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 .