The question of whether someone who is mixed-race is, in fact, “black” has been the subject of much discussion since Barack Obama began to be taken seriously as a contender for president. For those, like myself, who are mixed-race and had settled into our black identity a long time ago, the debate has been sometimes uncomfortable. While for some it was a moment for personal expression, for others the separation of “mixed race” from “black” is anathema.

It has been a debate that engaged this country more than the US. The proportion of mixed-race citizens, whose numbers famously include the Formula One racing driver Lewis Hamilton, is rising much faster here, and previously straightforward ethnic categories are being questioned by younger generations. With 63% of black Caribbean men born in the UK in mixed relationships, it is a trend that is set to continue.

It’s useful to see how the next US president, a master of racial nuance, handles this issue. Obama celebrates, even jokes about, his own diverse background. The love of his white American family pours from his biography, alongside his deep connection to his Kenyan relatives. But there is no question that the world’s most famous mixed-race man identifies himself as, among other things, a black man. His view, if you have travelled a similar path and reached the same conclusion, is a powerful affirmation…

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