By Sudipa Sarkar
Historically individuals of mixed heritage have been subject-positioned through contradictory narratives and discourse. Given that the mixed heritage ethnic group is the fastest growing ethnic group in the UK. The primary objective of this paper is to offer an insight on the implication of the ethnicity, race psychology and cultural influence on the individual and on wider society in general. To accomplish this goal, the author analyses the components for mixed race relationship in terms of multiracial experience and development of racial identity.
Race has no consensual contribution in the field of psychology, however, it has been recurrently used in psychological theory, research and practices considering of great significance (Yee, Fairchild, Weizmann & Wyatt, 1993; Zuberi, 2001). Several studies suggested race as biological components of individuals as imitated in their physical look (Rowe, 2002). Some studies concluded race as a pseudonym for indigent milieu (Eisenman, 1995), some others also described race as a social construction maintaining a socio-political hierarchy (Helms, 1994). Race, as a phenomenological component, has no precise definition as such, however, several psychologists have been questioned of considering race as a component of psychological construct in terms of theory, research and practice (Phinney, 1996; Yee et al., 1993). A resolution opposing the exercise race for explaining human behaviour had been passed by the Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association (Yee, 1983). In the due course of time, this resolution, as described in the “Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists” (American Psychological Association, 2003), has become mandatory as the society’s unrelenting reification of folk definitions of the phenomenon associated in defining race in stead of significant substantive recommendation in opposing the theoretical framework as provided by non-psychological professional as well as scientific institutions.
In psychology, there is no shared conceptual framework defining the usability of factitious racial category which is autonomous in identifying their theories and research designs to express the intangible implication of race the researcher proposes. Additionally, it authorizes the psychological framework in order to function as an objective phenomenon albeit it has granted a theoretically futile idea which is particularly central to the theory, research and practice (Fairchild, 1991; Zuberi, 2001).
Statistical Data Defining the Ethnicity and Identity in UK
According to the statistical data, at present the UK’s ethnic standards are characterized as follows:
Northern Irish 2.9%,
black 2%, Indian
mixed 1.2%, and
other 1.6% (2001)
Northern Irish 2.9%,
black 2%, Indian
mixed 1.2%, and
other 1.6% (2001)
As the National Statistics suggests, the majority of the UK population in 2001 were White (92%). The rest of 4.6million (or 7.9%) people fitted in to other ethnic groups. Indians were considered to be the largest of these groups, next larger group was Pakistani and the rest belonged to mixed ethnic backgrounds, Black Caribbean, Black Africans and Bangladeshis. Each of the rest of the minority ethnic groups reported for less than 0.5% among the UK population and together reported for a further 1.4%. The non-white population of UK were Asians characterised with Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and other Asian Region. The rest of the population comprised of Black Caribbean, Black African or other Black. The rest of 15% belonged to the mixed ethnic group. The White and Black Caribbean comprised of the one-third of the group. The Irish people in Britain counted for 691,000 which in practice considered as 1% of the entire Great Britain population. During the phase 1991 – 2001, the people comprising of the ethnic group had been increased by 53%, from 3.0 million in 1991 to 4.6 million in 2001.
The census 1997 – 2001 suggests that the Britain’s increasing number of inter-ethnic relationship is in particular an explosion in the mixed race population. As of 19th UK census, conducted on 29 April 2001, 2 percent of entire UK marriages are inter-racial. There is a much less prevalence of non-white population that is around 9% of the whole population; which is not a significant variable compared to the white population, whereas if it is compared to the ethnic class in general, the ratio of Caribbean and Chinese, for example, involve as much as 20% and 17% respectively to form the marital relation as well as cohabitation relation getting with white partner (Modood et al., 1997). In practice, interethnic or interracial marriage is very significant in understanding societal structure and inter-group relational factors, acting concurrently as both an essential cause and a sign of social and cultural integration (Blau et al., 1982; Pagnini & Morgan, 1990). The common interface incorporating the mutual relation across group boundaries is actually revealed by interracial marriage, leading to an intricate understanding of unique social group formation. However, the procedure of assimilation of immigrants into the framework of mainstream society remains inadequate if the racial boundary forms an obstacle while selecting mates in question (Gordon, 1964). Statistical data suggests that 18% of the UK black African males, 29% UK black Caribbean males and 48% other black British males are actually having a wife from other racial group, implying that Black British males are more like getting into inter-ethnic relationship compared to African American males. In addition to this statistics, it has been found that Black British men were about 50% more likely to get involved into inter-ethnic marriage compared to the Black British women, but British Chinese females were twice more likely to get involved into inter-racial marriage compared to the British Chinese males. Apart from that, south Asian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi men were twice more likely to become involved into inter-racial relationship and marriage compared to females of the corresponding races. On the other hand, in case of Indians there is no significant gender difference regarding preference on inter-ethnic marriage.
