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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Let's take ourselves back to 1920.
It's first light on a cold and misty morning in London's Dockland.
A ship slips into its berth
and 20-year-old Lam Fook steps onto British soil,
a new life ahead of him.
It was here, in Limehouse, that he met,
and fell in love with, an English girl.
They had a child, Connie, and she was born into a time
and place where being mixed was to be thought of as mysterious,
exotic, but also morally corrupt.
But if that prejudice defined the lives of those early families,
the whole history of mixed race Britain
has seen a sea-change in attitudes.
Britain, today, has one of the most ethnically diverse
populations in Europe.
And this is the story of a nation transformed.
Connie, a gracious 87-years-old now,
presides over a family that is as British as they come.
-How are you? Good to see you again.
So we've got four generations here.
One, two, three, four.
-You're the mixed race family, really, aren't you?
-What happened to you?!
We've come a long way.
In the 1970s, mixed race people were, themselves,
still struggling to define who they were and the country, too,
was confused about how to deal with a rising mixed race population.
His mother is an English girl
and his father is African, and he really has got
the nicest disposition, as so many of these little Negros boys has.
We got some very unpleasant letters -
I should be "horsewhipped down the street."
And it wasn't just white society that was struggling to cope.
-So what if she pregnant, so what if the father's black!
If my sister had come home with a black guy,
then I would have been against it.
Connie's lifetime has seen mixed race people
move into the mainstream.
Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren
are testament to that, but for earlier generations,
a search for an identity they could call their own
was often a painful process, especially as it took place
against a backdrop in which what colour you were,
was a political issue.
Whitechapel in London.
In 1961, in the school holidays,
a 14-year-old girl headed for the Wimpy Bar.
She went up to the counter and waited to be served.
I ordered food...
He came up from behind and he served me
and just... I caught his eye,
just...his mop of black hair.
From that time, I thought, "Yes."
What, even the first time you met him, did you think,
-"Oh, he's all right"?
-Yeah, I did!
TRADITIONAL INDIAN MUSIC
The first date was when we went to see an Indian movie called Sangam.
That's quite unusual. There you are, a white girl
and, presumably, had no idea of what you were listening to or watching.
-Did you mind that?
-No, I didn't mind at all.
Because you were sitting next to him?
Shafique Uddin had arrived in the UK from Bangladesh in 1960,
aged just 18.
Like immigrants everywhere,
this young, single man was looking for work.
Shafique was part of one of the last big waves of immigration,
before Britain began to close its doors
to people from its former colonies.
Between 1962 and 1971 there had been a succession of immigration acts.
By that time, the number of South Asians
stood at almost half a million.
In the 1960s, more and more Bangladeshi families
were settling here, around Brick Lane.
Like generations of immigrants before them,
they found the housing cheap and the jobs plentiful.
They moved in alongside old East End families, like Pamela's,
people who were rooted in the area.
The arrival of these new settlers led to growing racial tension.
Brick Lane would eventually become a favoured
hunting ground for the far right.
They've opened the flood gates of our country to an invasion
even more foreign than that which threatened us in 1914 or 1940.
The far right's ugly politics, embodied by the National Front,
was a growing feature of the 1970s.
Support was particularly strong in East London
and Shafique's Wimpy Bar was on the front line.
Sieg heil! Sieg heil! Sieg heil! Sieg heil!
# When there is always something there to remind me. #
When Pamela and Shafique began courting, racial prejudice
was already bubbling beneath the surface.
No wonder they met in secret.
Naturally, we had a lot of problems, you know, like racist remarks
and things like that, with my girlfriends and boyfriends
in my estate, where I lived and everything.
But eventually, they had to come out of the shadows.
When you decided this is a man you loved,
what was it like telling your parents about it?
My mum did accept it straight away.
I said, "I'll speak to Dad myself",
and he just didn't want to hear about it.
-He was angry, was he?
-He was very, very angry,
why I'm going out with an Asian person.
Despite that reaction,
Pamela and Shafique went ahead with their marriage in 1965.
Her father refused to attend the wedding.
They became one of the first
mixed raced couples to get married in Brick Lane Mosque.
Did you, Shafique, when you realised that Pamela's father
was not going to bless your marriage,
did you think, "Well, maybe this is the wrong thing to do?"
# What good is love
# Mmmm, that no-one shares? #
The impending arrival of a baby,
a grandchild for Pamela's disapproving father,
brought matters to a head.
