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Is it better to raise mixed race chidren in multicultural communities?

(41 Posts)
hester Tue 02-Nov-04 20:49:29

Hi everyone, I'm in an interracial relationship and ttc. Haved lived all my life in London, but hoped to move out at some stage to somewhere more quiet and peaceful. Inevitably, that would mean somewhere where a mixed race child would be very much in a minority and may feel very 'different'. Does anyone have views on how fair/unfair it is to do this to mixed race children, how children cope in these situations, and how they can be helped to maintain a positive self-identity?

Amai Tue 02-Nov-04 20:54:33

Good question hope you find the answer. Racism is rampant in small communities especially in children so beware.

sallystrawberry Tue 02-Nov-04 21:15:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hercules Tue 02-Nov-04 21:16:08

We have two mixed race children and have made the decision to stay in outer London where noone really bats an eyelid at this. We would be far better off financially, bigger house etc if we moved but having lived myself in an all white community I couldnt risk my kids happiness and security by moving.
We discuss it every so often but always reach the same conclusion about staying put.

KatieMac Tue 02-Nov-04 21:58:28

My dd is in a village school of about 60 and is the only mixed race child.

We live in rural norfolk....and when a 2nd 'black man' moved into the village we were asked if he was DH's brother

But everyone has been really accepting - no hassle at all (much more in Liverpool or London - where we lived previously)

Our DD is nearly 7 and usually likens her skin colour to her G'ma (who is suntanned white) she seems very adapted

Mind you the guys at my dads pub think that all 'immigrants should go home' - but not B*** of course he's not an immigrant he's just like one of us (he's Jamaican)

I think it will be what you make it - it was the best thing we ever did

lailag Wed 03-Nov-04 10:44:53

(Although brought up on the continent), was the only "mixed race" child in our primary school and only one of 2 at secondary school, rest being white. (well my older siblings also went to the same school). Anyway, never had any bad comments in the school (sometimes in the street but they went to other schools.

lailag Wed 03-Nov-04 10:46:18

o,and ds and dd will be going to small school with only "white" children, don't really expect any problems.

Blu Wed 03-Nov-04 11:14:34

Hi Hester, I am white, my child mixed race, we live in the heart of London, and my parents live in rural Norfolk (we may have passed in the street, KatieMac!) where we visit often. Judging on my niece and nephews experience and outlook, school would not necessarily be the 'problem'. However, my Mum has had all sorts of hopelessly misguided out-loud comments passed to her by friendly adults when she takes DS out, and has had to endure all sorts of horrible racist crap spouted casually everywhere from local shop to parish council meeting which can be the day to day conversation in isolated communities. Although I have admiration for SallyStrwberry's approach, DP is adamant that he does not want to live in such an environment, and although I believe that DS will flourish wherever he lives, I am reluctant to knowingly give him any extra nojnsense to deal with!
There must be differences and some communities a bit more enlightened than others. There are serious quality of life benefits away from the city, and I think I would research the demography, schools policies and experience, and spend hours in the pub and post office queue (Post office?? Oh I forgot, they are helpfully being phased out) listening to the views of adults who would be my new friends and neighbours.
Also - things are changing - and aren't mixed race children the fastest growing demographic group?

sallystrawberry Wed 03-Nov-04 14:20:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

yingers74 Wed 03-Nov-04 14:49:30

It is difficult, my dh who is white would like to move outside london but having visited him when he lived outside london, I am well aware of the looks you can get for being different. I don't really want my dd to feel different and I want her to have friends and neighbours that represent the entire spectrum of backgrounds!

hester Wed 03-Nov-04 15:02:55

Some really interesting points here. Thanks, everyone . Blu, I particularly liked your point about researching specific areas (here I am being a typical Londoner - go beyond Croydon and it's all 'the country', a homogenous mass spreading to the sea, like that old New Yorker cover!).

My dp is ambivalent, having been raised in a lovely quiet neighbourhood in the Caribbean, then moved here to finish schooling in an all-white area and found it pretty traumatic.

I guess we'll just have to do our homework and stay responsive as issues develop.

Oh, and make the baby!

suzywong Wed 03-Nov-04 15:03:36

I think you get ignorance wherever you go

In the heart of multiracial north London my DH was asked if he was delivering a takeaway when he had infact come to pick the kids up from a friend's birthday party

IME I think if you are in striking distance of somewhere the non anglo parent can take the kids to in order to absorb some of their culture, even if it's only once a month, then that is a good thing (DH would take ds1 to China Town in London just the two of them every so often)

hester Wed 03-Nov-04 15:17:05

suzywong. dp went to give a paper at a lecture once, and on arrival was taken to be the catering service...

