"You Can't Say Anything Anymore!" by Diversifying Group

Into the multiverse: Understanding mixed heritage identity

April 28, 2022 Diversifying.io Season 1 Episode 19
"You Can't Say Anything Anymore!" by Diversifying Group
Into the multiverse: Understanding mixed heritage identity
Show Notes Transcript


Trigger Warning - This podcast contains references to  mental health, racism and racial slurs.

This podcast episode digs deep inside the British melting pot; what happens when your parents come from different countries, cultures, religions and races.  And how does  the distinct feeling of otherness projected onto your face because you look just a little bit “different" affect your views later on?

Listen as we allow the space and time to devote to giving life to this much needed conversation,  in exploring the backgrounds and experiences of the multitude of ‘peoples’ that sit within the vast spectrum of what it means to be ‘multi-heritage’. Join us as we gain a more compassionate understanding of race and identity. We can't wait for you to hear this episode!
 
About our guests:

Habbiba Mackintosh

Habbiba has extensive experience supporting those from marginalised communities around their housing needs and EET aspirations. Through this frontline experience she was able to see first hand the consequences of inequality. 

As a BSc Criminology and Sociology Graduate Habbiba was able to explore the roots of D&I and the role in which they play within society on both a micro and macro level. Through her studies Habbiba's interest around E, D&I peaked, and her passion to advocate the need for social change developed.

 In her spare time, Habbiba thoroughly enjoys football as well as any excuse to be outdoors. More recently Habbiba has started writing poetry and utilises this medium to reflect on the world.


Yani King

Yani has a wealth of experience leading diversity & inclusion initiatives and designing and developing inclusive training, within regulation and higher education. Yani describes her approach to D&I as ‘Fun D&I’, where she uses innovative and person centric approaches to explore D&I themes comfortably. 

Yani is passionate about embedding inclusion and building cultural practices that foster a sense of belonging. She is someone who will never stop learning and uses the knowledge gained, from around the world, to inform her work. 

In her spare time Yani enjoys going to the theatre, gaming and cooking up storm in the kitchen.

Ben Musgrave

Ben has 14 years’ experience of driving Equality, Diversity and inclusion (E, D&I) initiatives across the Start-up, NGO and Public Sectors in Europe, Africa and Asia, with a particular focus on rights-based programming.

As a qualified coach and experienced facilitator, Ben utilises participatory methodologies to work collaboratively with others to create positive change.

Aside from his passion for E, D&I, Ben excels at getting injured whilst playing sports, collects Comics and sings badly in the shower.

This podcast is produced by Diversifying.io - Keep up to date on how we're changing hearts and minds on Instagram: @diversifyingio or via our website: www.diversifying.io 

Bame Recruitment:

Diversifying.io presents:You can't say anything anymore! The podcast where we bring you the latest diversity news, and in depth meaningful conversations about how we can make the future better for all.

Naomi:

Hi, everyone, welcome to the podcast. My name is Naomi, I'm your host, my pronouns are she and they. And this month, we have three very special guests who are my three very lovely colleagues. And we're gonna talk about a topic that actually is very dear to my heart, on a personal level outside of work and things. But anyway, enough about that. Let me introduce you, our three very special guests if we just want to start with then.

Ben:

Hi, Naomi. I'm Ben Musgrave, my pronouns are he and his. I'm a diversity and inclusion consultant, as well as your colleague and very excited to have this discussion today.

Yani:

Hi, I'm Yanni. I am your colleague, and I'm also a diversity and inclusion consultant. And my pronouns are she / her.

Habbiba:

Hello, my name is Habiba MacIntosh, and I am the diversity relationship executive. And I'm equally, very excited to be here today in talking about such an exciting topic.

Naomi:

We'll just get started on some of the topic questions. So if we just go deep into this right away? What did you know, let's talk about our experiences. You know, how do you identify? What's your experiences with other people's kind of reactions and assumptions? I think, you know, from what when we talked about this before, all of you have said about how your kind of first impressions and your first understandings about yourself came from reactions from other people or came from experience of those? And yeah, if you just like to share your thoughts on that, really...

Habbiba:

I think like, it all starts out with a very basic commonality of the question, Where are you from? And that's a loaded question in itself, because it's like, are you asking, you know, why do I look the way I do? Or where am I actually from, like, obviously, I was born, not obviously, but I was born in Wales and I grew up there. But equally, you know, I am dual heritage, and I'm half Jamaican, half Welsh. So it's like, okay, when I do give that initial response, as I'm sure like, it's been covered so many times, like, it's - saying that you're from, like Wales, or one of these kinds of countries where you're perceived to look white, and you respond with that they kind of look at you in like, I guess confusion, they also kind of want you to explain that further, they might repeat the question and ask you again. It's like, okay, okay, I get what you're asking, you know, I'm half Jamacian that's why I look the way that I do. And I guess then following that, people then I guess don't necessarily, in my situation anyway, when I say I'm half Jamaican, they will perceive me to be or they assume that I'm Pakistani, or Indian, or Brazilian, or Spanish, and they then will still argue my Jamaicaness as well. It's like, well, in the first instance of I told you I was Welsh, that wasn't good enough. I've told you, I'm half Jamaican, half Welsh. And you're still then going to query like what I'm telling you? It's like, Would you like to tell me where I'm from? At this point?

