'Multiculturalism' and Mixed Race in the UK Print
News - Announcements
Friday, 04 October 2019 00:00

 

 

Has ‘Multiculturalism’ made a difference for Mixed Race individuals living in the UK?

A short note

 

Multiculturalism could be described as part of the left-wing, Blairist utopia, where the ethnic minorities are all integrated into society, whilst as the same time having the autonomy to maintain their own unique cultures, with the majority culture embracing and appreciating its diversity. Whether we see this construct as the celebration and recognition of food, festivals, heroes and holidays, or a political knee-jerk reaction to the ‘problem’ of immigration, aiming to integrate the ‘foreigners’, is debatable.

 

Regarding the mixed race experience, some believe that ‘mixed race’ existence surely evidence that multiculturalism has been successful in some ways (Song, 2015). Indeed, the mixed race population has seen a definite change in attitudes that in some ways have possibly served to etch away at certain stereotypes and challenge previous cultural restrictions, such as the distain placed on interracial relationships. For example, 90% of UK Black Caribbean males have a non-Black Caribbean partner (Song, 2010).

 

The media uses cultural imagery to sell products, and the lucrative ‘mixed race’ consumers are now a target as they are inclined to purchase a whole range of goods (Harrison, 2017). The marketing industries uses positive, ‘beautiful’ mixed race images increasingly, to promote all types of products, and ‘the racially/ethnically ‘mixed’ family has been portrayed as the twenty-first-century representative British family’ (Aspinall, 2015). Media-controlled marketing, exhibiting albeit tokenistic attempts at ‘multiculturalism’ (Malik, 2002), can create discourse regarding ‘mixed race’ identity that can promote positivity and awareness, with mixed race identity forming a cultural bridge. However, these images, steeped in colourism, can also create an environment that is shallow and ‘ossified’ (Spencer, 2014), where unhelpful stereotypes are subsequently perpetuated.

 

The ‘success’ is yet to be realised for the largest proportion of the ‘mixed race’ group, who are 0-16 years olds, the future mixed race population, particularly regarding institutionalised racism. The ‘Education Standards Analysis and Research’ document regarding Pupil Behaviour in schools in England (DfE, 2012), stated that ‘mixed race’ children are poorly behaved and that pupils at School Action Plus, Black and ‘mixed race’ pupils were more likely to have BESD (Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties) as their primary SEN type of need (DfE, 2012). This echoes the eugenic beliefs of the ‘mulatto’ being ‘feeble-minded’ and not able compose themselves in the correct fashion, lacking in social etiquette and behaving with ‘profligacy’ (Notts & Giddon, 1854), reiterating negative stereotypes attached to the ‘mixed race’ group (Guy, 2017).Similarly, Tikly et al.’s (2004) and Gillborn et al.’s (2016) research, both evidenced that education for some mixed race pupils has very low achievement and high exclusion rates. Some mixed race males are 10% more likely to find themselves incarcerated than Caribbean males (Song, 2010), without mentioning UK ‘stop and search’ figures.

 

Actually, ‘mixed race’ identity is a constructed census category in the UK that specifies separation from other ethnic groups, but does not serve as any evidence that we live in a multicultural or post-race society; they do not have an officially recognised culture for others to recognise or celebrate as ‘multicultural’ either, muting their existence. The existence of mixed race people is concrete evidence that two people decided to commune and create a child by ‘mixing’ and integrating. Whether that individual experiences, or benefits from,full cultural interpellation, with complete exposure, recognition, assimilation and acceptance from all of their heritages and communities, and the rest of the UK ‘multicultural’ society, is another matter indeed.

 

Michelle Balach-Ali  - PhD Researcher  - Mixed Race Identity

 

 

 

 

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