This is going to sound very naive

(56 Posts)

But when do you consider someone mixed race? My ds's father is black, I am white. However ds' dad is 1/4 african, therefore my ds is 1/8. I am 1/4 Czech but wouldn't consider myself mixed race?

Although ds's dad is only 1/4 African, he is definitely black! My ds looks tanned, but has my caucasian hair, I suppose he appears Spanish.

I apologise for how ignorant this sounds! But would I term my ds as "mixed race"? I have done, because he has a black father and white mother. But because he is just tanned- I would still describe him as white.

MoRaw Fri 24-Aug-12 13:59:04

Well it depends. If you simply go by the colour of the skin, then if he looks completely white, then you could get away with saying he is white. If he does not look completely white, then you should not raise him to believe he is white because this will just lead to confusion and pain for him. Sorry but society would not be kind to him if he thinks he is white but he is perceived as otherwise. He would be ridiculed and this might lead to all sorts of psychological issues for him.

However, technically, regardless of the complexion, he is mixed race whatever way you look at it - whether he appears white or otherwise.

My son looks white but I would never confuse him by telling he is white. I am black (tanned colour). Imagine the confusion for him if he is raised thinking he is white but his mother is black. Also, he may very well get darker as the years go by (although many people think he might not). For his sake, I hope he does get darker as this will reduce a lot of the potential confusion.

Ultimately, you should do what is in the best interest of your child (taking into consideration his future interaction in society, his psychological/mental well-being, etc). Unfortunately, we cannot escape the realities of society.

I am leaning towards describing my son as black with dual heritage. However, if he remains pasty, I may have to drop the "black" and just say "you are of dual heritage".

It's difficult because people have mixed opinions on my son's appearance, some say he looks completely white, others say he looks mixed race. Also, his father doesn't have much contact with him. That doesn't mean I want to deny his heritage, i'm just thinking along the lines of what you were saying, because you are black your son may become confused, but as my ds isn't growing in the same household or even particularly close to his father, maybe he won't feel so confused.

The whole thing is rather confusing to me! I think because I cannot really answer whether my ds appears mixed race or white. I am more than happy to refer to him as mixed race but don't want to confuse him by doing so! I am proud of ds' heritage, I think mixed race children should be celebrated and are often absolutely beautiful! I'm wondering if I can somehow link a photo of my ds for opinions on his colour!

Trills Fri 24-Aug-12 14:20:33

I might sound naive too - but does it really matter?

I don't think that whether your DS considers himself mixed race should be based on strangers' opinions of his skin colour.

MrsLettuce Fri 24-Aug-12 14:29:24

If you change the question to "is my son of mixed ethnic heritage?" then the answer is simple, yes he is. As are you and his father.

IMHO his skin colour is actually irrelevant.

AmberLeaf Fri 24-Aug-12 14:33:12

I know black people with two black parents who's skin is so light its barely even tanned looking so skin shade in itself isn't something to go on.

How much contact does he have with his dad? Or his dads family? IME mixed race children who have contact with both sides of their families have an advantage(?) For want of a better expression.

I wouldn't let him think he is white for the same reasons MoRaw mentions. I also think it would be beTter for his self image if all aspects of his heritage are acknowledged positively. It may not be such an issue now while he is young but is likely to be as he grows up.

Thank you for your replies. Regarding pictures of ds- This is simply out of curiosity, not to determine whether or not he is mixed race. We went for a hospital appointment once and the receptionist gave us a form which she had already ticked "White, British". When I said, he is mixed race she kind of raised an eyebrow. I guess since then, I have felt like some kind of fraud selecting the "mixed" option. I want some clarity because if I am confused, then ds will be too!

He see's his dad for a weekend a month. His father and grandmother are the only black members of their family, as it was the grandmother's absent father who was Nigerian.

We have had all kinds of responses from strangers such as the incident above to someone commenting on me clearly not using suncream because he was so tanned hmm. All these experiences have left me confused.

