Mixedness
& mixing

New perspectives on mixed-race Britons

A CRE eConference · 4-6 September 2007

Forum: Day 3, Participation
     
Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 00:57:00
Posted by: Hamish
Lot's of todays papers and discussions over the last two days have looked at whether there is a mixed community. Is there? What makes it a community? Is somehow different from other ethnic communities?

        
Re:Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 02:10:00
Posted by: Wildcard User2
There IS a mixed community, but we're STILL not fully self-actualized. This IS Foundation (a La Sharron) & now's the Time. -Kahlil

        
Re:Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 09:10:00
Posted by: Jasvinder
A community thats looking to come out,to challenge,have the same rights and representation as others in our society.A community that will challenge and breakdown difference...to promote that very cohesion that our government is talking about.What better example.

        
Re:Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 09:15:00
Posted by: eve ahmed
On the (unfortunately) rare occasions I have got together with people who I find out are mixed, we have a sense of community based upon our sharing of our life experiences. A mixed community is not so much a physical space but a mental one. I've been interviewing mixed celebrities for a possible book recently and there has been such a sense of recognition between us as we share our growing-up stories, which have striking similarities, though these celebs may be african/white, for example, while i am south asian/white. these simililarites are not about our gender, or our jobs, or our class, or how much money we have, or the shape of our bodies - but specifically and importantly about our mixedness. So many of these role models have been falling over themselves with enthusiasm to 'come out' publicly as such, as role models for the emerging generation of mixed kids, but, as I've said before, publishers find that sort of thing a great big yawn, because they're not interested in mixedness. But beyond their short sightedness, I would reaffirm that yes, there is such a thing as a mixed race community and certainly a mixed consciousness. But being spread far and wide as we are, it's hard to get your community together. You need a physical face to face meeting with people who share aspects of your history, to really feel at home.

                
Re:Re:Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 11:10:00
Posted by: agnes poitevin-navarre
My name is Agnes Poitevin-Navarre and I like to say that the hyphen of my surname is a symbolic shortcut to define my métisse identity. I find that quite a few children at my son’s school have double barrelled names reflecting perhaps a trend for future generation to emphasize and celebrate their mixedness. As for a community, I am delighted to find kindred spirited people on this website but as I explained elsewhere, I am not just mixed race, my identity is formed of many facets and interests [French, tall, motherhood, conceptual art…] that are affecting my life path.

I made a piece three years ago entitled “Twelve Degrees of Integration”. I would describe it an elaborate visual diary of an alien, ie. me [the artist with an impossible French name], settling in England. In the statement, I explained how it was ‘a trace of how friendships and other acquaintances are born, grow and die. The individuals who cross the artist's path are depicted as colour-coded pictograms labeling their nationality, gender and names. A pattern reveals the fluctuation of these people in the microcosm of the artist's life and the incidence of multiculturalism as a whole. It also speaks of the complexity and visibility of multi-national and multi-racial pool of people in various part of England.’

When I first came to England, I lived in Kent and most of my friends were English. When I studied at The Slade, UCL, my friends were from many nationalities and ethnicities. The environments are not static. The fact that this E-Conference has contributors from the USA, Canada as well as from England seems to suggest that this need for mixedness self-affirmation has ramification on a much larger scale. Is it a ‘global’ issue?


        
Re:Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 10:11:00
Posted by: Isabel Adonis
Communication is the root of community, as Eve points out, a shared consensus, a shared experience. That's great, but then there is a necessity to reify this experience, draw a boundary around it.

All race and cultural negotiations are in their nature paradoxical, but there is a human need to hold on and to control and this is problematic.

Communication, community are not material entities. They are not boxes. Trevor Philips proposed that society's fundamental problem is that we get on together, but we can't do this if we are in boxes.

You can't see much while sitting in a box for instance!?

Isabel.


                
Re:Re:Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 10:19:00
Posted by: hamish
I guess it depends on what the box is made of - I'm sure David Blaine saw lots from his box, although how well he connected with others is another matter! Seriously though we aren't simply put in a box by the 'powers that be'. We associate in groups naturally and for good reasons. The question (in very crude terms) is then how do we manage that difference and prejudice so it does not lead to spilled blood.

                        
Re:Re:Re:Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 10:31:00
Posted by: Isabel Adonis
Your question goes to the heart of the matter and I think that people have to really listen to each other. I think when people really listen there is a chance of something new coming into being. But this is not what people do -they are scared to change and they want to defend their position. The box is so comfy and safe; it's what I've always done and what my parents did and so on. The box is my identity.

best Isabel.



