By phone I’m white, British and middle class. A Londoner maybe. Definitely educated and probably called Oliver. An accent they can’t place on a black baritone that blends with feminine cadences. Physically, I’m often mistaken for half-Asian…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-12-05 22:24Z by Steven

By phone I’m white, British and middle class. A Londoner maybe. Definitely educated and probably called Oliver. An accent they can’t place on a black baritone that blends with feminine cadences. Physically, I’m often mistaken for half-Asian. Occasionally when my broad shoulders, thick thighs and big belly are accounted for, the answer is Samoan. But my beard suggests I have a relationship with the Quran, certainly when it comes to airports in Southend, Stockholm and San Francisco.

So I feel the double-take when people meet me for the first time.

“Oh!” they will say. “I had no idea you were…”

…Gay?

Ashley Thomas, “Life in The Hinterlands; Growing up Gay & Mixed Race on The Isle of White,” The Afropean: Adventures in Afro Europe, May 9, 2017. http://afropean.com/life-in-the-hinterlands-growing-up-gay-mixed-race-in-the-isle-of-white/.

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National Identity, Citizenship, and Belonging: Afro-descendants in Spain and Catalonia – Agnes

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Europe, Media Archive on 2017-12-05 22:07Z by Steven

National Identity, Citizenship, and Belonging: Afro-descendants in Spain and Catalonia – Agnes

The Afropean: Adventures in Afro Europe
2017-10-27

Abena Wariebi

The second excerpt from interviews taken from a Master’s thesis carried out by Abena Wariebi at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain.

Entitled “National Identity, Citizenship, and Belonging: Afro-descendants in Spain and Catalonia”, the thesis is an investigation of black identities in Barcelona, specifically exploring what it means to be black and Spanish, or black and Catalan.

These interviews represent a small part of the black community in Barcelona. This thesis is in no way conclusive or overall encompassing. It does not represent the views or opinions of all Afro-descendants in Barcelona or Spain. Nevertheless, these accounts are powerful, enriching, and demonstrate the unquestionable solidarity that exists within the diaspora.

Name: Agnes
Age: 20
Profession: Teacher and Photographer


Agnes, teacher and photographer

“I think my mum is the only person in the world who thinks I’m Spanish. Because when I go out on the street, when like a policeman comes and they see my passport or whatever they keep asking ‘oh but where are you from? This says Spain; this says you were born in Barcelona but where are you from? Where is your dad from? Where is your mum from? So, I feel like, I don’t want to be Spanish.

I really feel like I’m Cameroonian. And in a way my dad always tried to raise me to feel like I’m not Spanish, I’m Cameroonian.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Life in The Hinterlands; Growing up Gay & Mixed Race on The Isle of White

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-12-05 17:26Z by Steven

Life in The Hinterlands; Growing up Gay & Mixed Race on The Isle of White

The Afropean: Adventures in Afro Europe
2017-05-09

Ashley Thomas

Life as a mixed gay man seems a singular experience.

Who, what and where are the fluid foundations on which I’m constructed, construed and constrained. To some I am black but not Black, clearly not white or not Black enough. To others, I am an undecided shade of, well, I suppose you might say…

…Brown?

The Isle of Wight is a brilliant homophone. With its crumbling chalk and its crumbling people, it’s REALLY FUCKING WHITE. It’s located somewhere between the English south coast and 27 years ago. The island could seem blank or barren, but this is no creative backwater. At best, rural seaside racism is imaginative: I admired coconut-kicker most for its tropical rhythm…

Read the entire article here.

