Monday, 15 September 2014

Introducing Uneek Flair
Lisa, founder and owner of Uneek Flair is a wife and mum to three beautiful children. She has many interests and hobbies including socialising with family and friends. Despite being very busy she started Uneek Flair. This is what she said about the business:

Uneek Flair is a family run business, embracing diversity and positivity through our beautiful, inspiring, friendly characters the "Little Naturals"and Uneek range of gifts and merchandise
Our story

Despite many years of personal experience searching for gifts and merchandise with multicultural characters on, I always found it difficult to find any product of the sort. Inspired by my children and the lack of multicultural products, I decided that if I can’t find what I am looking for, then I needed to be the one to design the gifts for my children which reflect their identity.

The gifts planned for the range so far include bags, coasters, mugs, keyrings and clothing, but I am always working on ways of extending the range of products further.
I carefully sourced products that fit the brief and worked with my 15  old son Logan on the character illustrations, and hand drawn artwork. 
I’m really excited about the potential of the products and hope it will help children to learn about each other, and the social importance that every child is beautiful, as well as show children that there are many types of people that make up our communities.
Our first character was based on our daughter and when we gave her one of our bags her exact words were “look mummy, she looks like me, she has hair like me”. She was so excited; she now takes her new bag everywhere. At that moment we heard and witnessed the exact reaction we were hoping for, and our reason for launching Uneek Flair It was such a beautiful moment for us. We would love all children to have that same excitement and sense of pride when they see an image that reflects their identity, and for parents to have that warm feeling it gave us.

The immediate future for Uneek Flair.

We are working on extended the range further, and are looking at stocking some of our products in and around the Bristol area. Then later on further afield, where we feel the Little Naturals brand will compliment a shop's existing merchandise. And who knows one day a Little Naturals Boutique on the high street.

We hope you and your "Little Naturals" enjoy our range of gifts, and stay to watch us grow.

❤️ Uneek Flair Team. Lisa Andrew Lewis Logan Sheneya.
                                        Check out the website     Follow Uneek Flair on twitter

Friday, 12 September 2014

My Mixed Race Baby's Identity

by Jody-Lan Castle

As the world becomes increasingly more heterogeneous, having a mixed identity is increasingly common.

It’s really important to make children aware of their family background.

The memories of my own parents’ family histories had already begun to become diluted as they were passed down to me.

Jody with her parents
My Mother had voyaged to the shores of England by boat from the far lands of Malaysia. And my Father, born just round the corner in Essex, was the son of descendants of Irish and Roma travellers.

But specific details were never handed down to me, as they had started fading even from my Mother and Father’s recollections before I was born.

This is partially why I was never able to identify much with their cultures growing up, sorting after a feeling of belonging. And I finally found solace when I stopped trying to fit in.

My husband is quite different though, upholding a strong sense of Punjabiness. But even he, having been born and bred among the soaring skyscrapers of Hong Kong, doesn’t have a solidly homogeneous identity.

His fluency in Cantonese would fool anyone into thinking he was Chinese over the phone, and his love of Shumai (a Chinese street food) trumps his love of samosas any given day.

Nonetheless, it’s likely that my baby will be more influenced by my husband’s Indian heritage. Not because of my husband’s insistence, but in fact my own.

I’ve always admired Sikhism and those who follow it. And as for my husband, there was a time when he would do his daily prayers without fail, turban tied gracefully around head like a crown.

Though his devout practice is no more, he still reveres Sikhism as a good and noble Faith.

Luckily, we’re agreed at least that we will incorporate Sikh teachings into our child’s upbringing, even if we can’t agree on the child’s name yet.

Those of you who are on a similar journey will often come across cultural differences, especially when it comes to having a baby.

But the secret, is compromise.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Jamran Family

Introducing the Jamran Family!!!

Soheila wrote: 'We are a Jamaican and Iranian (Persian) Mixed Raced Family. When I asked each member why they are proud to be in a mixed raced family';

My husband replied: 'For me it has nothing to do with pride, I just love what we have created'.

My 14 year old son replied: 'I am proud to be mixed race because I get to have strengths from both races'.

My 8 year old daughter replied: 'I love my family, they take good care of me, I love my family'.

And I also asked my 2 year old son as we like to be fair in this family and he replied: 'far', so I asked again and he replied  'far'  again so I accepted that as his't ask what it means because I have no idea!