There are various studies conducted to find out the quantitative analysis of interethnic relationship in terms of numbers and trends, however, only a few are effective in understanding the underlying factors contributing to form an interethnic relationship (Berrington, 1996). According to Merton (1941) marriages do not occur arbitrarily rather few facilitating factors such as the equal consideration of homogamy and endogamy present as a common factor in both of the partners. There are different theoretical perspectives that actually attribute to the understanding these factors. One of such theories, known as straight line assimilation theory, stated the rate of interracial marriage is higher in those individuals staying in the host country for longer period (Model & Fisher, 2001). According to Hwang and Murdock (1991) demonstrated that interethnic community pattern may be responsible for disparate degrees of marital assimilation within each group.
As per statistics as well as various studies suggest that the increasing rate of mixed racial community actually blurring the original racial identity which is quite prevalent among black Caribbean individuals in UK. These, in addition, refer that around 40% of children in UK of one black parent have a white parent. However, the data is inadequate in its exact implication as the statistical data only considers the children who are living with both of the parents whereas there are several numbers of Caribbean females who do not live with their partners, leading to incomplete information in particular. Hence, it can be concluded that a majority of children in UK belonging to mixed-racial group actually comprise the significant portion of the entire population
Ethnicity and Racial Culture in UK
Ethnicity is considered as an essential component of the social structuring, personal identification, transactional networks and political divergence around the world. It has been observed as an evidently identified challenge towards active social hierarchies and themes of citizenship by the virtue of initiating a new tribalism which eventually threats the democratic framework as well as economic advancement in particular. The study of ethnicity has an important significance to the analysis of existing societal structure and political viewpoint, as well as establishing a new vista for understanding social justice as well as social organization. Racial categories are in particular vaguely delineated qualitatively, whereas it can be quantified at ease by attributing more significance on them than is actually valued (Pedhazur and Schmelkin, 1991). One of the leading growth factor contributing in ethnic populations among many western societies put in to the consideration of individuals of mixed ancestry. However, while considering the aspect of multicultural context or ‘mixed race’ communities, the primary concern includes individuals of black & white background, whereas it should be rectified in terms of broader perspective of mixed race (Parker & Song, 2001). Researchers suggest that the individuals of mixed heritage are revealing the arbitrary and contradictory notion of classification emphasizing racial divisions. In that case, the radicalized identification fall outside the regime of the defined spectra by considering the histories and experiences illuminating the complexities of the development of identity within the framework of contemporary multicultural context (Parker & Song, 2001). According to BBC news as reported by Cindy John, the UK has been considered as one of the fastest increasing mixed-race populations among the entire world, featured by the sustainable increase of inter-ethnic relationship. The recent studies show that all individuals characterizing different ethnic backgrounds in UK actually are coming towards each other by promoting an inter-ethnic relationship between each other; however, there have been plenty of incidences that in practice attribute to the racially-fuelled criminal events whatsoever. There are number of well-known personalities combining the celebrities like singers, comedians, writers, newsreaders and actors actually been a common face in getting engaged with inter-ethnic relationships. Some of the famous names may include Lenny Henry, Dawn French, Michael Caine, Trevor McDonald, Sade, Salman Rushdie to name a few. On the other hand, Shirley Bassey (singer) and Hanif Kureshi (writer and activist) are attributed as the high-profile instances of mixed-race relationship. An increase in the recognition of ‘mixed parentage’ in Britain has been in part resulted due to an