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  • Technorati: graph / links

    Mixing together


    by Rumbold on 20th July, 2008 at 9:09 pm    

    Yesterday I attended a discussion about the issues that ‘mixed’ people face, whether because they are in a relationship that crosses religious and/or racial lines, or because they are the children of such a union. All the participants were agreed that mixed persons (I can’t think of a better term), were neglected by the state and the media. There were a number of complaints about the way in which the Commission for Racial Equality and its head Trevor Phillips have failed to address the issues that mixed persons face, and the way in which the state only helps groups that one might term ‘whole’ (blacks, whites etc.).

    One of the speakers was Mixtogether, a regular visitor to Pickled Politics. He runs an online forum for interracial/interreligious couples, especially those whose relationship has been criticised by their family, friends or wider community. He pointed out that although there is very little data available, mixed-race couples represented around 5% of the couples (2001 census), and were the fasted growing group. Among the issues faced by some mixed couples, especially in the South Asian community, is the pressure from those close to them to break of the relationship and pick a ‘suitable’ mate.

    Mixtogether told us of techniques used to try and break couples up, which apart from force and threats, included trying to coax the ‘native’ partner back into the fold by inviting them and their child to functions, but snubbing the other partner. We were reminded that of the 240 rail suicides lat year, 80 were on the Southall to Paddington line, which is an enormous percentage. This seems to me another good reason why the recent decision to continue to fund Southall Black sisters was an excellent idea.

    The majority of the meeting was dedicated to finding a way in which to raise awareness of mixed issues, especially in the realm of public policy. In the end it was decided to lobby the Children’s Commissioner, whose remit includes the welfare of mixed-race children, as a way of prying open the door of government. It should be a national scandal that in this day and age, and in this country, some people have to hide their relationship for fear of violence, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    My thanks go to People in Harmony, who organised the event, and everyone who spoke at it.



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    47 Comments below   |  

    1. Roger — on 20th July, 2008 at 9:22 pm  

      “of the 240 rail suicides lat year, 80 were on the Southall to Paddington line, which is an enormous percentage.”
      What does this tragic fact have to do with the problems faced by mixed couples and their descendants? Going by newspaper reports a high proportion may be married women of Indian descent, but what proportion are- or have been forced from- mixed relationships? An interesting factor with suicide is that there are sometimes “epidemics”- people kill themselves in “fashionable” ways or follow the example of others, so it would be useful to look for ways to make this kind of suicide unpopular.

    2. Rumbold — on 20th July, 2008 at 9:27 pm  

      Roger:

      While it is impossible to know the exact reason for suicides in all cases, it is reasonable to infer, from the examples of community pressure that we have, that some were down to being attacked/criticised for ‘unsuitable’ behaviour, which includes choosing a mate who is considered unsuitable.

    3. Leon — on 20th July, 2008 at 10:06 pm  

      What did the other non Mix Together speakers have to say Rumbold?

    4. Sunny — on 21st July, 2008 at 1:08 am  

      Isn’t this a bit hypocritical? Mixtogether always complains when other groups get attention, because he thinks mixed groups are not given enough attention. but then this conference is all about how their own group can get more attention for what they’re facing.

      there is no attempt to break out of the paradigm, just to try and shout and say - please let us in!

    5. Ravi Naik — on 21st July, 2008 at 3:14 am  

      “All the participants were agreed that mixed persons (I can’t think of a better term), were neglected by the state and the media.”

      This is a rather blatant exercise in identity politics. Once again, we witness the “politicisation” of a group based on race. Shall we call them “coloureds” to distinguish them from the “pure” ethinics?

      There is definitely a need for forums to discuss the issues that affect people of mixed heritage, such as those that stem from inter-ethnic and inter-religious relationships and backgrounds. But why involve the state? What is it supposed to do? Force the bigoted Asian family to invite the white son-in-law?

      These are family affairs. If you marry against your family wishes, or you marry into a family that doesn’t like the sight of you, you have a choice to make, and you live with that choice. And in cases where violence and threats are present, there are already mechanisms in place that can protect you.

    6. halima — on 21st July, 2008 at 3:49 am  

      I think a more relevant issue for discussion on mixed race issues is the one about identity itself - about how mixed race children and young people feel and articulate their identities… I believe this has been a discussed and talked about at length in Afro-caribean forums more effectively than say, South Asian type forums.

