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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..

ThatsNotMySock Wed 24-Apr-13 14:26:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DH is North African and I am a Welsh / Irish mix. I quite often tick white other for the DS on a form because I don't really know what else to tick. My children are British (they have dual nationality like DH) and follow British culture but they are also muslim, have arabic names and speak Arabic to DH. I wouldn't want that aspect of their identity to be totally overwhelmed by a "white British" label.

MyBaby1day Wed 24-Apr-13 13:50:47

Sorry, read the whole thread now and see why. So sad sad.

Jenny0101 Wed 24-Apr-13 13:35:38

Depends how big an influence it was on a person's life thoguh doesn't it. It mightn't seem like denying a huge part of yourself, it might feel like 'oh yea that'.

two boys in my year at school, both half italian. The one whose dad was italian, had an italian sur name, he couldn't speak it, he just brough ham sandwiches on sliced white pan to school.. the boy with the italian mother though, he brought interesting foods into school, he spoke fluent italian, he had an italian first name to make up for his english last name! different lives, different parental roles, different attitudes entirely wrt whether or not they were half italian.

MyBaby1day Wed 24-Apr-13 13:25:26

I am like your DH, half white, half Asian and would never not acknowledge my Asian heritage, sad he does that sad. Wonder why....

FreyaSnow Tue 23-Apr-13 23:30:31

FS, there is a wikipedia entry on race and ethnicity in the US census. Sorry, I can't do links right now. I agree with your description of how a lot of US people perceive it, in my experience. Their official categories do sound like the old 18th century science race categories, but they don't mean it in a scientific way anymore. They're now getting confused in the news explaining how the Boston bomb suspects are not Caucasian even though they're from the Caucasus region, which shows the bizarreness of calling people Caucasian, mongoloid etc.

Jenny0101 Tue 23-Apr-13 23:23:19

Actually though, as Irish people have a one in 17 chance of carrying a cystic fibrosis gene, it is important information. So I did tick Irish rather than white in the end.

Jenny0101 Tue 23-Apr-13 23:19:48

I don't like those boxes either. I couldn't decide if I was white or irish! both? hmm, which is a more key part of my identity? is there a medical reason to distinguish? which is more important to the GP, and why? and if being irish is more important to me than being white (which i guess it is) then how come the british people can't tick 'welsh' or scottish or english rather than white or british. OH my head was spinning.

Jenny0101 Tue 23-Apr-13 23:16:22

agree with quesadilla. know somebody who continues to describe herself as coloured as it is the only label that strikes a chord with her. I wouldn't use it but she does. She's not dark skinned enough to feel she can call herself black, although other people would describe her as black she wouldn't like that I think! She was adopted by paler skinned but non-white parents, and her precise and exact genetic make up is uncertain anyway.

Ruralninja Tue 23-Apr-13 23:11:32

I often add another box & write 'human' next to it & tick that. There is usually no good reason to collect data on ethnicity imo

FreudiansSlipper Tue 23-Apr-13 23:06:15

do america actually go on scientific race. asians as in indian/middle eastern, some north africans are caucasian, south east asian (chinese and so on) are mongoloid

i found in the states you are either white, black, native, asian or hispanic which seems to label those who are darker skinned but who are not european. my family are often called hispanic and i am when i am there if you say you are asian (or as in my case part) they look slightly confused

FreyaSnow Tue 23-Apr-13 22:27:58

Amber, I also wanted to say that I do think I know what you're getting at. Skin colour does matter when it comes to racism, as do other physical features, and I agree that pretending otherwise isn't going to make racism go away.

FreyaSnow Tue 23-Apr-13 22:09:34

No, I'm English. The UK, as part of the EU, records ethnicity and that is self defined. The US, has race on their census, and predefined which country of origin (at least outside of the Americas) makes up which race. Your arguments are in line with American concepts of race, not mine.

AmberLeaf Tue 23-Apr-13 21:45:18

Freya are you american? a lot of what you have said seems to be very much influenced by the way things are in the US.

Race issues in the US are very different to race issues in the UK.

I will be back with a proper reply, but I just wanted to ask that question.

FreyaSnow Tue 23-Apr-13 20:26:04

Amberleaf, no, I'm not suggesting a better term will come along.

Yes, of course ethnicity is a social construct. It is a useful construct because it recognises something far more precise than race.

The fact that race is a social construct isn't some abstract academic idea. There factually are not separate human races in science or some shared understanding between different countries of who is in which race. The Polish were considered sub-human by the Nazis. - both groups are white but within living memory were not part of the same 'race.' North Africans are considered white by the US government but not by most people in the UK. I have family who were considered white in the US but are considered Asian and 'brown' here. There are no races - there is physical variation which may or may not be perceived as part of your ethnicity depending on where you are in the world.

Your last Italian on earth is a classic example. The Italians are often not perceived as white when in the US, so the idea that they are always seen as white European just isn't true.

Denying the existence of race is not the same thing as saying people all look the same. UNESCO asked all countries to stop treating race as real straight after WW2. It isn't about not having real experience of racism- it's about defining racism and ethnicity in such a way that includes things like the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide, which clearly 'race' - black vs. white vs. Asian is never going to cover.

giveitago Tue 23-Apr-13 20:11:56

Freya - in the UK at least mixed race on monitoring forms are used to describe someone who is of very different ethnic backgrounds like white/indian, jamaican/white french, chinese/black kenyan.

