If you choose to describe your child as mixed-race be prepared for others to challenge your decision.
Some parents are unsure of how to describe their children in racial terms. It is sad that in the 21st century we have to. Some Mixed-Race individuals describe themselves as Black or White and that is their right to do so. However to describe yourself as such when you have parents that are of different races could be interpreted as a denial of part of your heritage. Unfortunately due to society's marginalisation of the Mixed-Race individual and family this has often been the only option for some.
Be Aware Of Derogatory Labels
Some individuals and parents still use the term Half-caste or Quarter-caste, these are derogatory terms and Intermix would advise anyone still using them to stop. These terms give the impression that a person is not whole and can only lead to low self-esteem. The term mulatto also widely used is again derogatory and in fact refers to a mule.
There are some who are not happy with the term mixed-race and that is understandable, however the truth is that most terms used to describe those with more than one racial heritage are derogatory and until a term can be agreed upon mixed-race seems to be the most acceptable. Other acceptable terms are Dual Heritage, Bi-Racial and Multiple Heritage.
No More Other
The UK Census 2001 finally acknowledges Mixed-Race individuals and there is now a separate box that those who are of mixed racial heritage can tick. It is not perfect by any means and there are many Mixed-Race individuals that are not catered for but then the Census has many problems and there are other individuals in the UK that were also left out.
It will be 10 years before the next Census and hopefully the Office of National Statistics will learn its lessons and do better research. This is the first step towards acceptance of the mixed-race individual and it is hoped that most Government and statutory bodies will now follow suit and include a mixed-race category on their forms.
You Need Not Deny Any Part Of Your Heritage
If you are a parent of a mixed-race child explain to your child that the term mixed-race describes an individual who has parents from two or more different races and that the terms black or white describe an individual who has parents that are of the same race.
It is important to teach your child to be proud of both sides of their heritage. That although there may sometimes be racial tension between races there are also many good things that come from people of different races getting together and your family is one example. Show other examples of people of different races getting along, they are all around you.
Remember society is always ready to highlight what goes wrong with racial mixing and reluctant to highlight the areas where racial mixing works. Try to surround yourselves with as much positive information as possible. If you live in an area where that is not easy to show then you must seek out that information.
Be Prepared For Challenges
If you choose to describe your child as mixed-race be prepared for others to challenge your decision. When this happens, explain how you feel, that you do not deny any part of your child's heritage, that you and your family are comfortable using the term mixed-race and that to tell your child that he or she has only one racial background will cause them some confusion. The challenger should be able to recognise that you are giving your child a balanced view of their identity and respect your wishes.
Remember after so many years of social exclusion it is going to take time for others to acknowledge and accept that mixed-race individuals have a right to celebrate both sides of their heritage. Society cannot begin to do that unless we recognise that we need to acknowledge and accept ourselves first.
In the end how you describe your child's racial background is up to you and your child.