Some of the commenters pointed to ideals about parenting or parental doctrines. In my view a lot of that is nonsense. I was brought up to respect and love my parents but never was I implored to follow their advice blindly. In fact quite the opposite my father always taught me about politics/current affairs and instilled in me critical faculties. My mother taught me to make my own decisions, rightly or wrongly, but to take responsibility for them. They both made it very clear that who I chose to bring home as my partner (whether they were opposite or same gender) was fine by them. It didn’t matter what background or colour or creed. What mattered was my happiness and sense of place in the world by my own choosing.
Perhaps being ‘mixed race’ meant that it would be impossible for them to dictate what types of people I could be with. After all they both experienced heightened levels of racism due to their relationship over the years; they knew full well just how hard crossing cultural boundaries can be. That meant, for them, being less threatened by the ‘other’, those different from their own backgrounds. Being a child of two worlds meant experiencing unique forms of racism. To some white kids my black father meant I was just another ni**er to some black kids I was a half breed and not a ‘pure bred’. To me I was simply human and if I needed a label I would just use my name!
Switch forward 20 odd years and here we are talking about killings that almost, save real anger, leaves me speechless. “How can someone kill their own child” I keep thinking? Further to this, how can someone hold down and repeatedly stab their own child to death? What kind of monsters are these?
Speaking with someone a while back regarding their relationship with their parents they said they would always do as they were asked. I was incredulous, did this mean following orders against their own constitution, their own sense of right and wrong? In that life when are you ever free? I put my hands up and admit freely I really do not fully understand the extent this dynamic exists within our communities (by ‘our’ I mean Black and Minority Ethnic). It’s never made any sense to me; the bleating about loss of tradition belies a lack of understanding how they come about. And how they evolve and can become new traditions. The ‘points’ about being the odd one out at family events are just staggering; are you really that ashamed of those you claim to love?
The fact remains that these killings mask a more general problem; who you can be with and who decides that. There are plenty of hidden relationships going on, girls whose boyfriend they can’t introduce to their parents. Guys who have girlfriends their mates aren’t willing to understand; people who have their natural characters shoe horned into ready made lives because ‘that’s the way we do things in our culture’. That maybe true for those in the old country or those here who still fear the ‘foreigner’ but that’s not the Britain I want to live in. And that isn’t the Britain I fight for.
The number of ‘mixed race’ (or Gen EA as me a few friends sometimes call them) children is increasing (within the BME communities). The shifts in demographics and the make up of a ‘New Britain’ are already happening. The changing attitudes regarding who you can relate to are changing with it. Only those stuck in the past still cling to outdated notions and increasingly they will become irrelevant.
My hope, beyond the ideas the Picklers are thinking through, is that more people will recognise this, support networks will form to take away some of the pressure from those in ‘mixed’ relationships (because believe me there are serious and almost draconian pressures). That younger people will see some confidence in their choices and their own lives so that when they are parents, they can do things a little differently.
For me, that is a Britain worth fighting for.
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Filed in: Civil liberties,Culture,Sex equality