Polyethyl Fri 24-Aug-12 14:42:12

I'd suggest being open about it, because these things can re-emerge generations later.
My mother has a white friend, daughter of white parents, who married a white man. The baby was born Chinese. Uproar ensued. Wife accused of adultery. DNA tests, distrust and much hurt followed, until an elderly great aunt admitted that a great great grandfather had served in China, where he had taken a local mistress. Which had been long since forgotten as the generations passed.

MoRaw Fri 24-Aug-12 14:48:16

Cinnamon, feel free to post pic. Happy to give my 2cents. I know it is hard to tell when it is your own child. Mind you, I imagine different people might see you son differently. To some Africans, he might appear white. To some white people (particularly anglo-saxon), they would see him as mixed.

I imagine my son will get darker. He is only 9 months. So there is plenty of time for him to change.

Trills, unfortunately we live in society. This means that we must interact with strangers and their behaviour is important whether we like it or not. Our behaviour impact upon each other - hence "society". Since we our interactions with each other invariably impact on us, ignoring this would be to our peril. Creating a cognitive dissonance in a child may have a real negative impact on the psychological welfare of the child. Of course, we would all rather live in a utopia where ignorance, discrimination, etc were absent. Alas, that is not the case. As such, we cannot go about pretending these things do not exist.

AmberLeaf Fri 24-Aug-12 14:53:39

You can put pics on your profile page on here go to 'my mumsnet'.

slambang Fri 24-Aug-12 14:55:54

I tick the mixed race boxes for dss although they both look white. Their dad is middle eastern. It's not so much to do with what shade you match on a colour chart but what your origin is.

Ethnic monitoring comes from the fact that people can be discriminated against due to their ethnicity regardless of appearance. Potentially, though let's hope society has moved on a lot, your ds could be discriminated against as he has a black dad and is therefore potentally subject of racist discrimination. So in that sense he is definitely mixed race.

Thank God for our beautiful multicultural many-shaded mostly tolerant society.

Thank you ladies, (think) I have managed to upload a few photos of ds. Would be happy to know what you all think, I am very curious!

I think I will continue to see him as "mixed", although he is only an eight African, his father is black so it makes sense.

He is starting school in a few weeks, all the children are white, it will be interesting to see if he is viewed as white or not.

ChunkyPickle Fri 24-Aug-12 15:15:30

You're all mixed ethnicities (as am I, although they're all pretty pale races) - increasingly I think people need to realise that these blanket 'white' 'black' labels are just not descriptive or helpful or useful.

When ticking the box for healthcare it can matter which races are mixed in (as certain diseases are more prevalent in or restricted to certain groups - you were right to pull the nurse up on that, and she was wrong to assume) but in general life I don't think that telling your child he is 'black' or 'white' is going to really matter - by all means help him to know about his cultural heritage, but pushing blackness or whiteness on him won't do any good at all.

MoRaw Fri 24-Aug-12 15:18:45

How do I go about viewing the photos and how do I add mine?

I went there ^^ and typed in my login details. Or you can google "mumsnet, upload photos" and it will take you to a link explaining how to do it smile

Oh regarding viewing others, I'm not sure!

AmberLeaf Fri 24-Aug-12 15:34:13

Cinnamon you need to make your profile public for us to see your pics. If someones profile is public their username is blue and clickable.

Yours isn't currently so I can't see your pics!

Frontpaw Fri 24-Aug-12 15:38:04

So what's the 'legal' defenition of nationality? I had a slight disagreement recently with someone who announced that a child has the nationality of the father only. Obviously the mother/where the child was born has nothing to do with it [puzzled].

Frontpaw Fri 24-Aug-12 15:38:45

Oh I meant confused!!

Has this worked? Hoping i've made it public now!

AmberLeaf Fri 24-Aug-12 15:43:44

Frontpaw that's a load of tosh! Yes where a child is born and lives is what nationality they are.

Eg dad is Indian. Child born in UK to british mother (british by birth or citizenship) that child is also british.

AmberLeaf Fri 24-Aug-12 15:47:14

Yes it worked!

