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AIBU?

To let my kids define their own ethnicity?

84 replies

Whatareweanyway · 07/09/2022 21:20

As a child of parents with a range of ethnicities - some of which are unknown, forms that ask for ethnicity can be quite annoying. The question is normally 'Are you x, are you y, are you x + y'?

To be fair the forms have got a lot more varied than when I was a kid, but they still separate ethnicities quite rigidly. Obviously alot of forms ask for ethnicity to gather statistics, so fully understand why the questions are asked.

Filling in forms for my kids normally involves a required question about ethnicity. I raised this with a cousin and they said 'Well they're black, aren't they? Why would you put anything else?! Are you denying that you are black?'.

Obviously black isn't an ethnicity and as my kids are a mix of African, Asian and european and have fairish to brownish skin, black doesn't seem to be a very good description. They arent even teenagers yet, so I don't think it's right to tell them that they're 'black' and ignore their other origins. I have a majority African heritage as far as I know and I'm proud and happy with that. My kids father has European heritage.

I am perfectly open with the kids that they are a mix of multiple origins and they can 'identify' however they want and they are perfectly happy with this and enjoy learning about the history of different countries.

The problem is with family who insist they are black and insist I put them down as black British on forms because that is how they identify. I have never judged or questioned how individuals in my family identity and as far I'm concerned they can identify however they like, but aibu to tell them that they can't tell me and my kids how we should define ourselves?

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

249 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
23%
You are NOT being unreasonable
77%
sst1234 · 07/09/2022 21:23

You sound like you are big on identity politics. You could just chill out a bit and not give this nonsense topic so much headspace.

georgarina · 07/09/2022 21:24

YANBU and family who is denying your children's other roots are BVU - they are just as important and valid. There is usually a mixed race - other option that sounds like the most accurate choice.

starbaby858 · 07/09/2022 21:27

It’s really not that serious.

My kids are half West Indian and half African. Sometimes I tick they’re Black British Caribbean and sometimes I tick Black British African. It really doesn’t mean anything regardless of whatever they tick.

As the poster said before, mixed race seems like the most applicable for them

Johnnysgirl · 07/09/2022 21:28

sst1234 · 07/09/2022 21:23

You sound like you are big on identity politics. You could just chill out a bit and not give this nonsense topic so much headspace.

Agreed.

Whatareweanyway · 07/09/2022 21:30

sst1234 · 07/09/2022 21:23

You sound like you are big on identity politics. You could just chill out a bit and not give this nonsense topic so much headspace.

Good point, it's probably best to ignore my cousin. The problem is not just my cousing but when my kids come home and ask me if they are black. I explain what it means, but it happens a few times a year which brings the whole topic up again.

OP posts:
Whatareweanyway · 07/09/2022 21:31

georgarina · 07/09/2022 21:24

YANBU and family who is denying your children's other roots are BVU - they are just as important and valid. There is usually a mixed race - other option that sounds like the most accurate choice.

Good point, the mixed race option is probably best

OP posts:
Whatareweanyway · 07/09/2022 21:33

starbaby858 · 07/09/2022 21:27

It’s really not that serious.

My kids are half West Indian and half African. Sometimes I tick they’re Black British Caribbean and sometimes I tick Black British African. It really doesn’t mean anything regardless of whatever they tick.

As the poster said before, mixed race seems like the most applicable for them

Good point that it doesn't matter too much. I guess it will be something that they figure out and decide as they get older and need to fill out these things for themselves and the mixed race option is probably the most accurate

OP posts:
BadGranny · 07/09/2022 21:34

I tend to tick ‘other’ and then write in ‘human’.

Johnnysgirl · 07/09/2022 21:35

BadGranny · 07/09/2022 21:34

I tend to tick ‘other’ and then write in ‘human’.

To differentiate yourself from... what?

Sarah0611 · 07/09/2022 21:35

Create your own box that fits the ethnicity! I hate those tick boxes!

Whatareweanyway · 07/09/2022 21:38

BadGranny · 07/09/2022 21:34

I tend to tick ‘other’ and then write in ‘human’.

Sounds like a good option

OP posts:
user1454560480 · 07/09/2022 21:38

Let them define it for themselves as they develop their own identities. That might change over time. I'm from a mixed background and OMG the RAGE when I told DM that I'd ticked a different box to what she thought I was. 30 years later I still know better than to discuss it.

lovelilies · 07/09/2022 21:39

Those who think it's no big deal and are so blasé are probably Caucasian yes?
Because it IS a bloody big deal to those with other heritage(s) actually.