    7. MaidMarian — on 21st July, 2008 at 8:24 am  

      halima (6) - ‘a more relevant issue for discussion on mixed race issues is the one about identity itself.’

      Agreed, but why stop there?

      What about mixed nationality relationships, the questions of identity are just as germaine in that area. Race is not the same thing as identity and my view is that the two are far too often conflated to the detriment of everyone.

    8. Molly — on 21st July, 2008 at 11:51 am  

      My best friend Molly is an open-mineded single girl who love sports. She told me she met a black man at a dating club named ((((((((+++++==== Black White Meet . com====+++++++=))))))))) recently. She said they are happy now since both of them like sports and they all think love is color blind. Black & White singles, will you find your match online? Do you belive online dating and love?

    9. Rumbold — on 21st July, 2008 at 1:09 pm  

      Leon:

      “What did the other non Mix Together speakers have to say Rumbold?”

      Much the same; discussions about helping those of mixed-race (especially) have a more positive view of themselves, and getting more people to be aware of mixed persons.

      Ravi:

      I don’t like to see people wholly defined by their race/religion either, but given that the state is so obsessed with such catagorizations, it seems strange that mixed persons are ignored. I would hate for the whole thing to become just another ‘give us money because we are different’ movement.

    10. MaidMarian — on 21st July, 2008 at 1:49 pm  

      Rumbold (9) - ‘I don’t like to see people wholly defined by their race/religion either, but given that the state is so obsessed with such catagorizations’

      True enough, but how far is the state simply responding to obsessions rather than actively seeking to draw such distinctions itself? It may well be a bit of both and that categorisations have become entrenched.

      What groups like mixed race and mixed nationalities are faced with is almost the worst of all worlds. It would be great to see the categorisations ‘unentrenched’ (is that even a word?) on the part of both state and society.

      I really would not know where to start on that though.

    11. ashik — on 21st July, 2008 at 1:59 pm  

      I don’t think mixed couples necessarily have a separate identity. Many of the problems they face in the South Asian/Non South Asian relationship context is a result of self-inflicted and intentional alienation from their community and more importantly family.

      One cannot have ones cake and eat it too.

    12. Sid — on 21st July, 2008 at 2:15 pm  

      People in mixed South Asian/Other relationships are intentionally self-inflicting alienation on themselves?

      One cannot gave ones cake and eat it too

      In other words South Asians shouldn’t marry outside of their narrow cultural orbits *and* expect support from their families?

      You don’t think you’re reinforcing a stereotype here do you?

    13. ashik — on 21st July, 2008 at 3:29 pm  

      Lets get real.

      Most South Asians (especially women) contemplating such a relationship/union have to make a choice: My family or my man/woman.

      To deny this would be wrong. It is not stereotyping.

    14. Sid — on 21st July, 2008 at 3:44 pm  

      It’s your reality. But it is not universal and certainly not one that should be acceptable let alone reinforced.

    15. Ravi Naik — on 21st July, 2008 at 3:46 pm  

      What groups like mixed race and mixed nationalities are faced with is almost the worst of all worlds.

      What a bleak assessment. If both families are understanding and open, then I would venture that kids do get the best of both worlds. Families that do not get along with their in-laws because of perceived differences, is something that happens across the country even among people of the same race and culture.

      I don’t like to see people wholly defined by their race/religion either, but given that the state is so obsessed with such catagorizations, it seems strange that mixed persons are ignored. I would hate for the whole thing to become just another ‘give us money because we are different’ movement.

      Rumbold, that’s what it is all about: it is about power and money. Mixtogether thinks that Asian/White in-laws that snub their son/daughter’s partner is comparable to the BNP. And then he argues why doesn’t the media and the state do something about it.

      As I said before, there is a definite need for inter-faith, inter-cultural support groups. But leave politics, state and even the media out of it.

    16. Ravi Naik — on 21st July, 2008 at 3:49 pm  

      It’s your reality. But it is not universal and certainly not one that should be acceptable let alone reinforced.

      Very well said, Sid.

    17. Rumbold — on 21st July, 2008 at 3:56 pm  

      Ravi:

      I don’t think that the all mixed persons have bad lives, just that being mixed can cause problems.

