Tangled Roots: Real Life Stories from Mixed Race Britain

Posted in Anthologies, Autobiography, Books, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2018-05-30 21:51Z by Steven

Tangled Roots: Real Life Stories from Mixed Race Britain

Tangled Roots
2015-12-11
205 pages
ISBN: 978-0993482403

Edited by:

Katy Massey

12% of UK households are mixed race. These are our stories.

The Tangled Roots book brings together over 30 writers to answer the question: What is life like for mixed families in Britain today?

Five leading authors—Bernardine Evaristo MBE, Sarfraz Manzoor, Charlotte Williams OBE, Diana Evans and Hannah Lowetogether with 27 members of the public tell the story of their mixed lives with heart-breaking honesty, humour and compassion.

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Broken identity

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, United Kingdom on 2018-02-26 23:01Z by Steven

Broken identity

The Times Literary Supplement
2018-01-31

Bernardine Evaristo


Afua Hirsch ©Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

Afua Hirsch, Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging (London: Jonathan Cape, 2018)

People of colour raised in the openly racist Britain of the 1960s and 70s often put an identity quest at the heart of their fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction. Joan Riley’s novel about an alienated girl, The Unbelonging (1985), and Caryl Phillips’s pan-European travelogue, The European Tribe (1988), provide powerful early examples. Hanif Kureishi’s first novel, The Buddha of Suburbia (1990), opens with the mixed-race protagonist declaring, “My name is Karim Amir, and I am an Englishman born and bred, almost”. In her play Talking in Tongues (1991), Winsome Pinnock wrote about an Afro-Caribbean woman who sought to reassemble her fragmented identity back in her parents’ Jamaica. In my own verse novel, Lara (1997), the mixed-race protagonist journeys to her father’s Nigeria to see if she can belong there. Back then, writing in this genre spoke of the dilemma of not feeling accepted in Britain; to the children of immigrants, the seemingly harmless question, “Where do you really come from?”, was seen as a challenge to their British birthright. Jackie Kay’s memorable poem “In My Country” encapsulates one response: “Where do you come from? / Here, I said, Here, these parts” (Other Lovers, 1993).

It is a question I haven’t been asked in decades; I hoped it had died out along with the idea that Black and British was an oxymoron. Afua Hirsch’s Brit(ish), however, finds it still tripping out of people’s mouths, as the most “persistent reminder of that sense of not belonging”. The book digs deep into the reasons for this enduring question, skilfully blending memoir, history and social commentary around race, culture and identity. Hirsch writes with an incisive honesty that disproves the idea that privilege can be easily reduced to racial binaries. She fully acknowledges the exclusive pedigree of her own background as a lighter-skinned woman of mixed parentage in a colourist society, who enjoyed a comfortable middle-class suburban childhood with her Ghanaian-born mother and English Jewish father. Her education was private all the way to Oxford University, and led to a first career as a barrister. Ten years ago she became a journalist. Hirsch is ostensibly the successful embodiment of Britain’s multicultural project, but her privileged status has not immunized her from the perniciousness of racism…

Read the entire book review here.

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My Name Is Leon by Kit de Waal review – a touching, thought-provoking debut

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-07-30 02:19Z by Steven

My Name Is Leon by Kit de Waal review – a touching, thought-provoking debut

The Guardian
2016-06-03

Bernardine Evaristo


Insight and authenticity … Kit de Waal. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

A young vulnerable boy is taken into care after his mother is no longer able to cope

Kit de Waal has already garnered praise and attention for her short fiction. She worked in family and criminal law for many years, and wrote training manuals on fostering and adoption; she also grew up with a mother who fostered children. This helps explain the level of insight and authenticity evident in My Name Is Leon, her moving and thought-provoking debut novel.

It is set in the early 1980s and, like What Maisie Knew and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is told through the perspective of a child who is keenly observant, although we understand more of what is happening around him than he does. In this case, the narrator is eight-year-old Leon, who becomes a foster child. The novel begins with the birth of his baby brother, Jake. Immediately we realise that there is something wrong with their mother, Carol. Rather than cradle the child she has just given birth to, she leaves the hospital room to have a cigarette. The nurse leaves too and tells Leon, “If he starts crying, you come and fetch me. OK?” Leon is left on his own with Jake. The novel is full of quietly shocking moments like this, which reveal how much child protection has moved on from 30 years ago.