increase in the number of individuals in ‘mixed relationships’ and individuals of ‘mixed parentage’. The demographic amendment of ‘mixed parentage’ have also provided in expanding racial studies in terms of autobiographical and general analysis in ‘mixed parentage’ and ‘mixed relationships’ through the perspective of self and others (Alibhai-Brown & Montague, 1992; Katz, 1996; McBride, 1998; Twine, 1999). Recent studies also suggest that the rate of inter-ethnic relationship is actually increasing in recent decades as 20% of the Asian men and 10% of the Asian women are in practice plumping for getting into an inter-racial relationship. Professor Richard Berthoud from the Department for Social and Economic Research at Essex University explains that there is an embedded postulation in British society that the marriage can occur among individuals of same colour (Berthoud, 2005), however, there are Blacks who consider themselves as belonging to English culture and quite evidently they do not find any inconsistency for not selecting a White for getting involved into interpersonal relationship, leading to form an inter-ethnic relationship altogether. According to the census 2001, the Britain is considered to the highest rates in inter-ethnic relationship as well as mixed-race individuals considering the world perspective. In Britain, neither any legal definition has been found for identifying Black individuals nor had any legal restriction been employed on mixed marriages (Tizard & Phoenix, 1993). However, the current social trends feature interracial marriages, but it makes up 1 percent of all marriages in Britain (Berrington, 1996).
Interracial families are considered to be an essential component of the dynamics of interracial relationships in Britain for several years in the history of colonialism which was characterized by British males’ relationship with Black females outside the country (Benson, 1981). The families are the models of racial harmony in terms of dominant intervention of minority groups in the cultural context (Banks, 1992). As per analysis of past data for inter-ethnic relationship suggesting that the male led the pathway for facilitating inter-racial relationship, however, the present context defines the deviated condition as the situation is changing quickly, among highly educated females in particular (Alibhai-Brown, 2001). Studies suggested that higher education in practice liquefy the identification with the origin group (Kalmijin, 1991) by demonstrating the greater prevalence of interracial marriage among highly educated individuals rather than less educated individuals (Lieberson & Waters, 1988; Hwang et al., 1995; Kalmijin, 1993). In addition to that, Alibhain-Brown (2001) describes the condition by putting a special emphasize on class culture in the case of Black Caribbean delineating the fact of extraordinary discrimination among men letting them unable to progress much through the system. In case of Asian females, the feminist attitude towards the societal framework essentially contributes to the formation of inter-racial relationship, especially putting a biased belief system by over-emphasizing on the dynamic changes in Asian males from egalitarian attitude before marriage to sexist attitude after marriage (Alibhai-Brown, 2001).
The 2001 census is particularly significant in studying racial identity as since this time ‘mixed’ category in practice got included into the other racial groups for consideration. However, researchers also agreed that the recognition of considering the mixed race individuals in statistical review do not actually contribute much for study and research till date. However, the racism problem is a critical condition for consideration in recent decades in UK as Alibhai-Brown in her book ‘Mixed Feelings’ suggests that the children of one white and one black parents may in some cases become victims of racism. Another difficulty is associated with social pressure which is primarily characteristics of mixed parents getting down in the social order as well as on single mothers having mixed ethnic children. Several studies have been conducted in order to analyse the experience of children of mixed parentage, leading to the findings of fear and anxiety even within a supposedly tolerant culture (Coombs, 2000) with an apparent cause contributing to the experience may include the consequence of cultural discourse. By the virtue of the application of mechanics of racism in terms of constructing the definition of race, oppression strangles multiracial individuals from all sides of action (Root, 1996).
