Friday, 30 May 2014

Half-Caste by John Agard

John Agard, Half Caste, GCSE poem
The playwright, poet and children's writer, John Agard was born in Guyana in 1949 to a Caribbean father and Portuguese mother, he moved to Britain in 1977. In 2012, he was selected for the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. His poem Half Caste  has been featured in the AQA English GCSE anthology since 2002, meaning that many students (aged 14 – 16) have studied his work for their GCSE English qualification. (Wikipedia).  Listen to John recite the poem and hear his thoughts on Half-Caste via this link to BBC Learning Zone

To find out more about John follow this link to Literature British Council

by John Agard 

Excuse me
standing on one leg

I’m half-caste
Explain yuself
wha yu mean
when yu say half-caste
yu mean when picasso
mix red an green
is a half-caste canvas/
explain yuself
wha u mean
when yu say half-caste
yu mean when light an shadow
mix in de sky
is a half-caste weather/
well in dat case
england weather
nearly always half-caste
in fact some o dem cloud
half-caste till dem overcast
so spiteful dem dont want de sun pass
ah rass/
explain yuself
wha yu mean
when yu say half-caste
yu mean tchaikovsky
sit down at dah piano
an mix a black key
wid a white key
is a half-caste symphony/

Explain yuself
wha yu mean
Ah listening to yu wid de keen
half of mih ear
Ah looking at u wid de keen
half of mih eye
and when I’m introduced to yu
I’m sure you’ll understand
why I offer yu half-a-hand
an when I sleep at night
I close half-a-eye
consequently when I dream
I dream half-a-dream
an when moon begin to glow
I half-caste human being
cast half-a-shadow
but yu come back tomorrow
wid de whole of yu eye
an de whole of yu ear
and de whole of yu mind
an I will tell yu
de other half
of my story

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Mixed-race children need our support

Link to Ramon's blog
This article was written by Ramon Mohamed who is a teacher originally from the UK, but now based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Ramon is a mixed race man born in the UK who has travelled through many issues around his identity. He has worked on Sheffield building sites and taught in London schools as well as teaching children in Afghanistan and Pakistan in search of his roots. His father was a Muslim and his mother a Christian and he married a Saudi who he met in Sheffield while she was doing her PHD.  They now have a beautiful 9 month old daughter who is a 'Third Culture Child'.. English, Pakistani and Saudi!!  He now continues his journey over in Saudi Arabia and writes.................

Mixed-race children need our support (published Saudi Gazette 16th May 2014)

I am from a dual heritage background and I am proud of that fact. My father was encouraged by the British Government to leave his village in northern Pakistan in the late 1950s and helped with the rebuilding of Britain by working in the steel works in the East End of Sheffield. He met my English mother and they married and had seven sons and one daughter. Being brought up in a northern English town during the 1960s and 1970s was a challenging time and racism was tolerated. There were no laws to challenge discrimination; however, over time anti-racist laws now exist and students are educated to respect other cultures, traditions and religions.

During my childhood, I suffered “racism” from both the Pakistani and English community in the form of racist name calling and discrimination against me when applying for some jobs.

During my childhood, I saw no positive role models and witnessed racial stereotypes in my education. However, life today for those special children who are born from parents of two different cultures is much more rewarding through positive education resources, and the children of mixed marriages have a more respectful understanding of our common cultures and shared humanity.

Which brings me to some of the discriminatory articles and debates I have read over the past year or so in the Middle Eastern media including newspapers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It feels like for me, living and teaching now here in Riyadh, that I am back in the racially prejudiced UK of the 1960s and 1970s.

I am a British male married to a Saudi. We are both professionals and work in education and we have a beautiful nine-month-old daughter. According to an article written in last week’s Saudi Gazette, there are 700,000 Saudi females married to foreign men. I presume most of these marriages are between those of a Middle East origin and, therefore, the marriage partners have some sort of shared culture.