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Vienna to London: Black to Mixed-Race

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Europe, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2015-12-23 21:13Z by Steven

Vienna to London: Black to Mixed-Race

Afropean: Adventures in Afro Europe
2015-03-19

Annina Chirade

I was born in Vienna, a place which has historically been a frontier between Eastern and Western Europe. I was primarily brought up in London, a city whose population reflects the reaches of the British Empire. It is also the place my parents forged new homes having left their respective homelands. My father is from Ghana and ethnically Asante (one should really say he is Asante first and foremost). My mother is a child of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire and my grandmother’s post-war exile from Sudetenland – her homeland. I’m mixed-race, even though the term never seems to capture the overlapping cultural and personal narratives that exist inside of myself and my family. As a child in the ‘90s, I went back and forth between being black in Vienna and mixed-race in London…

Read the entire article here.

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African American Interest & Experiences in Russia: A Brief History

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2015-11-01 16:57Z by Steven

African American Interest & Experiences in Russia: A Brief History

Afropean: Adventures in Afro Europe
2015-10-28

Robert Fikes, Jr., Reference Librarian
San Diego State University

Robert Fikes, Jr., Librarian at San Diego State University, recounts the history of the African American presence in Russia from the 19th century, noting that African Americans have had a long and prominent history in the region, continuing to the present day, with a focus on the scholarly interest in the history and language by members of the African American intelligentsia.

In early February 1869, Cassius M. Clay, the liberal American ambassador to Russia, was uncertain how Czar Alexander II would react to his personal request to have “a colored American citizen, presented to his Imperial Majesty, as there was not precedent.” He need not have worried however, as Civil War veteran and pioneering black journalist Capt. Thomas Morris Chester from Pennsylvania, was then asked to accompany the czar riding alongside the monarch and his staff in the annual grand review the Imperial Guard – stalwart men splendidly attired in tall black leather boots and gleaming gold and silver helmets crowned with a doubled-headed eagle – and following the awe-inspiring pageantry was treated to a fine meal at the dining table of the royal family. The educated and proudly erect son of an ex-slave, he gladly accepted the invitation and enjoyed an experience unparalleled for an African American in the 19th century. The black editors of the New Orleans Tribune thought the event significant enough that the ambassador’s dispatch to Washington concerning Capt. Chester’s gracious treatment in St. Petersburg was reprinted in the newspaper, believing it would be “instructive to the (racist) white population of the Southern States,” an example of how they should, in the ambassador’s words, “elevate the African race in America.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Black and Belgian: Navigating Multiracial Identities in Ghent, Belguim

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Europe, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-10-05 20:03Z by Steven

Black and Belgian: Navigating Multiracial Identities in Ghent, Belguim

Afropean: Adventures in Afro Europe
2014-10-01

Walter Thompson-Hernandez

Introduction

What does it mean to be Black and multiracial in Belgium? How does sub-Saharan African culture and experiences impact the lives of multiracial people or Afropeans in Belgium? How influential is the U.S. Black experience in the formation of an Afropean identity rooted in Belgian and African cultures? These were some of the questions that I pondered, seven weeks ago, at the outset of this project – eight weeks later, I am still grappling with them. This past summer, I arrived in Ghent, Belgium – a city with a population of 100,000 people, located forty-five miles northwest of Brussels – with hopes of understanding and delving into the multiracial experience of five people with parents from a sub-Saharan African country and the Flanders region in Belgium. Through interviews, observational data, photography, and other methods, I compiled valuable information regarding their stories.

Motives

I was drawn to Belgium for various reasons. As the son of an African American father and a first generation immigrant mother from Mexico, I have always been intrigued by the ways in which immigrant-origin populations impact the racial and social fabric of receiving sites. In attempting to construct my own multiethnic and multilingual identity, I have navigated, and often struggled, to understand my role in my family and community, and the subsequent reactions of my relatives – on both sides of the border, on both sides of my family tree. In Belgium, I found similar experiences with people who had at least one parent from an African country. The feelings of marginalization that I came across were all too familiar: ‘People didn’t know how to treat me’ and ‘I felt like I didn’t belong in either Belgium or Africa’ were some of the feelings that were expressed. Often, as I learned, my respondent’s relatives were faced with the challenges of conceptualizing both an African heritage and a Belgian identity. For many of these relatives, as I was told, the idea of a Belgian identity was already complicated by the French-Dutch language divide manifested in the Wallonia and Flanders regions in Belgium. ‘Identity in Belgium is already complicated,’ one person told me. ‘Are we French speaking or are we Dutch speaking? You add race and national origin to that and it really makes things interesting.’ As opposed to many societies around the world, many regions in Belgium, exercise – amidst contentious debate – a French and Dutch multilingual reality that, often, exacerbates identity formation for people of multiracial backgrounds, so that not only does an Afropean, in the spirit of W.E.B. Dubois, have to navigate a “double consciousness” of being European and African, but also split identities pertaining to language.