                        
Re:Re:Re:Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 10:52:00
Posted by: Hello999
Historically it has been possible to attack social boundaries. Change usually follows activism, which in turn leads to an alteration in rhetoric, a shift in paradigm and a change in society. For example, recently a paragraph in a book by John Gray prompted me to search on Google for images of lynchings in the South during the late 19th and early 20th century. Gray maintained that it is apparent from these images that lynchings were happy occasions for observers. Merriment, smiling, the presence of women and children (pointing proudly at the ropes) showed the innocence of the people watching. Because they regarded the victim as not being human, it was relatively easy for violence to ensue with no inhibition from conscience. These people are not to blame. They are not morally incorrect in their society and their time. When however, there was activism, a paradigm shift and it was no longer justified to treat others differently regardless of "race", then an moral and legal framework was instituted. I think we are on a slippery slope when we regard other human beings as "different". In Rwanda the very recent genocide of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis by their Hutu neighbours is an example of a paradigm shift where people are regarded as "other".

                                
Re:Re:Re:Re:Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 11:10:00
Posted by: Isabel Adonis
Hi! I think I get the point you are making.
Those white folk who enjoyed lynchings were innocent because that was the prevailing paradigm of the time. They were innocent and the other was guilty. This is the way that people create identity and community -We are in, they are out.

The plea to innocence is however the greatest of all hindrances to integration. What happens to the guilt? What happens to bad or negative feelings? What happens to the dark side of life?

Unless we finish with this kind of spurious innocence then there will be no change. Is it not the fact that all problems belong to all people?

Isabel.






                                        
Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 11:41:00
Posted by: Hello999
Hi Isabel,
That is exactly the point I am making. Yes, I would maintain that these people are just human beings- just like the victim. No different. No better no worse.


Humans are fickle beings and are influenced by the society they live in. To attribute guilt and blame for past ignorant actions is futile. Understanding the psychological basis for past and present behaviour is in my opinion, more constructive.


"Mixing and Mixedness" I think provides an opportunity to examine that space between the "races"- The "Racial" Frontier. To exist in this space as a mixed person or as part of a mixed relationship is a testament to the fact that these socially constructed boundaries do not exist- whether people like it or not.

                                                
Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 12:16:00
Posted by: Isabel Adonis
You are interested in lynchings, you are interested in the the whole of human cruelty, which suggests you are not innocent in the way I have been talking. Perhaps you know that the writer William Faulkner said:
"The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past."
The smiles on the faces of white folk are still here and black and mixed race people are still being symbolically lynched. Just look at the field of mental health in this country. It is shameful.

I agree with you that understanding is where its at: but true understanding is an act, a movement if you like?

Isabel.

                                                
Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 14:35:00
Posted by: Nicole
I think that once people start to examine mixed-race they get uncomfortable because it goes outside the preconceived notions of race. It is the inbetweeness of being race that distorts old racial norms and begs society to look past dichotomies. I am of mixed race and American and we all know America loves to talk about race, but once mixed race is brought up all hell breaks loose for the old black/white binary always comes in. So yes I do think there is a sense of a mixed community based on shared experiences and situations, but bringing that voice and identity to the mainstream will take some time and energy because as that is occurring the old prevailing notion of race as being challenged.

                                                        
Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 15:48:00
Posted by: IsabelAdonis
Hi Nicole! I don't much know about what happens in the States. I have heard they love to talk about race. This is not the case in the UK where it is still very much a taboo subject and the law itself makes even beginning to talk about race problematic.

I would say that the mixed race person is the expression of the dichotomy and this is what is so hard to deal with. At least from a white perspective we know where we are with blacks...

I wonder if you have read Light in August which tells a story of the mixed race Joe Christmas?

best Isabel.



                
Re: OUR Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 11:45:00
Posted by: Wildcard User2
"That's great, but then there is a necessity to reify this experience, draw a boundary around it." HOW do we create healthy boundaries?

"...but there is a human need to hold on and to control and this is problematic."

HOW do we SOLVE this problem?

"...society's fundamental problem is that we get on together, but we can't do this if we are in boxes."

True.

"You can't see much while sitting in a box for instance!?"

