& mixing

New perspectives on mixed-race Britons

A CRE eConference · 4-6 September 2007

Forum: Day 1, Equality
What is a ‘mixed race group’ anyway?
Posted on: 04/09/2007 07:37:00
Posted by: Wildcard User2
Given the difficulties of using 'race' as a marker, is it sensible to consider a mixed race culture, ethnicity, group or community and, if so, what do we mean when we say they are mixed? Hamish (Mixedness & Mixing Team)

Re:What is a ‘mixed race group’ anyway?
Posted on: 04/09/2007 09:50:00
Posted by: Heather Kinuthia
One of the commonalities of Mixed heritage people will be in the shared experience of being a mixed heritage person in the UK, which again will be perculiar to the region in which you live. My personal experience is that white women with Mixed Heritage children in my town are assumed to be working class, 'a bit rough' and on benifits! - our experiences (unfortunately) are shaped by the prejudices of others.

Re:What is a ‘mixed race group’ anyway?
Posted on: 04/09/2007 10:12:00
Posted by: Ashley Chisholm
I think the main use for a 'mixed' category/group is as a unifying label. It should be applied to any couple who come from different cultures, and to their children.

Rather than focus on this mix or that mix, all mixed couples and children should be encouraged to feel solidarity with each other, simply for the hard work involved in mixing.

Defining a ‘Mixed Race Group’.
Posted on: 04/09/2007 15:43:00
Posted by: Wildcard User2
I agree with Ashley.

Re:Defining a ‘Mixed Race Group’.
Posted on: 04/09/2007 15:44:00
Posted by: Hamish Macpherson
Since many people registered with the site share the same log-in details (Wildcard User 2) please can leave your name in your posts so everyone knows who is saying what! Sorry for any confusion

Re:What is a ‘mixed race group’ anyway?
Posted on: 04/09/2007 11:46:00
Posted by: Rob Berkeley
It is not unreasonable to describe an identity negatively i.e. I am Black because I am not white, gay because I am not straight etc. Though this ultimately feels rather unsatisfying. The leap that is often made is to try and talk about a group identity positively - this means creating a narrative about that group, often based on heritage, or shared experiences and then suggesting some shared characteristics that follow from either or both of these. This is a route that that is fraught with difficulty. How easy is the next step to say that for example, Black people like reggae music, gay men are 'in touch with their feminine sides' etc. And then to say that if you are Black and do not like reggae music then you are somehow 'less Black'. This kind of 'Blacker than thou' debate is something that many of the autors here recount that that they have been on the negative side of. The essentialization of mixedness ought to be avoided. Statements such as 'the experience of being mixed makes me better at intercultural dialogue' seem relatively harmless until they become expected of people racialised as mixed as an essential characteristic. Adding to sterotypes and removing individual agency. While there are many attraction to being part of a group, there are significant pitfalls too. The assertion of or aspiration for a mixed-race group may have the impact of engaging in a racialised discourse with which many would feel uncomfortable. Could the benefits of solidarity, belonging and identification which a group may provide be a big enough counterweight to these dangers?

Re:What is a ‘mixed race group’ anyway?
Posted on: 04/09/2007 13:02:00
Posted by: Eve Ahmed
How do you define a 'group', or a community, or a consciousness, for that matter? I get riled with people telling me there is no such thing as a mixed race group, or community, or consciousness. I get asked by these doubters: how can you - English and Pakistani mix - have anything in common, in experiencing ethnicity, with a woman who is, say, English and Ghanaian mix?
What I share with people who are mixed is an outpouring of swopping of experiences. These conversations are liberating, because the feeling of being mixed is so defining, and only another mixed person can relate to and understand that.
These conversations are about discovery, about sharing anecdotes of being asked those intrusive 'what are you?' questions all your life; about sharing tales of experiencing hostility because of your supposedly ambiguous appearance; about saying things like:'that happened to you too, I thought I was the only one!' when talking about being told that one's name does not 'fit' with one's skin colour, as in my case.
A 'group' is a feeling of being with people who know where you're coming from, and of feeling comfortable in your skin with them, because they 'get' it.
I have much more in common, in feeling that we share an identity,with a mixed white/African Caribbean person or a mixed Indian/white person, for example, than with a full Pakistani or a full white person, though these are the dual ethnicities I come from.
I belong to a mixed race community. From feeling alone, I am now part of a defined entity, the members of which have all lived, in various degrees, what I have lived too, which is about how my mixedness is viewed by the outside world. That's what being part of the mixed race 'group' gives me: belonging.

Re:Re:What is a ‘mixed race group’ anyway?
Posted on: 04/09/2007 15:16:00
Posted by: Heather Kinuthia
I agree with Rob's point that adopting a 'mixed identity' is ultimately dangerous and would ultimately lead to negative stereotypes. Groups formed on the basis of race thrive on negative solidarity are not positive and are inextricably tied to class and gender issues - (as an adult this is less likely but I am thinking in terms of young people.) To me having an overt black (or any racial) identity seems to be a constraint. The less of a collective 'mixed' identity there is the better.

That is not to say of course that we all cannot find and share a 'unity in diversity' with all people we come across.