Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, 2014 to all the contributors and readers of the Mixed Race Family Blog

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Mixed Race In London

Norradean Amorro is a freelance writer, blogger, journalist, copywriter, and writing mentor from London. This short piece tells about his experience of being mixed race in London.

Picture me as the timid and friendly guy, it’s an image I adopted because I felt it was the safest way to deflect attention from my ever so prominent faults. Growing up in London you assume becoming what you’re not is the safest method to fitting in and most people have this profound need to just “fit in”, I was one of them.

Being mixed race in London usually leaves you with a real dilemma, however being mixed race and really fair and growing up in the black community left me trying to convince potential friends that we really had something in common and that accepting me was natural. “Which side are you more in touch with?” was always a generic question that popped up from time to time. It’s one I’ve now grown to dismiss. I guess it’s fair to say I was pretty much a lost puppy.

I grew up in a home with both parents, which immediately set me aside from most of my friends. Everyone would consider it an advantage to have both, but ignore what society dictates for a minute and answer this, if one person continually destroys everything their partner tries to build, whether it be a career or a loving home, does that relationship offer any kind of advantage to those involved? Make of that last line what you must, I’m just simply trying to suggest that in most scenarios in life, there’s always a bigger picture.

It’s challenging being a kid who simply just wants to fit in, in a place where being different is the key to living a life that’s worthwhile. I still try and fit in from time to time but then I realise that’s insanity, I want a lot from life and fitting in is something I’ve been doing for most it and I always got the same results, nothing new just a place on a shelf, insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.

So one day the structure to my life crumbled and it was all a result of me choosing to do things differently. I didn’t stand back and say nothing to avoid conflict; I stood and fought someone’s corner because it was a duty more so than anything. That brief moment, had a snowball effect, so from a very short spell of homelessness I then began a journey and discovered the real London and many of its secret lives. It’s in that time that I really saw it all and these are the pieces I wanted to share.

I started to write and developed a fascination with art, double entendres and a profound love for writing in general. The experiences and stories became a story, a book, with a chapter on different scenarios, characters, experiences (non-fiction), which all lead to one big Fictional twist.

So over the next 10 months I’m going to be working on around a dozen short films (hopefully each better than the last), which briefly explore each chapters subject matter but not the actual content, all through poetry and visuals. The subjects are pretty intense, and they include; drug use and supply, abortion, murder, domestic abuse and a fair few more really sensitive subjects.

To cap this off I’ll simply end with a quote from the man responsible for many of my favourite childhood films, Walt Disney-“The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique.” I’m simply a Londoner who’s learnt to be happy being me and hence I’m happy being different.

Norradean Amorro

Monday, 16 December 2013

About Dr Zélie Asava - The Black Irish Onscreen

I asked Dr Zélie Asava about her experience of being mixed race and she kindly wrote this really interesting article which gives the background to how she came to write her book The Black Irish Onscreen which I posted about on Sunday 15th.

I was born in Dublin to Irish and Kenyan parents. Having lived in London previously, they decided to raise me there. Growing up in the 1980s, I was blissfully unaware of racism with the exception of what I saw on TV shows like Till Death Do Us Part and Rising Damp. Of course there were times when the ‘n’ word might be used against me, and I was well aware of who/where to avoid, but racial problems didn’t really affect me.

As a child I was most aware of being in-between, which I saw as positive but knew that others did not. Aged 6, I was asked by other children which side I would go to if I found upon death that heaven was racially segregated. I was conscious that many black people saw me as too white, both in terms of my appearance and how I spoke, dressed, what I ate, listened to, etc. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I always identified as Irish. Yet I had friends of all backgrounds and it was easy enough to forget the ignorant minority. As an adult I moved to Ireland, to go ‘home’ and develop my career in academia, but found the experience much more troubling than anticipated; I was constantly subject to acts of racism and became increasingly marginalized (see my piece for The Evening Herald newspaper: http://www.herald.ie/lifestyle/the-truth-about-dublin-an-unfair-city-27963389.html.).

