Are mixed race people black??

(235 Posts)
franch Wed 19-Jan-05 14:29:20

Great article in Feb Good Housekeeping celebrating 20 "black and Asian" women who are "changing the face of Britain". However, included in the list are at least 2 mixed-race women: Kelly Holmes and Zadie Smith. I'm not arguing with these women's achievements, but surely it would've been simple enough to call it a list of "black, Asian and mixed-race" women??? Would these 2 have been included in a list of white women, as they are both 50% white?

As the white mother of a mixed-race woman (albeit only 1 year old!), it makes me feel irrelevant. And I also feel DD is missing out on having inspirational role-models identified for her.

Help me write a letter to GH about this. What points should I cover? Also, for reference, here is the rest of the list - I may have missed some others who are also mixed race:

Meera Syal
Baroness Valerie Amos
Kelly Holmes
Parween Warsi
Baroness Patricia Scotland
Gurinder Chadha
Yasin Alibhai-Brown
Doreen Lawrence
Zeinab Badawi
Shami Chakrabarti
Vanessa Mae
Trisha Goddard
Pinky Lilani
Denise Lewis
Serena Rees
Tessa Sanderson
Reeta Chakrabarti
Zaiba Malik
Zadie Smith
Baroness Flather

Ones to watch:
Parminder Nagra
Jamelia
Ruzwana Bashir
Mishal Husain
Nina Wadia

franch Wed 19-Jan-05 14:44:15

That should of course be Yasmin Alibhai-Brown - excuse any other errors, typed in haste

Poshpaws Wed 19-Jan-05 14:44:57

No, they are not Black (sorry, one of my big bug-bears.) I feel the same as you - I don't want DH to be 'erased' from DS's id. After all, DS is half of him.

Not sure if I can suggest anything to put in your letter, but shall have a think.

Well done for wanting to do something about it and good luck.

franch Wed 19-Jan-05 14:46:44

Thanks, Poshpaws, all input welcome. It really made my blood boil when I read it last night - such a shame, as it should be such a positive piece.

suzywong Wed 19-Jan-05 14:50:34

my kids aren't black either
although in the 90s I did know of a friend with the same racial mix as my kids getting a five grand grant from the Black Arts Council, so there may be incidences when I would tick the "black" box, so to speak

pedilia Wed 19-Jan-05 14:58:31

As a mixed race woman, I would say that I do noy personally see myself as either black or white, I see myself as mixed but my personal experiences and that of mixed race friends would suggest that white people do not recognize mixed race people but black people are more likely to although not always. Isn't the important issue to raise mixed race children with a balanced view of both their 'races' and let them decide for themselves.

Caribbeanqueen Wed 19-Jan-05 14:59:20

I have never understood why although someone with two white parents is "white" and someone with two black parents is "black", someone with one of each is also called "black" a lot of the time. This is one of my bugbears too.

It isn't really possible to pin such a label on mixed-race people, as everyone's experience is different. It is possible to be mixed race but be brought up in either a completely white or completely black environment, and in these cases your perception of yourself would be very different.

I'm not explaining myself very well here, I guess what I'm saying is that you should not label someone as black just because they are not 100% white.

Three was an interesting debate on this type of issue on Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 when David Beckham was names as a black sports hero.

Caribbeanqueen Wed 19-Jan-05 15:00:08

Pedilia, you put it so much better than me!

pedilia Wed 19-Jan-05 15:01:32

cq,
wasn't sure if i was making any sense !!!

MiriamR Wed 19-Jan-05 15:09:51

As a mixed race woman (1/4 jamican and 3/4 english), I have on occasions described myself as being Black in a kind of political (with a small p) sense, if that makes sense!?. I think thats what GH was doing, albeit v. clumsily. I wouldn't have thought that they have even asked any of the women how they would describe themselves. Now that I'm older, I no longer describe myself as Black as that seems to ignore my 75% white heritage - these %'s can get complicated - and it was if I was ignoring my mother who after all raised me

franch Wed 19-Jan-05 15:10:23

The principle that 'a drop of black blood makes you black' has a very nasty history, as Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's book on mixed-race Britons shows

KateandtheGirls Wed 19-Jan-05 15:14:05

Over here in the US I know that the convention is to describe anyone who has any African ancestry as being African American, or black, e.g Tiger Woods and Colin Powell. I have to say, to my shame that I have never really thought about the connotations of that (being white anglo-saxon myself, and my husband's great grandparents all coming from Ireland).

motherinferior Wed 19-Jan-05 15:26:12

No. I'm mixed race: my mother is Asian. I look utterly, gobsmackingly white. I wish I didn't, but I do. No way can I count myself black.

