Achievements of Mixed Race People Past and Present
By Asher & Martin Hoyles
Reviewed By Ishraga Lloyd
At last! A book that applauds the history and achievements of mixed race people. Remember Me, by Asher and Martin Hoyles, sets out to show how mixed race people have made and continue to make positive contributions to the world. The book is a collection of biographies of present day and historical figures. Current luminaries include: singer Shirley Bassey; actress Cathy Tyson; and MP Oona King. Some examples from the past are: Arthur Wharton (the world's first black professional footballer); Mary Seacole (as famous a nurse as Florence Nightingale in her day); and Booker T. Washington, the black American leader.
In addition, there's a full and thought-provoking discussion of the mixed race experience in the introduction. Here, the authors address scientific facts ('There is one race – the human race') and trace the often hostile social attitudes towards mixed race relationships and individuals. They also draw on the experience and opinions of a number of mixed race people who have grown to value and celebrate their various backgrounds.
I see Remember Me as a wonderful start in acknowledging and honouring our mixed race heritage. It focuses on people with one white parent and one of African origin (including black American and Caribbean) – reflecting the backgrounds of the authors and their desire to provide their daughter with positive role models to identify with. Although, as the writers point out, 'there are clearly many other kinds of mixture which need to be celebrated'. As the book is intended for young people I think it's a shame that some of our younger, mixed race celebrities have not been included – like pop stars Goldie and Mel B or sportsmen Ryan Giggs and Jamie Baulch. (I understand the authors did try to fill this gap but that some stars rejected the opportunity to be involved.) The resulting collection is fairly highbrow with poets, politicians and artists who may not have instant appeal for children. This aside, Remember Me is a treasure trove of heroic and talented mixed race individuals who would inspire anyone – mixed race or not.
Remember Me – Achievements of Mixed Race People by Asher & Martin Hoyles Illustrated with black and white photos. Published June 1999 price £8.99 129pp p/b
Review originally published in People in Harmony Newsletter Issue August 1999
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