1965-2011 Mixed Britannia


1965-2011

George Alagiah tells the story of couples facing violence during the 70s, how adoption became a battleground and how mixed race became a rapidly growing ethnic group.


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Transcript


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Let's take ourselves back to 1920.

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It's first light on a cold and misty morning in London's Dockland.

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A ship slips into its berth

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and 20-year-old Lam Fook steps onto British soil,

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a new life ahead of him.

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It was here, in Limehouse, that he met,

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and fell in love with, an English girl.

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They had a child, Connie, and she was born into a time

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and place where being mixed was to be thought of as mysterious,

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exotic, but also morally corrupt.

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But if that prejudice defined the lives of those early families,

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the whole history of mixed race Britain

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has seen a sea-change in attitudes.

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Britain, today, has one of the most ethnically diverse

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populations in Europe.

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And this is the story of a nation transformed.

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Connie, a gracious 87-years-old now,

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presides over a family that is as British as they come.

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-How are you? Good to see you again.

-Yes.

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So we've got four generations here.

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-Yes, yes.

-That's incredible.

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One, two, three, four.

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-You're the mixed race family, really, aren't you?

-We are.

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-What happened to you?!

-I know!

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We've come a long way.

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In the 1970s, mixed race people were, themselves,

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still struggling to define who they were and the country, too,

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was confused about how to deal with a rising mixed race population.

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His mother is an English girl

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and his father is African, and he really has got

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the nicest disposition, as so many of these little Negros boys has.

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We got some very unpleasant letters -

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I should be "horsewhipped down the street."

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And it wasn't just white society that was struggling to cope.

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-So what if she pregnant, so what if the father's black!

-Black!

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If my sister had come home with a black guy,

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then I would have been against it.

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Connie's lifetime has seen mixed race people

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move into the mainstream.

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Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren

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are testament to that, but for earlier generations,

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a search for an identity they could call their own

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was often a painful process, especially as it took place

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against a backdrop in which what colour you were,

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was a political issue.

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Whitechapel in London.

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In 1961, in the school holidays,

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a 14-year-old girl headed for the Wimpy Bar.

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Where else?

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She went up to the counter and waited to be served.

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I ordered food...

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He came up from behind and he served me

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and just... I caught his eye,

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just...his mop of black hair.

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From that time, I thought, "Yes."

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What, even the first time you met him, did you think,

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-"Oh, he's all right"?

-Yeah.

-Did you?

-Yeah, I did!

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TRADITIONAL INDIAN MUSIC

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The first date was when we went to see an Indian movie called Sangam.

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That's quite unusual. There you are, a white girl

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and, presumably, had no idea of what you were listening to or watching.

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-Did you mind that?

-No, I didn't mind at all.

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Because you were sitting next to him?

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Yes! Hm-mm.

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Shafique Uddin had arrived in the UK from Bangladesh in 1960,

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aged just 18.

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Like immigrants everywhere,

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this young, single man was looking for work.

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Shafique was part of one of the last big waves of immigration,

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before Britain began to close its doors

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to people from its former colonies.

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Between 1962 and 1971 there had been a succession of immigration acts.

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By that time, the number of South Asians

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stood at almost half a million.

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In the 1960s, more and more Bangladeshi families

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were settling here, around Brick Lane.

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Like generations of immigrants before them,

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they found the housing cheap and the jobs plentiful.

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They moved in alongside old East End families, like Pamela's,

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people who were rooted in the area.

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The arrival of these new settlers led to growing racial tension.

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Brick Lane would eventually become a favoured

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hunting ground for the far right.

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They've opened the flood gates of our country to an invasion

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even more foreign than that which threatened us in 1914 or 1940.

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The far right's ugly politics, embodied by the National Front,

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was a growing feature of the 1970s.

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Support was particularly strong in East London

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and Shafique's Wimpy Bar was on the front line.

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POLICE SIRENS

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Sieg heil! Sieg heil! Sieg heil! Sieg heil!

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# When there is always something there to remind me. #

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When Pamela and Shafique began courting, racial prejudice

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was already bubbling beneath the surface.

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No wonder they met in secret.

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Naturally, we had a lot of problems, you know, like racist remarks

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and things like that, with my girlfriends and boyfriends

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in my estate, where I lived and everything.

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But eventually, they had to come out of the shadows.

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When you decided this is a man you loved,

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what was it like telling your parents about it?

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My mum did accept it straight away.

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I said, "I'll speak to Dad myself",

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and he just didn't want to hear about it.

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-He was angry, was he?

-He was very, very angry,

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why I'm going out with an Asian person.

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Despite that reaction,

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Pamela and Shafique went ahead with their marriage in 1965.

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Her father refused to attend the wedding.

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They became one of the first

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mixed raced couples to get married in Brick Lane Mosque.

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Did you, Shafique, when you realised that Pamela's father

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was not going to bless your marriage,

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did you think, "Well, maybe this is the wrong thing to do?"

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# What good is love

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# Mmmm, that no-one shares? #

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The impending arrival of a baby,

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a grandchild for Pamela's disapproving father,

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brought matters to a head.

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Difficult as it was, she decided to confront him.

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I said, "I'm going to start a family

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"and I want everything to be fine between me and you.

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"We've got to get all this put behind us."

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He just got up, walked out, slammed the sitting room door,

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went in his own bedroom. I gave him an ultimatum,

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like, "It's either not having me as your daughter any more

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"or you're going to come around, you're going to speak to Shafique."

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-Really, you went that far?

-Yeah.

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And after that, he come around slowly.

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It must have been a huge relief for you.

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It was. Really was.

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What do you get upset for?

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-Don't worry, Pamela.

-You don't have to get emotional.

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It's OK. It is emotional. You're an incredibly brave woman.

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The baby was born in 1968, the first of six children.

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From those inauspicious beginnings, Pamela and Shafique

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have raised a family - and proved their critics wrong.

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I am very proud, very proud, of what I've achieved today,

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in the 45 years I've been married to Shafique.

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So Pamela and Shafique had to overcome the disapproval of family

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and, as if that weren't bad enough,

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they were falling in love at a time of growing racial tension.