Yani:

Yeah, I'm just nodding along nodding along with all of those comments, because like, oh, that's how some reactions I've had. So my, how I identify is I'm half British and half Indonesian. But if you dig a little bit deeper into the Indonesian, I'm actually half Chinese, Indonesian. And I actually didn't know that until I was 14. That's because my mom didn't really tell me I knew she was always different compared to a lot of Indonesian people but didn't quite understand to she actually told me, which was an interesting conversation itself. With the loaded question of where are you from? It's really difficult because I grew up in different countries. So every time I asked, someone tell asked me, and I always I will sometimes play a game. Sometimes I don't depends how I feel. So sometimes I play a game like, oh, you know, I was born Abu Dhabi. And then people go, Oh, yeah, that makes that makes sense. And I'm like, No, it doesn't. I'm half British and half Indonesian. And then oh, oh, okay. But sometimes we have some really funny reactions of like, if I'm half Indonesian, when I'm saying I'm half Indonesian. And some people are like, Oh, really? And I'm like, Yeah, I'm half Indonesian, like, but you're really pale. For an Indonesian you're really pale. Then like, yeah, you know, there's some pale Indonesians out there. Yeah. And then I decided to go further and say, I'm half Chinese, Indonesia and accept that a little bit more. Yeah, like Habbiba was saying about like, Are you sure you're this? So some people would say about, oh, you know, you actually look, I thought you were Greek or I thought, Greek is a common one. I thought you were Lebanese. That was, that was the weirdest one I've had. And I've had a lot of Oh you look Latin American I once food a Colombian thinking I was a Colombian, which Loy key kind of proud.

Habbiba:

I think this is so interesting what you just said then about the fact that you didn't know until you were 14 are kind of part of your identity and your heritage and stuff like that. And I think that's a really interesting point potentially on a tangent, but I also didn't realise that I was dual heritage. You know, when you were a child, I don't know. Obviously, it was such like, a lot of this language is learned behaviour. And obviously the way that we're socialised. So, when I was younger, you know, I grew up, I mean, I'm sure we're going to cover this later on. But I was predominantly brought up with a white mother, you know, my father wasn't around. So that's like, I guess an aspect of my heritage that I missed out on. But in terms of that, I didn't really realise that there was a difference between me and her in the way that we looked, because, you know, I'm a child, and like, how much consciousness the child children have around that. And then equally when I went to school, again, like you're just running around playing, and just being a little annoying child, but you don't really think they'll stop and stare and think, okay, you know, we all look different. We all sit down around the picnic table, or on our tricycles and eat sandwiches and talk about the colour of our skin. But obviously, that doesn't really happen. So I think that's really interesting. You aid that, because I was trying to think back and reflect on the point that I actually realised that it was different. And I don't I really, genuinely don't think it was until I went to high school. And it's like, how can you go for that many amount of years of your life, either unaware of your identity?

Ben:

Yeah, so I can relate to a lot of what's already been said, as someone who would define himself as being half British half Cameroonian, I think it's also interesting that that Yanni you also said British, and it's a trend that I noticed a lot of people have of dual heritage, using British and instead of English, I don't know if it's a trend, or it's just something that that I, I've observed. And like you Yanni, I've travelled a lot growing up in various different countries around the world, in African and Asian countries, and also in different European countries. And yeah, the where are you from? question has come up so often. And the more I hear it, the more I realised that people try to define who you are, through their own lens of understanding of what of what the world is and what the world looks like, to them. And I guess we'll probably touch upon this later on in this in this conversation, the way that we sort of, like change that understanding is by educating people on on diversity, you know, it's the world is not binary, it isn't just just black and white, I guess it's easy to, to view it as being black and white, but there's a lot of nuances in between. So yeah, I've I've always identified myself as being, I guess, a brown man, I grew up in an environment where, where my parents, my mom especially, reminded me on a daily basis, like, you know, don't let anyone tell you you are this you are that you are what you want to be. You have black African heritage, you have white European heritage, and you are both, and you're you are you are neither, so be proud of, of who you are.

Habbiba:

I really love that. And it's really interesting, actually, like the point that you made about being British instead of English because I'm Welsh. I don't know if I've told everybody that I am a Welsh. I said it enough times do you want to meet -

Naomi:

You said it a few times this morning in the games!

Ben:

Where are you from Habbiba? *Sarcastic tone

Habbiba:

I just go around screaming welsh!

Naomi:

We hear the word Cymru or anything? (Cymru = Wales in

Habbiba:

Yeah, I'm Welsh and so I think that that's like a Welsh) separate thing. I could literally have a whole podcast about that in itself about going abroad, especially when you're talking about being from Wales. And then I call Yeah, but we're about to England does that. Well, actually, it's so little, you know, it's smaller than that. But come on, like we still can't we still matter? We're actually much nicer, I'm just joking haha! But it's just really, yeah, it's just really interesting because I would always say that I was Welsh like I said, like why that is I don't know, I guess maybe because when you do say British you don't not necessarily think Scottish. You don't necessarily think Irish, you do go to the whole English thing. And I guess maybe that feeds into why then you would say British because you don't want to be why that was put this on you. But based on what you said, you're going to be lumped as English because you're you're more than that. I mean, as you said, like you are that so yeah, I think for me, I would say Welsh,

Yani:

With with the Britishness it's it's interesting, because I think for me, it's for two reasons. It's one because I grew up part of my life and Scotland. And I'm not even kidding when I was a kid when I was like three I used to live in between Abu Dhabi and Scotland. And I used to come I'm back from Scotland, and go back to Abu Dhabi and just say to everyone that I was Scottish, I had like so much nationalism. So you can see this. Imagine this three year old just talking to adults. I'm Scottish. I'm Scottish. And I was just so proud. But another reason is because the perception of being English abroad is quite negative. Yeah, actually. And sometimes I kind of cover it, but sometimes I do, it depends on how I feel. And I guess like, the thing of being mixed identity is like you are a cultural chameleon. And you can try to weave your way through to understand the situations you're in.

