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Are mixed race people black??

(243 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
Ruzwana Bashir
Mishal Husain
Nina Wadia

franch Wed 19-Jan-05 16:28:51

FWIW, I'm happy with 'mixed race' for DD. What she calls herself when she's old enough is up to her! (I wouldn't opt for 'coloured', simply because of horrible associations with apartheid and racism.)

hester Wed 19-Jan-05 16:29:09

Just re-read my long and aimless waffle and feeling a bit . Can you tell I didn't sleep last night?!

Gwenick Wed 19-Jan-05 16:29:21

"Duel heritage" - just told DH that and he neared choked on his coffee - talk about PC'ness going overboard!!! I recently referred to my sons jokingly as Zimbabwean mixed race refer to themselves - Goffals - and had some horrified looks.

Why not just call a spade a spade - black, white, asian, mixed race, coloured does it really matter??? It seem that most of the people that get 'offended' by un PC terms aren't actually the ones who the terms refer to but merely 'think' that the terms are offensive

franch Wed 19-Jan-05 16:30:50

hester, you're absolutely right. A mixed-race person has the right to identify themselves as whatever they choose - hence the different decisions of, say, Tiger Woods and Halle Berry. We, on the other hand (whether black, white or whatever ourselves), do not have the right simply to decide that they are all black.

Gwenick Wed 19-Jan-05 16:31:07

franch - apartheid and racism - hate to tell you this but in SA and Zimbabwe (it's neighbour) mixed race people call themselves coloured!!! DH grew up in Zimbabwe, so knows well about apartheid as many blacks fled to countries like Zim, and he sees nothing wrong with the term.

Now the N word is a completely different matter

motherinferior Wed 19-Jan-05 16:31:45

Because it's not as simple as that! I am white. Only my definition of myself addresses the greater complexity of being mixed race and white. I do not want to get swamped - as I all too frequently am - in the assumption that I'm just white. I need those tick boxes, however inept they are - and I need to fill them in MYSELF, as other people always tick 'White' or (horror) 'Caucasian' for me - to demonstrate that it's not just about skin colour.

alexsmum Wed 19-Jan-05 16:32:09

glad that you think that hester because i thought it was a bit funny!

franch Wed 19-Jan-05 16:32:28

I agree, Gwenick. This isn't a thread about PC/unPC terms! It's just about identifying people for what they are - not necessarily for their sakes, but for the sake of others (like my DD) who may benefit from identifying with and feeling inspired by them as role models.

Gwenick Wed 19-Jan-05 16:33:46

Oh those blooming tick boxes LOL. I remeber when DS1 (now 4yrs old) was little there wasn't as many 'boxes' on the forms as there is today, and he was always put down as 'other'. I was mighty relieved when they added a box which does at least 'match' what my boys are by the time DS2 was born

pedilia Wed 19-Jan-05 16:36:54

i agree with franch on the point that coloured hac connatations of slavery etc. but surely dual heritage implies two 'mixes' when in fact many people are more than that, or is that me getting it wrong ??

hester Wed 19-Jan-05 16:38:07

MI, do you remember that old 80s term 'invisible black'? Used by people in exactly your situation. (And also by some who weren't - but that's another story ). Don't like the term myself, but finding some kind of concept/language will become increasingly important as more and more people fall into that category. It's already an issue in the health service, for example, as staff make so many assumptions on ethnic background during testing and diagnosis (e.g. for haeminoglopathies - sp?) and just get it wrong, wrong, wrong.

marthamoo Wed 19-Jan-05 16:45:05

Funnily enough I was chatting about this very subject with my best friend this morning. She is mixed race and married to a white man. They have two children who look, to all intents and purposes, white. In school the other day a Philipino boy was being teased by two other mixed race children - they were telling him that he "would be a killer" because he has a brown face (nice kids!) The Philipino boy was upset so my friend's ds decided to step in - he told him that it wasn't true, that some brown faced men can be killers and some white faced men can be killers - that it's about the person, not the colour of their skin. Then he added "because I am a brown skinned person and I'm not bad." This was greeted by incredulity by his classmate - "you're not brown!"