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Identity, how you saw yourself, how others looked at you -

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that was becoming a major issue,

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and if you were mixed race, finding and describing

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your own unique identity was more complex and more difficult

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and nowhere was that played out more starkly

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than in the field of adoption.

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# All alone am I

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# Ever since your goodbye.

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# All alone with just a beat of my heart. #

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It's October 1959 and Paddington Station is busy.

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# People all around but I don't hear a sound

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# Just the lonely beating of my heart. #

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Scanning the departures board for her train,

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a nervous-looking woman hurries towards the platform.

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In one hand, she carries a suitcase

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and holding her other hand tightly, is a pretty two-year-old -

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a mixed race child.

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The girl's name was Rosemary Walter and the journey

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she was about to embark on would change her life forever.

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She couldn't have known it, of course,

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but she was being rejected, hidden. You see, Rosie's mother,

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a white woman married to a white man, had had a black lover

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and Rosie was living proof of a relationship

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that was not just illicit, but in those days, deemed utterly shameful.

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The year before, in 1958, a survey had showed that

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71% of British people disapproved of mixed relationships.

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In other words, they disapproved of women like Gladys, Rosie's mother.

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She had to leave the marital home. She never told her husband why,

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but she left the marital home

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and she lived in a small flat in Clapham. She got pneumonia

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and I think she needed a break. I think she was a sad person

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and had quite a sad life, as a result of what happened,

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in regards to me being born.

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Gladys, no longer in a relationship with her black lover,

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was living alone.

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She was depressed and finding it hard to cope with a baby.

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She'd often sort of refer to the fact that her life changed

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drastically for the worst once I was born.

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But she also maintained that she loved me dearly

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and it was very sad for her, having to let me go.

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And what about the wider family, your white family,

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your mother's family?

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She'd asked her sister if we could both go and stay

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and her sister said that I couldn't, as she didn't want the neighbours to see a black child.

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They didn't want it known that her sister had had a child with a black man.

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Spurned by her family and friends, desperate for help,

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Gladys made a decision which would mark Rosie's life forever.

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Rosie's mother went to the National Children's Home for help,

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but they told her there were no places available in London.

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Rosie would have to go to Swansea.

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So, on Saturday, 5th October, 1959,

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Rosie and her mother found themselves here on platform one.

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# All alone with just the beat of my heart. #

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The two-year-old child was handed over by her mother

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to a social worker.

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The train pulled away and Rosie Walters would spend

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the next 16 years living in care homes.

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She'd spend those years battling to fit in

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with black or white children, but found herself rejected by both.

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Rosemary's mother was by no means on her own.

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There were many other women with their own secrets to hide.

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and, like Rosie, they too ended up in care.

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Exactly how many, well, that's difficult to know.

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Nobody was actually collating that kind of information,

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but what is clear from social workers and other subsequent studies

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is that there were many more mixed race children in care than you'd expect.

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Hello, sunshine!

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That was because it was difficult to find adoptive homes

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for these children in the 1960s.

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There are so many of these little Negro boys waiting for families,

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at the moment, we just haven't any homes for them.

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Come on!

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There simply weren't many couples prepared to foster or adopt

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mixed race children.

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And a care network run largely by the well-meaning

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was ill-equipped to change attitudes.

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His mother is an English girl and his father is African.

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He's not a big baby, he's quite a compact little boy.

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He's sort of coffee-coloured, big brown eyes,

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nicely-shaped mouth and he really has got the nicest disposition

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as so many of these little Negro boys has.

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No wonder middle-class Britain, with its privet hedges

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and milk carts, remained resistant

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to the idea of mixed race relationships,

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let alone adopting the children that followed.

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But in the early 1960s, there was a challenge to this jaundiced view

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and it came from the most unlikely quarter -

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the heart of the British aristocracy.

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All set?

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'Lady March gives her youngest daughter, Louisa,

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'a running commentary on the elements of horsemanship.'

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The Goodwood Estate in Sussex,

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home to the Duke and Duchess of Richmond.

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Susan Grenville-Grey had married the future Duke in 1951.

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The couple had three birth children of their own

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but they wanted more and decided to adopt.

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Adoption is a big thing, and on top of that you decide

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to go and adopt mixed race children.

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It must have been quite a tough decision, wasn't it?

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It was a tough decision to decide whether to adopt

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but it wasn't so tough to decide what child we thought we would adopt

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cos we particularly wanted to have children

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that wouldn't get much of a chance otherwise.

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By 1960, they had adopted one mixed race baby, Maria.

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But the duke and duchess didn't stop there.

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When Mum came and picked me up, I sat on her hip,

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held her thumb and that was the end of that, there was no way

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that she would put me down or that I wouldn't be going with her.

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'Nimmy March is a promising rider and whenever she's free

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'from her comprehensive school at Chichester...'

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Born to a white English mother and a black South African father

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in 1962, Nimmy March was adopted when she was six months old.

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The Duchess's father had been firmly against the idea

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but her arrival softened even the hardest of hearts.

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He changed his mind as soon as saw the kids?

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Well, yes, and my mother's a very fair person and she decided

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when they were there, she would treat them

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as her grandchildren...mostly, anyway, so it was all right.

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And then he was very wonderful, wasn't he, with both of my children?

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I adored him, absolutely.

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We were passionate about what we doing

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and we didn't probably realise what ructions there would be.

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-We got some very unpleasant letters.

-Did you?

-Yes.

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-What kind of letters?

-What did they say?

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Oh, that I should be horsewhipped down the street, um...

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and that we should be, you know, drummed out of everywhere.

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But the Duke and Duchess had rather more pressing problems

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closer to home.

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We had quite a few hair issues, didn't we... Do you remember?

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-What was the hair issue?

-Trying to detangle it!

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Using conventional kind of Caucasian hair brushes on my hair

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-just wasn't going to work.

-Oh, OK.

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And so, you know, it was a while before we discovered the Afro comb

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and ways of not making my eyes water quite so much as Mum tried to

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drag an ordinary comb through this curly mess!

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And as the swinging '60s gave way to the 1970s,

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Britain gained a reputation for the avant-garde.

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# There must be some kinda way outta here... #

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By the '60s, Britain was cool and it was fashionable

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and, whether home-grown or from abroad, this was the hip place to be

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if you were a musician, an actor or an artist.