Habbiba:

I think as well, like, based something else that you've touched upon, when you would let people Yani, assume where you were from, or they'd beat you said, you were from Abu Dhabi. And they'd like yeah, that makes sense. Then you switch that up. That's also interesting, because I think for me as well, I'm dual heritage, obviously. And then also on top of that, my name is Habbiba. And it's an Arabic name. So before I've even been asked the question, people might potentially assume that I'm Islamic or like that I am Arab or whatever. And then it's like, even further fuels, the confusion, and I guess it just highlights the power of a name. And the fact that I've labelled this way would suggest that, like, that's where I'm from. I think that's also like, definitely imperative to this whole discussion, like, like, what your called also confuses, and I guess, yeah, feeds into that.

Yani:

It's like what Ben said about how people try to view you in their lens. So because I also realise that I think all of us have realised that I tried to take the power back onto me. So if someone asked me, Where where are you from? I just like to play along. So I guess, yeah, because that kind of like puts the power back on to you because you get to see your that that you're the lens. Now it's your lens, and you can define that. But also it kind of shows like, Who's the idiot here? Like, who's making this assumption?

Ben:

Yeah, I just I do something slightly similar to that. And yeah, different so. So when asked me, I'll be like, I'm from London? Uh, huh. No, but were you really from? Well, I guess I was born in Shrewsbury. But yeah, even Southland is like, Yeah, but where are you really from? Why don't you just like, why I'm brown or -

Habbiba:

Which zone? Are you from? Tell me your tube line! London. I do think to be devil's advocate, like, at the same time, like, how do you ask and I don' know the answer for that. Because there have been occasions where you are curious, and you are interacting with people. And I guess a part of that is sharing where you're from and your heritage, like, equally, like, I don't know what the right way, or how I would like to be asked, and I guess, you know, it is good that people, obviously the intention is so important. But if they've taken an interest in you, that's how you connect to one another, like, you know, where you from that share your experiences and your how you socialise and like guess your culture and your lens of the world. But I guess you need to answer how you do that. Like, I don't know, like, how do you ask somebody where they're from? in the right way?

Yani:

I think a lot of people recently have been asking, like, if they want to know, you know, where are you from? Why are you this colour? Is what's your heritage. And I think that's a quite a big development, I think the last couple of years. And then more people have asked if they want to know where basically, where are you living right now? It's like, Oh, where are you based? And I think the language around that has developed quite a lot, I think in the last like, maybe five years. But I think it's just like trying to catch on. I'm just thinking about so when I did my year abroad in Japan, like we had to learn Japanese as part of the programme. People in Japanese would ask you, this word with Shusshin (出身) which is like, what's, where's your origin? And that's basically like, where are you? Where were you born? And then, like, basically, that is like, Where were you born and because it's quite homogenous society is like which prefecture you born in. But that's like a lot of people feel connection to that word. And this is where my hometown is. And they have lots of these like, words to differentiate. So I think it's quite interesting, like the language in different countries around being mixed and the feeling of your origin or hometown.

Habbiba:

I had like a completely different experience, obviously, because it's a different culture. But I studied, I didn't study, I worked in China for two years. And I was living in Shanghai, which is quite a metropolitan and developed society, but equally, you know, it's still a completely different, unique culture in itself. Like it's, it's got so much history and you know, but when I was teaching there, we would work in an office and it would be like the locals with the Chinese teachers and the foreigners. Who were obviously the expats that were there. I don't know if you had the similar language around that, but I thought that was funny in itself. But yeah, when we would be talking about where we were from, they call it I was British or whatever, or like, I had friends that were African American. And they were typecast them into, I guess, you're a basketball player. And then for me, it was like, you're British. Oh, but you're, you're not white. Like you can't like you can't be like, you're not British. This is not what it looks like in the film. You're not from Downton Abbey? Like, of course, I'm not, you know, I'm dual heritage. I was born there. That's my origin. I was born in Wales. But, you know, like, there's another part of me that's, that's from somewhere else. And like, that's okay. But it was such a difficult concept for them to kind of understand-

Naomi:

That's making me laugh so much.

Yani:

I get that with them. I think, I think it happens well, especially when in Asian cultures, I think, from my experience of being, like, half Indonesian, is that like, over there, I'm too Western over here. I'm too. I'm too Asian. So when I don't fit that little box, you have like, the stereotypes of different countries are just mine, people just don't understand that their mind just blow.