And since my partner is also half Asian (and looks it) our daughters are technically half Asian too - and they are blonde.

Genetics is weird.

MiriamR Wed 19-Jan-05 15:29:16

MI - agree with how wierd genetics are - my half-brother (son of my mixed race father) is very white, with red hair and freckles

franch Wed 19-Jan-05 15:52:18

KATG, Tiger Woods refuses to call himself black (and has taken a lot of stick for this). He's come up with the term 'Cablinasian' - as in Caucasian-Black-Indian-Asian. He has said several times that to allow the media to describe him as black, would be to deny his mother.

ScummyMummy Wed 19-Jan-05 15:59:47

Isn't this article simply positing that women with black skin (whether they are black, asian or mixed race) are achieving in spite of the racism and sexism of our society?

franch Wed 19-Jan-05 16:06:04

How do you define 'black skin'? My DD has brown skin but is half white. Would a half-black woman with very pale skin not qualify for inclusion in the list on the grounds that she wouldn't have faced as much discrimination as a mixed-race woman with very dark skin? How would you quantify that? I take your point that parts of society discriminate against all people with dark skin, whatever their racial origins. But to use the term 'black' so clumsily is to deny the existence of a distinct group who need to be identified. The mixed-race experience has some things in common with the black experience, but in many ways it differs - mixed-race people face different obstacles, prejudices and attitudes. This needs to be acknowledged and mixed-race people need to be seen, so that people like my DD can grow up seeing what they have achieved.

franch Wed 19-Jan-05 16:07:00

Also, SM - the Asian women on the list aren't described as 'black' - their identity is acknowledged. The mixed-race women's should be too.

franch Wed 19-Jan-05 16:09:20

And! (Sorry to go on) - I'm not arguing with the article per se - I think it's a great list - just the description of the list as one of 'black and Asian' women, not 'black, Asian and mixed-race' women.

Gwenick Wed 19-Jan-05 16:12:30

Well DH and I are (apparently) completely politically incorrect and describe our children as 'coloured' - ie of mixed race. They're NOT white, and they're NOT black (have a job on to be one or the other seen as though I'm pale, blonde, blues and DH is quite dark - not East African black though - and 'typically' black LOL).

I think it's a real shame when mixed race people are put into a 'box' as being black, etc

motherinferior Wed 19-Jan-05 16:16:08

Miriam, I have red hair and freckles too!

alexsmum Wed 19-Jan-05 16:25:35

are those of you who are mixed race, happy to call yourselves mixed race? only asking because a friend told me yesterday that people of mixed race should be referred to as having ' dual heritage'.what do you think??

motherinferior Wed 19-Jan-05 16:26:15

Some of us have more than two!

franch Wed 19-Jan-05 16:27:44

There's a thread about that here , alexsmum

hester Wed 19-Jan-05 16:28:02

I have something like a dozen mixed race cousins, all with a black (Caribbean) grandfather. They cover every physical manifestation from dark skin, dark curly hair, through mediterranean-looking, red-haired, to blonde and blue eyes. All the same 'percentage' black but will be perceived by the outside world very differently. I haven't asked them, but would be fascinated to know, whether their external appearance has affected the extent to which they identify as mixed race or as black. I bet it has. My cousin M, 21 years old, six feet tall, dark-skinned with dreads, MUST feel differently about his racial identity than his petite cousin S who has long straight blonde hair. How the world treats you has at least as big an effect on you as your genetic heritage, and I guess that's why so many mixed race people do choose to identify as black. Not saying I think that's right or not - I think the answer varies according to context. For some, it will be important to stress their connection to other people who are also in a minority racial group; for others, it will be more important to stress their individuality, their heritage, and their right to be 'seen' in all their complexity.

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