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And these people had one thing in common.

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They bucked the social conventions, including those narrow attitudes

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about what race your partner should be.

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Many of these starlit couples got married or, at least,

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had long-term relationships

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and you have to remember, these were iconic people,

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so how they lived their lives as mixed race couples...

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Well, that sent out a powerful signal.

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They were confident, they were carefree.

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Above all, they seemed happy.

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# How does it feel to be

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# One of the beautiful people? #

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But the relaxed, carefree attitudes of film stars and rock legends,

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protected in their own gilded world,

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still had little resonance in ordinary homes.

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I think there will be tensions in your children.

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They will neither be white nor black,

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I think this is going to be a big hazard in your life.

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-Well, I hope to prove you wrong.

-Hope.

-I hope, yes!

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I honestly hope so, yes.

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But I wonder what Martin will think when he sees his first son,

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if it should be dark in colour.

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Yes, but I mean, I hope Martin has got more intelligence

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to accept whatever colour this child is.

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# Mixed blessings It has to be... #

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After the aristocracy and showbiz, it was television's turn

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to chip away at prejudice.

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A 1970s TV series featured a black and white couple

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who'd just secretly got married.

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Congratulations, Mrs Simpson. I am very glad you're my wife.

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Thomas and Susan...are married.

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Oh, my God!

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Whatever you do, Edward, don't embarrass her.

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Thomas, what have you done?!

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Dad, you've got yourself a daughter-in-law.

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I suppose my wife Frances and I are the kind of couple

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the show was trying to portray.

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We met at university in the 1970s and I'm happy to say,

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both our immediate families were completely onside.

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In fact, more than that, they went out and batted for us.

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Well, they could be white.

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Or they could be black one side and white the other!

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It wasn't quite so easy for the TV couple.

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There was the thorny issue of children.

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They'll be black, and that puts them at a disadvantage in this society,

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as I'm sure Susan well knows.

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Yes, I do, but we're sort of hoping it won't be such a problem one day.

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'It all looks so dated now, doesn't it? Let's face it,'

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the characters are a cliche, perfect examples

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of the stereotype, but I don't really think that's the point.

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The fact that a show like Mixed Blessings

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was on prime time TV at all, well, that was an achievement in itself.

0:22:460:22:51

It showed that mixed race relationships

0:22:510:22:54

were becoming a reality in 1970s Britain.

0:22:540:22:57

# Who is the man that would risk his neck for his brother man? #

0:22:570:23:02

# Shaft Can you dig it? #

0:23:020:23:05

But just as mixed race relationships were carving out a space

0:23:050:23:08

in the public consciousness,

0:23:080:23:10

there was a parallel rise in black militant politics.

0:23:100:23:15

It was influenced by America's Black Power movement.

0:23:150:23:18

From the '60s onwards, it produced icons like Angela Davis

0:23:180:23:22

and the black American athletes who took their silent but potent protest

0:23:220:23:26

against racial discrimination into the 1968 Mexico Olympics.

0:23:260:23:32

"Be black, be proud" - that was the new mantra.

0:23:320:23:35

And the black stars of the day symbolised that pride.

0:23:390:23:43

But what if you were neither black nor white?

0:23:470:23:51

People of mixed race found themselves

0:23:510:23:53

in a sort of racial no-man's-land,

0:23:530:23:55

caught in limbo between the new black consciousness

0:23:550:23:58

and a white status quo.

0:23:580:24:01

John Conteh, champion boxer and '70s celeb,

0:24:010:24:04

was born to a father from Sierra Leone and an Anglo-Irish mother.

0:24:040:24:07

Do you think of yourself as a black family

0:24:120:24:14

rather than a white family or a mixed or a coloured family?

0:24:140:24:17

Speaking for meself

0:24:200:24:21

I just regard meself as meself,

0:24:210:24:23

and as a person of the world and as a human being.

0:24:230:24:27

Not black, white, blue, pink, anything, you know. Just me.

0:24:270:24:31

There was a sort of invisibility of mixed race people in the '70s.

0:24:310:24:35

Umm... On the one hand, they were there and they were recognised

0:24:350:24:40

because the use of the term "half-caste"

0:24:400:24:42

was very prevalent in the '70s.

0:24:420:24:44

People who were from mixed white and black backgrounds

0:24:440:24:47

tended more to be seen as black.

0:24:470:24:50

There wasn't that sort of sophistication of understanding

0:24:500:24:54

racial identities in the '70s that we have now,

0:24:540:24:56

and so there was very much a sense of you're either white

0:24:560:25:01

or you're not white.

0:25:010:25:02

But if mixed race children had to be classified as black or white,

0:25:080:25:11

where did that leave their prospects for adoption?

0:25:110:25:15

It was a whole new battleground.

0:25:150:25:18

In the '60s, there'd been little debate

0:25:180:25:20

about what became known as "trans-racial adoption."

0:25:200:25:24

Was it good or bad for mixed race children to have white parents?

0:25:240:25:28

There was no official guideline,

0:25:280:25:30

each family muddling its way through the fog of prejudice and ignorance.

0:25:300:25:34

Are there any problems in fostering coloured children?

0:25:340:25:38

Not really, but once, I was out shopping with Carol,

0:25:380:25:41

and there was two little boys playing. They said,

0:25:410:25:45

"I say, missus, is that your kid there?" And I said "Yes,

0:25:450:25:48

"that's my daughter and I'm proud of her"

0:25:480:25:51

and Carol just got hold of my hand, squeezed it and said,

0:25:510:25:54

"You're not really my mother, are you?"

0:25:540:25:56

I said "I am your mother within the heart because I do love you."

0:25:560:25:59

It was only in 1970 that the Home Office gave a formal view

0:26:050:26:09

on the subject, saying that children of mixed race

0:26:090:26:11

should be considered for adoption

0:26:110:26:14

by both black couples and white couples.

0:26:140:26:16

But it very quickly sparked off a lively

0:26:200:26:24

and sometimes angry debate about culture and heritage.

0:26:240:26:28

Mixed race children brought up by white families

0:26:280:26:31

were accused of being like coconuts -

0:26:310:26:34

brown on the outside but white inside.

0:26:340:26:37

Racial identity was about to take centre stage.

