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Miri Song University of Kent of Kent. Growing awareness of mixed people: in media Growth of organizations & websites: PIH, Intermix, Mixd The typical.

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Presentation on theme: "Miri Song University of Kent of Kent. Growing awareness of mixed people: in media Growth of organizations & websites: PIH, Intermix, Mixd The typical."— Presentation transcript:

1 Miri Song University of Kent of Kent

2 Growing awareness of mixed people: in media Growth of organizations & websites: PIH, Intermix, Mixd The typical British family 2012?

3 * In the 2001 England & Wales Census, inclusion of a Mixed group category * About 677,000 people (about 1.2% of the population) identified as mixed * (but under-count): in a more recent analysis of the UK Household longitudinal study, the number of mixed people was about twice as large 2001 Census question: Mixed: White and Black Caribbean White and Black African White and Asian Any other Mixed background. Please describe _________ Size of the mixed groups – in descending order White and Black Caribbean (almost 36% of those who identified as mixed) White and Asian (28%) Other mixed (23%) – White & Chinese, Black & Asian, etc. White and Black African (almost 12%) The growth and awareness of mixed race people engendered studies of how multiracial people racially identify

4 Historically, always been mixed people and relationships (as shown in BBCs Mixed Britannia) The mixed group one of the fastest growing of all ethnic groups, estimating that by 2020 it will have grown by more than 80% when compared with 2001 (Bradford, ONS 2006) In a recent analysis of the Labour Force Survey, nearly half of Black Caribbean men in a partnership were partnered (married or cohabiting) with someone of a different ethnic group (and about 1/3 of Black Caribbean women), while 39% of Chinese women in partnerships had a partner from a different ethnic group (Platt 2009) 2001 England & Wales Census: more children (aged under 15) with one Black Caribbean and one White parent than with two Black Caribbean parents (Owen 2007)

5 Historically, mixed people characterized as fragmented, marginal, troubled Mixed people racially assigned in variety of ways (e.g. one drop rule of hypodescent) Recent evidence shows growing latitude in how they may identify: ( Rockquemore & Brunsma 2002 typlogy of bi-racial people) Singular identification border identification – e.g. mixed race Transcends racial identification Fluid identifications Most recently, research concerns the issue of whether mixed peoples identifications are validated by others

6 Since 1990s research has moved away from normativity: there is noright way to identify if you are mixed race or multiracial Discourse of rights central in contemporary writings about mixed people (see Maria Roots bill of rights 1996) the right to be seen in the way one wishes a key theme Article on multiracial student organizations in US universities exemplifies this: I think its really important to acknowledge who you are and everything that makes you that, said Ms. Wood, the 19 year old vice president of the group. If someone tries to call me black I say yes - and white. People have the right not to acknowledge everything, but dont do it because society tells you that you cant. (Saulny, NYT: 30/01/11)

7 Where public image meets self-image Expressed & observed identities (or internal/external) Growing research on potential disjuncture between expressed & observed identities – racial mismatch Existing (US) research emphasizes this disjuncture as problematic and distressing, and a form of misrecognition Validation of our internal or expressed identities important Individuals perceptions of how others see them shapes their own racial identifications Focus of talk: are mixed race peoples identifications validated by others & how they respond to others racial perceptions of them

8 This rights discourse based on assumption that it is imperative that other people validate and recognize a mixed person in the way that she/he wishes to be seen Most research assumes this to be the case - but is it always? Racial mismatch in expressed/observed identification may not necessarily be problematic – more diversity in population? Were there differences among disparate types of mixed people? What factors explained why some were not worried about racial mismatch? This talk drawn from wider ESRC funded project (with Peter Aspinall) of disparate types of mixed young people in higher education – sub-sample of 65 in-depth interviews

9 How did they think they were seen by others? Did other people validate their own sense of identification? How did they feel about how others saw them? These in-depth interviews: insights into how different types of mixed people perceived and experienced their identity options Types of mixed respondents: Black/White South Asian/White East Asian/White Arab/White Minority mixed

10 Reports of racial mismatch common among respondents, but responses to mismatch varied considerably Racial mismatch occurred when observed identification clashed with how respondents saw themselves But not all instances of racial mismatch constituted misrecognition – misrecognition involved a negative experience of racial mismatch 3 types of responses to racial mismatch: Felt misrecognized Felt positive Felt indifferent (of 65, most common response)

11 How mixed race groups responded to others perceptions of them (n=65)

12 17 of 65 respondents felt misrecognized How others racially assigned them jarred with how they saw themselves However, the basis of misrecognition could vary: Racially assigned into a minority race Racially assigned as White Attributions of foreignness and racial ambiguity Racially assigned into minority race: Black/White respondents It annoys me, because I cant control it. Black people want me to say Im Black and if I dont, Im supposedly ashamed to be Black. Some White people will just say Im Black, without thinking also. I hate being generalized, and it gets harder I think as you get older. (Carrie – mixed race identity not validated) Physical appearance fundamental: the public consistently see a Black/White person as Black, but no such consistency with other types of mixed people

