I read today that in Britain mixed ethnic people are poised to become the largest minority in that country. I would not be surprised if that were not the case here as well. I think the numbers of people identifying themselves as having mixed ethnic and “racial” heritage would increase dramatically if people felt more comfortable and absent the pressure of “pure race” politics and the racial police who want to force everyone to identify in single neat categories. Indeed that is part of the problem with identity politics. It is as much about politics as it is about anything else. Minority politicians and organizations have a vested stake in keeping the numbers of their constituents high. For every person choosing to identify as mixed or some other more accurate label, that is one less person racial leaders can claim that they speak for. This is true for black organizations as well as Latino ones, Asian ones, or whatever the minority group is. And believe me, I understand that much is at stake in these numbers. Voting districts, school enrollments, subsidies, contracts, political clout, they are all at stake when counting numbers. Well, that is too bad. Maybe we just need to find some other ways to coalesce. Or maybe these groups will just have to accept that soon there might be another caucus in Congress with a lot more clout. One representing mixed-ethnic Americans. Ready or not, times are indeed changing.
Here is the article:
From The Sunday Times (London)
January 21, 2007
Mixed-race Britons to become biggest minority
MIXED-RACE Britons are poised to overtake Indians to become the country’s largest ethnic minority within 25 years, the government’s new rights watchdog has forecast.
Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, said the mixed-race group was seeing an “astonishing rise” and would reach 1.24m by 2020.
But while cross-racial marriages are becoming increasingly widespread and accepted, Phillips has warned that the children of such couples may face a new set of racial problems. He points to the risk of a generation falling victim to “identity stripping”, or being unsure which community they belong to.
Phillips, whose previously unpublicised comments were made in a recent speech, said the expansion in mixed-race Britons “is not an uncomplicated prospect. The mixed-race Britons are young and they show the highest employment rates of any minority group.
“But they also exhibit the highest rates of lone parenthood and family breakdown, in some cases three times the average. They suffer the highest rates of drug treatment . . . Many people talk of identity stripping — children who grow up marooned between communities”.
The warnings have provoked criticism from some who believe they are unnecessarily pessimistic. Val Hoskins, a trustee of the mixed-race support group People in Harmony, said: “The reason my group was started was in response to people like Enoch Powell saying mixed-race people were a cause of conflict, not being one or the other.
“Mixed-race people do not see themselves as marooned. It is other people who see them as not belonging.”
Oona King, the former Labour MP who is the daughter of a Geordie Jewish mother and a black American father, acknowledged there were problems coming from a mixed-race family, but said these were easily outweighed by the advantages.
“When I was small, my white family said if I got lost I should ask a nice policeman, but my black family told me that if I saw a policeman I should run away,” said King.
She added: “When black people tell me I’m not black and white people tell me I’m not white, I suppose there is something stripped, but I am grateful for being mixed race. It gives me a chameleon-like ability to fit into different situations and cultures.”
Mixed-race Britons — who before the 1991 census were described officially as “other” or as members of another ethnic group — numbered 674,000 in the 2001 count.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the largest group within the mixed-race category in 2001 was Afro-Caribbean-white, with 237,000 people, followed by Asian-white at 189,000.
Phillips’s forecasts, based partly on research by Professor Phil Rees of Leeds University, suggest the mixed-race group is growing at a rate of 4.9% a year. This will enable the category to outstrip Indians, who currently number about 1.1m, by the end of the 2020s. Only a few groups, such as black Africans, are growing faster. Meanwhile, the white British population is shrinking by about 100,000 every three years.
As global migration has accelerated, interracial relationships have become increasingly widespread and people with mixed race can point to role models such as Zadie Smith, the novelist, and Halle Berry, the Hollywood actress.
But many mixed-race Britons believe it has only recently become easier for them to assert their identity rather than having to declare themselves as belonging to an established group.
“Some communities, particularly the ethnic and black rights groups, have tried to bulldoze mixed-race people into a black identity,” said Madeleine Cham-pagnie, 37, an Iranian-Italian teacher who was born in Britain.
Her husband Simon, 37, is mixed French-Jamaican-Indian but, she added, “identifies himself as black British”. The couple have two small children. “I will be interested to see how they identify themselves when they grow up,” she said.