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At what point do you stop being "mixed race"?

(99 Posts)
Elfina Sat 03-May-14 18:35:32

I'm mixed race (50:50 B:W), and DH is white. DD is mixed, but 25:75. I recently had to fill out a form for her that asked for her ethnic origin. I put mixed, but it doesn't feel like the whole story. What if she has children with a white man - would they be "mixed"? I know they would, technically, as I suppose lots of us are to some degree. I suppose at what point does one become 'White British' (or whatever ethnicity)?

None of this is hugely important, it just got me thinking about 'race' and it's definition and meaning, and how this relates to my own and potentially DD's identity.

GrassIsSinging Sat 03-May-14 18:40:31

Interesting topic. No answer for you, though! My children are mixed (me white, DH black). Because DH is fairly light skinned (due to a way-back-when mix of Portugese and African on his Guyanese side), our kids are very, very fair skinned. If one of them had children with a white person, genetic surprises aside, they would probably look white. I guess they would still base their racial identity on their heritage...but for how many generations?

I have a friend who's great grandfather is black Trinidadian and marred a white woman. All their future generations married white, too. My frend looks white and sees herself as white. However, I feep sad to think that either my or my DH's heritage could be 'bred out' of the stories of our future grand children and great grand children's lives...

VivaLeBeaver Sat 03-May-14 18:49:14

My great grandmother was Irish but I don't consider myself part Irish though I guess technically I'm what 12.5% Irish? And dd will be 6.25% Irish though she doesn't know that her great, great grandmother was Irish so unless I tell her she'd never know.

Though I suppose people might/do consider black/Asian ethnic origins to be more important as it impacts on your race? Whereas white Irish or English or French you're still Caucasian?

OnaPromise Sat 03-May-14 18:57:21

I have two colleagues who have one black granddad and white the rest. I've never asked them that question, I guess it's a personal choice really.

MrsMaturin Sat 03-May-14 18:59:44

Forms that ask for ethnic origin are vey much a blunt instrument. It will never replicate the nuance of background. You should put down whatever your dd identifies as being.

OsMalleytheCat Sat 03-May-14 19:01:50

My DS is the same 25 (black) :75 (white), and I put him down as mixed despite the fact that on the surface he is all white, I think if he married a white woman then I would consider their children to be white.

Although my mum is 75 (black) : 25 (White) she always puts black down so I think it is partly to do with how you identify yourself.

OnaPromise Sat 03-May-14 19:02:19

I do consider myself part ethnically Irish but that's only because there was some of the culture passed down. Everyone lived in Irish immigrant area of the city etc. although I have never even been to Ireland and I'd never actually say to anyone in rl that I was part Irish or put it on a form.

Cheerymum Sat 03-May-14 19:06:34

Of course in mixed race families, it's always a bit unpredictable what the children will look like .... Just saying!

(DOI I am in a mixed race marriage, our children are all lighter skinned than I expected, but eg their children could be a lot darker than they expect, even if they have them with Caucasian partners)

There was a really interesting story I read about two of Sally Hemmings' descendents meeting up. One was from the part of the family who'd married white and identified as white, the other from the part that'd identified as black (basically some of her children lived in the black community and some in the white, and it went from there).

Doesn't help you with your question but I thought it was fascinating to think how much it'd had to do with where they chose to live in town rather than how they looked.

This is interesting thread.
My SIL has children with a man who is 50:50 but has very light skin.
The children are completely white skinned, with dark hair and eyes but are 25:75

Having white skin, and being born in Britain, even though technically mixed, does this make my DNs white British or mixed. It's all very confusing and I don't understand why SO many forms ask of this.
For some, it's a bloody difficult answer!

DuckandCat Sat 03-May-14 19:22:48

I have this same 'issue' with DD.

I'm 50:50, white/ black Caribbean
DH is black African (but his mum is 50:50 so he is technically 25:75, but you'd never know)

I have no idea what DD is ����

I always put mixed, not sure what she will identify as when older. I always feel a bit sad at putting 'black British' because I feel like my heritage isn't being included.

puzzletree Sat 03-May-14 19:30:48

Oh these forms annoyed me as a kid (dad is Indian, mum is white British) as they used to not have mixed even as an option. Now I have children who are 25% 'Indian' the forms are still annoying :-) I tend to tick the mixed white/Indian box for them, but perhaps they'll just tick white.