Incidentally, my mum's half-siblings are mixed race, and they were raised in a rural area. They were much poorer than the other local families, much bigger, and when the 7 of them went out with their 70s afros and platform boots they must have looked like... well, I can't imagine the neighbours were thrilled . Because of that, and because their (West Indian) dad had been adopted, they were very isolated from their Caribbean heritage, which must have been their 'differentness' even harder. I do hope things are easier these days, wherever you live - just being able to see so many more black people in the media must help, I suppose.

suzywong Wed 03-Nov-04 15:26:29

shocking isn't it, he's also been mistaken for a mini cab driver and I have been mistaken for the family's social worker. Thank goodness things are different here in Australia

btw my friend told me there is a special exhibition on at the V and A at the moment about Black influence on contemporary art.

I bet your mum's relations looked fab

toky Wed 03-Nov-04 15:32:11

Re. the V&A: there's Encounters , about the cultural exchange between Europe & Asia in the 16th & 17th centuries; also Black British Style , a fashion exhibition which looks fab - I'll definitely be going to that one.

suzywong Wed 03-Nov-04 15:34:50

yes that's the one

it's at times like this I wish I was still back in London (not really - it was 25 degrees today

hester Wed 03-Nov-04 15:40:50

I've been to the V&A exhibition - it's a lot of fun! Oh, but an awful thing happened - I almost don't want to tell you because it sounds so awful and also a bit mawkish and made-up. But it did happen. I was going round the exhibition and one of the exhibits is a little girl's church-going outfit, complete with pink sparkly shoes. This little girl next to me was completely entranced by them, and her mum was joking with me how she tried to raise a tomboy and look what happened... Next thing, the little girl looked up and said, 'Mum, tell her what you told me'. Her mum tried to brush it off but the little girl said, 'They used to kill black people, just for being black!' She looked so upset and my heart nearly broke in half . It took me right back to being a little girl myself, and finding out what had happened to my Jewish family in the war... that feeling of shock and complete vulnerability.

Anyway, before I make myself completely depressed, let me just say that my aunts and uncles used to look FABULOUS! Cheesecloth shirts, loon pants, huuuuuge afros, cheap brown nylon suits - oh, and they were always taking apart cheap old bangers in front of the house, and fitting them with those awful car horns that play Hawaii 5-0 (or whatever it was that was fashionable in 1971!). Just what every sleepy village needs

Shimmy21 Wed 03-Nov-04 16:17:47

Hi - excellent question Hester!!
My dh is Turkish and I'm white British. We've moved from a very Turkish area of London to a completely WASP area of Yorkshire. I'm very sorry that my dss are no longer in a community where their culture is all around and they are now in a totally monocultural school. They miss out on being with other kids who share their second language (which is now almost nonexistent) and just being proud of their culture. Even though the school makes a big effort to be multicultural it all tends to be tokenisitic (dressing up and eating Turkish Delight on International food day.)
But to tell the truth my dh is the one who's found it really hard. People not sitting next to him on the bus, constant funny looks, a woman even turned and ran away from him in the street on the day the Iraqi war broke out

KatieMac Wed 03-Nov-04 17:27:44

Cha - where in Norfolk - we are just past Acle

moosh Thu 04-Nov-04 09:48:21

Have lived in Se London all my life where it is rich with different races religion. I am black british , dh is white and british and we would love to move somewhere quieter with less traffice fumes e.t.c. even though I love London. But I wouldn't go because of my children. Where ds1 goes to school there is so many races it is a wonderful "melting pot" reception class and I feel they wouldn't get that if we moved away.

Blu Thu 04-Nov-04 10:19:38

KatieMac - did you mean me? If so - Blakeney!

pinkmagic1 Thu 04-Nov-04 12:32:11

I think you should research the area fully. I am part of a mixed race couple, husband is of Arab origin and until recently we lived in a very multicultural inner city area. We decided to move to what we thought would be a better area to raise children but where very wrong.
We get stares when walking down the street and one neighbour actually told my husband to get back to where he came from.

KatieMac Thu 04-Nov-04 18:04:33

Yep Blu - I must have been having a confused moment sorry.....the really sad thing is I don't know where Blakeney is (I've only been in Norfolk for FOUR years)

peskykids Wed 24-Nov-04 12:30:50

KatieMac shame on you! Have you never been to Blakeney Point to see the seals (actually, when we went, we misread the boat timetable and missed it so we haven't seen the Blakeney seals either...)

Jodiesmum Sat 04-Dec-04 22:20:11

We live in SE London at the moment but are thinking of moving to Teddington (nr Richmond) which is predominantly white. We're hoping that since it's a London suburb, it would be a reasonably OK place for mixed race kids to grow up, even if they are in a minority. Obviously it would be awful if we're wrong and we're keen to find out more before taking the plunge. Does anyone have any knowledge / experience of this neck of the woods?

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