But in his eyes he is - because his Mum is. And he is mixed race. I think franch hits the nail on the head when she says that no-one else has the right to label a person - we choose for ourselves how we want to be perceived. And the mixed race women on GH's list would not have been included in a list of high achieving white women, despite being at least half white: that's why it's wrong.

Interesting that you use the word "coloured" to describe your children, Gwenick. My bf says she cringes inside whenever she hears it.

marthamoo Wed 19-Jan-05 16:47:50

Sorry, gwenick, I see you've posted more while I've been typing. Sounds like I'm asking you to justify it and I'm absolutely not!

hester Wed 19-Jan-05 16:49:16

And MI, I wasn't trying to imply that my blonder cousins must feel or be less 'black' than the others, just that the experience of being mixed race is made up of many things, including how the world perceives you and your own affective needs, as well as the composition of your racial background. The terms you use to express your identity must alter over time and according to the political climate as you see it. And of course the risk is that by attempting to define a mixed race identity we end up simply establishing another box that doesn't do justice to the diversity of people falling within it.

Oh god, shut me up someone. This is what happens when you give up chocolate...

motherinferior Wed 19-Jan-05 16:50:32

Oh, I AM less black. Much less black. Nobody treats me as black. Because I'm not.

Could do without the occasional horror from Asian women who realise they could have a baby like me, though

Gwenick Wed 19-Jan-05 16:57:35

I'm stunned by theses comments about 'coloured'!! I really am - I guess it goes back to what I was saying earlier in the thread about 'whites' deciding what 'blacks' would find offensive. I lived in Zimbabwe for 2 1/2yrs, and travelled in SA too - I never ONCE found a black or 'mixed race' person who found the word 'coloured' to be offensive - in fact they often referred to themselves as that -

words such as


and the following more localised to SA

Zot -

were COMPLETELY unacceptable.

Mind you I do find it quite amusing how the PC way of saying 'coloured' is "A person of colour"!!

Gwenick Wed 19-Jan-05 17:01:29

Martha - don't worry I don't feel the need to justify myself - even if people wanted me to LOL.

I'm white - but my DS1 (DS2 it too young to 'know' yet) seems to indetify better with other coloured (sorry 'not PC'), black and asian children - basically anyone who's not white. He does have lots of white friends, but put into a social situation where he doesn't know anyone he also goes towards those of 'ethnic origin'

Anyhow, must bow out for now - may post again later - I guess my last post will stir up some more controvesy which I guess I should respond to I'm SUPPOSED to be doing my shopping at while my coloured son and black husband (sorry couldn't resist ) go and get the new car/

franch Wed 19-Jan-05 20:13:45

I'd really rather not get sidetracked into the old debate about PC/non-PC terms - it's a valid debate and anyone is welcome to start a new thread about it but what this thread was originally for was to get some help with my letter to GH. If you have any sympathy with my feelings, please give me some inspiration!

KateandtheGirls Wed 19-Jan-05 20:15:51

Interesting to hear that "colored" is OK in Africa. While not nearly as bad as the N-word in the US, colored is certainly not a PC term and makes me cringe to hear it. Whereas "person of color" is fine. I suppose it's what you're used to hearing.

KateandtheGirls Wed 19-Jan-05 20:16:24

Sorry Franch - crossed posts!

franch Wed 19-Jan-05 20:17:28

That's OK, KATG!!

motherinferior Wed 19-Jan-05 20:25:47

Franch - I'd say exactly what you have. A short, snappy letter. And then email it to the letters page pronto.

franch Wed 19-Jan-05 20:27:03

Okey doke MI!

marthamoo Wed 19-Jan-05 20:28:44

Let us know if they print it - I hope they do, it's a very valid point.

franch Wed 19-Jan-05 21:17:45

Thanks marthamoo Letter sent - will let you know if they respond at all!

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