The oppression derived from the deep-psychological level causes insecurities, as the oppression is manifested towards a particular group of individuals; the mechanics are in particular homogeneous regardless of its pattern (Root, 1996). In case of mixed parentage, the parents primarily suggest their interracial children to take one of the three view points concerning their identity phenomenon –
Becoming human above all else, considering no significance of racial identity as such
Adopting the identity of the parent of colour and his or her culture (Ladner, 1984)
Adopting both of the parents cultural values, ethnicity, genetic heritage (Baptiste & Cambell, 1985)
The issue considering the identification of children of mixed heritage is intrinsically crucial as the racial identification contributes significantly to the development of personality in general. Some researchers suggest that the children of mixed heritage should be identified with the identity of the parent of colour as this is the case which has been observed through historical time frame that the society is much inclined for. However, others have argued that the children should be known with their true background. The issue of race and racism have been taken into consideration in the area of child care policy as well as practice, particularly in the cases of fostering and adoption which have been significantly changed with the changing dynamism of political and societal climate (Gill & Jackson, 1983). In the due course of time, the widely accepted in reference to racism has been turned into a general accepted philosophy of equal treatment for everyone and the services ought to be provided by adopting a ‘colour-blind’ phenomenon. During 1960s, a large portion of black children remained for institutional care, however, the white counterparts found their home at ease. Since after 1960, the blacks and mixed parentage individuals are developing more positive identities (Tizard & Phoenix, 1993). The increasing numbers of individuals of mixed-parentage seem likely to opt for a dual identity (Tizard & Phoenix, 1993). The researchers primarily focus on two sets of conceptual changes accounted for rapid societal changes. These two sets of changes are the point of intersection incorporating increasing interest in ‘mixed parentage’ and new perspective of consideration (Hall, 1996). The biased perspective of 60s has been changed in recent decades quite significantly with an intervening measurement taken from the British Adoption Project (BAP) which took a great footstep in placing the black children in white families. This is particularly a crucial milestone in promotion ‘equality among all’ which will certainly improve the understanding on both of the sides by demonstrating the notion of wider society constituting of different races living together (Gill & Jackson, 1983). However not all researchers agree with this conclusion of wider society rather they have argued against trans-racial adoption (Small, 1986) in general by putting special emphasis on intrinsically critical two factors –
Political Issues – The political issues combine the idea that white families actually get enriched itself by the expenses covered by the black community through the process of adopting a black child (Pinkney, 2000)
Psychological Issues – Psychological issues primarily concern with the idea of feeling of separateness experienced by black children within white community. A sense of separateness eventually leads to make the individual isolated and withdrawn from the relationships all around. In addition to this complication, in some cases, the black children grow up with confused racial identity and of low self-esteem (McAll, 1992).
However, both of the research areas concerning the trans-racial adoption are highly significant by considering ethnocentric assumptions. This is an area of focus in interracial families especially where mother is a white. It is seen that most of the young families undergo through stress, however, in case of young interracial families contribute to experience additional stress, anxiety and tension due to deal with negative racial comments and downright harassment from other individuals in addition to loss of emotional and societal support from disapproving family members. The social-philosopher and author Naomi Zack argues that race in particular has a serious significance in society by putting a special emphasis on considering the difficulties associated with social and historical problems in relation to racial identity (Zack, 1993). She particularly explores the existential problems of the identification of mixed race culture by putting a special emphasize on how the bi-racial system actually heightens the chance for alienation towards mixed-race community framework. On analysing the possibility of mixed-race identity, she argues about the implication the colour specification (black and white) in particular as she found this designation of colour in essence can be considered as racist phenomenon as it has no as such scientific base (Zack, 1993).