During my MA and PhD I studied the representations of mixed-race characters in French and American cinema, while pursuing work as an actress and journalist. This personal and academic experience prompted me to explore what it meant to be black and Irish from a theoretical perspective. I studied the history of black and mixed-race people in Ireland and their representation onscreen, and began to develop research papers on the subject which finally became the book, The Black Irish Onscreen: Representing Black and Mixed-Race Identities on Irish Film and Television (Peter Lang, 2013). I hope that by uncovering, deconstructing and critiquing these representations this study will open up a space for new filmmakers, new screen visualizations of raced characters and new understandings of race and racism in Ireland and beyond.

Dr Zélie Asava lectures in film and media studies at Dundalk Institute of Technology.
Contact: zelie.asava@dkit.ie

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Black Irish Onscreen

This book examines the position of black and mixed-race characters in Irish film culture. By exploring key film and television productions from the 1990s to the present day, the author, Zelie Asava,  uncovers and interrogates concepts of Irish identity, history and nation.

In 2009, Ireland had the highest birth rate in Europe, with almost 24 per cent of births attributed to the ‘new Irish’. By 2013, 17 per cent of the nation was foreign-born. Ireland has always been a culturally diverse space and has produced a series of high-profile mixed-race stars, including Phil Lynott, Ruth Negga and Simon Zebo, among others. Through an analysis of screen visualizations of the black Irish, this study uncovers forgotten histories, challenges the perceived homogeneity of the nation, evaluates integration, and considers the future of the new Ireland. It makes a creative and significant theoretical contribution to scholarly work on the relationship between representation and identity in Irish cinema.
This book was the winner of the 2011 Peter Lang Young Scholars Competition in Irish S

Sarah Griffin's review  welcomes Zélie Asava‘s book that applies divergent theoretical concepts of Irishness, whiteness, gender and the particular place of the ‘other’ to the ‘conceptual whiteness of Irishness itself’.
While the intricacies of white and non-white filmic representation has been a subject of much study, most particularly in relation to Hollywood’s output, there has been less focused investigation into the particular relationship Ireland has to its own ‘whiteness’ and how that translates on our big and little screens.  Zélie Asava does so here, bringing together theorists and researchers from disparate decades and tying their ideas to a particularly Irish situation – a country that has only begun to integrate the multicultural nature of a relatively recently expanded populace.  From Sigmund Freud’s ‘return of the repressed’, Julie Kristeva’s abjection, Richard Dyer’s seminal contributions to the study of whiteness, and Judith Butler’s performativity, to the more recent work of Diane Negra on ‘off-white Hollywood’ and a compendium of Irish contributors, Asava blends theorists and personal experience (as an Irish/Kenyan actor) to position herself at the front line.  This book provides a welcome opportunity to apply divergent theoretical concepts of Irishness, whiteness, gender and the particular place of the ‘other’ to, as she calls it, “the conceptual whiteness of Irishness itself”.
Zelie comes not only from a firm footing of understanding non-white actors’ situation in Irish film and television, but from a gender specific approach that applies feminist performance analysis to the similarly structured area of studies in whiteness and ethnicity.  Beginning with an introduction that lays bare all of Asava’s foundations – rightly giving no apologies for making the ‘personal political’ – we are given a map of how the book will approach each case study as it applies to the chapters’ goals.  Asava also broaches a broad historical framework of a nation still denying its multiculturalism, shown in her observations of the refusal of hyphenated identities, like Italian-Irish or Chinese-Irish.  Ireland is therefore in the strange position – particularly in this ‘year of The Gathering’ – of accepting somebody who’s grandmother went over to America in a famine ship as being more Irish than a second-generation Nigerian-Irish child born here.  “[L]egitimate Irish identity” is no longer (if it ever was) a solid thing, something that can be defined in a simple way – as Asava goes on to show again and again through our media output. To read Sarah's full report  click here 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Free Mixed Race Dolls

Dolls are a great resource which can help to support children's self esteem and development. I wrote about the benefits of dolls and action figures in my post dated 23rd June.

Mixed Race Family have a quantity of dolls which are being offered free of charge to charitable organisations working with children in London over the Xmas period. (you must be able to collect from SE London). The dolls are brand new and are a stock lot from a range which is no longer in production. The dolls are 38cms tall, have a flexible body and a plush skin.

