“But the evidence shows that, on the whole, people are moving in the direction they want to be.” And as people’s lives become more intertwined, they inevitably couple up – and have children.According to a new report from the Office of National Statistics, 12 per cent of households with at least two people have partners or household members of different ethnic groups (black and, unsurprisingly, mixed people are the most likely to mix; whites the least).Even now, the fact that we still view people as either one thing or another leaves those of us who don’t fit into neat boxes battling with others’ preconceptions.
This can be explained in part by our histories: what used to be called miscegenation was illegal in many American states until 1967; in Britain calls for the outlawing of interracial marriage never succeeded.
My father was from Scotland and wore embarrassing checked jackets from the 1960s (he was in his forties when my brother and I were born). I am six years old and talking over the garden fence to my next-door neighbour and two sisters from across the street and one of them calls me “Poo” and they all laugh and run away.
I am eight and a classmate stops me in the corridor and asks, “What’s it like to be black?
On the one hand, the rise of “beige Britain” is eulogised as evidence of an open, tolerant country that’s moved beyond outdated notions of race and racism.
It has become fashionable to shrug and say, “Well, we’ll all be brown soon.” On the other, it is not unusual to see alarmist articles about white people becoming the minority (two recent stories predicting that so-called “indigenous white children” would be “outnumbered” in state schools by 2037 were illustrated with images of mixed children), while in the black press there are reports about the disappearance of the Caribbean presence as increasing numbers “marry out”.