Ben:

Yeah, so so true. And I can relate to that having spent time living and working different African countries as well. Where I guess, growing up there is that, again, linked to the whole sort of like binary, binaryism of being viewed as being black in the UK, grow growing up, I know, was starting to change that discourse a little bit. But then going to different African countries and then being viewed as being white. So for example, my mom was from Cameroon, and going into my, going into my maternal village, in a very, very beautiful village in, in Cameroon. And, and little children, basically shut shouting in my mom's tongue (Ewondo) N'tangana, which means little whitey, for example. So that, that used to really annoy me when I was younger, just having, you know, being being another one country and then going to your other country, and also being treated as a as another in that in that country as well. And, and yeah, curious sort of applying it to other contexts. I remember sort of being in Kenya and Ethiopia, where I was referred to as being Chinese. And I was very curious about that further. So the people in question shouted out, hey, Chinese person, I was like, wow, this is really interesting. I've never had this before. Then, sort of like digging a bit deep, deeper, and asking Kenyan and Ethiopian friends, you know, why, why they thought that happened. And they suggested that because there are so many Chinese workers in Africa at the moment, you know, helping working towards development, international development, which you have a lot of treaties between Chinese and different African countries, then they're very observable. You see a lot of Chinese people within both Kenyan and Ethiopian society. So so the people who said this to me, they're like, Okay, well, he's not, he's not white, he's not black. So he must be Chinese. So yeah,

Habbiba:

I think is like, definitely had similar experiences going back to my time in China. And I think the thing that's really annoying, or that I definitely struggle with, is the fact that you get, like, the shitness of both. So like, if you're in the UK, or for me, personally, I experienced racism for my black heritage, and then going to China, it was completely negated because they would, a lot of the time just class me as white. So they would just eradicate a lot of my like, who I am my identity, like, it was just like, No, you're not. Because I wasn't the stereotypically looking person they had in their mind of what half Jamaican person would look like, half Jamaican, like, as if he could be, you know, but anyway, yeah. So I think you just, I guess we're going to come on into it a little bit later around the notion of belonging and stuff like that. But it is really hard when, like you said, your identity is continuously questioned. And you don't resonate 100% with either, but you get the discrimination of both. That's just something that I struggle and grapple with. And I just, yeah, I still continue to do so even though like I'm 27 now and yeah, it just it hasn't gotten any easier. If anything has gotten probably harder.

Naomi:

Do you think it's gotten harder because like the issues that you're thinking about have become more complex and your understanding of the world has become more complex and therefore your understanding about belonging and like intersection of yourself has become wider so I guess like, if we think about like, when you're younger when you were saying about the tricycle you like, oh, you know, do you have a sandwich? I have a sandwich. Let's be friends. But then as we get older, we think about things more, we understand ourselves more, and we understand ways that we do fit into things. And we don't and ways that, you know, yeah, I guess that applies to everybody about what your thoughts are about, like experience of belonging and how it changes over time?

Ben:

From from my side, I, I think in the UK, and on the whole things have improved a lot since, since I was growing up, as I referred to earlier, people really didn't understand the concept of being mixed or being dual heritage. So for example, in my case, I, I have privilege in quite in quite a few ways. I went to boarding school for seven years in West Yorkshire, where I stuck out for for quite a few different reasons as as you might might imagine, and, and people couldn't really conceptualise the fact that, you know, one of my parents was black and the other than the other one was white. They were like are you adopted or, yeah, in the best, the best case scenario, I guess, I guess it was that and growing up, you know, in this environment where I was, I was a child, and I was I was 10. And then when I went I went to, when I went to boarding school and stuck out, I just found myself sort of like constantly, you know, fighting with people, not not generally physically more to, to get them to understand, you know, who I was. And again, it was very difficult to them, because they didn't have that exposure, right. And I guess in my in my sense, in my case, I was quite lucky because I did have, you know, I had, I had my parents who both reinforced my, you know, my identity, the fact that you know, you can be whatever you want, don't let other people define who you are. And they, you know, they reinforce the idea of, you know, richness within your background of diversity. But it was such a challenge that to be honest, being like being in in Yorkshire back then. But they're sort of looking at back then. And now in London, for example, London is, you know, is a large mix dual heritage, various dual heritage people. And I think more people, at least in London, I can't speak for the rest of the country are beginning to understand that, you know, the world is not, or London is not just black and white. So yeah, I think London, at least is is getting a bit better.

Habbiba:

I think like what I was saying in terms of still struggling with that. And I guess that feeds into the notion of belonging and stuff, I think because you you continuously form and your identity as you evolve, and like it's not fixed by any means. But once you're a little bit older, and you kind of have these preconceived ideas about who you are, and somebody is continuously questioning that, and attacking that, I guess, to a point. It does get it is hard. Like I guess what I'm trying to say is when you're growing up, and people are still having that, you're still figuring yourself out. But when you're a little bit older, I guess in your 20s, or something or wherever you feel that you've developed some sort of notion, like I said, it's how you perceive yourself. And then it's still being attacked. So well, well, I thought I had that together. Like I thought, I have a shell of who I am at least and then you're still kind of poking that. And then it's like, okay, well, I'm trying to figure my path in this world. And you're just throwing things in my way that I have to then pick up and deal with to an extent, because you're literally thrusting these things in my face. Like I can't even like Ben fighting people down the street and fight. You're fighting these labels in this language and like, there's prejudice and discrimination. And I think the key point within that is that you're walking this path alone. Because as we all know, a being dual heritage, as you said, like you belong to all but you belong to neither. So it's like, who's walking down this road with you? And I think that that's why I find it so much harder now. Because it's isolated, and you don't feel held by the community. And it's through no fault of anybody's it's just because you are mixed identities, you are mixed race, you know, so it's like, what do you do with that and where do you go?

