Weheeey. Get me. Ms Brown girl OUTSIDE the Ring - I’m so OUT I’m IN...
I read last week – on the internet so it must be true – that mixed race is the fastest growing ethnic minority in the UK. Mixed Race is cool.
As usual, commercial needs have trumped an institutional grasp of this situation. You can barely look at a billboard in the UK without seeing a pretty mixed race kid advertising cute clothes or whatever. And I am old enough to recall a time when if my parents saw a black face on the TV my brother and sister and I would be called into the living room to witness this strange phenomena. (See Stephen K Amos for really funny sketches on this point)
Ok so my parents were many decades ahead of their time and I am too old to give a fig about ‘cool’ now but it’s still nice to know.
In the 80s debates raged about terminology. For example did you refer to Asians separately from the ‘Black’ umbrella? In the US 'people of colour' was an acceptable term whereas 'coloured' was viewed as disparaging in the UK. It was a time when racism flourished and the politically conscious-raised simply regarded non-white as black.
I recall a couple of years ago at a Meet the Promoters event in Newcastle trying to point out to the audience of venue key holders that many people - even in the NE - now looked like me. The entirely white, predominantly male barriers to the arts venues in the NE looked at me blankly. But it’s true. And what I love about it is that mixed race children seem to be the ultimate response to racism. Despite the endemic prejudice of our immediate history, black and white people have quietly got on with falling in love with each other.
It then occurred to me that other groups that think of themselves as outside the mainstream are possibly also more IN than they realised.
Gay men have always used the term ‘out’ when referring to admitting their sexuality. There is another implicit ‘out’ there as well. Some must realise that white hetro able bodied middle/upper class yada yada yada is the most IN club there is. So in coming out they are not only revealing their gayness they are stepping away from the benefits of that exclusive club. And it’s an odd one anyway because some in the gay community or the hetro have felt bound to ‘out’ gays who didn’t want to be out. The guy who employs my youngest daughter has a mug which says “no one knows I’m gay” which sums up the whole thing neatly.
Disabled people, like black people, don’t get to choose if the world knows about their ‘outness’ or not. And frankly neither do working people who bear the yolk of the world’s grind. And ironically some of the groups who clearly do not in any sense make up a minority in the way we mean when we discuss these bizarre human constructs – are not in a minority. Women. The afore-mentioned working people. If we could just tweak our perceptions enough we’d realise that OUT is the new IN. Minorities are the majority. If you add up all the people outside the exclusive club of white male hetro able bodied born-with-a-silver-spoon-in-your-gob people who think the world owes them - they are so few and we are so many.
We, out here, make up the biggest club. We are so unbelievably out there – here - that we are totally in there (!). When you start to include other ‘outs’ the red heads, the ones with regional accents, the people who don’t conform to physical ideas of what is body-acceptable we are almost everyone.
In fact I think there are only about 3 people left in the IN club. Three shrivelled up apparently hetro able-bodied white guys who live in cities, have money and power, went to the right schools, married their cousins somewhere along the family tree were born with a sense of their own indispensability.
The only thing is they are behaving like they own the world and we are letting them get away with it.
So we need to have a think about that one.