Difficult as it was, she decided to confront him.
I said, "I'm going to start a family
"and I want everything to be fine between me and you.
"We've got to get all this put behind us."
He just got up, walked out, slammed the sitting room door,
went in his own bedroom. I gave him an ultimatum,
like, "It's either not having me as your daughter any more
"or you're going to come around, you're going to speak to Shafique."
-Really, you went that far?
And after that, he come around slowly.
It must have been a huge relief for you.
It was. Really was.
What do you get upset for?
-Don't worry, Pamela.
-You don't have to get emotional.
It's OK. It is emotional. You're an incredibly brave woman.
The baby was born in 1968, the first of six children.
From those inauspicious beginnings, Pamela and Shafique
have raised a family - and proved their critics wrong.
I am very proud, very proud, of what I've achieved today,
in the 45 years I've been married to Shafique.
So Pamela and Shafique had to overcome the disapproval of family
and, as if that weren't bad enough,
they were falling in love at a time of growing racial tension.
Identity, how you saw yourself, how others looked at you -
that was becoming a major issue,
and if you were mixed race, finding and describing
your own unique identity was more complex and more difficult
and nowhere was that played out more starkly
than in the field of adoption.
# All alone am I
# Ever since your goodbye.
# All alone with just a beat of my heart. #
It's October 1959 and Paddington Station is busy.
# People all around but I don't hear a sound
# Just the lonely beating of my heart. #
Scanning the departures board for her train,
a nervous-looking woman hurries towards the platform.
In one hand, she carries a suitcase
and holding her other hand tightly, is a pretty two-year-old -
a mixed race child.
The girl's name was Rosemary Walter and the journey
she was about to embark on would change her life forever.
She couldn't have known it, of course,
but she was being rejected, hidden. You see, Rosie's mother,
a white woman married to a white man, had had a black lover
and Rosie was living proof of a relationship
that was not just illicit, but in those days, deemed utterly shameful.
The year before, in 1958, a survey had showed that
71% of British people disapproved of mixed relationships.
In other words, they disapproved of women like Gladys, Rosie's mother.
She had to leave the marital home. She never told her husband why,
but she left the marital home
and she lived in a small flat in Clapham. She got pneumonia
and I think she needed a break. I think she was a sad person
and had quite a sad life, as a result of what happened,
in regards to me being born.
Gladys, no longer in a relationship with her black lover,
was living alone.
She was depressed and finding it hard to cope with a baby.
She'd often sort of refer to the fact that her life changed
drastically for the worst once I was born.
But she also maintained that she loved me dearly
and it was very sad for her, having to let me go.
And what about the wider family, your white family,
your mother's family?
She'd asked her sister if we could both go and stay
and her sister said that I couldn't, as she didn't want the neighbours to see a black child.
They didn't want it known that her sister had had a child with a black man.
Spurned by her family and friends, desperate for help,
Gladys made a decision which would mark Rosie's life forever.
Rosie's mother went to the National Children's Home for help,
but they told her there were no places available in London.
Rosie would have to go to Swansea.
So, on Saturday, 5th October, 1959,
Rosie and her mother found themselves here on platform one.
# All alone with just the beat of my heart. #
The two-year-old child was handed over by her mother
to a social worker.
The train pulled away and Rosie Walters would spend
the next 16 years living in care homes.
She'd spend those years battling to fit in
with black or white children, but found herself rejected by both.
Rosemary's mother was by no means on her own.
There were many other women with their own secrets to hide.
and, like Rosie, they too ended up in care.
Exactly how many, well, that's difficult to know.
Nobody was actually collating that kind of information,
but what is clear from social workers and other subsequent studies
is that there were many more mixed race children in care than you'd expect.
That was because it was difficult to find adoptive homes
for these children in the 1960s.
There are so many of these little Negro boys waiting for families,
at the moment, we just haven't any homes for them.
There simply weren't many couples prepared to foster or adopt
mixed race children.
And a care network run largely by the well-meaning
was ill-equipped to change attitudes.
His mother is an English girl and his father is African.
He's not a big baby, he's quite a compact little boy.
He's sort of coffee-coloured, big brown eyes,
nicely-shaped mouth and he really has got the nicest disposition
as so many of these little Negro boys has.
No wonder middle-class Britain, with its privet hedges
and milk carts, remained resistant
to the idea of mixed race relationships,
let alone adopting the children that followed.