However, Coombs (2000) in particular stresses on the significance of considering the implication of race in the light of genetic structuring by asserting the criterion of hybridism as a matter of debatable argument on the basis of miscegenation and racial transparency by considering the scientific analysis of genetics and race through the course of cultural rendition along with the ideologies of nation, community and belongings in particular. In the perspectives of two opposing factors attributing to the transparency of racial phenomenon and miscegenation, the roots of racial prejudice can be explained in terms of cultural imagination. However, the acceptance has become prevalent in due course of time, whereas resentment has become hardened as well in the framework of antagonism which in practice comes from both white and non-white individuals (Alibhai-Brown, 2001). The involvement of the issues like sex and gender makes the situation more complicated, as each of the issues need to be considered individually and pragmatically. The formation of interracial relationship may occur due to the presence of various community attributes such as group size, gender distribution as well as availability of potential partner within the group or outside of the group structure in addition to the social and spatial proximity among the minority and majority groups (Hwang et al., 1997). Religious affiliation also puts a great influence on an individual in terms of his or her decision making styles regarding an endogamous and exogamous marriage (Meng & Gregory, 2002). The issues attributing the aspect of miscegenation influences the individuals involved into mixed race relationships, especially those individuals belonging to that particular community. This eventually lead to a persistent conflict regarding the identity formation that have a particular impact on individual recognition, for example, some individuals identify themselves as Black, some as Asian, some as White and some as Mixed, however, having inadequate general acceptance of a predefined set of self-identity in the perspective of race. According to several researchers, human beings are categorised into distinctive biological groups in terms of their skin complexion, however, considering the case of hybridism, - some individuals have darker or more pallid complexion compared to African Caribbean or Asian individuals. These researches have been essentially criticized for its biased perspective of considering white race is the superior while black race is inferior and the other races come in between of the continuum (Tizard & Phoenix, 1993). Various studies suggest that the ‘termination of race’ is a legitimate theme in scientific discussion, exercise and function (Katz, 1995). This evidently has raised the question arguing the persistent significant application of the biology in understanding race (Burchard et al, 2003; Risch, Burchard, Ziv & Tang, 2002). Some researchers argued that the concept of race is not a biologically real phenomenon, thus it should not have any proper implication in research area of medicinal field (Chaturvedi, 2001; Schwartz, 2001). Genetic researchers conducted genetic mapping throughout the world with the findings incorporate that trends in skin complexion does not stem from the variation in genetic structuring. Studies suggest around 85% of genetic variation has been developed by means of interaction among individuals of same colour within a given territory. The rest 5-10% variation is due to the interaction between individuals in different countries. The genetic variation is found to be homogeneous, as Steve Johns (1991) mentions, hence biologically we all are multiracial in practice. The ideology that we all have multiracial identities has had a significant impact on individual and societal perspectives while focusing on the definition of ‘race’ or ‘racial identity’. Several studies have argued that the consideration of black or white people separately as opposites or of racism as an individual course of development (Rattansi & Phoenix, 1988). Rather, they considered racial phenomenon as a plural component in terms of the implication of ‘race’ and its dynamic changes over time. Hence, race or the concept of racism belongs to the dynamic social processes, found to be variable in distinct societal contexts in the presence of different groups of individuals (Brah, 1996). This eventually led in considering the term ‘racialisation’, initially coined by Frantz Fanon (1967) in order to describe the condition of individuals who had been colonised (Banton, 1977; Miles, 1989; Omni & Winant, 1986). Racialisation can be defined as a phenomenon describing the implication of racial meaning not to be classified under nature and be considered as a dynamic component of social construction and social process. Thus, it can be concluded that individuals are ‘racialised’ rather than constituting with biological race (Tizard & Phoenix, 1993). However, there are several studies conducted in the support of ‘genetic version of racial profiling’ (Evett, Gill, Scrange, & Wier, 1996; Evett et al., 1997; Lowe, Urquhart, Foreman, & Evett, 2001).
Summary and Conclusion
Interethnic relationship put a significant reflection contributing to the various factors in social relationships. The incorporation of immigrants into the host society is highly influenced by whether the individual resides in UK, the duration of staying, influence on their English speaking ability. Additionally, education is a significant factor that contributes in shaping an individual’s social and economical structure along with his or her decision making style regarding development of interpersonal relationship. In few cases, religious factors also have a say in an individual’s belief system by affecting the process of mate selection. In particular, the interracial relationship offers a great deal in the research area in order to explore the interaction among different socioeconomic factors both assigned and attained ones in inter-group relationship and partner selection. In case of mixed parentage, socialization from parental figure is one of the important influence in developing the dexterity of the surfacing of racial identity of a racially mixed child, whereas the peer group, community, experience regarding racial discrimination also matter significantly for a multiracial individual perceives self and others. However, the Britain features the highest rate of interracial relationships in western culture, but still the social acceptance regarding racial discrimination influences the socioeconomic structure quite greatly.
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