Tomorrow, at 9pm, BBC 2 will celebrate Black History Month by focusing on the mixed race community but will the BBC explore the issues of mixed race relationships and mixed race children from all angles, or will it just be another propaganda message of Britain becoming more tolerant and diverse?
On BBC 2 tomorrow, at 9pm, the first of three programmes covering the mixed race community in Britain will be aired. Mixed Race Britannia will begin by exploring the history of mixed race communities in Britain, with the first programme focusing on romances between women workers and foreign seaman during World War I. The second programme will focus on the increase in interracial couples as a result of mass migration after World War II. The programmes will also explore how the British Eugenics movement made up of respected scientists, leading politicians and famous writers etc., discussed how interracial mixing was degrading the white genetic pool. It will also discuss how children of mixed race parentage became laboratory rats for the scientific community who tested them to determine if there was a relationship between race, intellect and degeneracy.
In an AFP news agency article on Monday, 19 January, 2009, (British racial barriers breaking down: population study), Dr Lucinda Platt, senior lecturer at Essex University’s Institute for Social and Economic Research, discovered that 20 percent of young people under 16 years old are now from an ethnic minority background.
Her study found that 3 percent of children are of mixed ethnicity and around 9 per cent live in families made up of different ethnic groups.
Significantly there has been an increase in mixed race children as a result of interracial relationships in Britain, particularly between the Afro-Caribbean and white population.
The black community make up 1 percent of the population, however 48 percent of Afro-Caribbean men and 34 percent of Afro-Caribbean women are in relationships with someone of a different ethnicity.
Will the BBC explore controversial issues on this topic?
Interracial mixing, specifically between blacks and whites has been generally viewed by the British media as progressive for race relations.
Yuri Prasad (Socialist Worker: 4 October, 2011) gives the BBC’s programme the title, “Mixed Race season shows century of hope“, and goes on to portray the women who formed these interracial relationships as brave individuals who faced social exclusion, family isolation and state racism.
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, titled one of her articles in the Independent, “Every mixed race marriage is building a better Britain” (Thursday, 4 March, 1999)
Yet there is another side to interracial relationships that is hardly touched on. There is another side to how the media plays mixed race people off black people which is hardly focused on.
In April 2010, I covered a story based on a Cardiff University study which found that mixed-race faces are viewed as more attractive than black and white faces and in general they are perceived as successful. (Read Mixed race people more attractive and successful says study)
The study ignored the significant role colour prejudice plays in regards to how beauty is defined in western society. The study also ignored the fact that mixed race people are racially discriminated against in British society. I wrote, “If mixed-race people are perceived as more attractive and successful it is not because of heterosis as the study suggests but rather deep colour prejudices which still informs the way people perceive beauty today.”
The British media and western society in general seems to play mixed race people off black people. Joseph Harker (Guardian: Beware this new love-in: Tuesday, 4 October, 2011), who is mixed race, welcomed the change in attitudes towards mixed race people but was cautious about how these changes are being presented in the media. He said, “More and more, it seems that mixed-race people have become the acceptable face of diversity: white people don’t have to face up to their prejudices against black and Asian people because, look, here’s someone who’s got a bit of European blood in them: a model who doesn’t need “lightening up”; a man who doesn’t look quite so threatening. Indeed, could Barack Obama have been elected were both his parents black?”
Harker pointed to the fact that whilst the media celebrated mixed race identity, success and beauty, there was another side to the coin; such as when British based psychologist Dr Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics, caused outrage after posting comments on a study which suggested that black women are less attractive than whites, Asians or Native Americans. (Read British psychologist reignites the debate about race ideology in science)
Harker does not think that interracial relationships is the sole indicator of racial progress either. He said, “The biggest delusion of all, which props up this whole debate, is the notion that black and white people forming loving relationships proves racism is being defeated: that the quality of life for Britain’s minorities can be measured by the number of interracial relationships. But this is fantasy. Compare it with gender equality. Would anyone seriously claim that, because men and women feel attraction for each other, sexism cannot exist? From the days of master-slave girl couplings, it’s always been clear that what people do in the bedroom is completely separate from what they do in the outside world.”
This is where Harker lends credence to the complexities of racism. Slave masters and mistresses had no problem raping and getting their sexual satisfaction from African slaves whilst still holding racist views of the very people they were having sexual relations with, and this leads on to to the next controversial issue rarely touched upon by the media.
It has been documented in research and certainly discussed amongst black people how a number of white men and women in provocations of anger resorted to racially abusing their black partners.
More disturbingly, it has been documented how some parents have racially abused their mixed race children.
In a book titled “Black British Feminism“, edited by Heidi Safia Mirza, and published by Routledge in 1997; the chapter titled Diaspora’s Daughters, Africa’s orphans? On Lineage, authenticity and ‘mixed race’ identity, by Jaybe Ifekwunigwe, provides a revealing insight into racism within interracial relationships based on the experiences of mixed race people.
In one account Ruby, an Anglo-Nigerian child was placed in a home by her mother because they were ashamed of her. She spoke about hiding under the bed or in the wardrobe whenever visitors use to come around so as not to make her mother feel awkward about having to explain her presence.
In another account Yemini, whose mother was English and father Yoruba from Nigeria spoke about how her mother never allowed her to explore her African heritage and how she was neglected in favour of her mother’s white children from a previous relationship.
Sarah is an Irish-Bajan who grew up in Liverpool among a strong Afro-Caribbean community. She recalls how during the era of Black power when her sister and herself were sporting the Afros and discussing black identity it provided confidence for them as their mother use to racially abuse them when they were growing up.
Whether experiences such as these will be covered by the BBC programme is debatable.
The black male stereotype
It is rarely raised and still holds a frightening but somewhat obsessive hold over the mentality of many whites, however the black male stereotype, and indeed to some extent the black female stereotype arguably continues to shape attraction between black people and whites.
While white western women have fought for decades against sexual discrimination and been sexually objectified, black men in particular are still the victims of a slave ideology which sought to sexually objectify them and render them intellectually impotent. The sexual taboos surrounding black males and indeed females is still prevalent today and arguably one of the main reasons why people from both races still look down on interracial relationships.
Out of this often perverse sexual attraction many black men have been falsely accused of rape by white women. The power some white women have wielded by falsely accusing a black man of rape is arguably racist in intent.
In a Brooklyn neighbourhood, many African-American men were angry but not surprised after a white nun admitted she lied about being raped by a 6-foot-4, 250-pound black man.
Sister Mary Turcotte, a member of the Christian sect Apostles of Infinite Love, told detectives that the black man choked her, dragged her through the streets without being sighted, and left her in a snowbank, with her underwear down and breasts exposed.
Police released a sketch of the man but remained sceptical of Sister Mary’s claims, but she later admitted to making the story up after having sex with a Bodega worker who she sneaked in the convent. (NY Daily News: Black men steamed by Brooklyn nun Mary Turcotte’s fake rape claim: By Jennifer H. Cunningham and Bill Hutchinson: Wednesday, February 2, 2011)
In another story a university campus at Hofstra, New York, was tense in 2009 as four African-American men were accused of gang rape by an 18 year-old white female student. She later told police that the sex was consensual. (Dime Wars: White Woman Claims 4 Black Men Rapes Her Then After They’re Arrested, Admits It Was All Consensual: 2009)
The historical link between black men being accused of rape by white women and racist lynching is evident. What is also evident is that this perverted racially sexual psychology remains with us today.
Whether the BBC programme will explore all these angles is questionable.
Interracial relationships can only break down barriers in society if these serious issues are addressed.
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