But in the early 1960s, there was a challenge to this jaundiced view
and it came from the most unlikely quarter -
the heart of the British aristocracy.
'Lady March gives her youngest daughter, Louisa,
'a running commentary on the elements of horsemanship.'
The Goodwood Estate in Sussex,
home to the Duke and Duchess of Richmond.
Susan Grenville-Grey had married the future Duke in 1951.
The couple had three birth children of their own
but they wanted more and decided to adopt.
Adoption is a big thing, and on top of that you decide
to go and adopt mixed race children.
It must have been quite a tough decision, wasn't it?
It was a tough decision to decide whether to adopt
but it wasn't so tough to decide what child we thought we would adopt
cos we particularly wanted to have children
that wouldn't get much of a chance otherwise.
By 1960, they had adopted one mixed race baby, Maria.
But the duke and duchess didn't stop there.
When Mum came and picked me up, I sat on her hip,
held her thumb and that was the end of that, there was no way
that she would put me down or that I wouldn't be going with her.
'Nimmy March is a promising rider and whenever she's free
'from her comprehensive school at Chichester...'
Born to a white English mother and a black South African father
in 1962, Nimmy March was adopted when she was six months old.
The Duchess's father had been firmly against the idea
but her arrival softened even the hardest of hearts.
He changed his mind as soon as saw the kids?
Well, yes, and my mother's a very fair person and she decided
when they were there, she would treat them
as her grandchildren...mostly, anyway, so it was all right.
And then he was very wonderful, wasn't he, with both of my children?
I adored him, absolutely.
We were passionate about what we doing
and we didn't probably realise what ructions there would be.
-We got some very unpleasant letters.
-What kind of letters?
-What did they say?
Oh, that I should be horsewhipped down the street, um...
and that we should be, you know, drummed out of everywhere.
But the Duke and Duchess had rather more pressing problems
closer to home.
We had quite a few hair issues, didn't we... Do you remember?
-What was the hair issue?
-Trying to detangle it!
Using conventional kind of Caucasian hair brushes on my hair
-just wasn't going to work.
And so, you know, it was a while before we discovered the Afro comb
and ways of not making my eyes water quite so much as Mum tried to
drag an ordinary comb through this curly mess!
And as the swinging '60s gave way to the 1970s,
Britain gained a reputation for the avant-garde.
# There must be some kinda way outta here... #
By the '60s, Britain was cool and it was fashionable
and, whether home-grown or from abroad, this was the hip place to be
if you were a musician, an actor or an artist.
And these people had one thing in common.
They bucked the social conventions, including those narrow attitudes
about what race your partner should be.
Many of these starlit couples got married or, at least,
had long-term relationships
and you have to remember, these were iconic people,
so how they lived their lives as mixed race couples...
Well, that sent out a powerful signal.
They were confident, they were carefree.
Above all, they seemed happy.
# How does it feel to be
# One of the beautiful people? #
But the relaxed, carefree attitudes of film stars and rock legends,
protected in their own gilded world,
still had little resonance in ordinary homes.
I think there will be tensions in your children.
They will neither be white nor black,
I think this is going to be a big hazard in your life.
-Well, I hope to prove you wrong.
-I hope, yes!
I honestly hope so, yes.
But I wonder what Martin will think when he sees his first son,
if it should be dark in colour.
Yes, but I mean, I hope Martin has got more intelligence
to accept whatever colour this child is.
# Mixed blessings It has to be... #
After the aristocracy and showbiz, it was television's turn
to chip away at prejudice.
A 1970s TV series featured a black and white couple
who'd just secretly got married.
Congratulations, Mrs Simpson. I am very glad you're my wife.
Thomas and Susan...are married.
Oh, my God!
Whatever you do, Edward, don't embarrass her.
Thomas, what have you done?!
Dad, you've got yourself a daughter-in-law.
I suppose my wife Frances and I are the kind of couple
the show was trying to portray.
We met at university in the 1970s and I'm happy to say,
both our immediate families were completely onside.
In fact, more than that, they went out and batted for us.
Well, they could be white.
Or they could be black one side and white the other!
It wasn't quite so easy for the TV couple.
There was the thorny issue of children.
They'll be black, and that puts them at a disadvantage in this society,
as I'm sure Susan well knows.
Yes, I do, but we're sort of hoping it won't be such a problem one day.
