Mixed-up kids? Race, identity and social order

Mixed-up kids? Race, identity and social order

Russell House Publishing
December 2008
184 pages
ISBN: 9781905541386

Tina G. Patel
University of Salford

Transracial adoptees, children of mixed parentage, children of settled immigrant families… more and more children are growing up in mixed-race families and social environments. And there is increasing variety within this mixed-ness. Yet services for them have been bogged down by restrictive policy and practice guidelines based on:

  • outdated and problematic ideas about essentialised racial identities
  • the supposed need for children to commit fully to one of these identities (usually the black minority ethnic one) in order to minimise identity problems and experiences of discrimination.Of great significance to anyone working with such children and young people – in social work, adoption and fostering, education, youth work and youth justice – this book asks:
  • why essentialist ideas about a single identity tend to dominate
  • what the consequences are for those who actively choose not to identify themselves as having a single racial identity
  • how policy and practice can be improved.Patel provides thought provoking analyses of existing literature, and calls for recognition of these individuals, for example those who were transracially adopted as children, and whose reflective narratives form a major part of this book. She offers suggestions on how we can best serve their needs and facilitate their access to racial identity rights. She covers such issues as:
  • racism in a black and white society
  • the implications of assigned binary black or white racial labels
  • the construction of various social relationships, with an insight into the complex issues involved in their racialised negotiations
  • ways of supporting mixed-race people to express multiple identity status.
  • Mixed-up Kids? argues for better and more informed ways of thinking about how racial identity is flexible, diverse, and possesses a multiple status; and how such thinking will progressively lead to an improvement in the child, family and community support services which seek to assist some of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of society, namely black minority ethnic and mixed race children.

    As the book presents the narratives of six adults who had been transracially adopted as children, it is of special interest to anyone working in the field of adoption and fostering. It will also be of compelling interest to academics, researchers and students in the social sciences, especially sociology, social work and family/community studies; and of direct practical value to child, family and community support workers. It can serve both as a handbook on which to base policy and practice, and as a tool for considering key issues in the area.

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