Lovely little boy you have. I wouldn't instantly think he has african heritage but I wouldn't be surprised or doubtful if you told me he did.

Frontpaw Fri 24-Aug-12 15:48:54

Tell me about it - I was quite gobsmacked and asked her to repeat please, as I didn't quite follow the logic. Dad only my backside!

My mum used to hiss 'and dont forget you're half English!' to us (she was english!) When we kids used to gang up on her with our scottish dad!

Thank you AmberLeaf! He is a handsome chap, but I am biased!

MoRaw Fri 24-Aug-12 15:53:55

With regards to nationality, this comes into effect if the child was not born in the country. For instance, as far as I know, for a non-UK born child to claim UK citizenship, the father must be British. The law may have changed but that is how it used to be, if I remember correctly. So there is some truth to it but it may be a thing of the past.

Cinnamon, I had a look at the photo. In my humble opinion he does not appear anglo-saxon white. 'He looks like he has some mixture in him' especially from the first photo. Going on the second photo, which is a lot clearer, it is not obvious it is a 'black' mix. At the end of the day, you can only tell him the truth - he is of mixed heritage.

I read somewhere that around the fingernail beds are slightly darker than the rest of their hand, then they may still get darker? Don't know how true this is. Is this the case for your son? Otherwise, if he has settled on his final complexion then I really do understand your dilemma (more so for your husband who might find people wondering whether he is the father). I get stares on a daily basis and feel downright uncomfortable but I am coming to terms with it slowly. I never thought having a mixed race child was so, shall we say, interesting.

nickelcognito Fri 24-Aug-12 16:05:25

Cinnamon - if i didn't know, i would have said your boy looks European. (and yes, he is very handsome!)

but, yes, you should probably call him mixed race on medical forms because of the thing about some genetic disorders being more prevalent in some races.
it usually gives you options as to what mix they are.

although, having said that, you don't have to answer those questions.

and the nurse was wrong to assume.

nickelcognito Fri 24-Aug-12 16:08:38

MoRaw - it's either parent, not just father.

there's a load of information here
and specifically on children here

Lol Moraw I agree it is interesting! I was pregnant at 18 with ds and whilst struggling to reach a decision on the pregnancy a friends mum said " Well, you have to consider the baby will not be white". I think what she meant by that was, assuming I settle with a white man, the baby could look out of place. I remember at the time I was utterly gobsmacked, as if she was hinting that should influence my decision somehow.

I'm confused about the fingernail beds, if they look dark they may get darker?

MoRaw Fri 24-Aug-12 17:23:38

@nickelcognito things may have changed as we are in an age of equality but I believe it used to be like that. It is still the case in some countries.

Yeah Cinnamon, I have read some threads here that says if at the base of their fingernails is darker than the rest of their fingers, then the child is likely to get darker as they grow. Someone else may be able to explain it better than me but that's what I have read. Also something about if their ears are darker.

AmberLeaf Fri 24-Aug-12 18:04:07

Yes I have seen mixed race babies (new born) that appear white but the skin below the fingernails was brown. Have also seen black babies with the same and both darkened as they grew. Also the ears yes.

One of my children was fairly light at birth but had very dark ears. He is now much much darker. Think there is truth in it IME.

Wow, well my son's elbows, knees and back of his neck go pretty much completely brown. Nail beds slightly darker, we will see!

Corygal Fri 24-Aug-12 20:28:06

I'm desperate to lurk here as I never know what to put for ME - I'm sheet white and blonde but a quarter Indian. (Mum came out very pale but uncle is not white.)

Quip Fri 24-Aug-12 20:31:09

You can always opt for "other" when you have to fill in what your race is. I always do this for my kids and myself.

NewlyMintedPeasant Fri 24-Aug-12 20:37:08

I have this issue, I'm as white as white can be plus eastern european which people (especially thanks to panorama now) seem to see as the land of the whites. I'd had more than one midwife offer to correct the 'mixed box' or question it, it's always a faff to explain. I've even had to point out that ds (who is white blond/ blue eyes) has an epicanthic fold, otherwise known as 'asain eyes', as do many in my family. Cue looooong explaination that the Soviet Union had a HUGE range of ethnic groups and a lot of moving around.