HAHA! I LOVE your transcendent view, Isabel.

best Kahlil

                        
Re:Re: OUR Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 12:39:00
Posted by: Isabel Adonis
"That's great, but then there is a necessity to reify this experience, draw a boundary around it." HOW do we create healthy boundaries? "...but there is a human need to hold on and to control and this is problematic."

HOW do we SOLVE this problem?

"...society's fundamental problem is that we get on together, but we can't do this if we are in boxes."

True.

"You can't see much while sitting in a box for instance!?"

HAHA! I LOVE your transcendent view, Isabel.

Hi there!
Well with all change you have to start with yourself and negotiate your own boundaries. I feel angry, I feel happy, I am not happy about this...I am confused. In a healthy family this job is ongoing and there is no end to it of course.

You have to find out about yourself and this finding out is moment by moment without end - it does not end in a policy statement. I must say that for some this is easier than for others and you have to find your own way through this. For me it was writing and making things. This should be our education, but we are educated the wrong way round so to speak.

So we meet people we like and we have a great time with them, but then we want to hold on to them and call them my friends and my wife, so that there is possession and there is are few relationships without possession. You know the kind of thing. We cannot let go. I do this myself all the time. There is no how - you just let go and of course sometimes this is painful. But what you find is that life fills up again.

We are all sitting there in our box and we are calling to each other, to someone else; we are saying someone must do something, look we are all in our boxes and there is trouble in the streets and so on but the problem is the boxes, because that is what they are, just material if you see what I mean.

And the boxes are created by thought and thought is part of this material process.

Isabel.

                                
Re:Re:Re: OUR Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 19:11:00
Posted by: Me.
Cheers, Isabel. Please let me know what I can do to help promote your views in North America.
Not Clinging-
Just Sharing & Expanding,

Kahlil
CHICAGO/MINNEAPOLIS/MONTREAL
blancsurblanc@yahoo.com

                        
Re:Re: OUR Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 12:40:00
Posted by: Isabel Adonis
"That's great, but then there is a necessity to reify this experience, draw a boundary around it." HOW do we create healthy boundaries? "...but there is a human need to hold on and to control and this is problematic."

HOW do we SOLVE this problem?

"...society's fundamental problem is that we get on together, but we can't do this if we are in boxes."

True.

"You can't see much while sitting in a box for instance!?"

HAHA! I LOVE your transcendent view, Isabel.

Hi there!
Well with all change you have to start with yourself and negotiate your own boundaries. I feel angry, I feel happy, I am not happy about this...I am confused. In a healthy family this job is ongoing and there is no end to it of course.

You have to find out about yourself and this finding out is moment by moment without end - it does not end in a policy statement. I must say that for some this is easier than for others and you have to find your own way through this. For me it was writing and making things. This should be our education, but we are educated the wrong way round so to speak.

So we meet people we like and we have a great time with them, but then we want to hold on to them and call them my friends and my wife, so that there is possession and there is are few relationships without possession. You know the kind of thing. We cannot let go. I do this myself all the time. There is no how - you just let go and of course sometimes this is painful. But what you find is that life fills up again.

We are all sitting there in our box and we are calling to each other, to someone else; we are saying someone must do something, look we are all in our boxes and there is trouble in the streets and so on but the problem is the boxes, because that is what they are, just material if you see what I mean.

And the boxes are created by thought and thought is part of this material process.

Isabel.

                                
Re:Re:Re: OUR Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 13:47:00
Posted by: Hello999
I agree with you that the first step is to look at the situation... but it is important to do this critically, analytically. From a strategic perspective, if you need to et out of a box you should first see the box, examine what it is made of, even why it's there. When you then notice it is made of cardboard, wood etc then you find the tools you need to get out. Then you make your exit!
It is sometimes difficult to analyse these issues when there is so much pain, anger and emotion. Blame and guilt only paralyse the process. I think it is important to try to do this for yourself and move beyond the boundaries.

                                        
Re:Re:Re:Re: OUR Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 14:06:00
Posted by: IsabelAdonis.
What I understand from what you are saying is that you need to see the nature of the box, that which separates us from others and to do that you need to be to be critical, strategic and analytical. Are you making a distinction here between that "rational" capacity and the human pain and guilt which can overwhelm a human being? Isabel.

                                                
Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: OUR Community
Posted on: 06/09/2007 14:36:00
Posted by: Hello999
Yes, Critical Thinking. This is only one aspect of analysis. I also think it is important to think widely and broadly about an issue.