I am proud to be part of a mixed raced family because I love both Persian and Jamaican cultures and love seeing both races in my children, we are unique and stand out when together as a family unit.

One day as we were walking home after grocery shopping  we were stopped by a man on the street to be told that we look like a rockstar family which made us laugh and also gave us a big

Both my husband and I were born and raised in the UK, just across a park from each other by the way. We went to the same primary school - he was in my younger sisters class, yes he is two years younger than me.  After leaving primary school we didn't come across one another again until we met in college.  At this point,  I had no idea who he was until one day I introduced him to my sister and they recognised each other.  That's when I realised he was that boy I saw in the playground when we were small!

I asked my children, what we have done as parents to help embrace their mixedness. 

My 14 year old son said: ' My parents have helped me embrace being mixed by letting us know about our past and increasing our morals towards it'.

My 8 year old daughter said: 'I love both race's because both races have strong genes'.

And once again I asked my 2 year old son the same question and he replied: 'Juice'! 

I would like to note that my husband created the word JAMRAN, he put together JAM from Jamaica and RAN from Iran to create JAMRAN and our children call themselves JAMRAN KIDS and we believe this helps them have a word that describes both sides of their heritage so we became the JAMRAN FAM.

My husband and I have come across many challenges since the beginning of our relationship.  As a Persian girl dating was forbidden, let alone dating a person from a different race. But my husband and I had a connection that I had never felt before and nobody could keep us apart, so we did what we had to do to stay together. For the past 15 years we have done our best to turn the other cheek to people's narrow minded views of love and marriage and are teaching our children the same; that neither colour or culture matters as long as you love somebody and they love you the same that's all you need to have a lasting relationship.

We as a mixed family, celebrate both cultures, Christmas for the Jamaican side and the Persian New Year ( Noorooz ) which is in March for a few weeks of celebrations. My husband has taught me how to cook Jamaican food and introduced me to many new flavours and I have done the same for him and so our children have been exposed to both cultures.  I also try to speak my mother tongue to them so they can at the least understand the Farsi language.

We have a youtube channel that I have created recently so people can see a mixed Jamaican and Iranian family together. We all love each other very much and believe in working through any problems that come across our path together.  We don't believe in giving up!


If you would like to tell how your family has embraced your mixedness and you would like to share your experiences with others, please contact me 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Mixed Race Hair: Everything You Need And Want To Know

I found this article by Black Ballard to be very informative.

Errol Douglas hairstylist Jasmin Allen tells us everything you need to know about caring for mixed race hair…

While the beauty pages of magazines have long been dominated by hair tips and tricks for caucasian women, it has left women from different racial backgrounds out in the cold. Granted, black women have found solace with the rise of natural hair blogs and YouTube tutorials, yet there is still a gaping hole in terms of haircare information for women of mixed heritage. So living up to our mantra of being a ‘glossy lifestyle website that puts the mixed-race and black British woman of excellence at the forefront,’ we decided to speak to to Errol Douglas‘ senior colour master Jasmin Allen.
With 10 years experience and of mixed race heritage herself, Jasmin told us everything you need to know about mixed race hair from her dos and dont’s, colouring advice and her tips and tricks for mixed race girls with both natural and relaxed hair…  for the rest of the article click here
For more information on mixed race hair on the Mixed Race Family blog  click here

Friday, 22 August 2014

Bird a Review

A children's book written by author  Crystal Chan

I really enjoyed this book and so did my 11 year old niece.  Bird is a children's book which tells the story about Jewel who was born on the same day her brother, Bird, died. On that day her Grandpa stopped talking and the house became one of silence and sadness. Then, exactly 12 years later, Jewel meets John and slowly her life begins to change...

A powerful story of family, heartache and friendship with a spooky twist. It handles the theme of bereavement with real warmth and sensitivity, and also explores different cultures and traditions.

This is what children had to say about the book Guardian Book Review May 14th 2014 'The main character in the book Jewel is half Jamaican, a quarter Mexican and a quarter white. We also found awesome, we related to the characters especially because we are a very multicultural group and our world in London is very multicultural. We like to read books with characters in them that look like us, not always white'.

Find out more about the book here

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Mentoring service for mixed race young people needs more volunteers

Mixed Foundation is a support group for mixed race people in Nottingham.  

Mixed Foundations is a new service offering counselling and mentoring to mixed race people in the city. They match older mentors with young people to help them realise their ambitions and goals.  They currently need volunteers to train to become mentors.