0:26:370:26:41

In 1975, Judith Logan was born to a mixed Caribbean father

0:26:460:26:51

and a white mother. She was adopted as a baby.

0:26:510:26:54

Yes, I would describe myself

0:26:550:26:57

as a happy child growing up because I had a loving family.

0:26:570:27:00

They kept me safe

0:27:000:27:03

and sheltered me from a lot I wasn't aware of.

0:27:030:27:05

Her new parents were white

0:27:050:27:08

and lived in Inverness, the Scottish Highlands.

0:27:080:27:11

It was a very small town. It wasn't big.

0:27:130:27:15

I mean we had like one set of traffic lights,

0:27:150:27:19

that's how small it was,

0:27:190:27:20

so there wasn't a great diversity of colour. It was quite white.

0:27:200:27:24

Where you lived has always had an impact

0:27:280:27:30

on the experience of people of mixed race

0:27:300:27:33

and for Judith her isolation soon caused problems.

0:27:330:27:37

I mean, my secondary school, it was a living hell.

0:27:370:27:40

I hated every single moment of it.

0:27:400:27:44

From basically day one until I left.

0:27:440:27:47

I was visibly on my own, you know. There was the usual name-calling.

0:27:470:27:50

I got called "nigger", I got called "monkey".

0:27:500:27:53

I got told that I should go back to where I belong,

0:27:530:27:55

got told I smelt bad.

0:27:550:27:57

Judith says she got little help from her teachers

0:27:570:28:01

and, try as they might, she feels her white parents

0:28:010:28:03

simply couldn't understand what it was like to be black.

0:28:030:28:07

My mother would try and support me but it wasn't

0:28:070:28:10

the same as going to somebody who's black and going

0:28:100:28:13

"Look, you've probably been in the same situation as me, you're black."

0:28:130:28:17

White people...they don't tend to get called "niggers",

0:28:170:28:20

that I'm aware of, and, um...

0:28:200:28:23

So it was, you know, it was... it was difficult.

0:28:230:28:25

Judith's case, along with some others,

0:28:280:28:30

set alarm bells ringing for black social workers.

0:28:300:28:34

Even more than the bullying, what worried them

0:28:340:28:36

was that these children, brought up within white families,

0:28:360:28:39

were losing out on their racial heritage.

0:28:390:28:42

Across the Atlantic, in America, black social workers there

0:28:420:28:46

were already involved in a campaign against trans-racial adoption.

0:28:460:28:50

They called it "cultural genocide".

0:28:500:28:53

The American experience was soon mirrored here in Britain.

0:28:550:28:58

By the early 1980s, there was a hot debate about trans-racial adoption.

0:28:580:29:03

In 1983, a report by the British Association for Adoption

0:29:030:29:07

and Fostering argued that most trans-racial adoptions

0:29:070:29:10

had been successful.

0:29:100:29:12

White families provided stable homes and children were happy.

0:29:120:29:17

But one of the findings in the report proved hugely contentious.

0:29:170:29:20

It said that mixed race children adopted by white families,

0:29:200:29:24

and I'm quoting here,

0:29:240:29:26

"saw themselves as white in all but skin colour and had little knowledge

0:29:260:29:30

"or experience of their counterparts growing up in the black community".

0:29:300:29:34

That comment caused outrage among some black social workers.

0:29:380:29:42

They fired off a document to the House of Commons denouncing

0:29:420:29:46

the evils of trans-racial adoption,

0:29:460:29:48

describing it as "internal colonialism" and a new form

0:29:480:29:51

of slave trade, but this time, they said, only black children are used.

0:29:510:29:56

The difference between a white and black family

0:29:580:30:00

in terms of parenting is essentially one

0:30:000:30:03

revolving around the black parent, in a black family,

0:30:030:30:07

having the crucial function

0:30:070:30:09

of teaching its children to cope with a fundamentally racist society.

0:30:090:30:14

-INTERVIEWER:

-You're talking about educating children for racism.

0:30:140:30:18

Isn't that a self-fulfilling prophecy?

0:30:180:30:21

It's an absolute prerequisite of any conscious black family life.

0:30:210:30:26

We are trying to teach our children to survive.

0:30:260:30:28

THEY CHANT

0:30:280:30:32

I wanted to fit in.

0:30:320:30:34

You know, I think it's hard to fit in

0:30:340:30:37

when your entire family is one colour...and you're not.

0:30:370:30:41

All the time I used to always want to be brought up in a black family,

0:30:410:30:46

I wanted to... at least have one black parent.

0:30:460:30:49

Doesn't have to be all black - but I wanted to be brought up

0:30:490:30:53

in a mixed race family, so there was a black parent.

0:30:530:30:56

Imagine the anguish, not only in the classroom but even at home.

0:30:560:31:01

For Judith, the racism she experienced during her childhood led to low self-esteem.

0:31:010:31:07

She spent many years questioning who she really was.

0:31:070:31:11

It is important for me to have that mixed race identity.

0:31:110:31:15

It's who I am, I wouldn't be me without it.

0:31:150:31:17

But the acute challenges of being mixed race

0:31:240:31:26

were not restricted only to those children who'd been adopted.

0:31:260:31:29

'On our side of the street we had a black family,

0:31:290:31:33

'and then the rest of the street was predominantly white. There were no Asians.'

0:31:330:31:38

And when there was ever confrontations

0:31:380:31:41

between the black family and the white kids,

0:31:410:31:44

I was always, like, "Which side should I take?"

0:31:440:31:48

Clement Cooper grew up in Moss Side, Manchester.

0:31:590:32:02

Clement's father was black Jamaican, his mother white,

0:32:030:32:08

but he'd begun to consider himself black.

0:32:080:32:11

In the early '80s, Clement started a career as a professional photographer.

0:32:140:32:18

By 1988, he had enough work

0:32:190:32:22

for an exhibition at the Cornerhouse gallery in Manchester.

0:32:220:32:25

He called it "Presence".

0:32:270:32:29

It was a series of intimate and telling portraits of people

0:32:310:32:34

from his neighbourhood, most of whom were black.

0:32:340:32:37

But, within a week of the exhibition opening, there was trouble.

