« I love her hair! » : Reflections on mothering a mixed(race) girl in multicultural Canada
Paper short abstract:
This paper reflects on the experience of mothering a mixed-race girl in Montreal, Canada. It examines the racialization processes of mixed-race children through analyzing the gaze, touch and discourse of strangers and family friends, and the child's perspective on her own ethno-racial bio-history.
Paper long abstract:
For the past 20 years, mixed(race) identities and bodies have started to appear increasingly in the media. Within the context of Canadian multicultural policies, which endorse ethno-racial diversity as a positive value, mixedness is often celebrated, especially through the bodies and images of mixed-race children and young women. In 2017, the city of Montreal featured the image of a mixed family—a white, presumably Canadian, mother, her black partner and their young mixed-child—as its icon. What are the repercussions of this fetishization of mixed-race children on their own lived experience and that of their parents? This paper reflects on the every day lived experience of being the mother of a mixed-race little girl in the specific context of the city of Montreal, in Canada. It uses the researcher's own experience to reflect upon the racialization processes of mixed-race children through analyzing the gaze, touch and discourse of strangers, family members and friends toward her own child. The hair of mixed-race little girls is at the center of the reflection as it is 1) a central aspect of black women's identity, and 2) the focus of both white and black individuals' attention and touch. Hence, this paper will address how the celebration of mixed bodies in Canada justifies the crossing of mixed little girls' bodily boundaries and parental permission to do so on the pretext of "cuteness".
Moving across racialised boundaries - settling in mixedness? Dialogues in critical mixedness studies [Anthropology of Race and Ethnicity Network]