In this  clip the group's co-founder, Simon Morley, speaks to BBC's Reya El-Salahi...

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Northern Ireland's most (un)wanted

by Jayne Olorunda

Northern Ireland’s capital, Belfast has had many songs written about it. The lyrics of one Belfast song resonates in my ear as I think of the reputation the city now has. The lyrics of the song always stood out to me, but now they are more ironic than ever. The song goes, ‘Belfast, Belfast a wonderful town it doesn’t matter if your skin is brown’ I wonder if this was ever true? It certainly wasn’t in my time or even in my parent’s time. The outside world knows Northern Ireland as a country dominated by sectarian strife where Catholic and Protestant people have for decades been at war. This is of course true, but within Northern Ireland other hate based dynamics exist, recently they have come to the fore. Today’s Northern Ireland has a serious problem with racism and it is fast becoming a problem that can no longer be brushed aside.

In 2014 the intolerant and bigoted elements in this little country are gaining global attention. Where once Belfast was known as a sectarian hotbed it is now becoming known throughout Europe as a racist hub, attracting far right elements who influence our youth and perpetuate hatred. Northern Ireland invested a lot of time and energy over the years to create and sustain our fragile peace. Yet the welcome reprieve from the bombings and shootings of our past has come at a cost. In directing all our resources into peace building between Catholics and Protestants, other issues (and there are many of them) have been overlooked. We have gone from being infamous for one type of trouble to being famous for another. This trade should never have existed, it should never have been allowed but for one reason or another it has happened.
Northern Ireland brokered a deal, a deal that allowed the transfer of hate.

I am Northern Irish, but I am also black and this is not a comfortable position to be in, at times it has felt like a disastrous combination. My story came to public attention when I wrote ‘Legacy’ a book about my families experiences in Northern Ireland. It documents the difficulties we faced with identity and of course the sometimes impossible realities of assimilation. I was born and bred in Northern Ireland and I imagine that I am among a small handful of people of colour who can say that. It is sad that even now in my thirties black faces in Northern Ireland still stand out in the crowd. As such we have become targets to those elements in our society determined to keep their society white, those intent on living in bitterness.

Growing Up
Growing up my sisters and I have became used to being the only blacks and being identified not on our merits but as ‘the black girls’. Northern Irish racism for us began in the womb, with comments such as ‘how dare you bring another black bastard into the world’ being levelled at our mother. Our story began when my father, originally from Nigeria, was offered a job in Belfast on his graduation. Like any student fresh from university he was delighted at the opportunity in his chosen field and seized it. Whilst here he met my Mum who is from Northern Ireland. As all romances go the pair fell in love and got married, they had a family consisting of three children, I was the youngest. Not everything was perfection and it goes without saying that my parents encountered racism, they met in the 1970’s after all. Yet they were a strong couple and as long as they were together they coped
Jayne's parents
 Jayne’s parents                                                               

Everything changed for my family in 1980. On his way home from work Dad stepped on a train that he would never step off. His fellow passengers included two IRA men who carried a bomb. The bomb exploded obliterating my Dad and two others on the carriage. That bomb changed the face and experiences of my family forever. Gone was financial stability, gone was our home and worst of all gone was our Dad. The blast took him away along with any link we had to our Nigerian culture. From that day on my sisters and I became confused black girls in an all-white world. My parents had relied on each other to impart their respective cultures on us. Dad’s death and the events that came after made my Mum ill. She never recovered. We never learned anything about Dad’s culture, Mum simply wasn’t capable of teaching us. Instead she became bitter and obsessed with the troubles and her hatred of terrorists. She immersed us into the bleak reality that was war torn Northern Ireland, this wasn’t difficult given that we were constantly surrounded by it. Shootings, bombings and armed soldiers patrolling the streets were common place back then. The manner of Dad’s death had implications for us in that we not only grew up different because of our colour but also because we were innocent Catholic victims of the IRA. This made our fitting in even more difficult, Dad’s death alienated us from Catholic communities and our religion alienated us from Protestant communities. We lacked identity at every level. As such growing up was hard.

I often try to explain to people that you don’t walk around a colour, you walk around and live your life as you, as yourself. Unfortunately for us it was hard to be ourselves when we stood out so much. Someone always reminded us that we were different. As children it was assumed we could sing, we would be athletic, that we would happily play certain roles in school plays or worse that we were adopted. We grew used to stereotypes very quickly. We also grew used to racial taunts and slurs. Unfortunately for my sister she could run, in her teens it seemed she had a promising career ahead. Yet she grew tired of her talent being attributed to her colour and gave it up, no one ever thought of asking which parent this athletic gene came from it was always assumed which one. We heard the ‘N’ word so much as children that whilst it still hurts now part of me is used to it. In certain areas here and at certain times of the year it is almost expected.