The brothers have different, and absent, fathers. While Carol and Jake are white, Leon is mixed race. His father, Byron, is in prison, while Jake’s father, Tony, has rejected Carol and their child. Home is on an estate near a dual carriageway. Carol often leaves her boys alone in the flat when she goes out…

Read the entire review here.

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Putting History in Its Place: An Interview with Bernardine Evaristo

Posted in Articles, Biography, Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2015-12-15 02:34Z by Steven

Putting History in Its Place: An Interview with Bernardine Evaristo

Contemporary Women’s Writing
Volume 9 Issue 3 November 2015
pages 433-448
DOI: 10.1093/cww/vpv003

Jennifer Gustar, Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies
University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

Bernardine Evaristo was born in Woolwich, London, to an English mother of Irish descent and a Nigerian father, who had immigrated to the UK. She has been actively publishing since the release of her first book of poetry, Island of Abraham (1994). She has published six other works since: the semiautobiographical Lara (1997); The Emperor’s Babe (2001), a novel in verse, based in Roman Londinium; Soul Tourists (2005), a hybrid of poetry and prose that explores the spectral black history of Europe; Blonde Roots (2008), a satirical novel that inverts the historical realities of the transatlantic slave trade; Hello Mum (2010), an epistolary novella that explores a fourteen-year-old boy’s sense of disenfranchisement and the consequent lure of gang culture; and, most recently, Mr. Loverman (2013), the story of a closeted homosexual Trinidadian-British Londoner, who must confront the damage perpetuated by his own silences. Evaristo has served as coeditor of two literary anthologies: NW15 (Granta/British Council, 2007) and Ten New Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010). As editor, she has been instrumental in both mentoring and promoting the visibility of black British writers. In 2010, she guest-edited an issue of Wasafiri, entitled Black Britain: Beyond Definition, that celebrates contemporary black writing in the UK. Her 2012 guest-edited volume of the UK’s leading poetry journal Poetry Review, entitled Offending Frequencies, features more poets of color than any previous single issue. In September of 2014, she investigated the publishing industry’s attitude toward women of color as guest editor of Mslexia. She currently works as a Reader in Creative Writing at Brunel University, where, in 2011, she instituted the Brunel University African Poetry Prize. Two of her works have been adapted for radio: The Emperor’s Babe for BBC 1 (2012) and Hello Mum for BBC 4 (2012). She was elected Fellow of the…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Miscegenation Blues: Voices of Mixed Race Women

Posted in Anthologies, Autobiography, Biography, Books, Gay & Lesbian, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Women on 2011-04-16 04:02Z by Steven

Miscegenation Blues: Voices of Mixed Race Women

Sister Vision Press
May 1994
389 pages
8.8 x 5.8 x 1 inches
Paperback ISBN: 092081395X; ISBN 13: 9780920813959
This book is out of print.

