Students from various schools in the Manchester area came together on
September 26 at Manchester's Contact Theatre for a one-day conference
aimed at those with mixed racial heritage.
The day was the brainchild of
Bradley Lincoln of the Multiple Heritage Project, based in Manchester
and is the first of its kind aimed at young people in the UK.
As well as meeting others with similar racial backgrounds, participants
attended Workshops on the subject of identity and came up with a wish
list of changes they would like to see happen.
Top of the list was the attitude
of some teachers, with many students feeling that some teachers were
always to ready to make assumptions about them and not willing to listen
to what they had to say.
Students also wanted to see more about Black and Asian history in the
curriculum with more emphasis on positive role models and less on slavery.
Asked if they could come up with a better term to describe themselves,
most felt that the term mixed-race was what they were used to and felt
happy to carry on using it.
The one-day conference is the first in a series, organiser Bradley Lincoln
intends to run with young people around the country, with Birmingham, Bristol
and London already confirmed. The Multiple Heritage Project will be compiling
a more detailed report on the conference in the next few weeks, look out
for more information in our events section.
Intermix.org.uk founder Sharron Hall facilitated at two of the identity
workshops and had this to say:
It was wonderful to see so many young mixed-race people finally get a day
that was all about them. The students were very attentive and happy to
discuss many of the obstacles they faced everyday such as racism and a
lack of representation in the school curriculum.
It was clear that many students had never had the opportunity to discuss
such issues before and many lacked basic knowledge about their ethnic identity
but not all. There were students whose parents had ensured they had a balanced
cultural upbringing and that was refreshing.
The conference highlighted just how little has been done to make mixed-race
students feel comfortable with who they are and there is clearly much work
ahead. I hope this conference has ignited a desire in these young people
to learn more about themselves but more importantly I hope that it is the
start of a new wave of acknowledgement and education throughout society.