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Racial Identity and Happiness

September 18th, 2010

I want to let you in on something. My new project that has been keeping me from posting here as often as I should and want is called 'Mixed In Different Shades' and is about the history of inter-cultural relationships and mixed heritage people around the world. How are these two things related you might ask, a blog dealing with trying to find happiness and a history of various small populations around the world? Let me explain.

Mixed FamilyWhy do people do attach such importance to identifying as a particular race, tribe, citizen, nationality? To study all races, tribes, cultures and nations would be a huge undertaking so taking on one that is relevant to me makes sense. Does identifying this way improve your well-being? Is that improved by being the majority in your society or does that not matter? Does it require a physical community or simply the recognition within your society? If racial identity is important are all other aspects of self-identification such as nationality just as important? A project like that would be a great way to discover why and as I find these things out, you can be assured that this is the blog you will find out about it.

At age 15, I got one of a massive cultural shock and became very aware of my race. Prior to that point I had lived in one of the most mixed societies in the world, the Seychelles, where my difference was courtesy of being regarded as a foreigner. Before that I was a boarder at multi-racial convent schools in Zambia and what was then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. It was on my return to Zimbabwe and my entrance into what was, a few months previously, a 'whites only' school that provided the hard cultural shock. To cut a long story short, the two mixed race boys in school were fair targets for some racist behaviour. Being mixed race, I was socially lumped in the 'coloured' category and in response I did make tentative steps for inclusion in the community during that time, though my family never really got into the coloured culture. Leaving school, I found myself working with people of all races and quickly lost any sense of important attachment to my race.

Coming to England, 10 years later, I was surprised again at how much importance people attached to their race especially within ethnic minorities. It's obvious that I may be one of the few people that attach very little importance to race in my day to day life. I quite suspect that many people who know me will be surprised, though not said it out loud, that I have started a project about race.

Along the way, I will create a resource to serve many people who are interested in the history of intercultural and multicultural issues across the whole world. The project will also join the wave challenging the grave injustice of the 'one drop rule' which denied those of mixed heritage accepting the multitude of their ancestry.

To top it all, I have selfish reasons for doing this. This project gives me the opportunity to explore many issues of interest to me such anthropology, genetics and history, provide the opportunity to travel and to spend my time researching and doing something I really love, writing. It gives me work that does not restrict me to one physical location, I can work from anywhere, at any time and whenever I want and if things go roughly to plan, to make a reasonable living out of it. This is a good way to make me content.

May you find the balance.

[First published on my Talking2Myself blog on specified date]