—Has your birth—
healed a generation?

 

Beautiful, strong, vivid portraits by Lou Mensah, with a fascinating commentary by the sitters.
(Hover over the pictures to read their words).

 
“No. But then again how could it ever? Why should it? The mere existence of mixed-race people and our rapid demographic growth does not denote the end of racism.  The fact that our parents had us does not mean that they are ‘woke’.  How can you heal a generation when the wound of historical and institutionalised racism is not even acknowledged?  Continuously seeing the mixed-race identity hijacked by society as poster children of progress is frustrating. We may be shown to be ideals of the future, but our voices are never heard: we are shut down in spaces and silenced at the table.  Being mixed race, you cannot fail to see race and identity as anything more than a social construct.  We are claimed by different communities due to a perception of similarity based on our skin-tone, facial features etc… and yet rejected by others for those very same features. Nothing has changed – you are still the same person but everything changes depending on who is viewing you. Rarely are you allowed to be your full, complex self: society needs to place you in neat, tidy boxes, only recognising part and dismissing the rest. Neat, tidy boxes called Black, White etc...Neat, tidy boxes that propagate the legacy of colonialism and crude racial stereotypes. The mixed-race identity defies all of that. It challenges a system that both the oppressed and the privileged have upheld. But the system can only be challenged if we’re ALL willing to go beyond skin deep.”   www.haluhalo.org

“No. But then again how could it ever? Why should it? The mere existence of mixed-race people and our rapid demographic growth does not denote the end of racism. The fact that our parents had us does not mean that they are ‘woke’. How can you heal a generation when the wound of historical and institutionalised racism is not even acknowledged?

Continuously seeing the mixed-race identity hijacked by society as poster children of progress is frustrating. We may be shown to be ideals of the future, but our voices are never heard: we are shut down in spaces and silenced at the table. Being mixed race, you cannot fail to see race and identity as anything more than a social construct. We are claimed by different communities due to a perception of similarity based on our skin-tone, facial features etc… and yet rejected by others for those very same features. Nothing has changed – you are still the same person but everything changes depending on who is viewing you. Rarely are you allowed to be your full, complex self: society needs to place you in neat, tidy boxes, only recognising part and dismissing the rest. Neat, tidy boxes called Black, White etc...Neat, tidy boxes that propagate the legacy of colonialism and crude racial stereotypes. The mixed-race identity defies all of that. It challenges a system that both the oppressed and the privileged have upheld. But the system can only be challenged if we’re ALL willing to go beyond skin deep.”

www.haluhalo.org

SUSAN
—DALE

“I would not say my birth has healed a generation:  the cuts from class, race and religion are too deep.  We stick plasters on them but underneath wounds still fester. Social afflictions such as racism, classism etc. do far more damage than diseases of the flesh. They attack the psyche, limit life chances and harm a sense of well-being. We all suffer the effects of these afflictions either directly or indirectly and until we begin to tackle them head-on, no healing can even begin.  That said I like to think my existence has had an impact on some parts of society. For the past 19 years I have been trying to change society’s perceptions of mixed-race individuals. It’s not easy challenging stereotypical ideas and assumptions that have been around for centuries, and doing that when you’re also affected is difficult. I like to think I’ve made some headway. My  website  speaks for itself. I wouldn’t say it heals anyone but there is awareness healing needs to take place.   When I started Intermix I would often get told I was too radical, that I should accept and stop trying to deny my blackness. I knew that wasn’t the real issue.  I am happy embracing my blackness but I don’t think I need to describe myself as black to do that.  It clouds the issue and allows people like me to be used as the acceptable face of blackness. This perpetuation of the one-drop-rule not only enables and hides racist behaviour but also allows shadism (where those with a lighter skin tone get better life chances) to flourish. It also brings resentment from within the black community and rightly so. Once you take mixed-race people out of the equation you can start to see how much racism is still out there and just how little we have moved on in terms of treating black people equally.  That doesn’t mean mixed-race people don’t suffer racism too, but we experience it differently. For us it may be within our own extended family, even from parents or siblings and it may not be direct in your face racism it may be more subtle. It can also come from both sides of our heritage. Though some would argue only white people can be racist, having felt the hatred from both sides I beg to differ. The words and the actions may be different but the hurt is the same.   And let’s not forget mixedness is not just a black and white thing, there are lots of different mixes some may not have any black or white heritage. A lot of the experiences are similar though, even if the racial backgrounds are not and it’s those similar experiences that are bringing mixed-race people together in the 21st century.   With the rise of the internet, social media and mobility we are suddenly finding each other and recognising the things we have in common. More importantly the more we see of each other the more we realise we are ordinary. Just like everybody else we have issues, and fears and dreams and accomplishments. JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE.”

“I would not say my birth has healed a generation: the cuts from class, race and religion are too deep. We stick plasters on them but underneath wounds still fester. Social afflictions such as racism, classism etc. do far more damage than diseases of the flesh. They attack the psyche, limit life chances and harm a sense of well-being. We all suffer the effects of these afflictions either directly or indirectly and until we begin to tackle them head-on, no healing can even begin.

That said I like to think my existence has had an impact on some parts of society. For the past 19 years I have been trying to change society’s perceptions of mixed-race individuals. It’s not easy challenging stereotypical ideas and assumptions that have been around for centuries, and doing that when you’re also affected is difficult. I like to think I’ve made some headway. My website speaks for itself. I wouldn’t say it heals anyone but there is awareness healing needs to take place.