Secondly, in the age of European “Super Diversity” – a term coined by social scientists to describe the high rates of immigrant inflows to European nations – I was curious about the ways in which second generation children (the children of first-generation immigrants) were constructing their identities in the context of shifting racial and demographic landscapes. In the United States, interracial mixing is, often, romanticized and harmonized in the framework of multicultural ideas dating back to the 1970s. While once seen as a social and racial aberration, evidenced by anti-miscegenation laws and eugenics, multiracial children and families today have in many regions in the U.S. become a normative aspect of society. In Belgium, however, I learned of tacit and explicit “rules and regulations” for interracial mixing…

Read the entire article here.

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Transracial Adoption – No Longer a Black and White Issue

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Work, United Kingdom on 2014-09-05 16:17Z by Steven

Transracial Adoption – No Longer a Black and White Issue

Afropean: Adveures in Afro Europe
2014-09-03

Nat Illumine

N.b. This article is based on research conducted by the author for an undergraduate dissertation entitled ‘A Political Minefield: Transracial Adoption Policy and the Mixed Race Experience’ (2013) alongside a British Association of Adoption and Fostering conference entitled: ‘Transracial Placements: No longer a Black and White Issue’ (held on July 7th 2014). This articles focuses on transracial adoption but does not explicitly focus on the mixed race experience.

Introduction

There has been an on-going and controversial debate in the UK about transracial adoption – the practice of white families adopting children from ethnic minorities. The debate has a complex history, and British governments have historically flip-flopped on policies, on the one hand attempting to place ethnic minority children with loving parents as quickly as possible, and on the other hand trying to ensure racial, ethnic and religious matching between adoptive parents and adopted children, with varying degrees of success. Whether white parents are able to successfully raise ethnic minority children with a sound sense of racial identity, as well as effectively preparing them for the racism they may experience, is central to the debate.

The History of Transracial Adoption in the UK

Transracial adoption (TRA) began in the UK in the 1960s to allow white parents to adopt ethnic minority and mixed race children, because the number of white childless couples wanting to adopt far exceeded the number of white infants in care. The British Adoption Project was also set up in 1965 to address the increasing numbers of non-white children in care who were deemed ‘hard to place’ due to their ethnicity, thus establishing TRA in which white families were adopting non-white children…

…Racial Literacy and “Race Mixing” in the General Population

There has been markedly little research into the racial literacy of white parents and the potential strategies they may offer to transracially adopted ethnic minority children in combating racism and formulating positive identities. Racial literacy is defined as an understanding and appreciation of both racial and cultural differences, as well as the realities of racism and discrimination. White mothers have been specifically positioned within this discourse as failing to both inculcate a positive racial identity in their (transracially adopted or mixed race) children and effectively assist them in dealing with racism.

The academic and social commentator Jill Olumide (2002) posits TRA as a discourse about race mixing that is mediated by professional welfare organisations, citing adoption and fostering policy as ‘one of the few areas in which race mixing may still be prevented’. Olumide suggests that opposition to TRA problematises bonds in interracial families by suggesting that bonding between different races is unnatural. This view allows for social work professionals to ‘define the racial “needs” of poor children’, creating specific knowledge claims which are then perpetuated by the media as a discursive device against race mixing…

Read the entire article here.

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