0:32:390:32:43

I got a telephone call to say,

0:32:460:32:48

a group of black youths had marched into the gallery with screwdrivers,

0:32:480:32:52

bypassed the security system, and had removed from the walls

0:32:520:32:56

a set of the photographs of the black young men from the youth club.

0:32:560:33:01

Clement wanted his pictures back, and so he approached the youths of the club.

0:33:020:33:07

Their reply shocked him.

0:33:070:33:09

Their line of attack was one of my race,

0:33:130:33:15

and they started to abuse me along racial lines.

0:33:150:33:18

And attacking me for me being mixed race.

0:33:200:33:23

And they used expressions of "You half-caste" and "You half-breed".

0:33:230:33:26

And I eventually got assaulted, the pictures never got returned,

0:33:260:33:30

I got death threats...

0:33:300:33:32

My family had to be very mindful where they went to,

0:33:320:33:36

my father in particular...

0:33:360:33:37

How can you defend against that kind of torrent of anger and aggression,

0:33:410:33:45

when it's directed at the very thing what your being's about, your identity?

0:33:450:33:49

The attack pushed Clement into a period of soul-searching.

0:33:540:33:59

He set off to the land of his father.

0:33:590:34:00

Only to be told he wasn't really one of them either.

0:34:040:34:08

I went to Jamaica thinking, "If I'm rejected here,

0:34:100:34:13

"I could be accepted in a Jamaican environment."

0:34:130:34:16

Only to be told by my aunt, at a time of giving

0:34:160:34:20

a blood transfusion to a boy from the community who was dying,

0:34:200:34:25

that "Clement" - in front of the whole crowd from the community -

0:34:250:34:28

"can't give blood, cos he's got white blood in him.

0:34:280:34:31

"And white blood cannot be transfused or taken and put into a black person -

0:34:310:34:35

"especially a black child."

0:34:350:34:36

So Clement Cooper returned to Britain.

0:34:390:34:42

He'd gone halfway around the world and still didn't know where he fitted in.

0:34:420:34:47

As it happened, the answer was just a few miles

0:34:470:34:49

down the M62 from Manchester to Liverpool -

0:34:490:34:53

a port city that had always been home to one of the largest mixed race communities.

0:34:530:34:57

I went to this club called the Ebo club,

0:35:000:35:02

at the bottom of Parliament Street.

0:35:020:35:04

And I went in there for the very first time one evening,

0:35:040:35:07

and I opened this door,

0:35:070:35:08

and for the first time in my whole life, at the age of 29,

0:35:080:35:11

there was this roomful of people who looked very similar to me.

0:35:110:35:17

It was a revelation. Finally, he felt he knew who he was.

0:35:180:35:22

He didn't have to try to be white OR black.

0:35:220:35:25

Not just in terms of the complexion, but the whole structure

0:35:260:35:30

and the way...just the way they looked and acted, and it was

0:35:300:35:34

a complete shock, to see so many people like myself in one space.

0:35:340:35:41

Clement's journey marks one little victory for all mixed race people.

0:35:450:35:49

One more step in their fight to carve out

0:35:530:35:56

an identity for themselves.

0:35:560:35:58

But there was still one major battle.

0:36:020:36:05

It pitted black activists against those in charge of social policy.

0:36:050:36:10

Should mixed race children be defined by their colour,

0:36:100:36:14

or by their need?

0:36:140:36:16

In 1989, those black activists and social workers got what they'd campaigned for.

0:36:250:36:31

The new Children's Act effectively reversed the previous guidance of 1970,

0:36:310:36:36

saying race SHOULD be given due consideration.

0:36:360:36:39

Councils should try whenever appropriate

0:36:390:36:42

to match black children to black couples,

0:36:420:36:44

and mixed race children to black OR mixed race couples.

0:36:440:36:48

However well-meaning that instruction to consider race was,

0:36:490:36:53

it effectively meant that many mixed race children

0:36:530:36:56

ended up in care rather than with a family.

0:36:560:36:59

There simply weren't enough mixed race couples who wanted to take them in.

0:36:590:37:03

One mixed race couple bucked that trend.

0:37:070:37:10

On the 10th of February 1988, Mike and Julie DeSouza

0:37:100:37:14

were sitting outside a room awaiting a decision on adoption.

0:37:140:37:19

They came back and... just sat down with us, I think.

0:37:190:37:23

Just said, "I'm really sorry, we need to talk to you."

0:37:230:37:28

Yeah, just delivered the news that we had actually been...

0:37:290:37:32

we hadn't been approved.

0:37:320:37:34

It was a personal rejection of who I was, and I just felt like...

0:37:340:37:40

..that I wasn't good enough to be the father of a mixed race child.

0:37:410:37:48

MUSIC: "No Ordinary Love" by Sade

0:37:480:37:51

Mike and Julie had got married in 1989.

0:37:550:37:59

Born in London, Mike was himself the child of a mother

0:38:020:38:05

from the Caribbean, and a Chinese-Portuguese father.

0:38:050:38:09

After getting married, they'd had two children of their own,

0:38:100:38:14

but wanted to have a larger family.

0:38:140:38:16

So, in 1996, they'd approached Barnardo's, believing they would be

0:38:180:38:22

the perfect candidates to adopt a mixed race child.

0:38:220:38:25

How wrong they'd been.

0:38:270:38:29

As the meeting unfolded, it became apparent

0:38:290:38:32

that the social workers didn't think they were ready.

0:38:320:38:35

The family needed some extra training.

0:38:350:38:39

I thought it was a bit of a joke, to be honest. I thought, this is...

0:38:400:38:45

Joke? I think I would have been pretty angry.

0:38:450:38:47

-I don't want to put words into YOUR mouth.

-The anger came later.

0:38:470:38:51

It was after the second panel. Because we figured, OK,

0:38:510:38:54

it's just one more hoop to jump through -

0:38:540:38:56

once we get through this, it'll be fine, we'll have our son.

0:38:560:39:00

The extra training for Mike and Julie was a year-long racial awareness course.

0:39:030:39:08

By now, they'd begun to select a child to take home,

0:39:080:39:11

so, in February 1988, they attended a final adoption panel.

