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Mixed Race in Britain

Workshop panel 'Being Mixed Race' C SouthBank Centre

In the 2011 census over a million people in the UK classed themselves as ‘mixed race’ – but for some, the label is unhelpful. The identity politics of the ‘Jessica Ennis generation’ was the subject of a workshop at the Women of the World Festival yesterday at London’s Southbank Centre. The latest data shows that 2.2% of the population are mixed race compared to 1.2% in 2001. Mixed-race is the fastest-growing minority in the UK. With this in mind four young British women of dual heritage talked about their experiences and debated whether having the box of ‘mixed race’ to tick offered them a sense of power or a meaningless classification, no better than ticking the ‘other’ box. Emma Dabiri, an Irish-Nigerian visual sociologist and writer, argued that race does not provide a stable or static concept of identity, but is a social construct. She talked about historical racialisation of identity, and stressed that race mixing does not eliminate racism. She gave examples of the media using images of mixed race people to promote an idea of a hip, cool generation, when in fact the experience of mixed race people, in the wider context of race relations in modern Britain, is complex and brings many challenges. Audience members spoke up about their own struggles to find a sense of belonging or identity and affirmed how inspirational it was to share experiences and open a serious dialogue about a new and evolving politics of mixed race.

Photo of Panel courtesy of South Bank Centre London


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