It is important though to have 'mixed' on medical forms, it's been relevant to my medical history.

discrete Fri 24-Aug-12 20:41:50

I consider my children to be mixed race and both dh and I are white.

However, between us we can claim 7 different ethnicities and 5 different passports among our parents and grandparents, so I think we are well and truly mixed.

Skin colour is irrelevant.

My sister has two dc, one is much, much paler than the other, but they are both mixed race.

I also know someone who describes himself as black although his skin is the same colour as mine. Apparently it is the hair that makes someone black or not in his country of origin (caribbean).

MoRaw Fri 24-Aug-12 21:33:42

Cinnamon, I showed my husband the pic of our son and he thinks he looks Western European - Italian, Spanish, etc.

LOL! What fun your son is going to have when trying to tick the boxes.

TwllBach Fri 24-Aug-12 21:44:23

I've often wondered what I will say my children are. My father is half Bangladeshi but I have quite pale skin. I've been told I could be Italian, Latino, eastern European or welsh (!) although my brother was picked on for looking Turkish.

My nieces definitely look 'mixed' but you can't really put your finger on anything definite - they just have a 'non Anglo Saxon' look IYSWIM. Rather like your DS, who is just beautiful by the way grin

I will keep watching this thread with interest, thanks OP!

PurplePidjin Fri 24-Aug-12 21:52:15

Fascinating thread, thank you. We're expecting our first in December and he'll be an interesting mix. I'm a mash up of various parts of England and Irekand, DP is Jamaican and therefore lots of influences - he has green eyes, his dad's were blue, for example, despite all other characteristics being "typical" Black Carribean.

I can't wait to find out, could be absolutely anything from freckly ginger onwards!

Stupid question... Will our baby have blue eyes? I've heard all babies do, but i live in a predominantly white area so am sceptical of this All they speak of...

It's an absolute minefield isn't it!

I am mixed race (white English/Bangaladeshi/Mauritian). I look vaguely Asian but with frizzy curly hair. DD's father is black Carribean but she looks as Asian as I do.

DS's father is white English although some of his features make us wonder if there is a distant non-white ancestor. DS looks white most of the time although I've always written mixed race on forms. His peers he questioned it all when he started secondary school and he logically decided that he had to be mixed race based on my appearance. When we came back from holiday he was darker than me and the doubters were silenced. We've been to Turkey a few times and the locals are always convinced he is one of their own grin

suburbophobe Fri 24-Aug-12 22:18:38

Great thread! Interesting mixes.

My DS has an African father - I am Euri - but is very light-skinned and got more of my hair.
When on the beach for a day I am red and he is dark brown LOL

The weirdest thing I was ever asked by a stranger was if he was adopted.... and she was a brunette with a blonde child. It would never occur to me to ask a stranger such a personal question....

Your son is lovely OP, and you are right to let him know he is mixed-race. You wouldn't want to negate that part of him.

MoRaw Fri 24-Aug-12 22:24:55

Yes, apparently white babies are born with blue eyes. I think also mixed race babies too. My son was born with blue eyes. His eyes are now hazelish/greenish with blue outer rims.

HiHowAreYou Fri 24-Aug-12 22:46:56

I have one black grandparent, but I look white, as do both my parents really, Dad just looks tanned or Italian / Turkish / Spanish, so I've always just put white British on forms, and that's what I think of myself as.
Funny, I've honestly never wondered before if I ought to consider myself mixed race...
I'm pretty sure I'm just plain old white British!

Frontpaw Fri 24-Aug-12 23:02:58

Babies do tend to have a weird watery/greyish colour but eyes can change anyway - not just white babies. Mine changed from dark chocolate to bright green at some point along the way - not really sure when!). DSs eyes were the weird watery coffee brown colour and he is mixed.

Lol yes a Spanish parent at DS' nursery asked if ds was spanish! I too think he looks Italian/ Spanish. It is strange to see him next to his father, who has an afro and looks more than 1/4 African. I wonder how ds will view himself, we live in a small city which is 99% white british, ds' dad was the only black pupil in the school where we met.