Whatareweanyway · 07/09/2022 21:40

Sarah0611 · 07/09/2022 21:35

Create your own box that fits the ethnicity! I hate those tick boxes!

I like it! Tick boxes can be so annoying. It's almost like they added it as an after thought and never really thought the options through!

OP posts:
sst1234 · 07/09/2022 21:41

lovelilies · 07/09/2022 21:39

Those who think it's no big deal and are so blasé are probably Caucasian yes?
Because it IS a bloody big deal to those with other heritage(s) actually.

You have a very narrow imagination and narrower circle of people around you to think that only Caucasian people find identity politics unnecessary and divisive.

Magnanimouse · 07/09/2022 21:42

You can't "define" ethnicity as a choice. They are "a mix of African, Asian and european". And, actually, to attempt to identify as one of those versus any other is to minimise the one you've left off - your children should be equally proud of all their heritage.

What you really mean, is "there isn't a box for that, so what do I tick?". Either mixed race or "other", and fill in exactly what you wrote here. All that assuming that we're talking about parents and grandparents, not some random ancestors in the family tree!

Whatareweanyway · 07/09/2022 21:43

user1454560480 · 07/09/2022 21:38

Let them define it for themselves as they develop their own identities. That might change over time. I'm from a mixed background and OMG the RAGE when I told DM that I'd ticked a different box to what she thought I was. 30 years later I still know better than to discuss it.

That sounds like a good way to go. The teenage years seem to be a journey of discovery so I'm sure they'll have more of an idea by then.
Sorry to hear your DM didn't support your choice, that must have been a difficult topic to discuss

OP posts:
bellac11 · 07/09/2022 21:43

Well firstly those boxes are usually for statistical purposes for the company or service, its not for your benefit

The only thing I can think of where it might be helpful would be in a health context perhaps to flag higher incidence of various disorders like diabetes if Asian or sickle cell if black African but forms of that nature are fairly blunt tools for that anyway

Your children will go through life connected, disengaging and finding again all sorts of interests in their heritage at different ages, thats the true meaning of their identity, not for some form which is just about identity politics as other have said.

eldora · 07/09/2022 21:43

I get what you mean, OP. I came to the UK as a young child and although I’m not mixed race, I am from a melting pot nation.

I’m happy in myself but I’m often defined as my home nation, with no acknowledgement of my fact I’ve lived most of my life in the UK.

People are very keen to pigeon hole people.

KittenKong · 07/09/2022 21:45

lovelilies · 07/09/2022 21:39

Those who think it's no big deal and are so blasé are probably Caucasian yes?
Because it IS a bloody big deal to those with other heritage(s) actually.

Try finding the box for Persian.

Whatareweanyway · 07/09/2022 21:45

lovelilies · 07/09/2022 21:39

Those who think it's no big deal and are so blasé are probably Caucasian yes?
Because it IS a bloody big deal to those with other heritage(s) actually.

I agree that as this is a generally UK based forum, this tends to be more of a concern for non Caucasian people.

Either way, depending on the situation it can be a really big deal for some

OP posts:
Tierne · 07/09/2022 21:46

Well tell your family that it's not as simple as that as the kids dad is white. That means they are half white.

It's for them to decide what they want to identify as. If they ask you can just tell them they are made up of lots of ethnicities so however they feel is what they are in this case.

BadGranny · 07/09/2022 21:47

@Johnnysgirl I don’t want to differentiate myself from other people in terms of race or ethnicity. If I have to tick a box, I choose to identify with other people, not climb into an administrative pigeonhole.

Tierne · 07/09/2022 21:48

@BadGranny
Well that's lovely and progressive of you except those administrative pigeonholes yield the stats that shed light on our society and allow us to combat racism

Lunar270 · 07/09/2022 21:49

Interesting.

My kids are mixed race and one thing that never occurred to me (or my OH) was how they feel about being neither one or the other. Sometimes it's fine, sometimes it's a curse. It's complex.

Technically they are of course mixed race but they identify more as the non white side.

Forms are always a bit rubbish really so just let them put down whatever they're most comfortable with.

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