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Mixed race

(160 Posts)
Doubtfuldaphne Sun 21-Apr-13 21:50:11

A silly question really..
Aibu to tick 'mixed race' on my dd's forms? My dh is half Asian half English .. He always just ticks 'white' but I feel a bit sad that he's not acknowledging his Asian background. For my dd I usually tick 'mixed'
It's not all about box ticking.. It's more acknowledging my dd's heritage..

seeker Mon 22-Apr-13 11:34:59

"The terms are always changing- I can't keep up" ="I can't be arsed because I am a closet racist"

ExRatty Mon 22-Apr-13 11:41:47

I tick other as am in norn iron and no good has ever come from information held in norn iron

quesadilla Mon 22-Apr-13 11:43:34

Amberleaf I have no desire to use phrases that are racially offensive. I just can't help observing that there seems to be a mutation of these phrases which doesn't serve any intrinsic purpose other than to create jargon. "Mixed race" seems a perfectly accurate and non offensive way to describe someone with parents from two or more ethnic groups. "Dual heritage" just sounds pretentious and unspecific.

Pendeen Mon 22-Apr-13 11:45:27

Depends on the forms really.

For example, public bodies are under legal obligations to collect these statistics.

I imagine most would rather not as it's just extra work but they do not have a choice.

Fairly obvious that your (and your DH) answers should be 'mixed race'.

quesadilla Mon 22-Apr-13 11:46:07

Ditto seeker I am not a racist, closet or otherwise. I wouldn't have married someone of mixed ethnic origin if I had been. I just dislike official language that obscures and obfuscates.

AmberLeaf Mon 22-Apr-13 11:48:28

I agree on what you say about dual heritage quesadilla.

but this;

because rules on PC in this country dictate that no word or phrase for anything race related is safe for more than about a decade without someone deciding it sounds colonial and oppressive

Is simply not true.

The two main words/terms that have been deemed offensive are 'coloured' and 'half caste'

Both began to be phased out quite some time ago.

What are the others that have come about every decade?

quesadilla Mon 22-Apr-13 12:03:08

Amberleaf yes clearly coloured and half-caste are offensive, I wouldn't dream of using those. But there does seem to be a tendency in public service officialdom to over complicate and jargonize this stuff which I just think is pointless and confusing. Substituting "heritage" for race, for example. It's inaccurate, for a start. Heritage is about history, culture and upbringing. A child brought up exclusively in Britain could be classed as African heritage, for example, even though s/he was raised in an Anglo Saxon family with no reference to that heritage (a friend of mine has a son who fits into this category - his bio dad has had no input in his life, he was raised and schooled here yet he is categorised on forms as having African heritage.) Race may have an input into your culture abd values and it may not. it would be much more accurate and less patronising simply to say "mixed race", in that context. I understand that people need to get a push from officialdom to address outdated or offensive parts of the lexicon, but this strikes me as unproductive - and often wrong - hair splitting.

imour Mon 22-Apr-13 12:13:29

coloured or half caste were not offensive a few years ago , at this rate mixed raced will be deemed offensive in a few years or is it already , i cant keep up smile

AmberLeaf Mon 22-Apr-13 12:18:15

But that boy in your example does have african heritage? regardless of his fathers absence, it doesn't make him English or white just because his father has no part in his upbringing does it?

He may have been brought up by his english family, but it will be obvious that he isn't english.

It would be correct to state that he had african heritage and there are reasons for doing so [in officialdom-I won't even start on the self image issue] such as medical issues.

Sometimes race doesn't matter, but sometimes it does I think sometimes some white parents of mixed race children like to think that these things don't matter [I refer back to my earlier point about not being able to pass on white privilege] but that can fall flat when a situation arises for the child, who has no idea how to deal with it and neither does the parent. Some people have the attitude that everyone should be treated the same and race doesn't matter and shouldn't affect your life experiences, that is of course ideal, but in reality, it can and often does. Parents need to equip their children with a positive self image about all aspects of their heritage as that can help when faced with prejudice.

You haven't answered my question re words/phrases no longer deemed 'safe' though?

fedupofnamechanging Mon 22-Apr-13 12:32:28

Dual heritage makes me laugh. Unless a child's parents are brother and sister, surely everyone is dual heritage.

I think this thread shows that we are all what we feel ourselves to be - there are no definitive 'rules' regarding what constitutes racial/national identity. Therefore these forms are pointless, except where people need to mention ethnicity for medical reasons.

Even then it is not foolproof. I was offered sickle cell testing for my baby because my dh is not British born. He is Danish( and white). Where is the sense in that?

seeker Mon 22-Apr-13 12:33:45

I think that might have been a misunderstanding of some sort, karma. Certainly not routine.

motherinferior Mon 22-Apr-13 12:34:45

I tick mixed race. This is actually very important to me because I am white and red-haired and am usually taken for Celtic, on account of my anglo/Scandinavian father; but I have an Indian mother, and my Indian-ness is as important to me as it is to the other people of mixed ethnic origin whose pigmentation is more Asian.

fedupofnamechanging Mon 22-Apr-13 12:49:24

The midwife did say to me that it sounded like a daft idea but I could have it if I wanted. Obviously, I didn't.

Southeastdweller Mon 22-Apr-13 12:50:23

What a fascinating post AmberLeaf

Thanks for your reply clouds

Astley Mon 22-Apr-13 13:15:11

I guess I always feel there is something depressing about a mixed race person ticking 'White British', like they feel they should try and hide it.

