Why I see myself as a daughter of the Diaspora rather than mixed-race

Why I see myself as a daughter of the Diaspora rather than mixed-race

Black Girl Dancing at Lughnasa

Emma Dabiri, Teaching Fellow
Africa Department, School of African and Oriental Studies, London
Visual Sociology Ph.D. Researcher, Goldsmiths University of London

Why this ‘mixed’ girl rejects the ‘mixed-race’ label.

There is nothing like hearing the arguments of members of the multiracial movement and certain ‘mixed-race’ activists to make me want to distance myself from them as much as possible and exclusively identify as black! However, after all these years, I refuse to be pushed into making essentialist identity choices.

‘Mixed-race’ has been both pathologized and celebrated across time and space, often simultaneously.  Whether we are being positioned as the halfcaste underclass—Waynetta Slob’s ‘brown babies,’ endemic of a broken Britain populated by brown-skinned, hooded feral youth, or we are cast in the role as mixed-race messiahs; genetically superior, physically fitter, inheritors of a bright new, beautiful brown post-racial future—like all non-white people, we continue to be racialised.

Both constructions assign mixed race people a specific and limited identity based on their ‘race’, and continue the work of 18th century scientific racism ascribing particular physical and mental attributes to people based on so called racial difference. Further, the myth of a new, beautiful mixed race generation as the epitome of liberal, cool, race-less Britain, masks enduring structural racism and inequalities, which will be allowed to continue unchecked if we are seduced by it.

The media and social studies join forces to perpetuate a damaging and a-historical construction of being ‘mixed-race’, where mixedness is presented as something new. But black and white people have been having children since their first encounters with each other. This is a process that has been in place since the conquests of the Americas at least. The populations of the New World are largely mixed-race populations. Although they are popularly categorised as black or white, their origins are heterogeneous. In such a context, it seems nonsensical to categorise the child of one black Caribbean parent and one white European parent as suddenly and magically ‘mixed-race’, yet we continue to do so…

Read the entire article here.

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