0:39:110:39:16

There were 13 people in the room - 12 of them were white English,

0:39:190:39:23

there was an Asian woman,

0:39:230:39:25

and I was the only black male in the room. And they were saying that

0:39:250:39:29

their concern was I wouldn't be able to equip a black boy

0:39:290:39:33

to deal with racism as he grew up.

0:39:330:39:36

They would rather revoke our approval

0:39:360:39:40

and allow a child to grow up in the care system,

0:39:400:39:42

than to be placed in a home with parents who would love and care

0:39:420:39:47

and want to nurture that child. I just felt that was so wrong.

0:39:470:39:50

Sue was told she couldn't adopt because she was too tall.

0:39:500:39:55

Mike was told he wasn't black ENOUGH to adopt.

0:39:550:40:00

This is The Vanessa Show.

0:40:000:40:02

The story of the DeSouza adoption process soon broke nationally,

0:40:020:40:07

causing outrage in the media.

0:40:070:40:09

Barnardo's at that time

0:40:120:40:14

said they HAD involved a black social worker at an earlier stage in the process.

0:40:140:40:18

A new dawn has broken, has it not?

0:40:210:40:23

CHEERING

0:40:230:40:25

The row had coincided with a change at national level,

0:40:250:40:28

with the election in 1997 of a new Labour government,

0:40:280:40:32

and with it came Britain's first mixed race MPs.

0:40:320:40:37

I was a child of mixed heritage - my mother was white,

0:40:420:40:45

my father was black -

0:40:450:40:47

and I was brought up as a young black African male.

0:40:470:40:51

That's how I saw myself.

0:40:510:40:54

Because frankly, when the National Front or the British Movement

0:40:540:40:57

are kicking your head in, George Alagiah,

0:40:570:40:59

they don't ask whether you are of Indian origin,

0:40:590:41:02

or whether you are mixed race, or black... You're a nigger.

0:41:020:41:05

You're black, you're a wog. And they kick your head in.

0:41:050:41:08

Now, if you are bringing up a child into such a world,

0:41:080:41:12

then that's a very heavy responsibility.

0:41:120:41:15

And you have to be equipped to give them that sense of self-worth

0:41:150:41:19

and strength of identity that sees them through that.

0:41:190:41:23

But there are white parents that can do that, there are black parents who can do that,

0:41:230:41:27

there are white parents who fail in that, and black parents and mixed race parents who fail in that,

0:41:270:41:32

because parenting in such a situation is a very difficult job.

0:41:320:41:36

By 1998, Paul Boateng was a junior minister.

0:41:390:41:43

He drew on his own experience

0:41:430:41:45

when he decided to change once again the guidance on adoptions.

0:41:450:41:48

He said it was unacceptable for a child to be denied loving adoptive parents

0:41:510:41:56

solely on the grounds that the child

0:41:560:41:58

and adopters did not share the same racial or cultural background.

0:41:580:42:03

'It's a decision he continues to stand by.'

0:42:040:42:07

Is it preferable in any event, to have two loving white parents -

0:42:080:42:14

who are making an effort to bring the child up

0:42:140:42:17

with a good sense of self-worth and identity -

0:42:170:42:21

is it better that they should be brought up by such a couple,

0:42:210:42:25

than languish in a children's home,

0:42:250:42:28

or languish in a situation where they're fostered

0:42:280:42:31

from one foster home to another?

0:42:310:42:33

Yes - because all the evidence is

0:42:330:42:36

that the state is a pretty bad parent. And that's the reality.

0:42:360:42:39

The DeSouzas didn't give up.

0:42:410:42:43

A year later they applied to be adoptive parents again -

0:42:430:42:46

this time with Hackney Council.

0:42:460:42:50

After a year we were unconditionally approved,

0:42:500:42:53

and then four months later we got our son.

0:42:530:42:55

-Whose name is...?

-Caleb.

0:42:570:42:59

-How old is he now?

-He's ten. We got him at eight months.

0:42:590:43:03

His birth mother was half Nigerian and half Welsh, I believe,

0:43:030:43:07

and his biological father was white English.

0:43:070:43:10

So he's quarter Nigerian, in fact.

0:43:110:43:14

But he's fantastic, he's such a great little kid.

0:43:140:43:18

So you're kind of a regular United Nations!

0:43:180:43:21

We really are. That's right.

0:43:210:43:23

A happy ending for the DeSouzas. But even today,

0:43:230:43:27

mixed race children still account for more than 8% of those in care,

0:43:270:43:32

when they only make up 3% of our population.

0:43:320:43:35

There are signs of change -

0:43:410:43:43

the new coalition government issued more guidance,

0:43:430:43:46

making race just one of many factors that need to be considered,

0:43:460:43:50

and it's no longer the most important one. Here's what it says.

0:43:500:43:54

"As long as a family can meet all the emotional needs of a child

0:43:540:43:58

"seeking a permanent home,

0:43:580:43:59

"their ethnic origin should not be a factor."

0:43:590:44:03

That reinforcement of the Labour guidelines

0:44:100:44:12

is not a hard and fast rule.

0:44:120:44:15

It's still down to adoption agencies and local councils.

0:44:150:44:20

In the '90s, despite previous attempts to limit non-European

0:44:270:44:30

immigration, Britain continued to attract new arrivals.

0:44:300:44:35

Wars and conflicts produced a stream of refugees

0:44:350:44:39

from every corner of the world, and they made their new homes here.

0:44:390:44:43

Vietnamese boat people built a community in Nottingham,

0:44:490:44:54

Bosnians congregated in London,

0:44:540:44:56

and the Congolese headed for Sheffield.

0:44:560:44:58

So refugee by refugee, migrant by migrant,

0:45:080:45:11

Britain was becoming one of the most ethnically diverse places on earth.

0:45:110:45:16

It meant that an Arab from Morocco

0:45:160:45:18

could fall in love with a Cambodian

0:45:180:45:21

or that an Iranian could marry a Burmese girl -

0:45:210:45:24

and their children would be mixed-race and British.

0:45:240:45:28

And attitudes towards mixed-race couples were changing too.

0:45:320:45:36

While in the '50s, the majority of British people

0:45:380:45:41

had disapproved of mixed marriages,

0:45:410:45:44

one survey showed that by the mid-'90s,

0:45:440:45:46

only 10% would admit to being against them.