'It all looks so dated now, doesn't it? Let's face it,'
the characters are a cliche, perfect examples
of the stereotype, but I don't really think that's the point.
The fact that a show like Mixed Blessings
was on prime time TV at all, well, that was an achievement in itself.
It showed that mixed race relationships
were becoming a reality in 1970s Britain.
# Who is the man that would risk his neck for his brother man? #
# Shaft Can you dig it? #
But just as mixed race relationships were carving out a space
in the public consciousness,
there was a parallel rise in black militant politics.
It was influenced by America's Black Power movement.
From the '60s onwards, it produced icons like Angela Davis
and the black American athletes who took their silent but potent protest
against racial discrimination into the 1968 Mexico Olympics.
"Be black, be proud" - that was the new mantra.
And the black stars of the day symbolised that pride.
But what if you were neither black nor white?
People of mixed race found themselves
in a sort of racial no-man's-land,
caught in limbo between the new black consciousness
and a white status quo.
John Conteh, champion boxer and '70s celeb,
was born to a father from Sierra Leone and an Anglo-Irish mother.
Do you think of yourself as a black family
rather than a white family or a mixed or a coloured family?
Speaking for meself
I just regard meself as meself,
and as a person of the world and as a human being.
Not black, white, blue, pink, anything, you know. Just me.
There was a sort of invisibility of mixed race people in the '70s.
Umm... On the one hand, they were there and they were recognised
because the use of the term "half-caste"
was very prevalent in the '70s.
People who were from mixed white and black backgrounds
tended more to be seen as black.
There wasn't that sort of sophistication of understanding
racial identities in the '70s that we have now,
and so there was very much a sense of you're either white
or you're not white.
But if mixed race children had to be classified as black or white,
where did that leave their prospects for adoption?
It was a whole new battleground.
In the '60s, there'd been little debate
about what became known as "trans-racial adoption."
Was it good or bad for mixed race children to have white parents?
There was no official guideline,
each family muddling its way through the fog of prejudice and ignorance.
Are there any problems in fostering coloured children?
Not really, but once, I was out shopping with Carol,
and there was two little boys playing. They said,
"I say, missus, is that your kid there?" And I said "Yes,
"that's my daughter and I'm proud of her"
and Carol just got hold of my hand, squeezed it and said,
"You're not really my mother, are you?"
I said "I am your mother within the heart because I do love you."
It was only in 1970 that the Home Office gave a formal view
on the subject, saying that children of mixed race
should be considered for adoption
by both black couples and white couples.
But it very quickly sparked off a lively
and sometimes angry debate about culture and heritage.
Mixed race children brought up by white families
were accused of being like coconuts -
brown on the outside but white inside.
Racial identity was about to take centre stage.
In 1975, Judith Logan was born to a mixed Caribbean father
and a white mother. She was adopted as a baby.
Yes, I would describe myself
as a happy child growing up because I had a loving family.
They kept me safe
and sheltered me from a lot I wasn't aware of.
Her new parents were white
and lived in Inverness, the Scottish Highlands.
It was a very small town. It wasn't big.
I mean we had like one set of traffic lights,
that's how small it was,
so there wasn't a great diversity of colour. It was quite white.
Where you lived has always had an impact
on the experience of people of mixed race
and for Judith her isolation soon caused problems.
I mean, my secondary school, it was a living hell.
I hated every single moment of it.
From basically day one until I left.
I was visibly on my own, you know. There was the usual name-calling.
I got called "nigger", I got called "monkey".
I got told that I should go back to where I belong,
got told I smelt bad.
Judith says she got little help from her teachers
and, try as they might, she feels her white parents
simply couldn't understand what it was like to be black.
My mother would try and support me but it wasn't
the same as going to somebody who's black and going
"Look, you've probably been in the same situation as me, you're black."
White people...they don't tend to get called "niggers",
that I'm aware of, and, um...
So it was, you know, it was... it was difficult.
Judith's case, along with some others,
set alarm bells ringing for black social workers.
Even more than the bullying, what worried them
was that these children, brought up within white families,
were losing out on their racial heritage.
Across the Atlantic, in America, black social workers there
were already involved in a campaign against trans-racial adoption.
They called it "cultural genocide".
The American experience was soon mirrored here in Britain.
By the early 1980s, there was a hot debate about trans-racial adoption.