I want my children to feel proud of who they actually are, not be thinking 'I'm pale enough to pass for a British person'. Their Grandfather changed his name to 'fit in' and I think that is really sad, that you feel the need to change who you are, to cover up your real identity. He spent the rest of is life claiming he was 'white British' when it was very very obvious he wasn't and it was sad to see.

quesadilla Mon 22-Apr-13 13:20:25

Amber I agree that race does matter - particularly as you say if there is potentially a medical dimension. And I am not saying that its irrelevant either: it's something that helps shape your sense of who you are and needs to be taken account of. But I do think the phrase "heritage" in that context is misused. My friend hasn't sought to erase her son's African heritage or even to downplay it - and actually he lives in a neighborhood that is ethnically very mixed - but the reality is that his British upbringing is far far dominant over any African heritage. It would be much more accurate for him to be identified officially as mixed race and for him to define his "heritage" as he sees fit when he is old enough to do this.

AmberLeaf Mon 22-Apr-13 13:56:54


I imagine he is 'identified officially' as mixed race, but with african heritage, same as my children are 'identified officially' as mixed race with caribbean heritage [so a mix of african/chinese/indian and european]

My friend hasn't sought to erase her son's African heritage or even to downplay it

But has she been positive about it? has she enabled him to learn about his african heritage, or has it just sort of been ignored/glossed over?

With transracial adoption, it is recognised that children benefit from having a knowledge of and a positive assertion of their natural background, there is obviously no requirement for this in a 'natural' family, but I think some parents could learn something from the ideology behind it.


coloured or half caste were not offensive a few years ago , at this rate mixed raced will be deemed offensive in a few years or is it already , i cant keep up

They have been deemed offensive for a long time, the history of the usage of the term 'half caste' has never been positive.

At what rate?

Why would mixed race be deemed offensive in the same way half caste is?

If you make yourself aware of the history of the term half caste you will understand why it is offensive and why it is nothing like mixed race.

It's really not that hard.

imour Mon 22-Apr-13 14:33:04

amberleaf half caste was used when i was growing up , same as coloured , why wouldnt mixed raced be offensive in a few years , seems any term used upsets some one along the way , do not pick my name out just cause you want to get gobby with some one , every one is allowed an opinion , you have said your rather long winded one , so wind your neck in .

KirjavaTheCat Mon 22-Apr-13 14:38:53

I only tick mixed race on medical forms for my son, for reasons that he may have some sort of complication that's exclusive to OH's race (I can only think of a few but still).

I think any other time is nosey tbh.

mirry2 Mon 22-Apr-13 14:44:33

There's no box for for people of English heritage either. I think it's sad that the English are being subsumed into a common British identity, unlike the Scots, Welsh and Irish. Perhaps this will change if the Scots obtain independence.

Punkatheart Mon 22-Apr-13 14:47:50

I have seen some with Welsh/Scottish/Irish as options - I think it depends when the form was designed, as this is fairly modern development.

AmberLeaf Mon 22-Apr-13 15:00:12

amberleaf half caste was used when i was growing up , same as coloured , why wouldnt mixed raced be offensive in a few years , seems any term used upsets some one along the way , do not pick my name out just cause you want to get gobby with some one , every one is allowed an opinion , you have said your rather long winded one , so wind your neck in

You appear to be the only one getting 'gobby'

I 'picked' your name, because you made the comment.

nigger and paki were used when I was growing up, they are no longer acceptable either.

Why would mixed race be offensive in a few years time? as I said, go look up the history behind the term half caste and then we can talk...until then, you wind your neck in.

Mannequinkate Mon 22-Apr-13 15:06:02

imour please go away and educate yourself as to the history of the terms you mention. It may help you to understand why they are deemed so offensive. Amberleaf has made some very interesting and valid points, don't get so defensive just get on and educate yourself further. She has made a start for you.

quesadilla Mon 22-Apr-13 15:08:31

Amber actually my friend has encouraged her son to take an interest in his African background. So far he hasn't shown a great deal of interest. (This may be clouded by the fact that they live in an area with a large Afro-Caribbean population and my guess is that most of the potential role models or people he identifies with are either white or of Caribbean as opposed to African background.) But this isn't really quite my point. My problem with the word "heritage" in this usage is that it suggests a deep cultural connection. In this case it just isn't true that there is a "heritage" in the proper sense of the word. It assumes that "identity" is an automatic product of your racial background and I just don't think it's a simple calculation. A child can grow up from an ethnically pure background (black, white or whatever) and identify completely outside that background for reasons known to him or herself. A mixed race child may be a 50/50 split between their parents' backgrounds but its more likely he or she will veer more strongly towards one or the other or any range of options in between. And that's all fine. But the "dual heritage" status strikes me as a blunt instrument which seeks to make identity a straight calculation between x% of that background and x% of the other. In reality identity is a hugely complex and permanently shifting construct which only the child can define and probably won't really understand until he or she is as adult. You can educate, encourage and expose someone to the cultures they come from but you can't mandate that these become "heritage".
Probably went off on one a bit there but hopefully you get the point.

imour Mon 22-Apr-13 15:09:15

as you have said nigger , paki , half caste and coloured have all been used in the past but are not acceptable now so i dont see what is so unbelievable that mixed race will eventually upset someone , i made a comment but it wasnt to you , you are gobby and out for an argument ,why should i look any thing up , i have an opinion , you might not like it but hey tuff , now please go bore someone else .

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