When I reached my twenties more people of colour began to live here. They came gradually but one day there was suddenly an ‘ethnic minority’ population here numbering more than the usual under 1%. I remember seeing them out and about and being so grateful, my thoughts consumed with the one fact, my sister and I aren’t the only ones anymore. I felt more comfortable and less of an oddity, if I didn’t quite fit in in my home country at that point in time, it was a very real possibility that one day I would. I cannot describe the feeling of being one of a small minority rather than as it often was being the minority. I was naive, I never stopped to consider the fact that if I noticed then others did too. Not everyone felt my joy. That was in the early 2000s and it was around then when Northern Ireland’s racism changed. It moved away from just insults and remarks and manifested itself in physical attacks on people and their property. By 2004 Northern Ireland became the European capital of race hate.

Belfast Now
It is now ten years since Northern Ireland was bestowed with its title and for me these were ten wasted years. The country failed to utilise the intervening period and to do something to address the then already severe problem. Instead racism was left to fester. The attacks kept occurring and our government turned its back until one day the country was forced into submission, it was forced into publishing a racial equality strategy, something that had been pushed aside for seven years. The government’s hands became well and truly tied when on the 29th May 2014 Northern Ireland’s First Minister articulated to the world his less than flattering opinion on another minority group in Northern Ireland, the Muslim people. He has since apologised for his comments but it was too late. Northern Ireland had already been exposed in the global media for its first minister’s opinions of minorities. This tiny country became known as the place where two race hate crimes are reported every day. I was ashamed of our first minister’s words and I was ashamed that I was still here. Yet on top of that I was hurt, it was as if any feelings I harboured of being unwelcome had just been confirmed. The storm and furore caused has since quieted down but these days the next incident is never far away. Stand out incidents of race hate are easy to find, last month a Nigerian man arriving at a house he was due to move into was greeted by a ‘locals only’ protest at his door and in a separate incident a KKK flag was seen fluttering on the streets of East Belfast. Only last week ‘Ulster’ our international rugby team ‘blacked up’ and wore shackles as a hilarious fancy dress costume.
Belfast rally against racism
Belfast rally against racism

Is there room for optimism? Despite the increase in race hate incidents I believe that there is. On the 30th of May this year, thousands of people converged in Belfast city centre in an anti-racism rally. This was replicated the following week with eight thousand people from all walks of life taking to the city centres streets. The decent people here are mobilising, they are condemning these incidents and asking that the people responsible are held to account. For the first time ever Northern Ireland’s racism is out in the open and people are coming out in their droves against it. Displays such as the rally mean that I no longer feel alone or unwelcome. They prove that there is hope for Northern Ireland. There is hope that we can live in a conflict free society but also that at last there is hope for a future for all. That future includes people of colour like me. I may be ashamed of the negative headlines Northern Ireland has received but I am also proud of the people’s reaction to them.
Northern Ireland, like most countries will always have a small, extremist minority but they are just that, a minority. They are heard not because they speak sense or the truth but because they shout the loudest. I firmly believe that for every bigot here there are countless non prejudiced people, people who are prepared to take to the streets and condemn hatred, it is these people that make me stay. They fill me with hope. It has always been my dream that someday those without prejudice shout the loudest and drown out the minority. I think that slowly but surely this is happening. Where I once felt like an unwanted guest in the only home I knew, right now I feel confident that the tables are turning. The people of Northern Ireland are beginning to perceive the racists as the unwanted guests. Northern Ireland needs to change in so many respects, this won’t happen overnight. Yet change for the good is a real possibility in today’s Northern Ireland. The future is all to play for and at the moment I embrace the future with a cautious optimism.

Jayne Olorunda is from Belfast. She works in the cross community sector and is passionate about creating a peaceful Belfast. She is outspoken on racism and recently became Northern Ireland’s first electoral candidate of African descent. She has worked in the voluntary sector for over five years and is a well known advocate of equality for all. Jayne’s book Legacy was a bestseller on amazons racism charts and documents her experiences in northern Ireland. Legacy is available on all digital platforms. @jayne_legacy