Suitable for ages 3 plus, they have different skin tones and the hair is a wig which is interchangeable with the other dolls in the range. Some of the clothes and shoes have been hand made

So far 30 have been donated to the Lewisham Hospital toy appeal. If you work for an organisation such as a women's refuge which helps and supports children and families over the Xmas period, please contact me with details of your organisation and how many you will need.



Wednesday, 4 December 2013

John Archer — Britain's First Black Mayor was Mixed Race

This article is by Culture 24 and highlights the achievements of John Archer who was elected as Mayor in radical Battersea in 1913 - he is renowned for being the first black man to become a Mayor in Britain and was in fact mixed race . Wandsworth Museum opened a small exhibition in October 2005 looking at his life, politics and circle.

John Richard Archer was born in Liverpool in 1863. His father was from Barbados and worked as a ship’s steward. His mother was Irish. Nothing is known about Archer’s education but as a young man he travelled the world probably spending some time in the West Indies and North America. During this time he met and married Bertha, a black Canadian.

Archer and his wife settled in Battersea in the 1890s and in 1898 were living at 55 Brynmaer Road, near Battersea Park. By 1908 he had set up a photographic business at 208 Battersea Park Road.

At this time Battersea was a poor, overcrowded district with severe social problems and had become a magnet for left-wing political activity. Initially Archer became known for his fiery public speeches against spiritualism. He also took an active interest in local politics and was elected as a Progressive (Liberal) Councillor for the Latchmere ward in 1906. He was particularly interested in health and welfare issues and served on many of the Council’s committees as well as the Wandsworth Board of Guardians. In 1913 he became Mayor of Battersea, Britain’s first Black Mayor.

Acher was also interested in fighting racial prejudice in the wider world and became a member of the Pan-African Association in 1900. His interest in politics moved to the national scene when he supported Sharpurji Saklatvala, the Indian Communist, in his fight to become MP for Battersea North in 1922. Archer was involved in the formation of the new Battersea Labour Party in 1926 and was elected Deputy Leader of Labour Group in 1931. But the years of intensely busy public life took their toll and Archer’s health deteriorated swiftly during 1931 and he died the following year.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Trevor Noah - The Racist

Trevor Noah, the comedian is back in the UK by popular demand!
Growing up in the township of Soweto during the period of apartheid, Noah found he struggled with discrimination because of his mixed race heritage. However, he credits his turbulent upbringing for teaching him the importance of laughter, something that helped him secure a role on the popular South African soap opera Isidingo in 2002.

Trevor has been performing for a little over five years but his explosion onto the South African entertainment scene has been nothing short of meteoric, taking on TV, radio and his first love, standup comedy, which he has performed on both local and international stages including the UK and US. His sharp wit, intelligent commentary, unmistakable charm and clinical delivery have established him as an extremely popular performer with undoubted world-class potential.

Now based in Los Angeles, this controversial joker has spent recent years building a reputation as one of the hottest upcoming comedians, touring top comedy clubs in both the US and UK. His test shows at London's Soho Theatre in early 2013 were an instant sell-out garnering significant column inches in the press and a colossal and devoted fan base. The prolific Twitter user pokes fun at social stigmas in a gentle manner and his tour has helped bring to light issues that are too often swept under the carpet. Trevor Noah tickets are selling like hotcakes so you need to act fast if you want to see this top class comedian live on stage at a town near you.

Find out more about Trevor and his available UK Tour dates here here

Friday, 29 November 2013

'But I am Mixed Race........'

Being mixed-race in the UK is becoming less unusual, but for many it is an identity which comes with its own very unique trials and tribulations.  Mixed-Race people don't belong to a homogeneous group where everyone has the same cultural, religious or ethnic heritages, so for some they are plagued with the tiresome 'What are you?' or 'Where are you from?' questions. Alternatively, some have assumptions about what their 'other' heritage is, made for them. 

For Kamran, he was 'The Black Boy' with the mispronounced name who had different race parents, neither of whom were White. Oh! And to top all that, his parents had different religions to boot. He felt like an oddball, so to make it easier for others he said he was Black, although he wanted to declare his 'mixedness', and changed the pronunciation of his Iranian name to a more British phonetic so people could say it properly and not question his name. 