      “Families that do not get along with their in-laws because of perceived differences, is something that happens across the country even among people of the same race and culture.”

      Yes, but you know that for some people, marrying outside your religion/race is considered wrong and as such has a negative effect.

      “Rumbold, that’s what it is all about: it is about power and money. Mixtogether thinks that Asian/White in-laws that snub their son/daughter’s partner is comparable to the BNP. And then he argues why doesn’t the media and the state do something about it.

      As I said before, there is a definite need for inter-faith, inter-cultural support groups. But leave politics, state and even the media out of it.”

      As I understand it, Mixtogether’s point is that the BNP judge people on the basis of their race/religion/ethnic origins, which is the same sort of treatment that is metted out to some mixed couples. Identity politics is always dangerous, but I am not sure that there can be the clean break you want.

    18. ashik — on 21st July, 2008 at 4:23 pm  

      I think 99% can be counted as an universal reality.

      The commonest reaction of an Asian family to a mixed relationship is: ‘ya Allah/Bhagvan ye kya ho gya hain.’

      I agree with Rumbold, just being mixed can cause particular problems. Don’t quite fit in either camp.

    19. halima — on 21st July, 2008 at 4:45 pm  

      “halima (6) - ‘a more relevant issue for discussion on mixed race issues is the one about identity itself.’

      Agreed, but why stop there?”

      I just think it’s better to get started here first and there’s some pertinent issues to be discussing , on identity alone, before moving into marriage.

      Marriages in South Asian cultures have their own dynamics - we’re not expected to choose our own partners, let alone choose one from across the road ( so to speak) so for me, the issue gets complicated if we start discussing mixed relationships before we’ve even got going on mixed identity.. agree that ‘race’ is nothing but a social thing anyhows - still mixed race people like to described themselves as such - i think to get rid of some awful words that people used to describe kids with mixed heritage..

      The Voice and Afro-Caribbean communities do well in discussing mixed /identity/race issues, South Asian forums, less so.

    20. Sid — on 21st July, 2008 at 4:48 pm  

      I think 99% can be counted as an universal reality.

      “I think 99% of British Bangladeshis are reactionary bumpkins.”

      Both these statements are fabricated statistics and false premises. Both of them should be resisted by affirmative action.

    21. Desi Italiana — on 21st July, 2008 at 7:31 pm  

      I think ‘mixed marriages’ can be two-fold in terms of experiences. I think that more than half the time, the parental units make it worse for the couple in question. If the families are loving and accepting, then it should not really be a problem for both parties and the ‘mixed’ children.

      On the other hand, I know of friends who are in ‘mixed’ relationships here in the US, where the Desi half suddenly decides that “Desi” is the way to go and want to raise their kids completely “Desi” (always a problematic notion, as this often entails taking the kid to the a religious institution- gurdwara/mandhir/masjid-, eating Desi food, watching films, learning the language, etc), almost to the point of sidestepping their significant other’s origins. It’s kind of bizarre, this reaction.

      Also, I think the reaction to ‘mixed’ marriages and hence, mixed childrens’ identity, depends on the context. Here in the US, there are plenty of people who are Latino and white and less common, white and black. In terms of large societal reception, there’s not really a problem, though I do know of people who’ve had identity issues (not too different from mine when I was growing up, even though I am ancestrally speaking fully “Desi”). Where it gets murky is when South Asian families are involved, but I’d venture that even that is changing. White spouses are accepted, but Mexicans get a more difficult reception, and of course, nothing compares to how African American romantic partners are treated within the South Asian American community. Within South Asian American communities, marriages between Sikhs and Hindus are ok because they are seen as ’same same’ (and there are a lot of those unions around), but when it comes to a Muslim, it gets dubbed as totally mixed, as if Desi Muslims and other Desis were two different ‘races’ (when they are not).

      It also depends on where one is living. If both you and your partner are living in a place where both of you have a common language, been raised in the same nation, etc, it can be easier in terms of the relationship. But if you are, say, a Desi woman living in Jordan and live in a place where they don’t speak English and you don’t speak Arabic, you can feel totally excluded from family functions, etc. That starts to weigh on someone after a while.

      Note that I am generalizing!

