Positioning of the Mixed Race Author and Mixed Race Protagonist in British Children’s Literature

Positioning of the Mixed Race Author and Mixed Race Protagonist in British Children’s Literature

Critical Pedagogies: Equality and Diversity in a Changing Institution

Ludovic Foster, Ph.D. Candidate
Department Gender Studies
University of Sussex, United Kingdom

I would like to examine a few of the issues around the positioning of the mixed race child, and mixed race identified author in a literary context. Considering the mixed race child in this context is particularly important and necessary in a society where the marginalization of non- binary identities is embedded within foundational ideologies and power structures of the white supremacist heteropatriarchy in which historically binary ways of thinking have also often been used as a tool of Western colonial oppression. Such hierarchical ideologies have been driven by imperialist, global, capitalist economies for reasons such as nation building. Many of these aforementioned factors have contributed to some societies actively encouraging the perpetration and overwhelming dominance of normative mono sexual, racial and gender identities.

The mixed child as a character could be said to stand as a figure of resistance against such normative symbolism. When writing about the subject of multiracialism, I am conscious of the inherent historical global and cultural changeability and instability of language when it comes to describing mixed race people and it means to be mixed race; and the fact that the term mixed race can describe a wide range and intersections of racial, ethnic and cultural identities such multifold identities that are not dependant on whiteness for validity.

“The term ‘mixed race’ itself may not reflect the complexity of its own formation through historical entanglements and contemporary redefinitions. This may account for the gradual displacement of ‘mixed race’ by a notion of ‘multiraciality’ that points to multiplicity being the form of contemporary identity itself” (Parker, Song 2001: 8). There is a very complex and nuanced global cultural history of people defined as “mixed race,” and I am aware that even the term “mixed race” itself could be seen as upholding a system that gives credibility to the notion of a singular and “pure” mono race. Although I believe that all people are “mixed” to some degree there is a very particular political, cultural and racialized positioning inherent in being identified as first generation mixed race in certain national transnational and global social and economic contexts. I suggest that the global cultural influence of the American hierarchical racial ideology and classification system known as the “one drop rule”, a hypodescent system which is embedded in a history of white supremacy, and the economics of slavery and racial segregation, has had a particular global and cultural impact on the way we think about what it means to have a mix of African and European ancestry…

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