Mixed race families. The best thing in the world. Diverse, vibrant, never dull.
But what happens when you can’t talk about the “B” word (Black) or the “R” word (Racism) because it’s just so damn awkward to be white, middle class, British and discussing such unsavoury things?
When you grow up in a mixed race family, race is ever-present and never-present at the same time. You see, hear and feel different races automatically. It’s everything, and at the same time, no big deal. It’s the norm.
As you get older, you realise, it is not in fact “the norm”. Not everyone grows up seeing different ethnicities every day. They don’t automatically experience difference. They don’t always know that heritage is important. And in my experience they don’t always accept that racism is a thing.
Race and racism mean different things within each family.
Racism is simply not discussed in parts of my family. I suspect this is because it has never needed to be for the people who came to be part of a mixed race family through marriage, not blood. It’s never affected them. It’s never been real. They don’t mix with racists, thank you very much, that’s someone else’s problem.
For me, that hurts. And it’s hard to admit that in a public forum. But it does. The silence hurts.
And this is where reading Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad has helped me name the feelings this brings about by giving the intangible, hard to describe experiences, a definition.
Racism versus anti-racism.
And it’s the White Silence term that most hits home for me, personally at the moment. It’s so hard to realise that there are certain topics that become “out of bounds” because of lack of engagement. Especially when those topics are so important, more important than anything else you want to talk about.
I genuinely don’t know the reasons.
Concern about saying the wrong thing?
Or is it worse? Is it racism?
The truth is, without talking, without getting out of people’s comfort zones, I’ll never know. And if I never know, the repercussions will flow through the generations. So now’s the time to break the chain. Here I go…glass of wine and big girls pants at the ready!