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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:
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Am I being unreasonable?

249 votes. Final results.

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You are being unreasonable
23%
You are NOT being unreasonable
77%
Lacey247 · 07/09/2022 22:33

FarFromHome2 · 07/09/2022 22:26

I think it’s fair enough. Our children are blonde, blue-eyed Europeans but identify as Afro-Caribbean. They have an uncle (by marriage) from Jamaica who they adore so they want to be like him.

It also really helped with entry to their very selective school, which is a nice bonus.

This is crazy

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FarFromHome2 · 07/09/2022 22:33

Johnnysgirl · 07/09/2022 22:28

Sorry, indentify as? As in, just choose a heritage they don't actually have because their non blood relative is a cool dude? 😳
Or have I misunderstood?

Yes, that’s what “identify as” means, feelings as though you are something that you physically are not.

If ethnicity / sex / race etc. aren’t statements of physical fact then anyone can identify as anything that they want.

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PoolProblem · 07/09/2022 22:34

My DP and DD's use "mixed other" most of the time.

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titchy · 07/09/2022 22:34

FarFromHome2 · 07/09/2022 22:26

I think it’s fair enough. Our children are blonde, blue-eyed Europeans but identify as Afro-Caribbean. They have an uncle (by marriage) from Jamaica who they adore so they want to be like him.

It also really helped with entry to their very selective school, which is a nice bonus.

Hmm
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titchy · 07/09/2022 22:37

If ethnicity / sex / race etc. aren’t statements of physical fact then anyone can identify as anything that they want.

They can, but it makes them utter racist arseholes to do so. And you frankly to condone it.

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PlumPudd · 07/09/2022 22:39

The forms are about putting people into binary boxes to capture data and the human race is infinitely diverse and we don’t all fit into them.

My OH finds it annoying that there is never a box for Jewish, but then feels that if that box was there they’d feel anxious about ticking it because of the historical implications of identifying yourself as Jewish to a state and what that led to

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bellac11 · 07/09/2022 22:42

FarFromHome2 · 07/09/2022 22:33

Yes, that’s what “identify as” means, feelings as though you are something that you physically are not.

If ethnicity / sex / race etc. aren’t statements of physical fact then anyone can identify as anything that they want.

I cant work out your point or whether you're taking the piss

They are statements of physical fact.

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Lacey247 · 07/09/2022 22:42

FarFromHome2 · 07/09/2022 22:33

Yes, that’s what “identify as” means, feelings as though you are something that you physically are not.

If ethnicity / sex / race etc. aren’t statements of physical fact then anyone can identify as anything that they want.

So your white, blue eyed, blonde haired kids got a place in a school for identifying as Afro Caribbean? Did this lie enable them to take the place of another student who could’ve rightly had that place?

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Tierne · 07/09/2022 22:45

PP is just making a point, that didn't really happen. I see her point in that identifying as isn't the same as being.

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PartridgeCoop · 07/09/2022 22:47

FarFromHome2 · 07/09/2022 22:26

I think it’s fair enough. Our children are blonde, blue-eyed Europeans but identify as Afro-Caribbean. They have an uncle (by marriage) from Jamaica who they adore so they want to be like him.

It also really helped with entry to their very selective school, which is a nice bonus.

This comment is just bait to draw folks into a biological sex vs gender argument. Be warned.

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Sarah0611 · 07/09/2022 22:53

Whatareweanyway · 07/09/2022 21:40

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!

I agree! As humans we don’t all fit in one box!

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FarFromHome2 · 07/09/2022 22:54

titchy · 07/09/2022 22:37

If ethnicity / sex / race etc. aren’t statements of physical fact then anyone can identify as anything that they want.

They can, but it makes them utter racist arseholes to do so. And you frankly to condone it.

How so?

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FarFromHome2 · 07/09/2022 22:57

Lacey247 · 07/09/2022 22:42

So your white, blue eyed, blonde haired kids got a place in a school for identifying as Afro Caribbean? Did this lie enable them to take the place of another student who could’ve rightly had that place?

Have I misunderstood this thread? The OP seemed to say that choosing ethnicity was a matter of choice, so why is no-one pulling them up on this, while I’m being given a hard time for doing the same?

They are Basque, there’s nothing on the forms to choose that, and no other Basque children in the school, so what should they feel that they are?

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FarFromHome2 · 07/09/2022 22:57

Tierne · 07/09/2022 22:45

PP is just making a point, that didn't really happen. I see her point in that identifying as isn't the same as being.

Yes, exactly so. Either it’s a statement of physical fact, or anything goes.

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deathbollywood · 07/09/2022 22:59

You said you asked your cousin and she gave her view. You then say she can't tell you what to put. Seems quite odd.

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bellac11 · 07/09/2022 22:59

I took the OP to mean that, as with many of us with a mixed heritage, sometimes you feel you identify with one part of your heritage more than others, it fluctuates over your life at different life stages and with different understanding

So of course there is a level of 'feeling' as well as the facts of 'mum was from x, dad was from x, nan was from x etc etc'

I dont know why someone had to come along and be pernickity about it

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Tierne · 07/09/2022 23:03

sometimes you feel you identify with one part of your heritage more than others, it fluctuates over your life at different life stages and with different understanding

But with respect in the context of forms and boxes, the idea isnt to get your feelings on it, it's to get hard data to inform policy among other things

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titchy · 07/09/2022 23:05

Ethnicity is a statement of physical fact. However given that no one knows where your skin colour comes from, you are assumed to be the expert, hence asking your identity, not assuming it for you.

Disability is also a statement of physical fact, and you are judged to be the expert in defining your disability if you have one.

That doesn't give anyone carte Blanche to take the piss. It's just recognising that your heritage is something that you define as you know it best.

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titchy · 07/09/2022 23:06

And what is it tonight with all the threads on ethnicity?

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Sushi7 · 07/09/2022 23:09

You can’t choose your ethnicity. It depends on your biological parents. How mixed are your dc? If they’re half or quarter of a different race/ethnicity then tick ‘Mixed black and other.’ If they’re a 16th of something but mostly black then tick ‘black.’

I’m half white half East Asian. I struggle with those forms because I have to tick ‘mixed white and Asian’ but in the UK, ‘Asian’ doesn’t really include East Asian.

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Summerfun54321 · 07/09/2022 23:11

I think it’s lovely you know and acknowledge lots of different heritage. I don’t know some of my family or where they originate and have often wondered and may choose to find out more in the future. As for the boxes - just pick a box, any box and don’t dwell on it too much.

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Keroppi · 07/09/2022 23:14

I assumed OP was starting a wider convo about cultural identity and her family/the world seeing her kids as black, not mixed race vs ethnicity tick boxes?


a lot of people get ethnicity/nationality/race/cultural identity mixed up .. pun not intended

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sandgrown · 07/09/2022 23:17

I had an Asian father I have never met . I grew up as white and only found out about him as an adult . I now tick mixed race but I know so little about Asian culture it sort of seems false . I notice that both Meghan Markle and Barack Obama forget their white side because it is more advantageous to call themselves black .

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Lunar270 · 07/09/2022 23:42

I notice that both Meghan Markle and Barack Obama forget their white side because it is more advantageous to call themselves black.

In America I'm not quite sure it's advantageous to call yourself black!

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TrashyPanda · 07/09/2022 23:55

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.

Actually, it can be an issue for non British Caucasians too.

i once queried the extremely narrow range of ethnicity options on a trade union survey and was told that racism wasn’t as bad for white people. I said that my family members who were put in concentration camps because of their ethnicity would disagree.

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