LynetteScavo Sat 03-May-14 19:42:16

I am technically mixed race but see myself as White British so the forms never bother me. I suspect my dais puts something completely different to me on forms. The first time DH was asked to fill out one of those formshe got in a bit of a tizz. I decided for him.grin

CurlyBlueberry Sat 03-May-14 19:54:26

I'm half Indian and half, well... my mum is mixed, because my mum's parents are both mixed, because both sets of their parents were. All different nationalities, mostly European and southeast Asian. There is definitely no tick box for me or my son (my husband is white British). My son currently has rather 'sandy' coloured hair, it isn't blonde but it's quite a light brown, lighter than my husband's and obviously lighter than mine! I imagine if he has children with a white person, those kids would probably consider themselves white British? But maybe not, as his children would know they have a non-white grandmother. So perhaps the generation below that.

BuzzardBird Sat 03-May-14 19:56:34

They just need to put a "none of your fucking business" box on the forms.

BuzzardBird Sat 03-May-14 19:57:27

As an aside, someone called my DD 50/50 recently when form filling and I reported her for her ignorance.

slightlyglitterstained Sat 03-May-14 20:17:39

It's always going to be a very personal choice, barring apartheid style rules about exactly what percentage matters!

Depends how much of an affinity you feel for different parts of your heritage, how people react to you (obv moving city/country can suddenly change this!), and so on.

Have siblings who seem to have identified (last time we discussed) differently from me. I suppose one reason for giving DS my surname is that it does give him some link to the smaller part of his heritage.

I think my self identification might change if I moved to the US - no plans to do so, but get the impression mixed race couples less common there than Britain, and my ethnic minority 50% is a lot less of a minority there, IYSWIM, even w/o being an expat etc. Have no idea what I would feel like living there long term, but I know it'd be different.

Ifpigscouldfly Sat 03-May-14 20:20:30

It's a hard one isn't it ? I think people identify most with what they grow up with to an extent.

I had a friend who seemed very British but moved back to her fathers native country and later I met her she was quite different, clearly identifying with her heritage there a lot more than she had previously. She was mixed race and used to refer to herself as a mongrel as she had some Caribbean, some Chinese, some white and some others I can't remember. Have a feeling it may have been Irish.

peggyundercrackers Sat 03-May-14 20:21:29

Fwiw I think the question relates to you and only your parents, any previous generations past this don't count. If they did count how far do you go back? If you went back far enough in time a surely 99% of the population would be mixed as humans have been around for about 200,000 yrs.

My grandparents were Italian but I don't think I am in any way Italian and don't relate/indetify to/with Italians or Italy. Don't really think about my heritage as it doesn't count for anything in my daily life. The past is the past however my life is in the future.

Lovecat Sat 03-May-14 20:29:42

DH considers himself a WASP and 100% English, although his Grandmother was Austrian Jewish (his mother was half English, half Austrian and wasn't brought up to be Jewish - his GM had been in the camps and her reaction to that was to become more English than the English and have nothing to do with Judaism).

Whereas I consider myself half Irish, half South African on a cultural level (I'm basically white, though, although people have told me - quite insistently - that I'm Chinese or mixed race Chinese...hmm) thanks to my upbringing and never know what box to tick for DD as a consequence!

Mumoftwoyoungkids Sat 03-May-14 20:33:06

I have a vague feeling I looked this up about 10 years ago and that you needed to be more than 25% of a race for it to "count".

But I've just googled and I can't find it at all......

LEMmingaround Sat 03-May-14 20:34:28

I reckon we are all mixed race

SueDNim Sat 03-May-14 20:35:28

I'm definitely white and British as I was born here. But my parents are not originally British, so I am confused as to whether I am "white British"or "white Other". Obviously my parents are "white Other" but can they pass this down to me? There don't seem to be options on most forms for "brown British" or "brown other", just for "white".

It isn't entirely clear what they are attempting to measure. Is it what you look like, is it where you come from or is it where your ancestors came from?

puzzletree Sat 03-May-14 20:37:27

I think for the monitoring forms it matters more if it may mean you are discriminated against. If you are indistinguishable from the majority population in looks/name/accent then it's probably irrelevent for this purpose. Obviously self identity is a different matter.

RabbitSaysWoof Sat 03-May-14 20:39:38

I wondered this. ds is 25:75 (hes df 50:50) ds has olive type skin but blond and blue eyes. Ive started to tick white now on forms, bur used to say mixed.

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