Kamran explained that his dad is an Iranian who came to the UK to study Civil Engineering sometime between the late 70's and early 80's. His mother was a nurse who originally came from the Caribbean Island of Montserrat. They met and fell in love and Kamran was born in 1983.  Iran was frequently in the news due to the Iran-Iraq War at this time, so when Kamran's dad's student visa ran out - he was forced to return to Iran. Although Kamran's dad tried to resist, the government threatened his family in Iran, so Kamran and his mother were left to fend for themselves when Kamran was only 10 months old. Daddy Diaries

Kamran said that whilst growing up in North London, he naturally adopted his mother's religion and became a Christian (his dad is a Muslim).  His ethnic heritage was unusual in the UK; many people had not even heard of Montserrat and he did not have any family on his father's side, so he identified as a young Black man. Politically at the time, people were encouraged to identify as Black if they were non white. Wikipedia

Life had many challenges and hardships, but his mother, good friends, influential positive people and his family were able to provide him with solid foundations and his grandfather in particular, was a positive male role model to him throughout his life (and still is).  He advised Kamran to surround himself with good people and keep 'positivity' around him. He took this advice on; so this is a good news story despite the death of his mother at age 16, being bullied by his cousin, and mugged at knife-point as a teenager.

Kamran went to a Special School from the age of 6 -11 years due to being ' hyperactive'.  So here he was faced with more labels and misconceptions which needed to be challenged!  When he transferred to Secondary School he was placed in a mainstream school which had a Special Needs Unit that was able to support him.  He left Albany Secondary School with 8 GCSE A-C grades and has made a successful career for himself in marketing and as a writer.  

Kamran is indeed a very inspirational and creative person as he is also known in some circles for his poetry (including The Black Boy  which reflected the issues he felt whilst being stifled in a society that would give him preconceived stereotypical notions of what they wanted him to be and how he rose above it). To find out more about this successful young man, proud father and freelance journalist, go to his website.

If you have a Mixed Race Family story that you would like to tell, that you feel will help others, please  contact me  at Mixed Race Family.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Mixed Race and Complete

Earlier this year, I connected with Natalie who is the Director at The Sunday Essiett Company, a youth organisation in South London which exists to provide young people with an opportunity to turn their lives around and make a significant difference in their local communities. They seek to encourage people to invest more time into our youth to equip them with the tools that they need to reach their full potential in every area of their lives. They also aim to deliver exceptional services to young people and their families, no matter what their needs may be.  I posted an article called Shades of Grey, by Robert Wood in April who also contributed to this article.

Mixed Race and Complete
Guest Post by Natalie - When I was younger, I was one of those ignorant individuals that believed mixed race people (as in black and white) must be confused.  I also used to ask people of mixed identity "what do you view yourself as...... Black or white?". The sad thing was that more often than not they'd tell me one or the other and never tell me that they were both - plain and simple! 

I think it's extremely important that even if a young mother and father of a mixed race child are not together, the older members of the family make sure that they are there to support and teach the parents and child about each culture that they are blessed to have.

Over the years I have had to advise hundreds young girls on things like which hair and skin products to use and research things about various cultures because their parents/carers did not have a clue.  I feel it for the very young girls that are raising a child who is mixed race on their own and on many occasions have had to give advice on things such as hair products

As for me, I am mixed with Jamaican, Indian and Chinese. If I delve deeper, I'd probably find there is more. As a mother, I would never tell my daughter that she shouldn't marry anyone who isn't black also. I want her to have a husband that loves her for who she is and treats her like a queen FULL STOP.

To anyone reading this who is mixed race and may experience difficulties just because of it, I hope you will be encouraged and embrace who you are!

I asked quite a few young people what they wanted me to call this article and they said "Mixed Race And Complete" because they don't like to looked at people who are just "part of".  ~ Natalie

 Being Mixed Race, by Lousie  

Being Mixed race is not about my colour and I can definitely say I am not a CONFUSED individual. Being told that mixed raced people are confused in the past has angered me, because that is a stereo type that many ignorant people have adopted or copied from others so as to belittle people. Having grown up around a lot of different RACE/CULTURES has been an advantage for me, where as others that I know who are mixed, might not have had this advantage. But its all a learning curve in which you learn from others about different foods, religion and even just the way in which you behave as a person.