Edited by

Carol Camper

Miscegenation Blues: Voices of Mixed Race Women is a stunning and long awaited collection of some of the most poignant writing by more than forty women of mixed racial heritage.  Together they explore the concept of a mixed race identity, the fervour of belonging, the harsh reality of not belonging—of grappling in two or more worlds and the final journey home.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Carol Camper Into the Mix
  • Edge to the Middle … location, identity, paradox
    • Camille Hernandez-Ramdwar Ms. Edge Innate
    • A. Nicole Bandy Sorry, Our Translator’s Out Sick Today
    • Culture Is Not Static
    • Lisa Jensen “journal entry 25/10/92″
    • Elehna de Sousa Untitled
    • Nadra Qadeer Spider Woman
    • Deanne Achong Untitled
    • Michele Chai Don’t
    • Naomi Zack My Racial Self Over Time
    • Mercedes Baines Mulatto Woman a honey beige wrapper
    • Mixed Race Women’s Group—Dialogue One
    • Michele Paulse Commingled
    • Lara Doan Untitled
    • Lisa Suhair Majaj Boundaries, Borders, Horizons
  • But You Don’t Look Like a… faces, body, hair
    • Lisa Jensen (one more time now.)
    • Ijosé Two Halves—One Whole (Part I)
    • Two Halves—One Whole (Part two)
    • Ngaire Blankenberg Untitled
    • Blue
    • Joanne Arnott Mutt’s Memoir
    • Lois Robertson-Douglass No Nation Gal
    • Marilyn Elain Carmen The Issue of Skin Colour
    • Claire Huang Kinsley Questions People Have Asked Me
    • Questions I Have Asked Myself
    • Gitanjali Saxena Second Generation; Once Removed
  • My Name is Peaches… obiectification.exoticizaiton
    • Mercedes Baines Bus Fucking
    • Where Are You From? A broken record
    • Michele Chai Resistance 153
    • S.R.W. What is a “Sister”?
    • Barbara Malanka Noblewomen In Exile
    • Stephanie Martin Is true what dem seh bout colrd pussy?
    • Michelle La Flamme Yo White Boy
    • Carol Camper Genetic Appropriation
    • Family Album
  • Some More Stories
    • Annharte Emilia I Should a Said Something Political
    • Victoria Gonzalez Nicaragua, Desde Siempre: War fragments from a woman’s pen
    • Marilyn Dumont The Halfbreed Parade
    • The Red & White
    • S.R.W. For My Sister Rosemary: Just Like Mine
    • Claiming Identity: Mixed Race Black Women Speak
    • Joanne Arnott Song About
    • kim mosa mcneilly don’t mix me up
  • The Unmasking… betrayals, hard truths
    • Lorraine Mention Journal Entry: Thoughts on My “Mother”
    • Letter to a Friend
    • Nadra Qadeer To a Traveller
    • Nila Gupta Falling from the Sky
    • Rage is my sister
    • Jaimi Carter Are You Writing a Book?
    • Nona Saunders Mother Milk
    • Children’s Games
    • Pussy Willows and Pink
    • S.R.W. Untitled
    • That Just Isn’t Right
    • Michi Chase One
    • Karen Stanley Warnings (Suspense Version)
    • Joanne Arnott Little On The Brown Side
    • Speak Out, For Example
    • Anonymous White Mother, Black Daughter
    • Mixed Race Women’s Group—Dialogue Two
    • Heather Green This Piece Done, I Shall Be Renamed
    • Myriam Chancy Je suis un Nègre
    • Yolanda Retter Quincentennial Blues
  • Are We Home Yet?… return to self and cultures
    • Diana Abu-Jaber Tbe Honeymooners
    • Nona Saunders Tapestry I
    • Tapestry II Carole Gray Heritage
    • Bernardine Evaristo Letters from London
    • Ngaire Blankenberg Halifax
    • Kukumo Rocks Route to My Roots
    • Pam Bailey Naming and Claiming Multicultural Identity
    • Maxine Hayman Shortbread and Oolichan Grease
    • Seni Seneviratne Cinnamon Roots
    • Shanti Thakur Domino: Filming the Stories of Interracial People
    • Nila Gupta The Garden of My (Be)Longing 350
    • Gitanjali Saxena Gitanjali’s Bio
    • Kathy Ann March Like Koya
    • Faith Adiele Learning to Eat
    • The Multicultural Self
    • Remembering Anticipating Africa
  • Contributors’ Notes
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Lara

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Novels, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2009-12-19 18:40Z by Steven

Lara

Bloodaxe Books
2009
192 pages
Paperback ISBN: 1 85224 831 9

Bernardine Evaristo

Lara is a powerful semi-autobiographical novel-in-verse based on Bernardine Evaristo’s own childhood and family history. The eponymous Lara is a mixed-race girl raised in Woolwich, a white suburb of London, during the 60s and 70s. Her father, Taiwo, is Nigerian, and her mother, Ellen, is white British. They marry in the 1950s, in spite of fierce opposition from Ellen’s family, and quickly produce eight children in ten years. Lara is their fourth child and we follow her journey from restricted childhood to conflicted early adulthood, and then from London to Nigeria to Brazil as she seeks to understand herself and her ancestry.

The novel travels back over 150 years, seven generations and three continents of Lara’s ancestry. It is the story of Irish Catholics leaving generations of rural hardship behind and ascending to a rigid middle class in England; of German immigrants escaping poverty and seeking to build a new life in 19th century London; and of proud Yorubas enslaved in Brazil, free in colonial Nigeria and hopeful in post-war London. Lara explores the lives of those who leave one country in search of a better life elsewhere, but who end up struggling to be accepted even as they lay the foundations for their children and future generations.

This is a new edition of Bernardine Evaristo’s first novel Lara, rewritten and expanded by a third since its first publication in 1997.