In 1983, a report by the British Association for Adoption
and Fostering argued that most trans-racial adoptions
had been successful.
White families provided stable homes and children were happy.
But one of the findings in the report proved hugely contentious.
It said that mixed race children adopted by white families,
and I'm quoting here,
"saw themselves as white in all but skin colour and had little knowledge
"or experience of their counterparts growing up in the black community".
That comment caused outrage among some black social workers.
They fired off a document to the House of Commons denouncing
the evils of trans-racial adoption,
describing it as "internal colonialism" and a new form
of slave trade, but this time, they said, only black children are used.
The difference between a white and black family
in terms of parenting is essentially one
revolving around the black parent, in a black family,
having the crucial function
of teaching its children to cope with a fundamentally racist society.
-You're talking about educating children for racism.
Isn't that a self-fulfilling prophecy?
It's an absolute prerequisite of any conscious black family life.
We are trying to teach our children to survive.
I wanted to fit in.
You know, I think it's hard to fit in
when your entire family is one colour...and you're not.
All the time I used to always want to be brought up in a black family,
I wanted to... at least have one black parent.
Doesn't have to be all black - but I wanted to be brought up
in a mixed race family, so there was a black parent.
Imagine the anguish, not only in the classroom but even at home.
For Judith, the racism she experienced during her childhood led to low self-esteem.
She spent many years questioning who she really was.
It is important for me to have that mixed race identity.
It's who I am, I wouldn't be me without it.
But the acute challenges of being mixed race
were not restricted only to those children who'd been adopted.
'On our side of the street we had a black family,
'and then the rest of the street was predominantly white. There were no Asians.'
And when there was ever confrontations
between the black family and the white kids,
I was always, like, "Which side should I take?"
Clement Cooper grew up in Moss Side, Manchester.
Clement's father was black Jamaican, his mother white,
but he'd begun to consider himself black.
In the early '80s, Clement started a career as a professional photographer.
By 1988, he had enough work
for an exhibition at the Cornerhouse gallery in Manchester.
He called it "Presence".
It was a series of intimate and telling portraits of people
from his neighbourhood, most of whom were black.
But, within a week of the exhibition opening, there was trouble.
I got a telephone call to say,
a group of black youths had marched into the gallery with screwdrivers,
bypassed the security system, and had removed from the walls
a set of the photographs of the black young men from the youth club.
Clement wanted his pictures back, and so he approached the youths of the club.
Their reply shocked him.
Their line of attack was one of my race,
and they started to abuse me along racial lines.
And attacking me for me being mixed race.
And they used expressions of "You half-caste" and "You half-breed".
And I eventually got assaulted, the pictures never got returned,
I got death threats...
My family had to be very mindful where they went to,
my father in particular...
How can you defend against that kind of torrent of anger and aggression,
when it's directed at the very thing what your being's about, your identity?
The attack pushed Clement into a period of soul-searching.
He set off to the land of his father.
Only to be told he wasn't really one of them either.
I went to Jamaica thinking, "If I'm rejected here,
"I could be accepted in a Jamaican environment."
Only to be told by my aunt, at a time of giving
a blood transfusion to a boy from the community who was dying,
that "Clement" - in front of the whole crowd from the community -
"can't give blood, cos he's got white blood in him.
"And white blood cannot be transfused or taken and put into a black person -
"especially a black child."
So Clement Cooper returned to Britain.
He'd gone halfway around the world and still didn't know where he fitted in.
As it happened, the answer was just a few miles
down the M62 from Manchester to Liverpool -
a port city that had always been home to one of the largest mixed race communities.
I went to this club called the Ebo club,
at the bottom of Parliament Street.
And I went in there for the very first time one evening,
and I opened this door,
and for the first time in my whole life, at the age of 29,
there was this roomful of people who looked very similar to me.
It was a revelation. Finally, he felt he knew who he was.
He didn't have to try to be white OR black.
Not just in terms of the complexion, but the whole structure
and the way...just the way they looked and acted, and it was
a complete shock, to see so many people like myself in one space.
Clement's journey marks one little victory for all mixed race people.
One more step in their fight to carve out
an identity for themselves.
But there was still one major battle.
It pitted black activists against those in charge of social policy.
Should mixed race children be defined by their colour,
or by their need?
In 1989, those black activists and social workers got what they'd campaigned for.
The new Children's Act effectively reversed the previous guidance of 1970,
saying race SHOULD be given due consideration.