Naomi:

And on that note, I think now's a good time to take a break. So listeners, we're back after the break.

Bame Recruitment:

Diversifying is a purpose led career platform that is proud to promote opportunities for all check out our website for job opportunities@diversifying.io. And don't forget to follow us on social media.

Naomi:

And we are back after the break.

Yani:

My experience of belonging has changed over time like and it is like an interesting way of how it's changed. So when I was living in Abu Dhabi very close family friend was Indonesian and British. Actually, I should say that they were actually Welsh. Hahah, So Indonesian and Welsh, very proud. Very, very

Habbiba:

Wah heyyyyyy Welsh! Yayyy proud. And I had them with me. And I felt that sense of belonging because they were very much like me, they came from like a very similar background. And we were living in the same kind of area. And our parents did similar things. So that was like my community and my family. But when we moved to the UK, I really noticed that I was different. And that's when my sense of belonging was just like, Oh, I'm really out of place here. I'm not sure how I feel. And especially when I moved from straight from Abu Dhabi, my accent, as wonderful it is, now it was not the same back then I had a very weird mixed accent of like, Arab accent, Indonesian Scottish was thrown in there. And then there was this, this accent for it. And then now it's what it is now. And that was stuck out like a sore thumb. So I was hyper aware that I was different. So I just didn't feel like I belonged. And I remember I had this distinct memory. And it was, I really hate this memory. But it also kind of grounds me in my belonging now. And that is, when I was in year five or six, I really, really, really wanted to be just white, I wanted to have blonde hair. And I remember I had this distinct memory of wanting to just pull off my really dark hair now. And just underneath was actually just this beautiful blonde hair. And that I wanted to be called Ashley, because my full name is Suryani. And a lot of people cannot say that name when it's like written down. And they're like, Oh, how do I say that? It's like Serani. That's the worst one, or Serani or Sirianni. And I hated it. So I was like Ashley, everyone can say that. And the reason why I wanted to be called Ashley, and be blonde is because of recess. The TV show? Yeah. They had like a whole group called the Ashley's and I wanted to be part. Yeah, omg YEH!

Naomi:

Yeh, I remember that!

Yani:

And they were popular, and that's what I wanted to be. But when I moved to secondary school, that's when you're like, I want to be individual and cool. So I really grasped onto my Asianness, like into an insane way that I was just like, oh, I suddenly really like anime. And I'm like, Why do I suddenly I became that girls of man. And I really like Kpop. So I really like grasped onto anything like Asian that I could and just like try to become more Asian to feel like a belonging to be belonging in the Asian community. So that was wild, then I really like came into myself and sense of belonging of being mixed and being just fully Indonesian, fully British, when I was at university, because everyone around me was so different. And where I was growing up was a, quite a white town. And like just just like close with, like from near from, from Portsmouth, and going to university, everyone's very, very different, very diverse. And I came into my own and actually really felt that sense of belonging, and well felt the confidence of myself and knew who I was. And then moving to London, now everyone's super diverse, and everyone from every walks of life. And just being happy in the skin that I that I'm in and being happy with how my face looks. My hair, being called Suryani, Yeah. And yeah, but you know, it might change in the future, we'll never know. But it's a, it's a journey. And so far, I'm enjoying it. I hope I enjoy the future.

Habbiba:

That's really powerful. And like such a clear, linear transformation. I mean, I'm sure as you went through it, it wasn't so linear. And at the time, it probably felt like truly daunting and stuff. But it's nice that you were able to get to that conclusion at the end of it and feel comfortable. I think it's really interesting as well, like the fact that you need what you said about your high school because I'm the reverse. So when I was in apart from the first go into when I moved schools due to racism, I had to move to another school, and that school was more multicultural. And so like that was just like, I guess that feeds into the fact that, you know, I didn't really see a difference. I didn't really recognise, like, who I was in relation to everyone around me. But a university again, it was not University, high school. It was very multicultural. And you know, and we'd have non uniform days where you could go in dressed up however you like, and you'd bring your powers and it'd be for charity, whatever. And, um, these days I would straighten my hair. And I keep saying obviously, everybody can see who I am like the whole world knows who I am right but It's my hair's curly. I have mixed race hair. And when I would straighten my hair, people were like, oh my god, like, You should do that often. Like, it's so good, straight, it's so good, straight, like, Wow. He's who is this, really is like a new person. But then now, like, if you compare that that would have been like, I was in high school, what 2006+, whereas if you look at things now, like, people are going and doing the reverse and priming their hair, and using lip fillers, and you know, wearing weaves from communities, you know, such like, that aren't necessarily supposed to be wearing them if you can use the word suppose I don't know. I haven't traditionally worn them. And using I guess, aspects of that kind of part of culture to I guess, it is appropriation in some sort of way. But I just think that it's interesting that, you know, when we were younger, we tried so hard to be that Ashley, as you say, whereas now, people are like doing the complete reverse. It's almost cooler to be to like, get a fake tan. Where are we even putting lip fillers in and get bum implants?