13 Racially assigned as White : Miriam Its also very difficult in a family to not look the same [as others], to not be seen as an Arab fully… it does play a big role in how I identify myself and who I choose to call myself an Arab. Its more to say, well, I am here, too, you know, I do count. Miriam closer to her Arab family than her European family but felt marginalized by her Arab relatives A lot of variability in the physical appearance of East Asian/White, South Asian/White, Arab/White people - so some seen as White while others were not (in comparison with Black/White people) So while some, like Carrie, felt forcibly assigned to an unwanted category (Black), others could feel denied membership in a minority category (Arabs) like Miriam.

14 George (Chinese/ English) felt very English. But others saw him as physically indeterminate and somehow foreign: suffered racial abuse & social exclusion: You will probably not find anyone more patriotic than me or my brother… were super patriotic…its that thing of trying as hard as you can to be British and never having done anything else, and then realizing that life is always going to be beyond your control. Chris (Arab/White): seen as somehow different I think in this day and age its not really an issue. I do wish sometimes that I could erase it and be British, British, British. In these cases, misrecognition occurs because they are seen by others as different – the opposite basis of misrecognition from that experienced by those who were seen as White (the norm)

15 15 of 65 felt positive (mostly E. and S. Asian/White) Enjoyed instances of racial mismatch: women especially feltspecial or exotic (physically indeterminate) Hari (Indian/English): I quite like it because…it makes me a bit more, I suppose, mysterious. Its sort of quite glamorous… Racial mismatch was a good conversation starter Unlike those those who felt misrecognized for being seen as racially indeterminate and foreign (negative social values), these respondents found others curiosity about them as wholly positive, making them feel special These respondents did not feel socially excluded or marginalized Their sense of belonging in Britain not challenged, was secure How others saw them was not racially stigmatizing

16 33 of 65 interviewees said did not care how others saw them Their race not particularly important to them, or less salient than their Britishness, religion, educational pursuits: Peter (Vietnamese/English): When I think of me, I dont think… the first thing is not race. Its not an issue [though hed experienced racial abuse when younger] Did not think their peers thought much about ethnicity/race Some just disavowed idea of race, transcended race Those who claimed indifference less likely to have been severely (negatively) racialized Claimed indifference should not be just taken at face value – but such claims need to be taken seriously; contextually specific ways in which their racialization could matter (especially outside diverse cities)

17 These respondents did not expect wider public to validate their expressed identifications Many emphasized their Britishness, and its importance in relation tocolor or ethnicity/race-other modes belonging Relative unimportance of race in cosmopolitan cities, where conviviality and being different was unremarkable Many of these respondents refused to take racial thinking seriously and were able to deflect forms of prejudice and/or racial assignment in their daily lives (even if they had suffered forms of prejudice)

18 Existing studies assume a disjuncture between self-identification and others perceptions of them as problematic, but this was not always the case among our respondents While a racial mismatch between expressed and observed identifications was common, variability in terms of how they responded to racial mismatch: (1) misrecognized (and there were differential bases and experiences of misrecognition); (2) positive about the mismatch; or (3) indifferent to how others racially categorized them Indifferent attitude most common across sample overall But, there were group differences……

19 Differential forms of racialization applied to disparate types of mixed people – Black/White people (most consistently) subject to racial assignment as Black – echoes US findings Nevertheless, 7 of 17 Black/White interviewees indifferent However, cant assume that other types of mixed people are straightforwardly able to exercise their ethnic options (e.g. if youre seen as foreign or racially ambiguous) Where non-Black mixed people are more protected: they are less likely to be attributed primarily negative social values attached to their ethnic and racial difference – though some respondents aware of hostility toward anyone deemed Muslim

20 Indifference: careful not to overstate this, but growing ordinariness of being mixed (esp. in urban areas) & adaptation to super-diversity If being mixed increasingly becomes ordinary (demographically, it will), then awareness of racial difference may be blunted - though significant regional variation A variety of negative and positive (or both) meanings attached to mixed status – dependent upon physical appearance, gender, class, religion, location, etc., and their combination - intersectionality

21 Variation in the mixed race population: policies shouldnt address this population as an ethnic group Empirical unknowns: e.g. current research about whether multiracial people are racially disadvantaged or not (need to explore disparate types of mixed) Linking identity research with socioeconomic findings: Millenium Cohort survey found socioeconomic advantage of mixed children in comparison with non-mixed counterparts Debates about emergence of mixed people as intermediate strata in a tri-racial order Diversity of experiences among mixed people do not point to a collective consciousness or similar racial status Future generations of multi-generation mixed people Demographic change & mixing: need to rethink notions of majority & minority statuses/experiences

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