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‘Toubab La!’ Literary Representations of Mixed-Race Characters in the African Diaspora

Posted in Africa, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom, United States on 2009-11-27 00:35Z by Steven

‘Toubab La!’ Literary Representations of Mixed-Race Characters in the African Diaspora

Cambridge Scholars Publishing
July 2007
453 pages
ISBN13: 9781847182319
ISBN: 1-84718-231-3

Ginette Curry, Professor of English
Florida International University

The book is an examination of mixed-race characters from writers in the United States, The French and British Caribbean islands (Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia and Jamaica), Europe (France and England) and Africa (Burkina Faso, South Africa, Botswana and Senegal). The objective of this study is to capture a realistic view of the literature of the African diaspora as it pertains to biracial and multiracial people. For example, the expression “Toubab La!” as used in the title, is from the Wolof ethnic group in Senegal, West Africa. It means “This is a white person” or “This is a black person who looks or acts white.” It is used as a metaphor to illustrate multiethnic people’s plight in many areas of the African diaspora and how it has evolved. The analysis addresses the different ways multiracial characters look at the world and how the world looks at them. These characters experience historical, economic, sociological and emotional realities in various environments from either white or black people. Their lineage as both white and black determines a new self, making them constantly search for their identity. Each section of the manuscript provides an in-depth analysis of specific authors’ novels that is a window into their true experiences.

The first section is a study of mixed race characters in three acclaimed contemporary novels from the United States. James McBride’s The Color of Water (1996), Danzy Senna’s Caucasia (1998) and Rebecca Walker’s Black White and Jewish (2001) reveal the conflicting dynamics of being biracial in today’s American society. The second section is an examination of mixed-race characters in the following French Caribbean novels: Mayotte Capécia’s I Am a Martinican Woman (1948), Michèle Lacrosil’s Cajou (1961) and Ravines du Devant-Jour (1993) by Raphaël Confiant. Section three is about their literary representations in Derek Walcott’s What the Twilight Says (1970), Another Life (1973), Dream on Monkey Mountain (1967) and Michelle Cliff’s Abeng (1995) from the British Caribbean islands. Section four is an in-depth analysis of their plight in novels written by contemporary mulatto writers from Europe such as Marie N’Diaye’s Among Family (1997), Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (2000) and Bernardine Evaristo’s Lara (1997). Finally, the last section of the book is a study of novels from West African and South African writers. The analysis of Monique Ilboudo’s Le Mal de Peau (2001), Bessie Head’s A Woman Alone: Autobiographical Writings (1990) and Abdoulaye Sadji’s Nini, Mulâtresse du Sénégal (1947) concludes this literary journey that takes the readers through several continents at different points in time.

Overall, this comprehensive study of mixed-race characters in the literature of the African diaspora reveals not only the old but also the new ways they decline, contest and refuse racial clichés. Likewise, the book unveils how these characters resist, create, reappropriate and revise fixed forms of identity in the African diaspora of the 20th and 21st century. Most importantly, it is also an examination of how the authors themselves deal with the complex reality of a multiracial identity.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • PART I. THE UNITED STATES
  • PART II. THE FRENCH CARIBBEAN ISLANDS
    • Chapter 4: Mayotte Capécia’s I am a Martinican Woman (1948): “My father is Black, My Mother is Brown, and I, Am I White?” (Martinican Riddle)
    • Chapter 5: Michèle Lacrosil’s Cajou (1961): The Anti-Narcissus
    • Chapter 6: Raphaël Confiant’s Ravines du Devant-Jour (1993): Ethnostereotypes in Martinique
  • PART III. THE BRITISH CARIBBEAN ISLANDS
    • Chapter 7: The Racial Paradox of Derek Walcott in What the Twilight Says (1970), Derek Walcott: Another life (1973) and Dream on Monkey Mountain (1967)
    • Chapter 8: Michelle Cliff’s Abeng (1995): A Near-White Jamaican Woman’s Quest for Identity
  • PART IV. EUROPE
    • Chapter 9: Marie N’Diaye’s Among Family (1997): A Desperate Search for Caucasian Identity
    • Chapter 10: Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (2000): The Concept of Englishness in the 21st Century
    • Chapter 11: Bernardine Evaristo’s Lara (1997): Transculturality in England: Oyinbo, Whitey, Morena, Nig Nog, Nigra!
  • PART V. AFRICA
    • Chapter 12: Monique Ilboudo’s Le Mal de peau (2001): Colonization and Forced Hybridity
    • Chapter 13: Bessie Head’s A Woman Alone: Autobiographical Writings (1990): White-on-Black and Black-on-Black Racial Oppression in Southern Africa
    • Chapter 14: Abdoulaye Sadji’s Nini, Mulâtresse du Sénégal (1947): “Toubab La!”
  • Conclusion
  • Works Cited
  • Primary Sources
  • Critical Sources
  • Index

Read a preview  here.

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