She said that a lot of mixed-race people only identified as black, when they had experienced racism. I thought, how true.
Prior to my own challenges against racism within the police, I’m unsure how I described myself. I mean, the Government gave me labels on forms like mixed-race because I have a white mother and black father – but, I was just me.
It was the Metropolitan Police which ironically got me to look closer under my skin, at my race and identity.
I wrote in The Nubian Times for the recent Black History Month that, in my challenges against discrimination within Scotland Yard the Met said I wasn’t black (enough) to be discriminated against.
I was like, this is just stupid.
The first thing people see when they meet me is my black skin, and it’s how I identify anyhow too – which, is what is important.
The woman commented to me, when was the last time that a person came up to me and said I was white?
Well, never is the answer.
When I am treated differently to do with my race, it is exactly because I am black that it occurs. I’ve not received any concessions yet around racism, because I have a white mother.
I genuinely dislike labels, but since I’ve had to challenge racism (and, homophobia) within the police they have become important. Because, they make up my being.
When I wrote an article on multicultural Britain for Operation Black Vote, I said that consecutive UK Governments had created an identity crisis for many of its people of colour. This, remains true today.
I have no doubt that some black people (of both parentage) feel annoyed when some mixed-race people would never identify as being black, only when they need to, to fight racism for example. I understand this.
To many white people, mixed-race people are black regardless of their heritage.
How many times have you heard Barack Obama being called America’s first mixed-race President? Because, like me he has a white mother. But, I know how many times I’ve heard him being called the black and/or African-American President.
Race is a complex issue in society, and it cannot easily be called this or that. That’s where the politicians of all parties get it wrong, sadly.
Me, I’m a mixed-race person who identifies as black too. My heritage is Irish and Caribbean, yet I am Northern English through and through. I am lots of things, and sometimes a passionate Briton.
Maybe as an experiment I start to identify myself as just white, see how far or long that gets me?
Just a thought on race.
Take care, Max.