:The elephant in the room
Posted on: 05/09/2007 20:02:00
Posted by: Ann-Marie Houghton
An interesting discussion - with respect to a project designed to bring people of different backgrounds together - we had a family learning project called the Lancashire Intergenerational Multicultural Education (LIME) project which focused on using a range of family learnng activities to encourage dialogue between different groups. I recall one of the participants commenting at the end of a large event involving families from Indian, Pakistani, African Carribbean, Bangladeshi and White communities in different locations within Lancashire saying that at the beginning it had felt a bit like a cricket match with people together particularly with between the Indian and Pakistani participants sitting together (they had travelled together from their respective locations), however by the end there had been a general mixing and this had given people an opportunity to learn from each other. I am also aware of several faith based projects, Building Bridges in Burnley and the Lancashire Forum of Faiths who are bringing people together not just white and a specific BME group as the previous post noted.