“Mixed-race people are the fastest-growing minority group in Britain. According to some projections, by the end of the century roughly one in three of us will be mixed-race, with this figure rising to 75 per cent by 2150. The mixed-race man and woman are the future faces of Britain.”
Biracial Britain is a book that sets out to establish a better understanding of mixed-race as a unique identity, rather than as an offshoot of other make-ups. Before picking this book up I assumed it would be largely research-based, when in actual fact the structure is of various personal accounts from mixed-race individuals, with some commentary from the collection’s author/editor, Remi Adekoya, along the way.
What I liked about this book is the way it incorporates many different mixes, ages and views on the mixed-race experience. There’s white passing people, multiracial people and even mixed-race individuals without a white parent, who are regularly omitted from the discussion . It was all very refreshing to see. There are lots of different perspectives in this book and I didn’t agree with all of them, but I think this is a good thing. While mixed-race people are everywhere now in the media (though in fairness this is largely only those of Black and white descent), there is actually very little discourse written about their lived experiences. Definitions of mixed-race are so wide that naturally there would be variations in outlooks and I’m glad this book recognised that.
This book isn’t just about struggle either, which I think is important to note. Many of the people featured in Biracial Britain aren’t in a state of identity crisis, which is a very clichéd stereotype used against mixed people nowadays. A lot of them are very comfortable within themselves and how they identify - it is usually how others perceive them that is the problem. To those from single origin backgrounds, the mixed race child presents “a cultural uncertainty” which makes them question their place within the culture. This is where the “too much”, “too little” idea comes from.
The reason why I resonated with this book more than other books I’ve read is because of its exploration of religion and how that plays a part in the lives of mixed-race people (who have potentially grown up in two religions). For me, navigating an interfaith family dynamic was much more at the forefront of my experience than race. In ‘I expected to see white hands’, Danyal discusses what it was like growing up with a Pakistani mother and English mother: “...while I’ve never personally been disparaged for being associated with Islam, when I hear the media saying negative things about Muslims, I do take it personally.” I feel similarly to Danyal. While I don’t currently align myself with a faith, I have always felt a protectiveness towards Islam in a way that I don’t feel for Christianity. This is no doubt due to the way Muslims have been and are treated in the West.
All in all, Biracial Britain is not the definitive manual to understanding mixed-race lives. This book is not academic research, but purely an exploration into a wide range of real-life experiences. While I wouldn’t say I necessarily saw myself reflected in any of these stories, there definitely were recognisable moments for me and I do think Adekoya does an excellent job as editor. I would recommend reading this book to gain an understanding of the various issues and thoughts of mixed-race individuals.