& mixing

New perspectives on mixed-race Britons

A CRE eConference · 4-6 September 2007

Forum: Day 1, Equality
Policy responses
Posted on: 04/09/2007 07:34:00
Posted by: Wildcard User2
We want this conference to help inform better policies in the future. What are we expecting of policymakers in responding to the needs of such a diverse group? Hamish (Mixedness & Mixing Team)

Re:Policy responses
Posted on: 04/09/2007 09:58:00
Posted by: Ashley Chisholm
The first thing I hope we are expecting from policymakers is a willingness to think outside the boxes. That is to say, the convenient racial/ethnic boxes that have been allowed to develop in the past.

From reading the papers today, it seems a lot of policies have developed in a very mono-racial way.

For instance in the 'Judgement of Solomon' paper, we see black children's colour being prioritised over their other needs as simple human beings during the '80s. This was done to satisfy the world-view of certain adults, and has not necessarily always led to the best outcomes for the children.

The mixed race experience shows that even the most powerful voices from the race debate can be confounded.

Policymakers should have the confidence to make bold decisions which are not in the interests of just one group.

Re:Re:Policy responses
Posted on: 04/09/2007 10:58:00
Posted by: Rob Berkeley
Ashley, I think that you are right that policy makers have gone for the easier options in racial categorization, yet policy which tries to meet the identified needs of a particular community that has suffered disadvantage over a long period is surely to be welcomed. Racism is a problem and policy should be designed to address it. Yet racism is a slippery and changing concept (may be more appropriate to refer to racisms) and its impacts various. Policy responds best when there is a clear demand for change based on evidence. What is it that needs to change to tackle the racisms that people racialised as mixed face? What does the evidence tell us? And what are the priorities?

Re:Re:Re:Policy responses
Posted on: 04/09/2007 11:40:00
Posted by: Ashley Chisholm
That is very true, and I hope to present evidence tomorrow which will make the case for very specific policy proposals. However, this notion of 'identified communities' is a good place to start thinking outside the box. For instance:

- Who identified these communities?

- Does everyone within these identifications choose to be there?

- Has identifying and providing services to groups of human beings based on ethnic categorisations actually served to ghettoise these groups further in society?

This conference is a brilliant opportunity for fresh new perspectives, and hopefully no-one will be afraid to try out new ideas.

Re:Re:Re:Re:Policy responses
Posted on: 04/09/2007 12:04:00
Posted by: Rob Berkeley
Always happy to think outside the box! The ethnic categorisations that we have are certainly arbitrary. I know my parents never thought of themselves as Caribbean until they arrived in the UK, I'm not sure why 'Asian' here is only used in reference to the sub-continent and white?. . . don't get me started. Yet the choice before us is whether to keep on extending and refining the groups or simply to get rid of them all. Yet they have actually proved useful becaue they have been responses to racism which has established categories based on race. Being barred from jobs, accommodation and opportunity on the basis of 'race' is much less accepted today; a generation ago it was commonsense. Understanding of patterns of disadvantage is much more advanced today due to the racial categorisations that we monitor.

In an ideal world, we could remove such categorisation in favour of a focus on indivdual experiences. As long as people are discriminated against on the basis of 'race' then we are stuck with categorisations, necessarily imperfect, but neccessary nonetheless.

Policy responses
Posted on: 04/09/2007 12:49:00
Posted by: Ashley Chisholm
I see what you mean. I wish I could be a bit more expansive in my responses but I'm stuck typing in a 2 inch window on the sly at work lol!

What I'm driving at is around say the idea of the Asian 'community', where in fact there are many within that group who require bold new approaches to help them fulfill their potential.

This manifesto from New Generation sums it up very well:


I feel this is starting to lead the topic though, so will save any more for tomorrow.


Policy responses
Posted on: 04/09/2007 14:07:00
Posted by: Patrice Lawrence
But perhaps we need to separate the various prongs that policy must respond to. Rob, I agree that without some degree of categorisation, there is no way that we can measure disadvantage. I know that when I tick the 'Black Caribbean' box, it says nothing about me being born in Brighton, a lousy swimmer and a secret Glen Campbell fan. But what it should tell whoever is collecting the information is that I come from a background that is under-represented in terms of policy decision-makers and more likely to be represented in a number of negative areas. The same way, when I tick 'female', it says little about me beyond biology. Neither box defines me as a person.

The problem is, when we try to fit our identities into a box - to have to be a certain way because we are 'black' or 'Asian'. For me, this is a difficult area, because activism is often forged on a lynchpin of common identity - be it gay activism, black activism, feminism. And breaking down the boxes suggests undermining many hard-fought for identities, and reeks of assimilation. But... the very reason we are talking about 'mixedness', is because of those boxes. There is an assumption - if you are the media, and the governmant - that you can ascribe an identity to 'black communities' and 'Asian communities' and make some rather sweeping statements and troubling policy responses.

Re:Re:Re:Policy responses
Posted on: 04/09/2007 11:52:00
Posted by: Jasvinder Chana
I can see bot viewpoints here,however throughout my life I have supported antiracist legislation,despite this ,I found myself in a completly new situation where prejudice towards myself and my mixed family from both sides of the community...asain and white...took mainstage. My own community...sikhs,including my much loved family,have disowned me and my new family.My endevours to mix with sikhs in the early days of our marriage and when we had children,was met with a great deal of prejudice,and it was impossible to be accepted in the day to day lifeof that community due to the experiences we had.This now spans some 20 plus years. Given this experience,and the many experiences of young asains out there...in similar situations of being disowned or having the threat over them of potential disownment..so that relationships between asain/white couples are not given the chance to progress...I feel that it is time for policy makers to recognise this 'hidden' yet very visible issue that affects mixed couples.
I also feel that the govt has veered away from being critical of asain muslim and sikh communties in particular...however given the research showing that the mixed race group will be the biggest by the next 25 years...this problem is not going to go away.
My recommendation would be that policy and research seriously need to take this on board for asain mixed couples in particular.

Jasvinder Chana-glen