Half-Caste Roots and Water
M.L.O To find out about the term ‘Half-Caste’
John Agard • Look at the picture of John Agard. • From his appearance, can you figure out which culture he belongs to? • Stick the photo in your book and annotate his features!
Were you right? • John Agard came to England from Guyana in 1977. Like many people from the Caribbean, he is mixed race - his mother is Portuguese, but born in Guyana and his father is black. • Most students look at the photo and decide that John Agard is from the Middle East because of his skin tone and his beard. • What did you think?
What is ‘half-caste’? • Wikipedia says: • Half-caste is a term used to describe people of mixed race or ethnicity.Caste comes from the Latin castus, meaning pure, and the derivative Portuguese and Spanish casta, meaning race.
Where is the term used? • In Australia, the term was historically used to describe the offspring of White colonists and the Aboriginal natives of the continent. It is immortalized in the Half-Caste Act, whereby the Australian government could seize such children in order to, in theory, provide them with better homes than those afforded typical Aborigines. As a result of such questionable acts, and their association with the moniker, half-caste is nowadays deemed an offensive term in Australia. • In today's United Kingdom, the term primarily applies to those of mixed Black and White parentage, but such was not always the case. In just about any area that fell under the crown's dominion, the term was made use of, and anyone of mixed Caucasian and conquered races could be properly described as being half-caste. As such, it did not necessarily carry any stigma with it.