Ben:

Where do you think that comes from? Habiba? Do you think that's almost like a form of exoticism of what and where do you think that comes from?

Habbiba:

I think it's layered because obviously, the stuff that we're taught or I'm talking about now is probably predominantly black culture. Whereas I think if we want to keep it on the dual heritage, fetish- being fetishised that's such a difficult word to say fetishize How do you say it?

Yani:

Fetished? Oh, wow, I can't do it either

Ben:

Fetishise?

Habbiba:

my mouth just won't work for that word. So I think yeah, there's like difference and like, and the nuances between those two. But I think that comes down to media as well, which representation which, again, we're going to probably come on to a little bit later. But yeah, I do think that celebrities have seen things that they view as cool, you know, like Kylie Jenner, you know, looking at her lips filler in that line. And when people like sucking on jars to make their lips bigger, because she did it. And you know, like all of the Kardashians platting their hair, like having cornrows and things. But again, like you can appreciate these kind of art forms and this aesthetics and stuff. But you're doing nothing for those communities, I think. Yeah. But anyway, we're covering massive tangent to go back to the point. I think it's coming from that. It's now a cool thing to look the way that I guess we do. And so all of those years are spent trying to fit in. They weren't wasted, I guess. But I guess, I guess the notion is interesting. But now it's the reverse. And I guess in that way, we're lucky to be born with the things that everybody else wants to have.

Naomi:

Yeah, I think I should another note about media and representation of fetishisation I don't know if you wanted to go into it. Because I'm when we were talking about it before. And probably with every single person I've ever met who share their experiences with me, this has been a very hot topic. And I think they kind of go hand in hand from from all of your experiences. So I didn't know if anyone wanted to dive a bit into positive/negative representation and also the, I guess, the giant exoticise and fetishization of the mix identity, which, as we've all been talking about has become so popular and so prevalent these days black fishing, Asian fishing, mixed fishing of these things. Yeah?

Ben:

So there's, there's one very common stereotype. And it's quite a it's a negative one of it's referred often as being like the tragic mulato as an excuse my escape, excuse my language, I don't even like that term. But the idea is, it's the trope of, of someone who is of dual heritage, who is of mixed race, who can't fit into either of their races of their Heritages, and, and is constantly ostracised by by both both communities. And it's interesting how, how this is depicted in so many films historically, over the over the last 100 years. Ranging back to several films made in the 1930s and 1950s, called Imitation of Life about a very, very fair skinned dual heritage woman, she tries to abandon her black heritage because she wants to be able to fit in and survive within within US society. And it's amazing film but looking back at it so many, so many problems that need that need to be addressed. More recently the film passing which, which has been on cinema over the last year who also has the, the stereotype that trope of the of the tragic dual heritage, heritage person. And it's it's curious because um For me being dual heritage, it's as always been such a such a privilege. In my practical ways, I think that I've been actually been able to adapt and fit into different to different societies, different cultures have more international friends. And I think that's partly because I am of, both Heritage's, it's almost given me a unique insight to to be a global citizen, without wanting to sound too corny and too intuitive. Because I, you know, I don't fit into this norm of, of what of what is British? Or what is whatever, African or ecetera, et cetera. So yeah, my hope for the future is that we, we do move beyond these, these negative tropes and look at, at the possibilities there, the richness and diversity that that we carry through through our heritage. And now I've just gone off on a huge, huge tangent away from that question. So I'll hand that over to one of you.

Yani:

I agree with like, the privilege part, like we do have a privilege that we can be these, as I said earlier, cultural chameleon, we can just like adapt, and we, we just we can navigate society in a different way in a different lens. But I think, coming back to Habbiba's point on, like beauty standards, I think there was a kind of privilege coming through that where a lot more people want to look like they are mixed. They, they it's become like a fashion statement. So if you look at like fashion models, like about 10 years ago, for some reason being mixed, was like they wanted a mix model. That was, that was the thing that was the right thing to have. And it just comes in like waves of fashion cycles. So I think the last couple of years, it was like the fox eye thing was like making their eyes look more Asian. And it's just like, Okay, right. And coming back to the how the Kardashians are basically black fishing, and a lot of black, a lot of artists black fishing, and it's become more of like a fashion statement. So there is like, a privilege of saying that we are in fashion, but also because of people wanting to look more mixed. It's just like, are we actually disposable? Are we just a thing that you can commercialise like you can't just make our identity, something that you can dispose of? This is something to live with all the time. And one week, we are fashionable the next week we aren't. That's horrible. And that makes you feel really bad.

Habbiba:

Yes, I agree with everything you said. And I think that the rather than disposable, I kind of perceive us to be diluted versions of a race. And so I think that the way that we used is like, Oh, well, you know, the consumer, or whoever's watching this, the viewer is going to find this person easier to watch, because they're not too much of anything. And I think that's problematic in so many ways. And the negative repercussions of that, I guess hinders, in my experience, my sense of belonging, because it creates tension and resentment within either community. So whatever that may be. So for example, with regards to me, like I guess in terms of like colorism, and you know, the whole light skinned beauty notion and that it really feels that because you're going to have segregation within the black community, because, of course, that justifiably, if you're constantly be using dual heritage, celebrities to represent blackness, like, of course, that's going to create frustration, and that's going to manifest and ricochet on the relationships that we have within those communities. And so I find, utilising dual heritage people, as a way of beauty. Mainly about it's good to have that representation. But the consequences aren't quite worth it for me. But then equally, like what do you do? I guess what you do is you just have more representation and just don't utilise a whole bank of one demographic use the spectrum of it. Like there's so many amazing Asian stars out there and black and white like this, there's no it's like, you don't need to just go to a diluted version of one because you're scared like be brave. And it's sad that you even have to be brave like is it really brave that she's the best talent out there? Like diversity to be champions and not run away run