When I started Intermix I would often get told I was too radical, that I should accept and stop trying to deny my blackness. I knew that wasn’t the real issue. I am happy embracing my blackness but I don’t think I need to describe myself as black to do that. It clouds the issue and allows people like me to be used as the acceptable face of blackness. This perpetuation of the one-drop-rule not only enables and hides racist behaviour but also allows shadism (where those with a lighter skin tone get better life chances) to flourish. It also brings resentment from within the black community and rightly so. Once you take mixed-race people out of the equation you can start to see how much racism is still out there and just how little we have moved on in terms of treating black people equally.

That doesn’t mean mixed-race people don’t suffer racism too, but we experience it differently. For us it may be within our own extended family, even from parents or siblings and it may not be direct in your face racism it may be more subtle. It can also come from both sides of our heritage. Though some would argue only white people can be racist, having felt the hatred from both sides I beg to differ. The words and the actions may be different but the hurt is the same.

And let’s not forget mixedness is not just a black and white thing, there are lots of different mixes some may not have any black or white heritage. A lot of the experiences are similar though, even if the racial backgrounds are not and it’s those similar experiences that are bringing mixed-race people together in the 21st century.

With the rise of the internet, social media and mobility we are suddenly finding each other and recognising the things we have in common. More importantly the more we see of each other the more we realise we are ordinary. Just like everybody else we have issues, and fears and dreams and accomplishments. JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE.”

SHARRON
—HALL

“I don’t think it has, No.  The effects of racism are still evident in the social, economic and government policies all around us. I am still forced to choose which part of my identity I want to claim when filling out forms and I still have to deal with other people’s curiosities, microaggressions even, about exactly ‘what’ I am.  That said, I do think social media platforms have created a pathway for more dialogue which if it leads to action, could well be healing.  We won’t heal or solve any of our greatest challenges as humans if we are unwilling to talk about what is happening.  We need to have the hard, difficult and emotional conversations about racism and be honest about how it affects us.  We need to put forward solutions that we not only carry into our personal lives but into our communities, workplaces and then eventually into policy.”   Laura Hesketh Instagram

“I don’t think it has, No.

The effects of racism are still evident in the social, economic and government policies all around us. I am still forced to choose which part of my identity I want to claim when filling out forms and I still have to deal with other people’s curiosities, microaggressions even, about exactly ‘what’ I am.

That said, I do think social media platforms have created a pathway for more dialogue which if it leads to action, could well be healing.

We won’t heal or solve any of our greatest challenges as humans if we are unwilling to talk about what is happening. We need to have the hard, difficult and emotional conversations about racism and be honest about how it affects us. We need to put forward solutions that we not only carry into our personal lives but into our communities, workplaces and then eventually into policy.”

Laura Hesketh Instagram

LAURA—
HESKETH

“My 40th birthday had me reflecting on my life, the lives of the women who came before me; my birth, to the birth of my generation.  Struggles faced silently and publicly; burdens they carried personally and globally.  How much of that became entwined in my DNA, in my subconscious being - as I was created, and came to being? Were the struggles I faced handed down to me?   The pain I have endured has echoed the pain of those who breathed life into me.  The clouds in my skies, the barriers that led to their cries to flow through my blood. The laughter that rumbles in my belly, tremors of joy the forebearers have felt for me.  In living, in growing, in learning - I have begun to heal. Wounds I did not know I had, and wounds I saw being ripped through me. I have felt knowledge envelope me with assurance. The birth of those I bore rooting me in the belief scars are no longer flaring angrily in my heart.  Yet as the we forge forward, stretching towards places never dreamt of, refusing to mould into the paths created for us, what tears in time are we creating? With each sigh of relief, every time we close our eyes with a resolution, are we leaving a rip in the space we leave behind? Can healing truly occur if our nature of being leaves behind footprints and shadows? Our heartbeats will create the rhythm for those who are yet to come.”  Twitter  @dancinginshado

“My 40th birthday had me reflecting on my life, the lives of the women who came before me; my birth, to the birth of my generation.

Struggles faced silently and publicly; burdens they carried personally and globally.

How much of that became entwined in my DNA, in my subconscious being - as I was created, and came to being? Were the struggles I faced handed down to me?

The pain I have endured has echoed the pain of those who breathed life into me. The clouds in my skies, the barriers that led to their cries to flow through my blood. The laughter that rumbles in my belly, tremors of joy the forebearers have felt for me.

In living, in growing, in learning - I have begun to heal. Wounds I did not know I had, and wounds I saw being ripped through me. I have felt knowledge envelope me with assurance. The birth of those I bore rooting me in the belief scars are no longer flaring angrily in my heart.

Yet as the we forge forward, stretching towards places never dreamt of, refusing to mould into the paths created for us, what tears in time are we creating? With each sigh of relief, every time we close our eyes with a resolution, are we leaving a rip in the space we leave behind? Can healing truly occur if our nature of being leaves behind footprints and shadows? Our heartbeats will create the rhythm for those who are yet to come.”

Twitter @dancinginshado

TASHMIA
—OWEN

“Two lineages meet in one body, one soul.  I am a part of these families, but my mix reflects differences to both sides, casting me out slightly.  I hold the ability to view two ancestral paths from above.  Long roads, twisting and trodden on with boots of bravery, magic, abuse, graft, defiance, knowledge and love.  From this vantage point I may choose to sift out what my soul yearns for and release the moths of heartbreaking patterns.”   www.tomatotutors.com

“Two lineages meet in one body, one soul. I am a part of these families, but my mix reflects differences to both sides, casting me out slightly. I hold the ability to view two ancestral paths from above. Long roads, twisting and trodden on with boots of bravery, magic, abuse, graft, defiance, knowledge and love. From this vantage point I may choose to sift out what my soul yearns for and release the moths of heartbreaking patterns.”

www.tomatotutors.com

LAURA—
ALVARADO