Exploring the history and experiences of mixed heritage persons and inter-racial relationships across the world

A Question of Race

November 11th, 2011
Seychellois fisherman with a fish

Seychellois fisherman with a fish

A reader recently raised an issue with me when on a recent teaser I posted on Facebook regarding the mix of the majority of the Seychellois people.  This got me thinking about the difference there is between anthropological definitions and the everyday definitions people use.  To make matters worse people, the definition of some terms mean different things to different people.  For example, the term Asian in the US tends to be used for Oriental Asian people whereas in the UK it more often used to refer to those who are from or descended from the Indian subcontinent.  What about the term Latino?  To many of us living outside the Americas, Latino says the brown people descendants of European/Amerindian such as the ‘pardo’ Brazilians and the Mexicans.  Attempting to stipulate white Latino or black Latino seems alien to many of us.

One reason for my reader’s objection is that unless we define the lines clearly, we will be unable to tackle the scourge of racism.  I disagree; racism is most commonly a prejudice against anyone different to the racist.  Whether the subject of the racism is black African Bantu or black African American is unlikely to be an issue!

For a person who is attempting to inform people about the history of racial and cultural mixing in an accessible way, it is difficult sometimes to decide the language to use, too formal and it feels to scholarly and too informal will get my fingers rapped like it was deservedly was by this reader.  I have previously tried to define the popular racial terms in the ‘What Is Race, What Is Heritage?’ chapter on the website.  Maybe I will start there when discussing racial mixes in future.

Doing what I do, I follow many mixed race forums on and off Facebook and it is not unusual to find people posting mixes in a variety of ways, stating racial, national and cultural terms to identify, for example terms like black/Mexican, white/Korean and German/black.  This is because the broad terms like white/European or black/African are of limited use in many discussions of race and I suspect that some terms that were falling out of general use, especially in English, are slowly starting to make a comeback, terms like Mulatto and Mestizo and relatively new terms like Hapa and Eurasian are being used more often.

The common strand in all these mixed race forums is very heartening, they are mostly inclusive, embracing all races and cultures and giving anyone long term hope that the ugly side of race may soon be erased and we will all be able to accept all that we are.  After all, all humans are mixed and really belong to one race, the human race.


Race (classification of humans)