    22. Desi Italiana — on 21st July, 2008 at 8:02 pm  

      Two stories:

      I had a friend in high school who was half Persian and half white. She would recount to me how much this affected her- she felt like she was neither Persian enough, nor white enough, and that the white side of the family hardly accepted her. Interestingly, she wanted to identity herself more as Persian rather than white. She took it upon herself to learn Farsi; she listened to Persian music, and tried to learn as much as possible about it. She ended up marrying a Persian immigrant here in the US.

      She used to tell me how she considered me ‘lucky’ because at least both of my parents were of the same ethnic background, and I didn’t have to deal with the half/half issues that people like here were dealing with.

      Another friend of mine was half Mexican and half Arab, and her mother ended up marrying an African American, so she has siblings that are half Mexican and half African American. She never met the Arab side of her family, but she was quite proud of being half Arab. She used to watch Namaste America on Saturdays (this was before the advent of satellite, and Desis used to have to content themselves with American Desi TV on Saturdays only) because she told me that she wants to know about ‘where she comes from’, though I pointed out to her that Arabs and Desis, while sharing some similarities, are not the same thing, but in her mind, they were. She would come over to my house and she too would remark how she thought I was ‘lucky’ in that both my parents were Desis from the Desh, how everyone spoke our mother tongue, dressed up in clothes from the Desh, etc. “At least you have access to where you come from,” she used to say. According to her, I wasn’t playing a balancing act game.

      Interestingly, however, when I think about Desis who are not mixed but were born and raised abroad, I see that diasporan Desi identity issues are not that far off from the experiences my mixed friends went through. There ARE second generation Desis who, even if both their parents are Desi, do not speak their Desi mother tongue, know hardly anything about South Asia, and once they hit college, they are on a mission to ‘learn where they come from.’ There are Desis who feel like they do not know enough about where they ‘come from’, and they don’t feel like they fit either here or there. And then add on the fact that some Desi families in the Desh (or even in diasporic locations) might think that these kids are not “Desi” enough.

      The framing might be different in these two cases of mixed folks and diasporan folks who are not ethnically mixed, but essentially, it is the same identity issues, IMO.

    23. Leon — on 21st July, 2008 at 8:20 pm  

      Much the same; discussions about helping those of mixed-race (especially) have a more positive view of themselves, and getting more people to be aware of mixed persons.

      Curious. Why was MT’s better than all those organisations that have been around for years longer?

    24. Desi Italiana — on 21st July, 2008 at 8:30 pm  

      “I agree with Rumbold, just being mixed can cause particular problems. Don’t quite fit in either camp.”

      Being a minority can cause particular problems, whether these folks are mixed or not. Many times, second generation (and even third, fourth, etc) folks who are not ‘mixed’ don’t feel like they fit in in either camp (country of origin and diasporic location), as I mentioned in my comments above.

    25. Kulvinder — on 21st July, 2008 at 8:59 pm  

      Is this kind of debate really that different from any other type of situation where one/both in-laws fundamentally dislike one another?

      Don’t misunderstand me i wouldn’t have any problem with say my sister, or in the future any children i may have having a relationship with whomever they wish, but its essentially a private matter whether you ‘approve or agree’ with a particular relationship.

      It isn’t mutually incompatible to say an individual should be free to form a relationship as they wish, but that their family or friends should be free to disapprove if they want.

    26. Kulvinder — on 21st July, 2008 at 9:05 pm  

      nb i also tend to agree with DI. Those from a multiracial/ethnic background haven’t got a ’special extra’ identity crisis that noone else has.

      With the exception of those who believe in their own racial purity; everyone has problems trying to juxtapose their individuality with a community.

    27. mixtogether — on 21st July, 2008 at 9:43 pm  

      Ashik:

      “Lets get real.

      Most South Asians (especially women) contemplating such a relationship/union have to make a choice: My family or my man/woman.

      To deny this would be wrong. It is not stereotyping.”

      The reason I do what I do, is to move things to the point where people can choose their partner and keep their family.

      It’s what we call a ‘win/win situation’!