Naomi:

Youknow, you mentioned a lot about this communities is away from there's so much debate in every community about I think that from what you've spoken, you know, I've seen it a lot firsthand. I've not experienced it firsthand, but about the just the giant tension between people getting frustrated when a role for example, you know, I think I've talked to some of y'all about this before, the movie series To All the Boys I've Loved Before. The main character is specifically described as mixed, you know, half Korean, half American white American, and they chose a Southeast Asian girl as the main role and obviously, you know, you can sometimes say, Oh, well, maybe she was the best actor and you know, from a personal perspective, I'm like, Oh, great. She's adopted unless we get somebody. But I do think that there was a giant opportunity there that was missed, because this is a story that was supposed to be told it is written by a Korean American author. And it is literally prescribed in the character about how she explores her Koreanness through being an unmet Korean American person with a parent, like without the Korean American mom there. And, you know, I think that, you know, it speaks to a lot more, you know, saying is, the idea is that people are conflating the two being, you know, Korean American with two Korean parents who are immigrants in a totally different experience to being mixed race and being half american, you can't combine the two, you can't substitute the two, Oh, it's fine, we can just swap them around. Because that's not how it works. You're ignoring all the intricacies of all the value of those experiences. And I think that seems to be sort of, you know, saying what you're speaking to is that the idea is that when we use one thing to represent everything, then it just, it makes it worse for everybody because everybody is erased, everybody's nuances, everybody's stories, everybody's experiences and even within mixed race experiences. You know, for example, there's Korean mix people, you know, from Korean and white mix people but then there's also people who are mixed with other you know, things like Latino and Asian people, you know, there's there's so many other intricacies within those that they can't be one thing, and when they use it to substitute and they represent us through just one lens. And again, with this one is really annoying her she Southeast Asian, she's not even Korean. So that also really annoyed me as well. That was, that's a one tangent and things. But I guess yeah, we're just, and then just before we round up, I just want to talk a little bit. So everyone's mentioned before about about the language. We've already talked about different words, and how the words in different cultures for example, I know you mentioned it about Japan. I know that in Japan, specifically, they have a word that it means mix, which is hafu who I think, and many other languages have those words as well. I guess you know, what, I wanted to ask about how it speaks to you, as individuals that those words particularly affect and those words, sort of intersect with your own perception of yourself around mix people

Yani:

with my identity, even though I think I have started this podcast, I said, I'm half British half Indonesian, I've been trying my to move away from saying I'm half and half because I am whole of each one. And because I've had the delights of both. And so I tried to say that I am mixed. But that's also trying to teach yourself and unlearn. Because I just slip into it really easily. But trying to say that I'm mixed because I am hold of each one.

Habbiba:

I think that's interesting as well, because I guess like with everything in life, it's all down to what the person prefers. So I don't like being called or referred to as brown. I don't like I used to be okay with Mixed But nowadays I'm not because not I think the word problematic. But I think it just like you said, it doesn't do me enough justice in terms of my identity. And I feel like so many people now that are like, half Scottish half Spanish, they think they're mixed race, or they refer to themselves as mixed race and say, Well, you're not mixed race, like, they're potentially two different cultures granted, but that, like you're still white. And so then when I say I'm mixed race, I feel like invalidated, that I'm going to be accumulated within that. And I just want to be so far away from that, because that's not who I am. I think dual heritage again, like, I think that that's, I guess it's better than but equally, it's still, it's not quite there. But I do like what you have never thought about it that way of being whole of something. So I really liked that. And I really resonate with that. But as with anything as well, like I think that language use is so important. But it's not everything. It's not all consuming. Like it's just kind of the front first step of the problem. I guess it's kind of like we all argue within the communities like whether it is within your heritage and whether it is with people that are of your heritage, or is that within the black community, the Asian community, any community that exists in terms of cultural identity, argue about these labels. And I think that don't get me wrong. As I said, they are so important that we spend so much time arguing about what we should be called, rather than the actual root of the problem, which is systemic racism. And as you know, like it's like a tree, isn't it that you have the leaves on the tree, and they're beautiful, they're magical, but they fall off and they're replaced by another leaf. But what we really need to be focusing on is the roots of that tree

Ben:

Really beautifully put. And I also agree I really love what you said earlier Yani about about being being home. So yeah, so where have I come my journey? I remember the first time I became aware of race. I was was quite old I guess was like Eight years old, it was my birthday party had some kids over. And during my birthday party, a Ghanaian friend of mine said no, your mom is black, your dad is white. And excuse, excuse my terminology, but I'm gonna say I'm gonna say this. Because I want to demonstrate how, how terminology has changed. You're half caste, this, my friends said to me You're half caste. Interesting, because I've never heard this term before half caste. How? How interesting. Sorry that's my daughter crying in the background.

Habbiba:

She doesn't like the word either!

