Does society accept multi-cultural relationships yet? this two part series discusses…
By Janine s White: Culture Editor
Following the murder of George Floyd in the USA the global community has raised strong opinions in the fight for equality, diversity and multiculturalism. Many countries have seen protests, riots, and a voice both strong and united. Congregating in masses to be heard and understood BAME individuals and groups have made a point that they will not accept being treated differently or as second best any longer.
Jumping onto the acceleration of voices, far right groups have used the momentum to encourage hatred and racism to counteract the awareness that has been created and to incite hatred between races. What has been mentioned in many recent reports is that the far right is using social media to fuel their beliefs and society are carrying their opinions by clicking on, liking and sharing these posts.
According to the 2011 census 20% of the UK population are of BAME or other minority groups. That is over 13 million people who are facing judgement and hatred due to their culture. Is it as simple as other vs. White? What about the people in the middle? The 9% of couples that are interethnic in England and Wales? The 7% of all children born in the UK who are raised by inter-ethnic families. Is time taken to reflect on the feelings and emotions of the White woman living with the British-born Black man? Or the British- born Black woman living with a White man? White and Black, white and Chinese, white and south Asian partnerships are on the rise in Great Britain. A group that are neither all White nor all BAME, a group that brings both cultures into one place. Which side of the fence do these people sit? Who gives them a voice? Or are they the voices that could build the bridges and unite the UK to truly become the multicultural dream that it professes to be?
To answer these questions Janine White of The Mackayan, has interviewed Kerry, an English born White woman. Kerry formed an inter-racial relationship with her partner 28 years ago and they have raised three children together. Her partner is an English born man of Indian heritage. Kerry explains that until you are in a situation when you must face discrimination it is not something that crosses your mind.
“When I decided to be with my partner and have a family with him, I had to seriously consider whether racism or prejudice was something that I wanted me and my son to be subject too – as white/British, this wasn’t something we had experienced before.”
Since uniting their family, they have been affected by both direct and indirect racism to the point that, on occasions, they need to evaluate whether they will feel comfortable and safe.
“There are times when we have to consider which pubs or towns are comfortable to go into. My partner is quite brazen and just goes in and generally wins the pub over with his friendliness, but the rest of us tend to avoid some situations and move on to a different place. My now grown-up children sometimes mention that they have the odd comment when they are out with their Indian friends such as… what are they doing in here, or there might be the odd dirty look.”
Kerry explains that racism is hidden in many situations and that as a white person in the multicultural family she always finds herself scoping new people to find the best time to drop into a conversation that her family is multicultural.
“When I enter a new situation, I need to evaluate the racial undertones and if it’s an offensive group, I leave, and I don’t go back.”
She does feel that often, people will make a racist comment without thinking it through or really meaning it. If they are a group of people that she thinks she can be part of, she feels that she needs to drop into the conversation very early on that her family are White/Asian so that potential unpleasantness and hasty comments are avoided.
“Once people know about my family, they tend to have lots of questions and are very interested in understanding the different cultures (and they always want to know how to make a good curry).”
The Mackayan: Multi-culturalTweet
On a positive note, and with improvement over the years, Kerry feels that the family are predominantly accepted and supported by all cultures until outside influences take momentum such as the far right visiting her hometown. During this time, the family stay at home to avoid any potential danger.
“When I watch the news, I know exactly when Facebook is going to erupt with ugliness – my heart sinks and I start to brace myself.”
Discussing the Rotherham grooming scandal Kerry remembers how she felt that the media and subsequently some of the views on social media were purely focused on the perpetrators being of Asian origin. Kerry felt the attention was taken away from the crime and despicable behaviour of these men and instead used as a driving force for racism.
“My partner is Indian, and my children are White/Indian – Do the people sharing these posts realise that these attacks on Asian people as a race are an attack on them too?“
Looking at the available research, reports and enquiries in this area, there is evidence that although the numbers are higher for gang related grooming to be perpetrated by British-born Asian men, more lone white men are convicted of child abuse overall and this must not be forgotten.
Kerry discusses that there are extremists and racists in all cultures, and when they can, they avoid these situations and remove the people from their lives.
“It’s the people who are not really thinking about their remarks that causes the impact. On a few occasions, I have been told that I’m not like other white people and that I am more Indian. This hasn’t been said to me in malice and I am sure it is meant as a compliment – and so my struggle begins again to bring understanding to my partner’s community that I am as much proud to be white/British as I am to be part of a multicultural family as they are to be Indian.”
Both Kerry and her partner faced difficulties being accepted by each culture when the relationship began but found that everyone was polite and tried to understand as best as they could. Kerry deliberates that the initial difficulties could be because as a family they are making a blended culture which she thinks scares some of the older generation – they worry that their culture will disappear.
“This could be true, but my partner and I bring both cultures to our family and the opportunity to experience so much more in life.”
Within the interview, Kerry reviews happy childhood memories with some extended family that she has not seen in person for years, and how she loves the comfortable feeling she gets when they post an old photo on social media. Reflecting that everybody on her friends list knows that she is part of a multicultural family and they regularly like or put complimentary comments on her photos. Most of the time, she feels like her little family is loved and respected by all her friends and relations – until the media begins fuelling the race divide.
“I don’t think any of them would make these comments to me in person and I find myself stuck with trying to decide if this person really has these racial views or are they just not thinking about the post they are sharing – it’s so easy to click the share button without thinking through about a) what the post really means or b) who is reading the post.”
Examining this Kerry emphasises that everybody should have the freedom to believe what they want to believe and have the freedom to decide if they can respectfully disagree and form a friendship. Highlighting that in real life, we would discuss and debate our views with mutual respect, but this does not happen on social media.
“I continuously have the struggle of deciding if I should cut off a very much valued physical friendship because they now seem to have views and opinions that are insulting and offensive to my little family”
To be continued on 21st August
Continue the Conversation…
Are you affected by any of the issues raised in this article? Pass the article on within your social media links. Have a story to share or want to give feedback or request an interview, contact us via our media desk.