Councils should try whenever appropriate
to match black children to black couples,
and mixed race children to black OR mixed race couples.
However well-meaning that instruction to consider race was,
it effectively meant that many mixed race children
ended up in care rather than with a family.
There simply weren't enough mixed race couples who wanted to take them in.
One mixed race couple bucked that trend.
On the 10th of February 1988, Mike and Julie DeSouza
were sitting outside a room awaiting a decision on adoption.
They came back and... just sat down with us, I think.
Just said, "I'm really sorry, we need to talk to you."
Yeah, just delivered the news that we had actually been...
we hadn't been approved.
It was a personal rejection of who I was, and I just felt like...
..that I wasn't good enough to be the father of a mixed race child.
MUSIC: "No Ordinary Love" by Sade
Mike and Julie had got married in 1989.
Born in London, Mike was himself the child of a mother
from the Caribbean, and a Chinese-Portuguese father.
After getting married, they'd had two children of their own,
but wanted to have a larger family.
So, in 1996, they'd approached Barnardo's, believing they would be
the perfect candidates to adopt a mixed race child.
How wrong they'd been.
As the meeting unfolded, it became apparent
that the social workers didn't think they were ready.
The family needed some extra training.
I thought it was a bit of a joke, to be honest. I thought, this is...
Joke? I think I would have been pretty angry.
-I don't want to put words into YOUR mouth.
-The anger came later.
It was after the second panel. Because we figured, OK,
it's just one more hoop to jump through -
once we get through this, it'll be fine, we'll have our son.
The extra training for Mike and Julie was a year-long racial awareness course.
By now, they'd begun to select a child to take home,
so, in February 1988, they attended a final adoption panel.
There were 13 people in the room - 12 of them were white English,
there was an Asian woman,
and I was the only black male in the room. And they were saying that
their concern was I wouldn't be able to equip a black boy
to deal with racism as he grew up.
They would rather revoke our approval
and allow a child to grow up in the care system,
than to be placed in a home with parents who would love and care
and want to nurture that child. I just felt that was so wrong.
Sue was told she couldn't adopt because she was too tall.
Mike was told he wasn't black ENOUGH to adopt.
This is The Vanessa Show.
The story of the DeSouza adoption process soon broke nationally,
causing outrage in the media.
Barnardo's at that time
said they HAD involved a black social worker at an earlier stage in the process.
A new dawn has broken, has it not?
The row had coincided with a change at national level,
with the election in 1997 of a new Labour government,
and with it came Britain's first mixed race MPs.
I was a child of mixed heritage - my mother was white,
my father was black -
and I was brought up as a young black African male.
That's how I saw myself.
Because frankly, when the National Front or the British Movement
are kicking your head in, George Alagiah,
they don't ask whether you are of Indian origin,
or whether you are mixed race, or black... You're a nigger.
You're black, you're a wog. And they kick your head in.
Now, if you are bringing up a child into such a world,
then that's a very heavy responsibility.
And you have to be equipped to give them that sense of self-worth
and strength of identity that sees them through that.
But there are white parents that can do that, there are black parents who can do that,
there are white parents who fail in that, and black parents and mixed race parents who fail in that,
because parenting in such a situation is a very difficult job.
By 1998, Paul Boateng was a junior minister.
He drew on his own experience
when he decided to change once again the guidance on adoptions.
He said it was unacceptable for a child to be denied loving adoptive parents
solely on the grounds that the child
and adopters did not share the same racial or cultural background.
'It's a decision he continues to stand by.'
Is it preferable in any event, to have two loving white parents -
who are making an effort to bring the child up
with a good sense of self-worth and identity -
is it better that they should be brought up by such a couple,
than languish in a children's home,
or languish in a situation where they're fostered
from one foster home to another?
Yes - because all the evidence is
that the state is a pretty bad parent. And that's the reality.
The DeSouzas didn't give up.
A year later they applied to be adoptive parents again -
this time with Hackney Council.
After a year we were unconditionally approved,
and then four months later we got our son.
-Whose name is...?
-How old is he now?
-He's ten. We got him at eight months.
His birth mother was half Nigerian and half Welsh, I believe,
and his biological father was white English.
So he's quarter Nigerian, in fact.
But he's fantastic, he's such a great little kid.
So you're kind of a regular United Nations!
We really are. That's right.
