For those of you who haven’t been reading my blog for a while, or who don’t know, my children are mixed race. For those of you who don’t know what mixed race is – “denoting or relating to people whose parents or ancestors are from different ethnic backgrounds”.
It’s never been a big deal, they’re my children and I don’t go around thinking of them in terms of a race group or classification, they simply are my whole heart. But of course, in real life, it’s simply isn’t that simple and it becomes even more complex when raising mixed race children in a country like South Africa which has such a long and ugly history of racial division.
When we first applied to adopt, we both simply wanted a child(ren), and to be totally honest, we never put any long term thought into the complexities of raising a mixed race child. It was naive, I realize that now. I’m thankful we have not faced any kind of glaring prejudice, of course, we get stared at when we go out as a family but as time has past, I’ve gotten so used to people’s curiosity about our family, I don’t really notice it anymore.
Then again, mixed race is becoming more and more common. I read an article from the census in the UK that states that mixed race is the largest growing ethnicity in the UK and I’m pretty sure that would extend to the rest of the world. National Geographic also recently had a fascinating article titled – Visualizing Race, Identity & Change, it’s fascinating, go check it out!
I know a number of multi racial families with mixed race children both online and in real life. So today the question popped up…. if you have mixed race children and are required to fill in documentation for them which includes race, which box do you check? Because there is never an option for mixed race. We’ve come across this on a couple of occasions when enrolling my girls for schools etc and I’ve also always been a little unsure of which box to check. Coloured? White?
Interestingly, a number of people commented that they thought the race of the child would be determined by the father? I haven’t heard this before, but this comment was made a number of times, so I was wondering if there were any truth in it. I went and read up on this and it would seem that race classification in mixed race children has changed over time, with some countries recognizing the father as giving the child a race and others or at other times, recognizing the mother for giving the child a race.
What has become most clear to me is that we need to stop thinking of people in terms of a colour because the colour lines have totally blurred. Mixed race, for me anyway, has become so much more about a blending of culture and ethnicity’s and very little to do with colour. My children are a perfect example of this.
The interesting thing is that my children don’t fit the “colour” box and I’m also never sure what I should tick when being required to fill out a form.
If we go by the classification of my children getting their race from their mother, then Ava is white and Hannah is coloured. If we switch it around and give them their race from their father, then Ava is coloured and Hannah is white.
Personally I’d rather we remove the race box from officially forms and documentation because really, what does it matter anyway. I have on occasion completed forms and marked the race box as [other] with human race in the [please specify] area.