It's not used to describe pan european (ie white).

My df is part english part french - he'd always use white. My dm is asian so I tick mixed race.

DH is Italian. If ds puts down mixed race he'd be referreing to heritage on my side.

Ethnic monitoring forms are used for different purposes.

As ds is still wee I've ticked the forms for him - I'm not that fussed but I've ensured I'd used it for his advantage ie in my LA there were only giving TB jabs to some kids who fit a certain criteria. DS as 'mixed race' did - I ticked it and they followed up to find out more and he got the jab. I was grateful.

A person who self identified as mixed race as english and italian wouldn't have got the jab - as this was for medical reasons and the likelyhood of that child coming into contact with tb from their point of view would be low (ie not travelling back and forth to countries where there are high rates of TB or being exposed to family members who do so).

When ds started school they were keen to know in detail not just ethnic backgrounds but also religions. So they acknowledge that ds is exposed to not only catholicism but also Cof E and Hinduism in his upbringing. And conversely, they also know he probably has very little knowledge of Judaism or Islam and I'd hope they'd teach him a bit of that as I can't.

So different forms for different purposes. When ds is old enough to do his own forms he may put mixed race he may not. I won''t feel he's denying his background if he doesn't because he's been brought up all those different things and the forms he fills in is for certain purposes and he will have grown up with background of all his family.

breatheslowly Tue 23-Apr-13 19:03:09

Part of the problem is that this is used as a crude measure of inclusion of groups that are more likely to be discriminated against. So they are looking for:

People who look different to the majority
People who have English as an additional language
People who sound different
People from groups who have historically been discriminated against (e.g. White Irish)

Self definition may confuse the hunt for these groups as people like me choose to tick "White Other" as, whilst born and raised in Britain, we may consider our ethnicity to be inherited from elsewhere. But the alternative to self definition is a horrible idea.

AmberLeaf Tue 23-Apr-13 18:03:29

Mixed race is a term used because people who self identify as mixed race often prefer it to the terms suggested to replace it

Or maybe they like the term mixed race and feel that it describes what they feel they are? you sound as though you are saying they use the term in the absence of something better?

You know what will make the term mixed race meaningless and possibly make some people look for another term?...

White [or any other mono racial] people claiming it as theirs when they are white but just with a white British parent and a white German parent for example. That would mean that person had a mixed ethnicity not race.

I disagree there is no such thing as race.

Ive heard the 'race is a social construct' argument. if anything ethnicity is more of a social construct, if you were the last italian on earth, you would no longer have anyone to share your culture with, but you would still be a white european.

Culture, beliefs, language etc can all be 'removed' for want of a better term, but a persons race doesn't change.

'Race is a social construct' seems to be an idea that is studied by academics with good intentions, but little real life experience of the issues of race and particularly racial identity.

Dreams of a perfect world, where no one is discriminated against is an ideal. But you won't banish racism by denying the existence of race and stating 'we are all the same', it is not our differences that cause racism, so there is no point denying them.

FreudiansSlipper Tue 23-Apr-13 16:52:39


have no idea where jamica is hmm

FreudiansSlipper Tue 23-Apr-13 16:50:40

italy and iran have very different cultures and so do england and jamica

it was a reply to the posts along the lines of i am english my dh is italian are our children mixed race, well no unless either of you are just put in very simple terms

FreyaSnow Tue 23-Apr-13 16:41:15

FS, so is a person who has a black Jamaican Anglican mother and a white English Anglican father not mixed race? What about a person who has one Iranian parent and one Italian parent, whose skin tone are the same and who are both Christians? Wouldn't it be better if people decided for themselves what they are? Otherwise you end up in situations like the US where North Africans and West Asians are defined as white by the US census, even though many of them disagree and don't consider themselves white.

motherinferior Tue 23-Apr-13 16:26:47

I think it's very easy to dismiss those boxes as pointless if your outside reflects your origins; my partner, for instance, whose ethnicity is exactly the same as mine looks the way you would expect someone with an Asian and a white parent to look.

I don't. So I'm relieved as hell to have those boxes to tick, whatever white 'colour-blind' liberals say - because otherwise there is no way to point to the fact that mixed-race people don't always look the way we're 'supposed' to.

<and breathe>

FreudiansSlipper Tue 23-Apr-13 16:22:41

mixed race is quite simple

coming from two very different cultural backgrounds where the religion, cultural practices and skin colour of people are very different it is not always defined quite this way but that is it made simple

my mother's father is half german, her mother english my mother is not mixed race she is part german

FreyaSnow Tue 23-Apr-13 16:03:34

What is the alternative? Mixed race is a term used because people who self identify as mixed race often prefer it to the terms suggested to replace it. It simply means you consider yourself to be from more than one ethnic group. Mixed race is often followed by a range of options as to which groups you identify with, or you state them.

There is no such thing as race, but as we haven't got any terms generally agreed on to replace terms like racism and mixed race, we use them, even though we're actually referring to a range of things which are all part of ethnicity, some of which are about physical appearance and some of which are not.

AmberLeaf Tue 23-Apr-13 15:53:16

Ethnicity is self defined. If somebody considers themselves to be mixed race on the basis that they have white parents from two different countries, that is what they are

I think that is stretching the concept of self definition somewhat.

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