The article mostly focused on the archaic marriage laws that discriminate against Saudi married females and their children. Enough has been written about these racist laws. My family is on the receiving end of them. What is needed is for the government to act upon them and treat both Saudi male and female marriages equally in terms of rights, responsibilities and access to services.

What I was particularly incensed about was a quote in the article from a principal of a Saudi school in which she highlighted, in her opinion, the problems faced by children of such mixed marriages.

This so-called family affairs activist remarked, and without any evidence, that traditional and cultural differences can lead to many family problems for the children and an early divorce of the parents. I am sorry but in a global world you cannot just wish these bi-cultural, bi-racial, bi-tribal marriages and their children away.

Moreover, what are the divorce statistics and challenges that face parents and children who are from the same dominant culture? One cannot just make sweeping generalizations without any statistical evidence.

I am a schoolteacher with 25 years educational experience. The majority of my teaching career has been in London multicultural schools. The Middle East and particularly Saudi Arabia need to wake up to the fact that there are a growing number of mixed-race, mixed-tribal, mixed-cultural marriages, call them what you like, and that children from these marriages need support in school and in the wider society.

Just as in the UK, teaching resources need to be introduced that encourage the educational development of such children including those children from the dominant culture so that they are accepted and understood in mainstream Middle Eastern society instead of them and their parents being seen as a “problem”.

Our daughter will initially be educated at home by her parents and our bi-cultural marriage will be her role model and, hopefully, later she will go to a school that will encourage her to respect all cultures and promote a healthy diversity as well as see the good and positive elements of what it is to be a third-culture child.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Media Request for a Modern Family

Would you and your family like the opportunity to take part in a documentary about the modern family in the UK? Families nowadays aren't how they used to be; i.e the typical 2.4 kids with the traditional mum and dad from the same background and culture. Modern families are cultural and racially mixed and are blended in many other ways too. Mentorn Media are making a pilot for a documentary which celebrates differences. If you are interested, please respond to the media request below:

Families Wanted for New TV Doc! 

Award winning TV company, Mentorn Media, producers of Hotel of Mum

and Dad, The Fried Chicken Shop and Katie Piper: My Beautiful Friendsis

developing a one hour documentary about modern families. 

Is your family brilliant, unconventional, warm and engaging? 

Modern families today are no longer the traditional family. Now 1 in 3 Brits 

will be part of a stepfamily at some point in their life, 24% of children 

are living in single parent families and the number of same sex families is 

rapidly increasing. 

Now’s the time to embrace our differences! This documentary will be a

celebration of the modern, 21st century family. 

If your family is unique and amazing please call: 020 7258 6834

or email: 

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    Displaying Families Flyer v 1.pdf.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Research Participants Wanted

Black and black and white mixed 'race' experiences of policing

Lisa Long is a PhD Researcher at the University of Leeds. She is looking for black and black and white mixed 'race' people who live in West Yorkshire who have had experience of policing within this area and are willing to be interviewed about their experience.

Lisa is interested in understanding the experiences that black or black and white mixed 'race' people have had when they have found themselves in contact with the police, either as a victim of crime, when reporting a crime, as a crime suspect or in the course of routine policing enquiries e.g. stop and search. As part of her research she would like to interview black and black and white mixed 'race' people across all age groups (16+), both men and women with an opinion or view about policing based on personal experience.

If you would like more information about participating in the research please listen to Sound Cloud and/ or contact Lisa Long; email

Friday, 9 May 2014

Divided Loyalties

What does it mean to be Mixed Race in UK in 2014 ? 

1 hour
First broadcast:
Sunday 04 May 2014
DJ Semtex has a black mother and a white father and, as a mixed race kid, had both negative and positive experiences.
The latest national census showed that the mixed race population is the fastest growing in Britain, so what does that mean in 2014? Semtex talks to young people from a range of backgrounds and across the UK, including Jordan from Rizzle Kicks, model Rob Evans, comedian Michelle De Swarte and playwright Sarah Lee.
Are loyalties divided or is society beyond categorising by skin colour? 

Listen to programme