The Mixed Project
The Mixed Project...
Mixed To be both is to be neither. To be white and not-white, black and not-black, brown and not-brown. This is the paradox of the mixed-race self: at best, a reconciliatory journey towards a settled middle-ground. At worst, it is the exhaustion of unbelonging. Of not knowing which way to turn, to mother or to father, east or west, one skin colour or another. First printed on the national census form in 1991, ‘mixed’ is now recognised as the fastest-growing ethnic group in the land.
But does such rigid categorisation make sense? By definition, being mixed-race is a fluid experience. It is problematic to cram a wild continuum of culture, religion, history and geography into one small box - one that we may tick, but not easily identify with. A quarter-century on from its first formal recognition, being mixed-race has become more normalised in the public imagination: only 15% of people in 2016 are negatively concerned about mixed relationships compared to 50% in the late-1980’s. But to consider this progress on its own is only one snapshot of the story. There are two sides to the multicultural narrative. On the one hand, as a country we are fearful of losing our civic unity. Nigel Farage - alongside other Ukippers, feeling trapped for years behind the closed doors of political correctness - sits on a train carriage, fidgeting awkwardly at the sound of foreign languages. The government drafts citizenship tests and tightens immigration controls to meet an increasingly nationalistic public demand. Brexit from the EU is no longer a remote possibility, and as an obvious byproduct of the ever-deepening ‘war on terror’, Islamophobia is on the rise. These creeping little-Englander tendencies have prompted the very question driving this zine: just what are ‘British values’? Few can agree on an answer.
Words by Ciaran Thapar