When I was in secondary school, some of the black boys used to always refer to mixed race females as 'Easy' and even now that I am older, I am always coming across things that suggest people that are white or part white etc are easy or will allow people to treat them bad. This isn't the case as its about the person as an individual and what society shows them to be acceptable.If more people where to encourage them to do better with their lives, instead of trying to put them down, then maybe things like domestic violence in white females wouldn't keep happening. But these issues can happen to any female regardless of their colour, so don't label white women as being soft. When I was growing up I had someone to install good values in my life and I had someone to show me how to look after my hair. Sometimes white mothers don't always know how to look after mixed children's hair, because it is different from theirs, but with some help they learn. Having my own child that is also of mixed heritage has encouraged me to also learn new things about my culture and pass it on to her. Even the small things that help eg discipline. To me, racism is a no no. I don't discriminate against any colour . Love knows no colour. A lot of ignorant people will slander people because they don't know any better or because they are copying others. Before you speak about people, learn and lose the stereotypes around different races. ~ Louise

Mixed Race is not my Colour by Chevone    
Mixed race is not my colour. It's my background and that's what many people fail to understand - even some mixed race people. As a mixed race child, it has been hard growing up because most of my school life I was bullied. If it was not because of my skin colour, it was because I got along with the boys better. I had hazel eyes, long hair or because my bum was big. I used to cry because, as a young child, I used to think that there was something wrong with me and became very insecure. Everyday my mum would tell me that there is nothing wrong with me and that they were jealous of me. Being mixed race comes with some positives, but with more negatives.  

The comments and gestures that were made to me used to get to me, but they also enabled me to turn them into positive things. I used to get told that at the age of sixteen I would be a mother and, because I was told this so many times by friends and family, I started to believe it. So instead of letting them have the power to turn around and say I told you so, I chose to do something about it. I got told that I would drop out of school with no qualifications or anything. That I would be a bum and waste my life. Yeah I used to smoke weed, but I realised I was going to take myself down the path that they wanted me to go down and I didn't want that to happen. 

Yet I am in school getting my qualifications and receiving more qualifications outside of school. Mixed race people have been stereotyped in a very bad way. Yeah some 'girls' may live up to what you think of them, but you have to realise that they are still 'girls' and are still growing into ladies. But you cannot let the actions of some girls account for your views and opinions on all mixed race people! Sometimes I can't win when I'm around certain people, especially 'black people' , as what I say can be used against me. One time I said something to one of my black friends and the first thing she said to me was "you're racist"and "is it because I'm black?" I tried to explain to her that I cannot be racist to black or white people as I have parents who are black and white and the only way I can be racist is if it's to someone of a different origin of me. For example, they are Asian, Indian etc etc. But from that day forward I started to feel less comfortable around black people as I wasn't sure as to what to say to them. 

Because of my skin colour I faced rejection from my big brother on my dads side. His exact words were "you're not my sister because you're not black. We are not the same colour'. Rejection is the worst and most painful thing to happen to anyone. But I came to realise that I didn't need someone like him in my life. I personally believe that being mixed race is amazing. Being from multiple countries and having a black mum and white dad or vice versa. Experiencing things and understanding different views from your black side and your white side. We are the same as everyone else, regardless of the shade of our skin and that's what people don't seem to realise. I will be successful in whatever I do because I will not allow names like lightie, yellow skin, pattie, marge, maggy, banana or even beige get to me. ~ Chevone

