Sitemap is a website for the benefit of mixed-race families, individuals and anyone who feels they have a multiracial identity and want to join us.

Our mission is to offer a view of the mixed-race experience, highlighting icons, film, books, poetry, parenting techniques, celebrities, real lives and much more.

Our online forums are a great place to meet others, ask questions, voice your opinions and keep in touch. Sign up for our monthly newsletter and delve into our pages.

Want to join in? Become an Intermix member to take part:

Comfortable In My Own Skin
By Robert Benzie

young manI have a much lighter complexion and have been confused — often to my advantage — for Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Arab, Israeli and, once, even Czech..

In July 1964, a Pan American World Airways flight from Los Angeles landed in Sydney, Australia, carrying my newly married parents.

My father, a Scottish doctor, had been working in remote Burnie, Tasmania, for six months and was returning with his bride after their wedding in her native Jamaica.

They had met at university years earlier in Aberdeen, where my mother was studying home economics to be close to her two older sisters, one of whom was in my father's class at medical school.

At the time, Australia had a 'whites-only' immigration policy, so my father went through hoops to get my mother, whose background is a mélange of black, white, South Asian and Jewish, into the country.

As the confident young couple strolled through customs at Kingsford Smith International Airport, they were met by a surly immigration official.

Looking dubiously at my brown-skinned mother, the clerk turned to my white father and said, 'Well, what is she doing here, mate?'

'In one of the finer moments of my life,' my father recalled recently, 'I reached into my jacket pocket, took out a letter from the minister of immigration and said, `Because your boss says so ... mate.' Problem solved.'

Interestingly, my mother, who grew up the privileged and attractive youngest child of banana plantation owner, barely remembers that unpleasant little episode, which happened a few years before I was born.

She insists she cannot recall any instance of racism directed toward her while living in Jamaica, Scotland, Australia, or Canada, and I believe her. Being that we are both what folks who are hung up on this sort of stuff might call 'mulatto,' I don't think I've experienced racism, either.

I have a much lighter complexion than she does and have been confused — often to my advantage — for Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Arab, Israeli and, once, even Czech.

But no one has ever asked me if I am Jamaican, including on my many trips to the island, or even if I had any black blood.

Back in the late 1990s, largely at the urging of my friend and former colleague Desmond Brown of CTV News, I was briefly a member of the Canadian Association of Black Journalists.

This was a source of bemusement to my parents, as well as to a few of my cousins in Jamaica (who would likely be called black in Canada but see themselves as brown).

As they saw it, however noble the goals of CABJ, I could hardly relate to the challenges faced by some black journalists because I have never suffered the ignominy of racial prejudice.

While it's true I haven't been slurred with a racist epithet, passed over for a job because of my skin colour, or had a cabbie refuse to pick me up at night, I'm always aware of race.

The other day, for instance, I was at a tedious early morning presentation given by Premier Dalton McGuinty to some municipal politicians, and I jokingly whispered to one of his top aides, who shares my West Indian heritage, that it looked 'like a white people's convention in here.'

'We're the only brown people in the room,' I quipped.

She laughed knowingly, because at a lot of events we both attend for our respective jobs we're a distinct minority — even though in my case, at least, not a visible one.

Without getting too Ralph Ellison, I actually relish being a sort of invisible man. In my line of work, it can make for better and easier newsgathering because you can blend in and unobtrusively observe.

My generic swarthy looks — my white Canadian wife would say 'exotically handsome' — have probably helped me in covering Italian Mafia funerals, Parliament Hill protests by Muslims against the first Gulf War, heated political nomination meetings, and any number of other types of news stories.

More importantly, being of 'mixed-race' keeps me enough of an outsider that I almost feel above the racial fray on most occasions.

I can honestly say I have never felt awkward in any church, mosque, temple or synagogue — and not just because I am a detached agnostic, having been forced to thrice-weekly Anglican chapel services while at Royal St. George's College.

Still, I must admit the sight of a racially mixed couple always warms my heart.

I like that I share an improbable bond with people as disparate as Bob Marley and Halle Berry, Derek Jeter and Michael Manley.

Because I am comfortable in my own skin.

Whatever colour anyone might think it is.


Read more features:


Source:The Toronto Star

Take a look around

• About Us
• Adoption & Fostering
• Academic Papers
• Books
• Celebs & Stars
• Competitions
• Events
• Film

• Glossary
• Health & Beauty

• Intermix Forums

• In The News
• Latest Features

• Mixed-Race Icons
• Mixed-Race Poetry
• Music

• Parenting & Families
• Photo Gallery
• Support