0:45:460:45:49

From the '50s to the '90s, obviously a lot changed.

0:45:500:45:53

One, people living side by side with each other, but on top of that,

0:45:530:45:58

at an official level, we have race legislation being brought in.

0:45:580:46:03

And so this changing idea that it's normal

0:46:030:46:06

to have different races living side by side,

0:46:060:46:09

but also that racism isn't normal,

0:46:090:46:13

that racism is wrong.

0:46:130:46:16

But Britain itself was changing.

0:46:190:46:22

By the early 1990s, the mixed-race population in Britain

0:46:220:46:27

was estimated to be over 300,000.

0:46:270:46:29

It was by no means huge,

0:46:290:46:30

but a considerable part of the population nonetheless.

0:46:300:46:34

Proof of that could be found on most estates,

0:46:360:46:39

in virtually every suburb

0:46:390:46:40

and in the homes of the rich, the famous and the titled.

0:46:400:46:45

In 1992, rock legend David Bowie married the Somalian model Iman.

0:46:490:46:54

And in 1995, cricketing royalty Imran Khan

0:47:030:47:07

married English gentry Jemima Goldsmith.

0:47:070:47:11

Then two years later Diana, Princess of Wales -

0:47:130:47:16

then considered the most famous woman in the world -

0:47:160:47:19

was photographed with her new Egyptian boyfriend, Dodi Al-Fayed.

0:47:190:47:24

What happens when you began to see famous mixed-race relationships,

0:47:280:47:35

and I'm thinking of people like Jemima Goldsmith

0:47:350:47:38

and Imran Khan, the cricketer,

0:47:380:47:39

Princess Diana and Dodi, what was the effect of that?

0:47:390:47:44

I think it brought the idea of mixed-race relationships

0:47:440:47:50

into a different public realm,

0:47:500:47:55

and it questioned, slightly,

0:47:550:47:58

some of the assumptions and stereotypes that were out there

0:47:580:48:02

about mixed-race relationships and, you know, the idea

0:48:020:48:05

that these are primarily working class, and so to see these

0:48:050:48:10

high-profile celebrities in these mixed relationships -

0:48:100:48:14

in particular, people like Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed,

0:48:140:48:17

made people think, "Oh, that's interesting,

0:48:170:48:22

"I didn't think it was those sort of people that mixed race."

0:48:220:48:25

The irony was that while white Britain -

0:48:280:48:31

whether it was the mother to a future king or someone down the road -

0:48:310:48:34

seemed to be more relaxed about mixed-race relationships,

0:48:340:48:38

some immigrants were still locked into the old ways.

0:48:380:48:41

The Asian community still remains one of those

0:48:410:48:44

with the lowest rates of marrying out.

0:48:440:48:47

So what if she's pregnant? So what if the father's black?

0:48:470:48:50

-Black?

-This is the 20th century, you know?

0:48:500:48:53

-SHE SPEAKS HER OWN LANGUAGE

-That will kill your family, you know?

0:48:530:48:57

Let's just calm down, sisters, all right?

0:48:570:49:00

The film Bhaji On The Beach was greeted with outrage by many Asians,

0:49:000:49:05

especially the sight of an Indian girl kissing a black man.

0:49:050:49:09

It showed how hard it was for them to break with the past.

0:49:090:49:13

If my sister had come home with a black guy,

0:49:140:49:17

then I would have been against it, if I'm telling the truth,

0:49:170:49:22

because culturally

0:49:220:49:23

I would have not been able to accept that,

0:49:230:49:26

and I can't say why, but that's just the way I think I'm programmed

0:49:260:49:30

as an Indian.

0:49:300:49:32

But love, they say, conquers all.

0:49:340:49:36

As we've seen in this story,

0:49:360:49:38

it can break down even the firmest of cultural barriers.

0:49:380:49:42

I assumed my whole life that I was going to actually just marry

0:49:420:49:46

an Indian girl, as that was what was expected from me,

0:49:460:49:50

from my family and relatives.

0:49:500:49:52

That's the way I was brought up, so I had to marry someone

0:49:520:49:56

that was going to be the perfect daughter-in-law for my family

0:49:560:50:01

and me as a husband.

0:50:010:50:02

I never thought it was going to turn into a serious relationship

0:50:040:50:07

cos he mentioned that when he would get married,

0:50:070:50:10

it would be to an Indian girl.

0:50:100:50:12

But Jaspreet Panglea didn't get married to an Indian girl.

0:50:120:50:16

He married Primrose Jackson in Hounslow in 2009.

0:50:180:50:22

The bride wore a white wedding dress during the day,

0:50:250:50:27

and in the evening, Asian dress.

0:50:270:50:30

To them, the day was a blending of their different cultures -

0:50:320:50:35

Zimbabwean and Sikh.

0:50:350:50:37

It all went smoothly on the day,

0:50:390:50:41

but the road to the wedding was anything but.

0:50:410:50:45

I was thinking, she's a nice girl, but I thought to myself

0:50:450:50:48

there's no way I could ever get serious with this girl

0:50:480:50:51

because this is not going to go anywhere

0:50:510:50:53

and I could lose everyone in my life if I do this,

0:50:530:50:56

like, went with a girl... a black girl, basically.

0:50:560:51:00

Jaspreet's parents are from India

0:51:050:51:08

and he's been brought up in a very traditional Punjabi Sikh household.

0:51:080:51:12

I told my parents. That was hard, very hard.

0:51:160:51:19

The hardest thing I ever did in my life.

0:51:190:51:21

My dad was very supportive and he was ready to get us married straight away.

0:51:210:51:27

But there were people obviously that said, "We're not happy

0:51:270:51:30

"and we're not going come to the wedding if he's going to do this."

0:51:300:51:33

So those people didn't come.

0:51:330:51:36

I got over it and I wake up every morning the happiest man on the planet

0:51:360:51:40

so for me, that's all that matters.

0:51:400:51:43

The couple both accept that it will take time for some people

0:51:470:51:51

to accept their relationship fully.

0:51:510:51:54

But they're rather hoping their latest news will make it easier.

0:51:540:51:59

When we have children. Yes, we are actually expecting a kid now.

0:51:590:52:03

-There's a little baby in there.