Mixed Race and Proud by Bernie

What's it like being mixed race? Amazing. I wouldn't change it for the world. Many people think that being mixed race refers to your colour skin; but there is so much more than that. You are brought up experiencing the 'best of both worlds' cliché (food, ways of life, fashion, music etc), and taught by family that what you are is beautiful and unique. As a young girl, I had never seen a problem with who I was due to me being brought up to believe being mixed race was the normality. It was only till I started to grow older that I was open to the harshness that surrounded my race; being mixed meant you was not real. You didn't belong to a solid unit. You were 'the piggy in the middle'. It took me a long time to realise that what they saying was just pure ignorance. We are equal no matter what background we are from. Anyone out there who is mixed raced themselves, I urge you to be comfortable in your own skin. Embrace the cultures that have collided to create you; they have created such a stunning being that is capable of achieving anything. Whether you are white and black, Indian and white, Turkish and black; you will find that near enough EVERYONE in this world has a history of belonging to multiple races. Be who you are; not what others perceive you to be. Do not live up to other's negative words and take advantage of the opportunity you have been given. We represent conflicting worlds coming together as a unit; we are astonishing! Countries may always be at war, but we will always be the reminder of how far the world has come.  ~ Bernie (Young, mixed race and proud)

Being Mixed Race by Ciara

Being mixed race is something I'm proud to embrace , it shows who I am and where I'm from. But this stereotype that follows isn't what I imagined came with a skin colour. Being mixed race is one of the greatest stereotypes people claim we think we are too nice and we don't respect ourselves in terms of relationships or boys, to be truthful not everyone stereotypes but those that do, really don't understand the difference between the attitude portrayed by someone of my skin colour and the skin colour itself. Have you ever considered that its the way you act or react to people of my colour, as to why they act the way they do? Being mixed race is more than what meets the eye, we are only two races emerged, what's so bad about that? ~ Ciara

If you are a parent or young person who needs support please contact The Sunday Essiett company here.  To read the full article go to Natalie's Section

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

National Nursery Rhyme Week

mixed race, nursery rhyme, Mary had a little lamb
Purchase from Letterbox Library
It's National Nursery Rhyme Week and I must thank my Letterbox Library contacts for bringing this adorable mixed race version of 'Mary had a Little Lamb' to my attention.

The book is illustrated by Marina Aizen

A traditional rhyme, extended out and with some counting (1-7) to boot! Lovely little die-cut holes, subtle disability images, multicultural and with a mixed race protagonist. Suitable for age 2-5.

I have added it to the list of Books Featuring Mixed Race Characters which was compiled by author Malaika Rose Stanley. If you have a favourite book featuring a mixed race character, please let me know.

Mixed Foundations

Last November I spoke with Gladstone from Mixed Foundations about the
Gladstone, Mixed Foundations
About Gladstone
Project which has been set up to support and mentor young people. The project specialises in work with mixed race young people.

Gladstone explained that he grew up in the North of England and that for many young people that are brought up on impoverished council estates, it is very difficult for them to come away without getting themselves involved in a life of crime and/or drugs.

For many mixed race young people growing up in this type of environment has additional stresses relating to 'belonging' to a group.  He explained that he is mixed Jamaican and English; '.. too light skinned to be Black and too Brown to be White'.  The issues he faced were racism; the negative attitudes to the mixing of the so called races, and also the cultural differences that were being blended together at this time. Gladstone realised that young mixed race people who are brought up in in this type of negative environment need additional or different support to that offered to white or black youth. Mixed young people need support that acknowledges and understands the specific issues that people who are racially mixed experience. Unfortunately, if their immediate family and friends are unable to provide this support they may grow up with poor self-esteem and lacking the ability to develop a positive identity.

Currently Mixed Foundations has secured a contract with Nottingham Children's Social Care. Did you know that Mixed Race children form the highest minority group of children in care? Perhaps, this is because when mixed race relationships fail, the lone mother (or father) of a mixed race child is under more racialised pressure from society than a parent in a mono racial relationship to give up the child? See my post on Fostering and Adoption in UK.

Mixed Foundations Mission Statement

Mixed Foundations is a non-profit, peer-led organisation with aims to unite people of mixed race heritage in Nottingham. Our mission is to provide a specialist service to those of dual heritage and others in need, to promote cultural awareness and equality. We advocate for justice within social structures and call on the mixed race and wider community of Nottingham to help us achieve these goals. We aim to develop young people with active and creative minds to strive for a better future to enhance their prospects allowing them to achieve their full potential.

Meet the Team

The team is made up of a variety of individuals from the Mixed Raced community of Nottingham. Their work is mostly on a voluntary basis, and they are always looking for creative individuals with different talents and skills that can help our service to grow.

