Mixed Heritage Britain is one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in Britain – some would say the group represents the future face of the country.
I say Mixed Heritage, in some parts of the world, people say half caste, making the connection to the caste system and people having parents from two different castes. A number of years back, a friend explained to me that she found the term insulting. Who wants to be described as half of one thing and half another she exclaimed.
A significant number of people say mixed race. We classify people by race, it’s why we had the Race Relations Act way back in 1976. Mixed Race is what’s used to categorise people under Government statistics and on Diversity Monitoring forms. The only thing is that there’s only really just one race – the human race. The idea of different human races is just a social construct.
I used to say mixed race; however, I’ve come to believe that mixed heritage is a more appropriate way of describing people who have parents of different ethnic origins/heritages when there is a need to use a descriptor. Some will refer to them as biracial, others may just call them black as people did with Barack Obama. A Vice publication article provides some insight into how some of them describe themselves. Ultimately, when you consider our history, it’s nice to see the growing numbers of people in this category.
I was recently listening to an episode of Homecoming featuring voices from the Windrush generation. The episode starts by quoting the 1954 headline of a publication, Picture Post, “Would you let your daughter marry a negro?” the headline “Screams” In the episode, people tell of how they got into mixed heritage relationships. Sadly, a number of them were treated poorly or ostracised for marrying a person of colour. Fortunately, things have gradually improved over time, even though the problem hasn’t totally gone away. It is, however, no longer a novelty to see a mixed heritage couple or their children who like everyone else form a part of society which they contribute to in various ways. Some well know people of mixed heritage include Jessica Ennis-Hill, Lewis Hamilton, Afua Hirsch and of course we now have Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, Prince Harry and Megan’s son.
You can readily see that Jessica, Lewis and Afua are mixed heritage. There are also those it’s not so apparent with though. I have a black friend who has a granddaughter that looks white. You also have the actor Stephen Graham (who has a Jamaican Grandfather); and footballer Ross Barkley (with Nigerian heritage). Equally, there are dark skinned people of mixed heritage that you wouldn’t realise have a white parent.
Perhaps the fact that you can’t always define people’s heritage just by looking at them is a strong reason why to paraphrase the words of Martin Luther King, we should really learn to judge people on the basis of their character, rather than the colour of their skin.
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