-We're ecstatic.

0:52:040:52:09

It's really good. Can't wait to be a dad.

0:52:090:52:11

I'm really looking forward to that.

0:52:110:52:13

This will be an infusion of both of us.

0:52:130:52:16

I wish the nine months would go quicker. Yeah.

0:52:160:52:19

Quite proud of myself, actually.

0:52:190:52:21

Remember that little girl on the platform at Paddington station?

0:52:290:52:33

Rosie Walters was put into care when she was just two years old

0:52:370:52:41

because her white mother couldn't cope with having a mixed-race child.

0:52:410:52:46

Ten years later,

0:52:460:52:47

she was moved from the mainly white area of Swansea

0:52:470:52:50

to the mixed area of Stockwell, in London,

0:52:500:52:53

where she grew up and still lives.

0:52:530:52:55

The changes in her life mirror and reflect the changes in our country.

0:52:560:53:01

I was about 31 years old when I was able to stand up

0:53:040:53:07

and say, "I am a black woman of mixed parentage."

0:53:070:53:09

I started to feel more comfortable with who I was.

0:53:090:53:12

I started to recognise my own worth in society.

0:53:120:53:17

I think when I started to branch out and meet different people

0:53:170:53:20

from different backgrounds, I started to realise

0:53:200:53:23

it's actually all right to be yourself, you know, Rose.

0:53:230:53:25

She's found herself and her country has found her.

0:53:280:53:32

20 years ago, when she first started filling out the National Census form,

0:53:340:53:39

she only had the box marked "other".

0:53:390:53:41

Now it is different.

0:53:410:53:42

This is 2011 and, of course, it's census year.

0:53:460:53:49

In a way, Britain's going to give you the opportunity

0:53:490:53:51

to tick something and say you're mixed-race.

0:53:510:53:54

How does that feel?

0:53:540:53:55

I think it's a big step forward, isn't it, really?

0:53:550:53:57

And it does show that there's some recognition.

0:53:570:54:00

So what are you going to put? White Afro-Caribbean?

0:54:000:54:03

White Afro-Caribbean, yeah. That's what I am. That's who I am.

0:54:030:54:07

Done. You're official.

0:54:100:54:13

At last. At last.

0:54:130:54:14

Been a long time coming, hasn't it? But you know, yeah.

0:54:140:54:17

# This is the world that we live in

0:54:170:54:23

# I feel myself get tired

0:54:230:54:26

# This is the world that we live in... #

0:54:260:54:31

The census may not reveal the mixed-race population

0:54:330:54:36

in all its complexity, but it has shattered one stereotype -

0:54:360:54:40

that it's largely a working class phenomenon.

0:54:400:54:44

There is a very middle class dimension

0:54:500:54:52

to mixed-race families in Britain.

0:54:520:54:56

They tend to have higher levels of home ownership,

0:54:560:54:59

er, higher levels of the educational profiles,

0:54:590:55:04

which again challenges this idea that it's a working class

0:55:040:55:08

or even an underclass phenomenon,

0:55:080:55:11

something that you only find in council estates, in inner cities.

0:55:110:55:15

In fact, the picture of mixing in Britain is something

0:55:150:55:19

which is more middle class and spread throughout the country,

0:55:190:55:24

not just in pockets of cities.

0:55:240:55:28

There are places in Britain where colour, mixed-race or otherwise,

0:55:300:55:33

is still a rarity - perhaps exotic -

0:55:330:55:36

but here in Newham in East London,

0:55:360:55:38

75%, three-quarters of all newborn babies,

0:55:380:55:42

will have mothers who were themselves born outside the UK.

0:55:420:55:46

So imagine you're a teenager

0:55:460:55:49

and you're out looking for a boyfriend or girlfriend

0:55:490:55:51

and you want to stick to your own kind.

0:55:510:55:54

You may find the choice is rather limited.

0:55:540:55:57

I've come back to where our story began, Limehouse docks.

0:56:020:56:07

Waves of new arrivals since then have swelled our ethnic population

0:56:070:56:12

and resulted in Britain's mixed-race people

0:56:120:56:15

becoming one of the fastest-growing and youngest ethnic groups in the country.

0:56:150:56:20

In the 2001 census,

0:56:200:56:22

there were well over half a million mixed-race people in the UK.

0:56:220:56:26

That figure is now thought to have grown to one million.

0:56:260:56:29

I asked some of those I'd met on my journey to join me

0:56:350:56:38

to come together and celebrate their differences -

0:56:380:56:41

but also what they shared in common.

0:56:410:56:43

There was Connie, who'd endured the humiliation

0:56:450:56:49

of having her head measured by race scientists

0:56:490:56:51

to see if mixed-race children were as intelligent as others.

0:56:510:56:55

Mary and Jake, who once faced intolerance and abuse

0:56:570:57:00

for simply dancing together.

0:57:000:57:02

And Dauod, the son of Olive and Ali Salaman from Tiger Bay,

0:57:070:57:12

home of one of our first and proudest mixed-race communities.

0:57:120:57:17

Take a look at them. They're British, every one of them.

0:57:190:57:23

When I set out, I wanted to explore the lives of mixed-race people

0:57:330:57:37

but week by week, interview by interview,

0:57:370:57:40

I've realised that their story is also the story of modern Britain.

0:57:400:57:45

We've seen how this country has been exposed to the same poisonous mix

0:57:450:57:49

of racist theory and prejudice as the rest of Europe and America.

0:57:490:57:54

Through it all, we have cut a rather unique path.

0:57:540:57:57

Trade and Empire had a part to play,

0:57:570:58:00

personal courage was matched by a sort of communal pragmatism.

0:58:000:58:03

And then, of course, there was love and lust.

0:58:030:58:06

Whatever the reasons,

0:58:060:58:08

Britain has emerged as one of the most mixed nations on earth

0:58:080:58:12

and I, for one, am proud of that.

0:58:120:58:15

Subtitles by Red Bee Media

0:58:430:58:45

E-mail [email protected]

0:58:450:58:48

In the last of this three-part series, George Alagiah tells the story of couples facing violence on the streets during the 70s, how adoption became a battleground and how mixed race became one of Britain's fastest growing ethnic groups.


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