They understand that the mixed community is diverse, and has a wide range of different needs and support, and their workforce reflects this. They have people with skills ranging from business skills, hair and beauty specialisation, mentoring, and community fundraising. They hope to expand their skills net, or add to those they already have, if you are interested in taking part please contact them.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Guest Post- Multicutural Christmas Gift Ideas for Children Under Ten

This  post was written by fellow Bogger Ms XPat.  To find out more about  Maria go to her her blog called Tiger Tales.

Some months ago I bought Valentina her first doll. Hubby and I opted to go for a mixed race rag doll. Her name is Naomi. We felt it was important that not only for her but for her brother to have toys that reflected them as much as possible, along with other ‘main stream’ ones of course. I say other main stream because finding black and mixed race doll, as well as toys is not easy. Well Christmas is around it got me thinking about what to get the kids. It seemed natural to continue in the same vein and purchase gifts that re-enforce positive images of people of colour. After chatting with acquaintances, searching the internet and referring to mixed race and multicultural blogs that I follow, I've found 10 items that should interest to children of mixed heritage and little global citizens.  Here's my list and its not exhaustive, at all:

I feel that I should state, I've not tried and tested these sites, myself. I've only trawled the internet for sources of the toys and books of interest. Looking at the list I can’t decide what to get for my children this Christmas but the idea or more brown babies feels fine... toy babies that is...

If you have found and/or bought any toys, books or multicultural resources  that are suitable for mixed heritage children, please share them and your story with us. Untill then...

... happy shopping! And Seasons' Greetings!


I am constructing a website that includes a Mixed Race Shop which links to stores which sell multicultural products.  If you or someone you know would like to be included, please contact me .

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Mixed Race Children and Fostering and Adoption

The Golly in the Cupboard

'The Golly in the Cupboard' by Phil Frampton is about a mixed race boy born in England in 1953.  The story is one of abandonment and of a childhood spent in the care system. He managed to piece together his story so that he could write this book once he had obtained his records from Barnardo's in 1999.

Back in 1953, women were packed off miles away from their homes to have illegitimate children and society viewed mixed race relationships and their children with scorn, almost as though being mixed was a physical defect.  In 2004 Phil Frampton was interviewed by the Guardian and this article was subsequently published. Guardian Newspaper .

Today mixed race children are significantly over represented in the care system and constitute the biggest minority.  You can see from the attached statistics produced by British Association for Adoption and Fostering that they form 9% of looked after children.  

% of children in the Care System by Ethnicity 

78% (52,050) of children looked after on 31st March 2012 were white 
9% (5,960) were of mixed racial background 
7% (4,510) were Black or Black British 
4% (2,820) were Asian or Asian British 
2% (1,290) were from other ethnic groups 
<1% (430) were other (refused or information not yet available) 

(Statistics: England | British Association for Adoption and Fostering)

For the full report see:

Sunday, 27 October 2013

'Becoming Mrs Kumar' a book by Heather Gupta

I recently connected with Heather Gupta and am so pleased that she wrote this post for the Mixed Race Family blog.  I can't wait to read her fictional book about mixed race family life in India.

Connect to Heather's facebook
I left England in 2000, prompted by an early mid-life crisis (I’d just turned 29) and some kind of restless Millennium bug of my own. I felt suffocated by London and the job I’d left behind – I had a really successful career going for me but somehow it wasn’t enough. I’d grown up in sleepy Devon, moved across the country to study at Newcastle and worked in London for a few years, but I was bored of it all. I needed to escape from the rat race and I thought that a round-the-world ticket and a backpacking adventure would at least allow me to gain some perspective on myself, what I wanted out of my life, and if nothing else, it would allow me to return to London recharged and re-energised. I would never in a million years have dreamt that thirteen years later, I would still be living and working in Asia, the wife of an Indian man and the mother of two adorable half Indian baby boys.

Before leaving the UK I had only dated white guys. There wasn’t any particular reason for this. I certainly had no racial “preference”, in fact I always found darker skinned men interesting and exotic looking, but I just never seemed to have the opportunity to meet anyone romantically who wasn’t strictly Anglo-saxon, even in multi cultural London. That changed once I left the UK and found myself a minority in various Asian countries, and I enjoyed meeting and connecting with local people from all kinds of different nationalities. Despite that, my few romantic encounters were initially not terribly successful.

