Letter: Black parents are not the key to black pride

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The Independent Online
Sir: I agree with Linda Bellos (letter, 15 July) that it is helpful for a black child in a racist society to be proud of their colour. But I would dispute that only black parents can give their child this pride. In a recent study of mixed parentage young people, mostly aged 15 and 16, which I carried out with Ann Phoenix, we found that about half had been encouraged by their parents to feel pride in their colour and their mixed heritage.

Those living with a single white parent were as likely to have been given this message as those living with both parents. Slightly less than half thought of themselves as black, rather than 'mixed' or 'brown'. We also found that by no means all - in fact, only two thirds - of the children with two black parents had been encouraged to feel proud of being black.

In many black and mixed families there was a surprising lack of communication about race and racism. It seemed that the less politicised of the parents of whatever colour, the less was the communication on this issue.

I do not know what evidence Linda Bellos has in mind when she says that 'considerable damage has been done to black children . . . by placing them with white families'. Research carried out in this country as well as in the US shows that such children are likely to do as well as other adopted children. It is true that in adolescence they tend not to have a strong sense of themselves as black, but as indicated above this is true of many mixed-race children living with their own families.

Yours faithfully,


Institute of Education

London, WC1

16 July