Ds was born with blue eyes but they are now a very dark brown like his dad's, I call them his "minstrel eyes" lol they are beautiful.

thixotropic Sat 25-Aug-12 15:25:50

Nothing helpful to add, but yr ds is cute as a button.

Frontpaw Sat 25-Aug-12 17:56:24

'He's (DS) Italian, I can tell, I'm italian'
'Errr, nope'
'Well your DH is italian, I've seen him'
Narrowing of eyes and contemplates next question before I offer:
'But people often think that...'

Frontpaw Sat 25-Aug-12 17:57:54

DS used to have 'espresso' eyes. No - not just because they were dark, but they also kept me wide awake (the child who never slept)

discrete Sat 25-Aug-12 20:13:40

Not all children are born with blue eyes. Mine were both born with dark brown, practically black, eyes.

Thanks thixotropoic, my ds knows it too haha! And love the espresso eyes reference, rather suitable for ds too!

marsiettina Fri 31-Aug-12 22:45:55

If I saw your son, I would think firstly he was European, but with his dark eye colour would be able to guess that somewhere in his family there was a black person. Living in London there are a whole range of different family histories, so no-one would question if you ticked mixed.

When I had my daughter everyone asked if she was half Japanese and were surprised when I said her dad was Italian. I am black and my dh is Italian. My son looks b/w mixed race, but my daughter looks like a black and asian mix.

Your son is very cute and only you can decide what to tick.

savoycabbage Fri 31-Aug-12 22:55:40

My dh is only 1/4 black too but he looks black so he says he is black. He has a brother and sister who don't look black. If he didn't say he was black or tick the black box people would behmm

His grandmother was black African, his grandfather was white Scottish. On the other side his grandfather was Chinese and his grandmother was Portuguese.

I still never know what box to tick and my dd1 is 8.

Mine have curly hair which makes them look more like they have black heritage I think.

savoycabbage Fri 31-Aug-12 23:00:35

PS cinnamon, I know this isn't your question but I am always telling my girls how much they look like or act like me. The shape of their hands, the way they run, the way they like a lie in on a Sunday etc. I have found a baby photo of me and put it in a frame with one of them at the same age and I bang on about how we look like each other.

misslala1987 Mon 03-Sep-12 17:55:41

Hi just putting my 2 cents in! lol my 3 children are all mixed race (half white europeon/half black carribean) theyre all quite light with mixed texture hair (alot of people think theyre either half asian or greek or south american, anything but carribean!) though my eldest and youngest are darker, my middle is very light, practically golden white with golden curly hair. so i guess he could pass for white right? but would i ever let that happen? no! i have 3 mixed children and that is eactly what they are and are raised to know who they are. its not just because daddys around full time because even if we werent together i would raise them the same. its our responsibility as mothers of mixed children to raise them knowing and embracing exactly who they are otherwise they could possibly grow up to have a complex about their heritage

Marabou Sat 29-Sep-12 22:21:09

What an interesting thread! I would tick white to be honest if I were you.. If he looks it that is. It's just easier that way I think, you can't force ethnicity..

I'm mixed (1/2 white-1/2 black) but you would never know it. Probably like your DS. My DS is 3/4 black and 1/4 white but looks like a "regular" mixed race child. I often lie about my heritage, well not really lie, but when strangers ask me if I'm from Brazil or some Arab country etc. I just say yes to avoid having to explain. Then I swiftly say I don't speak the language lol!

I find it hurtful to be told I don't look like my true mix so I avoid telling people both white and black. I think it's a privilege to look like a particular race, it gives you a sense of belonging. So if you're DS look white, just say he is.

cheapandchic Mon 01-Oct-12 16:35:33

just too add. 9 months is still young. both my children were always thought of as white by midwifes/other mums at playgroup...

that is until about 18 months when their hair curled up and skin went lovely caramel cappuccino smile

now everyone knows they are mixed

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