I met my husband, Vivek, in Mumbai through mutual friends seven years after I left for that backpacking trip. In the interim I’d lived and worked in South East Asia before settling down in India. After leaving London, as the years rolled on, and my twenties rescinded into a vague memory, I did of course yearn to settle down. I did date a few Indian men, with mainly disastrous consequences, but none of them were really right, for a number of reasons. When I met Vivek, I knew that he was “the one” after a relatively short length of time. He was westernised enough to be able to handle me, an independent (and often stroppy) Brit, yet Indian enough to want us to stay in Mumbai, which I was delighted about. He’s traditional in some ways, yet thoroughly progressive in others. He loves his country, and yet he also loves mine, and like me, he’s determined to teach our children about the best of both worlds.

Now, I can’t imagine not being in a mixed race relationship. I love the fact that we have different backgrounds and experiences to draw from. I find it endlessly fascinating to see both worlds through my children’s eyes, although I can’t always give them very logical answers to their questions.

Moving to Mumbai and marrying an Indian prompted me to write my first book, Becoming Mrs Kumar, a fun, fictional account of a British woman who moves to India to live and work. I find the entire process of settling into a different culture, adapting and changing, deciding what to leave behind and what to cling to endlessly fascinating, and I wanted to capture that in a light, witty way. Certainly, Becoming Mrs Kumar is candid, and will resonate, I hope, with anyone who has lived for any length of time in a “foreign” country, especially those who have made that country their home. There are a lot of serious travel books and many deeply reflective soul searching novels in the world.  This is not one of them. It is designed for entertainment, yet also touches on deeper themes of trying to fit in, and negotiate the inevitable stresses and strains of adapting to a new and often very alien culture.

I love the fact that my children can pick and choose from the best of two different worlds. I believe that they will embrace their Indian and their British sides, confident in themselves and their ability to forge their way in a world which can be horribly judgemental. My husband and I are trying to teach them some good old fashioned British manners alongside a more spontaneous and demonstrative Indian way of self expression. We will try to help them understand why one country is so hot while the other is so chilly, why one is filled with a very obvious contrast between rich and poor, and the other is relatively more affluent, at least superficially. Who knows where they will choose to live in the future, but at the very least I hope that they will have deep respect for their heritage, both East and West. 

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Black History Film: The Colour of Love Revisited

Sunday November 3rd

Southampton City Gallery Lecture Theatre
Civic Centre (Library Entrance)
Commercial Road



Feature Documentary:

The Colour of Love Revisited

In 1992 The Black and Asian Video Panel, a Southampton film company, produced The Colour of Love, a filmed studio debate which included and involved people from the local black communities and others.  The film explores issues of mixed race relationships and examines how this dynamic impacted on that community’s self-identity.  This new film revists the debate to investigate previous diverse views at a time when black and white communities were less comfortable with the prospect of inter-racial relationships.

The film will be introduced by its producer Don John and will be followed by a Q&A.

Presented as part of Southampton's Black History Month programme which is coordinated by Don John.

Southampton City Gallery Lecture Theatre
Civic Centre (Library Entrance)
Commercial Road

Don John
07977 211140

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Colour of Love

21 years ago in 1992, The Black & Asian Video Panel, a Southampton film company, produced a film called “The Colour of Love”. The film produced by Don John, was a filmed studio debate, which included and involved people from the local African/ Caribbean community and others. The film explored issues of mixed race relationships and examined how this dynamic impacted on that community’s sense of who they were, and how that community has been shaped by that experience. The film was popularly received within the African /Caribbean communities and proved to be a valuable learning experience across the city amongst all communities. 

21 years later people of mixed race are the fastest growing group in the UK.  Back then, how easy was it to be in a mixed race relationship? 
That was the subject of a new film on show as part of Southampton's Black History Month celebrations. Sangeeta Bhabra caught up with Stella and Lloyd to find out if things really have changed for the better.

A new film called "The Colour of Love Revisited", 2013 again consists of a debate featuring many of the original participants; to examine how views have changed 20 years later. 
Find out more about the new film at www.Donjohn.co.uk