    28. mixtogether — on 21st July, 2008 at 9:43 pm  

      Would anyone tell me how to get quotes in red??? X

    29. persephone — on 21st July, 2008 at 9:50 pm  

      ref 28 me too

    30. Ravi Naik — on 21st July, 2008 at 10:50 pm  

      Being a minority can cause particular problems, whether these folks are mixed or not. Many times, second generation (and even third, fourth, etc) folks who are not ‘mixed’ don’t feel like they fit in in either camp (country of origin and diasporic location), as I mentioned in my comments above.

      Excellent comments, Desi and Kulvinder (#25).

    31. Desi Italiana — on 21st July, 2008 at 11:00 pm  

      Mix and Persephone:

      http://www.htmlcodetutorial.com/character_famsupp_213.html

    32. mixtogether — on 21st July, 2008 at 11:33 pm  

      http://www.htmlcodetutorial.com/character_famsupp_213.html

      Thanks loads!

    33. mixtogether — on 21st July, 2008 at 11:34 pm  

      text?

    34. mixtogether — on 21st July, 2008 at 11:35 pm  

      OK, STRONG is bold but not yet red… but it will do :)

    35. Desi Italiana — on 21st July, 2008 at 11:52 pm  

      So I am also either 1) too lazy to type in HTML codes or )an HTML code doofus to even understand some of the codes and how to insert them in…

      Just italicize what you want to quote, if you can’t do red.

      WORD

    36. Desi Italiana — on 21st July, 2008 at 11:54 pm  

      Sunny, can’t you put up buttons of various HTML functions so that we can just highlight stuff and make it happen magically without having to type in all the codes

      that’s it

    37. Desi Italiana — on 21st July, 2008 at 11:55 pm  

      Mixtogether:

      Can I call you Sir-Mix-A-Lot?

    38. mixtogether — on 21st July, 2008 at 11:56 pm  

      Oh no, that was the word then and it’s still the word now… I’ve been heard now I can fly like a bird now… it’s occured now!

    39. mixtogether — on 21st July, 2008 at 11:57 pm  

      Desi Italiana, well… i like big butts… and I cannot lie!!

    40. mixtogether — on 21st July, 2008 at 11:58 pm  

      Sunny, can’t you put up buttons of various HTML functions so that we can just highlight stuff and make it happen magically without having to type in all the codes

      Word to that.

    41. persephone — on 22nd July, 2008 at 12:53 am  

      Desi at 31 & mixtogether - Thanks

      PS Sunny plse also do put on the buttons

    42. Desi Italiana — on 22nd July, 2008 at 1:19 am  

      I don’t think Sunny is going to do the button thingy. This request goes back two years, but my jaanam has not been listening…

    43. Ravi Naik — on 22nd July, 2008 at 1:54 am  

      The red thingy for quoting:

      <blockquote>

      text

      </blockquote>

    44. Desi Italiana — on 22nd July, 2008 at 2:59 am  

      Ravi, you putting the thing in red without explaining how it got red is really cute, but not helpful ;) Kind of like how I wrote WORD in italics without writing out the steps.

    45. Desi Italiana — on 22nd July, 2008 at 3:01 am  

      I think we only helped Sir Mix-A-Lot with bold, blockquotes, and italics. But not the red, which is what Sir asked form…

    46. Desi Italiana — on 22nd July, 2008 at 3:52 am  

      “nb i also tend to agree with DI. Those from a multiracial/ethnic background haven’t got a ’special extra’ identity crisis that noone else has.”

      Well, that’s not quite what I meant. What I meant to say was that the issues are similar, but I don’t think we can say, “They are exactly the same”.

    47. Marcia — on 22nd July, 2008 at 3:14 pm  

      Hi everyone, I’m new here. I also attended the People in Harmony meeting on Saturday. I must say I learned a lot from the discussions we had and was very stimulating to see other individuals and organisations working towards a more “visible” mixed race discourse!

      I’m mixed myself and my background is in sociology. I must admit that no matter what mix you are it seems that there is that ’something extra’ in the process of identity construction. Being in between two or more cultures and racial worlds is something experienced by only some people (not necessarily mixed race but also those whose racial heritage and cultural upbringing are different - e.g. Iranian individual born and raised in Japan).

      Anyway, Mixtogether, keep up the good work! I must say my mother’s family did not approve my parents marriage and it took us a long time to rebuild a good family relationship. It is doable but requires understanding..

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