A happy ending for the DeSouzas. But even today,
mixed race children still account for more than 8% of those in care,
when they only make up 3% of our population.
There are signs of change -
the new coalition government issued more guidance,
making race just one of many factors that need to be considered,
and it's no longer the most important one. Here's what it says.
"As long as a family can meet all the emotional needs of a child
"seeking a permanent home,
"their ethnic origin should not be a factor."
That reinforcement of the Labour guidelines
is not a hard and fast rule.
It's still down to adoption agencies and local councils.
In the '90s, despite previous attempts to limit non-European
immigration, Britain continued to attract new arrivals.
Wars and conflicts produced a stream of refugees
from every corner of the world, and they made their new homes here.
Vietnamese boat people built a community in Nottingham,
Bosnians congregated in London,
and the Congolese headed for Sheffield.
So refugee by refugee, migrant by migrant,
Britain was becoming one of the most ethnically diverse places on earth.
It meant that an Arab from Morocco
could fall in love with a Cambodian
or that an Iranian could marry a Burmese girl -
and their children would be mixed-race and British.
And attitudes towards mixed-race couples were changing too.
While in the '50s, the majority of British people
had disapproved of mixed marriages,
one survey showed that by the mid-'90s,
only 10% would admit to being against them.
From the '50s to the '90s, obviously a lot changed.
One, people living side by side with each other, but on top of that,
at an official level, we have race legislation being brought in.
And so this changing idea that it's normal
to have different races living side by side,
but also that racism isn't normal,
that racism is wrong.
But Britain itself was changing.
By the early 1990s, the mixed-race population in Britain
was estimated to be over 300,000.
It was by no means huge,
but a considerable part of the population nonetheless.
Proof of that could be found on most estates,
in virtually every suburb
and in the homes of the rich, the famous and the titled.
In 1992, rock legend David Bowie married the Somalian model Iman.
And in 1995, cricketing royalty Imran Khan
married English gentry Jemima Goldsmith.
Then two years later Diana, Princess of Wales -
then considered the most famous woman in the world -
was photographed with her new Egyptian boyfriend, Dodi Al-Fayed.
What happens when you began to see famous mixed-race relationships,
and I'm thinking of people like Jemima Goldsmith
and Imran Khan, the cricketer,
Princess Diana and Dodi, what was the effect of that?
I think it brought the idea of mixed-race relationships
into a different public realm,
and it questioned, slightly,
some of the assumptions and stereotypes that were out there
about mixed-race relationships and, you know, the idea
that these are primarily working class, and so to see these
high-profile celebrities in these mixed relationships -
in particular, people like Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed,
made people think, "Oh, that's interesting,
"I didn't think it was those sort of people that mixed race."
The irony was that while white Britain -
whether it was the mother to a future king or someone down the road -
seemed to be more relaxed about mixed-race relationships,
some immigrants were still locked into the old ways.
The Asian community still remains one of those
with the lowest rates of marrying out.
So what if she's pregnant? So what if the father's black?
-This is the 20th century, you know?
-SHE SPEAKS HER OWN LANGUAGE
-That will kill your family, you know?
Let's just calm down, sisters, all right?
The film Bhaji On The Beach was greeted with outrage by many Asians,
especially the sight of an Indian girl kissing a black man.
It showed how hard it was for them to break with the past.
If my sister had come home with a black guy,
then I would have been against it, if I'm telling the truth,
I would have not been able to accept that,
and I can't say why, but that's just the way I think I'm programmed
as an Indian.
But love, they say, conquers all.
As we've seen in this story,
it can break down even the firmest of cultural barriers.
I assumed my whole life that I was going to actually just marry
an Indian girl, as that was what was expected from me,
from my family and relatives.
That's the way I was brought up, so I had to marry someone
that was going to be the perfect daughter-in-law for my family
and me as a husband.
I never thought it was going to turn into a serious relationship
cos he mentioned that when he would get married,
it would be to an Indian girl.
But Jaspreet Panglea didn't get married to an Indian girl.
He married Primrose Jackson in Hounslow in 2009.
The bride wore a white wedding dress during the day,
and in the evening, Asian dress.
To them, the day was a blending of their different cultures -
Zimbabwean and Sikh.
It all went smoothly on the day,
but the road to the wedding was anything but.
I was thinking, she's a nice girl, but I thought to myself
there's no way I could ever get serious with this girl
because this is not going to go anywhere
and I could lose everyone in my life if I do this,
like, went with a girl... a black girl, basically.