Ben:

So so yeah, so interesting. A half caste. So anyway, after Oo timing

Yani:

hahahha

Naomi:

Hahhahah my party, the friends had gone home, went up to my mom that evening say, Mom, I'm half caste. My mom said what? Mom I'm half caste! Where did you hear that? And then I explained to her listen, She said don't let anybody ever ever refer to you as as that you're African you're European. You're both and you're a whole as Yani said, Sorry, don't wanna get emotional. And, and yeah, okay. So in terms of progress no one uses the term half caste anymore at least you know, that's there's some some progress that's that has been made. But But yeah, again, yeah, that was the fact that the My friend said it to me and I didn't even understand what it meant it It took it being explained to me and I thought about that evening and I didn't have that reassurance. reassurance from my from my mom from my parents you know, didn't have that that safety and security i don't know, I guess I could have developed significant insecurities and I had a lot of insecurities through for the years but thankfully, thankfully, I've never had insecurities regarding my regarding my heritage, because I've always been really, really proud of my, of my of my African heritage and my and my European heritage. In terms of language I yeah, I mixed race is also problematic. I think dual heritage is potentially good, good for now. Maybe we need to move to to be on to something else. I have. I have a daughter, who you might have just heard. She's four years old. My wife is Greek. So my, my daughter has multiple Heritages. He has a Greek she has a Cameroonian. She has a British heritage. She has all of these Heritage's going on. And one thing I really really want her to be throughout her life as she grows up, I really wanted to be proud of all of these Heritages. And it's an evolving, it's an evolving discourse and trying to understand what the best is for, for her and for future generations. But the most important thing is that we talked about it. And it's such a privilege to be sitting here with, with with the three of you to have this discussion. Thank Thank you for sharing that, Ben. That was really. you. Yeah, that was pretty moving. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah. And also one just wanted to call that I did actually say to mixed people earlier. So I would like to just call that that. I said that. I will not use that for the rest of the podcast.

Habbiba:

Like I think like I said, like, it's it's okay to, like if there's nothing like who decides when it's wrong. And I think that that's the thing that I struggle with. And I guess feeding what's to what you just said then about evolving, and you have to constantly have those conversations with your daughter and whatever, we have to keep reevaluating and reassessing this thing and like how we label identify ourselves, but I remember as well, like, I was literally so I was born in 1994. And like, as soon as I was cognitive unable to comprehend, I was literally called half caste for years and years of my life, like over and over and over and over again. And I didn't realise like, you know, I'm a child. I was like, oh, yeah, okay. Cool. Like, and I think the difference is, I had the absence of my my father, who was Jamaican, so I just have my mom. And with regards to that, like, I don't think like I think, you know, it wasn't a big thing. It was just like, that was what we did. That was what we said. And then there was one moment then I think, I guess in the mid 2000s. Early then it was I was suddenly told that that was a bad word, and that I wasn't able to, like people shouldn't call me back. And then I think then, from that I was just like, Okay, then, but it wasn't really explained to me why or I guess the history or the load the social the, like loaded nurse or like, I guess the racism charge behind that wasn't explained to me. It's just like, right, this was gone. Now. This is the new one. So I think in terms of like moving forward as well, and as it evolves, maybe not necessarily focusing on the word. Of course, it's important, it's a description, but what's equally important is the explanation behind that and the history behind it and why that it's not okay to use this terminology, especially to a person that is that or like that. resonates or does it resonate with that?

Yani:

What I think this all comes down to something that Ben said right at the very beginning. And it was about having is the other person's lens on us. And we just tried to explain that to someone else. And we're not really explaining to ourselves properly. So I guess if we're really explaining it to ourselves properly, it's just like, Oh, I'm British and Indonesian. That's who I am. So it's always one the other lens. And one other thing that isn't helpful is that when you do the census, or anything, especially the census, is, which box do I tick? Technically, I tick the other box or mixed other because I don't have a category because Southeast Asians don't. But yeah, I think that doesn't help you. They're trying to explain it to the government. But yeah, it's all about the other lens. Basically.

Habbiba:

That's such a good point. Because, obviously, we do this throughout our lives that I've done it so absolutely. That I'm just like, Yeah, where is it? Mixed coool? Like, mixed race? Yeah, white, black Caribbean cool. That's me. Yeah, cool. Like, sometimes it's not even there. But I've never actually thought about that. So that's really interesting that you've highlighted that. See, again, like all of this stuff that you just assume, or you just live with so much, and it just becomes intrinsic within you that actually, like that is so problematic, and the fact that Southeast Asians don't even have a category. That's wild. That's so rogue of the government, government, you rogue.

Yani:

It's all to do with colonialism.

Habbiba:

So right ... hahahha

Naomi:

yeah, hahah so I think we're coming to the end of our podcast, but I just wanted to say, thank you so much for sharing everything, all about your experiences. I as a civilian, not as a worker, I really believe that a lot of the things that you said really will resonate with a lot of people. I resonate a lot with me myself, you know, I don't have the same lived experiences, as all have you. But on a personal note, I you know, I really did enjoy hearing all of your stories. And I think that there is so much benefit and there is so much power in having discussions and having, you know, spaces like this, where that you can share those things and share those things with each other. I think there's something very powerful. Okay, well, thank you so much everyone being on the podcast, and we'll see you all in the next episode.

Bame Recruitment:

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