Source: BBC's 6 Minute English
1 Neil is
A in his 30’s.
C white skinned.
2 If a girl is described as a typical English rose she
A has a pale skin colour.
B is not very beautiful.
C was born in a rural area.
3 New York City actress and playwright, Sarah Jones
A has some European roots.
B is adopted.
C is white on her dad’s side.
4 Alice’s neighbours
A eat meat at Christmas.
B haven’t integrated into British culture.
C have lived in Britain all their lives.
5 In Julian Baggini’s opinion, who we are depends on
A both ourselves and the others.
B the people around us.
6 The percentage of the UK population who describe themselves as ethnically mixed is
7 The real percentage of ethnically mixed population is
A around 2%.
B around 3%.
C around 12%.
Photo: BBC Learning English
Hello and welcome. I'm Alice…
And I'm Neil. So, Alice, what do you see when you look at me?
Well, male, Caucasian, early 40s, short auburn hair, bushy eyebrows, thin lips...
OK. So that's how you see me? It sounds like a police report, and I'm not sure I like your observation about thin lips. Caucasian means white skinned and European, by the way.
And today the show is about identity – who or what a person is. And the way people see us forms part of our sense of identity, while another part comes from our ethnic – or racial – identity. Now, Neil, you are, of course, many more things than my physical description of you!
I'm glad to hear that. And it's true, that until you actually hear somebody speak, there are lots of things you can't know about them. For example, which country they're from, what language they speak…
Yes. So looking at me, what would you say, Neil?
I would say Alice that you're a typical English rose.
Thanks, Neil – and English rose describes an attractive girl with a pale delicate complexion – or skin colour – but you can't actually tell where a person is from by the way they look.
Yes, I suppose you're right.
Well, let's hear from New York City actress and playwright, Sarah Jones, talking about her complicated ethnicity.
My family on my dad's side, my grandparents, are from the South. There's some Caribbean in there, black Americans from the South and the Caribbean, and then on my mother's side there are people from the Caribbean, from Ireland but you know Irish American, German American. People would ask me if I was adopted when they saw my mother's white skin – she's actually mixed but she's white from a distance, and I'm black from a distance.
Sarah Jones there. Well, Sarah has family from all over the world! And people think Sarah is adopted because she looks so different to her mum.
But I expect Sarah sees herself as American. New York is where she was born and raised.
That's right. But her grandparents weren't. Do you think you change when you go and live in another country with people different to you?
Yes, I do. My neighbours are Turkish but they've lived in England for 45 years so they've integrated into our culture. They enjoy English things like… our TV soap operas, cooking turkey at Christmas, and drinking tea with milk. So Neil, to what extent does the way other people see us, actually change us? Let's listen to Julian Baggini, a writer and philosopher here in the UK and find out what he thinks.
It seems very evident that our sense of self isn't something that comes entirely from within. And of course we're affected by the way other people see us. And that's one of the most formative things in creating our sense of identity. I mean, I think it's kind of a two-way process that's ongoing. Our sense of who we are is always a response in part to how other people see us.
So Julian Baggini believes the way other people see us is formative in creating our sense of identity – or who we are.
So if enough people see you as an English rose, you might start to see yourself as an English rose, even if you aren't ethnically English.
I'm not so sure. The friend I talked about earlier, she comes across as much more Brazilian than English in the way she behaves. She doesn't have the famous English reserve – but you'd never know it by looking at her. OK, I think it's time for the answer to today's quiz question.
Okey-dokey, fair enough. I asked you: What percentage of the UK population described themselves as ethnically mixed? Is it … a) 0.9%, b) 5.9% or c) 9%?
I said a) 0.9%.
Yes. And you were on the money today, Neil! Well done! According to a survey conducted by the BBC in 2011, when asked about their own ethnic origins, 0.9% of the UK population said they were mixed race, although it's thought that the real figure is 2% more.
And that's the end of today's 6 Minute English.
KEY: 1C 2A 3A 4A 5A 6A 7B