Jaspreet's parents are from India
and he's been brought up in a very traditional Punjabi Sikh household.
I told my parents. That was hard, very hard.
The hardest thing I ever did in my life.
My dad was very supportive and he was ready to get us married straight away.
But there were people obviously that said, "We're not happy
"and we're not going come to the wedding if he's going to do this."
So those people didn't come.
I got over it and I wake up every morning the happiest man on the planet
so for me, that's all that matters.
The couple both accept that it will take time for some people
to accept their relationship fully.
But they're rather hoping their latest news will make it easier.
When we have children. Yes, we are actually expecting a kid now.
-There's a little baby in there.
It's really good. Can't wait to be a dad.
I'm really looking forward to that.
This will be an infusion of both of us.
I wish the nine months would go quicker. Yeah.
Quite proud of myself, actually.
Remember that little girl on the platform at Paddington station?
Rosie Walters was put into care when she was just two years old
because her white mother couldn't cope with having a mixed-race child.
Ten years later,
she was moved from the mainly white area of Swansea
to the mixed area of Stockwell, in London,
where she grew up and still lives.
The changes in her life mirror and reflect the changes in our country.
I was about 31 years old when I was able to stand up
and say, "I am a black woman of mixed parentage."
I started to feel more comfortable with who I was.
I started to recognise my own worth in society.
I think when I started to branch out and meet different people
from different backgrounds, I started to realise
it's actually all right to be yourself, you know, Rose.
She's found herself and her country has found her.
20 years ago, when she first started filling out the National Census form,
she only had the box marked "other".
Now it is different.
This is 2011 and, of course, it's census year.
In a way, Britain's going to give you the opportunity
to tick something and say you're mixed-race.
How does that feel?
I think it's a big step forward, isn't it, really?
And it does show that there's some recognition.
So what are you going to put? White Afro-Caribbean?
White Afro-Caribbean, yeah. That's what I am. That's who I am.
Done. You're official.
At last. At last.
Been a long time coming, hasn't it? But you know, yeah.
# This is the world that we live in
# I feel myself get tired
# This is the world that we live in... #
The census may not reveal the mixed-race population
in all its complexity, but it has shattered one stereotype -
that it's largely a working class phenomenon.
There is a very middle class dimension
to mixed-race families in Britain.
They tend to have higher levels of home ownership,
er, higher levels of the educational profiles,
which again challenges this idea that it's a working class
or even an underclass phenomenon,
something that you only find in council estates, in inner cities.
In fact, the picture of mixing in Britain is something
which is more middle class and spread throughout the country,
not just in pockets of cities.
There are places in Britain where colour, mixed-race or otherwise,
is still a rarity - perhaps exotic -
but here in Newham in East London,
75%, three-quarters of all newborn babies,
will have mothers who were themselves born outside the UK.
So imagine you're a teenager
and you're out looking for a boyfriend or girlfriend
and you want to stick to your own kind.
You may find the choice is rather limited.
I've come back to where our story began, Limehouse docks.
Waves of new arrivals since then have swelled our ethnic population
and resulted in Britain's mixed-race people
becoming one of the fastest-growing and youngest ethnic groups in the country.
In the 2001 census,
there were well over half a million mixed-race people in the UK.
That figure is now thought to have grown to one million.
I asked some of those I'd met on my journey to join me
to come together and celebrate their differences -
but also what they shared in common.
There was Connie, who'd endured the humiliation
of having her head measured by race scientists
to see if mixed-race children were as intelligent as others.
Mary and Jake, who once faced intolerance and abuse
for simply dancing together.
And Dauod, the son of Olive and Ali Salaman from Tiger Bay,
home of one of our first and proudest mixed-race communities.
Take a look at them. They're British, every one of them.
When I set out, I wanted to explore the lives of mixed-race people
but week by week, interview by interview,
I've realised that their story is also the story of modern Britain.
We've seen how this country has been exposed to the same poisonous mix
of racist theory and prejudice as the rest of Europe and America.
Through it all, we have cut a rather unique path.
Trade and Empire had a part to play,
personal courage was matched by a sort of communal pragmatism.
And then, of course, there was love and lust.
Whatever the reasons,
Britain has emerged as one of the most mixed nations on earth
and I, for one, am proud of that.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media
E-mail [email protected]
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.