As a dedicated numbers geek, I have a special love for statistics. Stats are what separate truth from myth, rumour and lies: in these interconnected times, it’s easy to spot a liar by their refusal to back “facts” with solid statistical evidence (or providing dead-end references to blogs that in turn don’t reference any verifiable evidence).
One of the highlights of the stats-geek’s calendar is the publication of census results. Censuses provide the biggest, most in-depth statistics, on a scale that only governments can afford to commission. The 2001 England & Wales census provided a fascinating insight into British life and culture; and having digested it, I spent much of the following decade waiting impatiently for the next chapter. The 2011 census results were finally published in late-2012, and made for fascinating reading.
There are two particularly interesting sections in the census results, covering religious belief and racial origin. On the religious front, this census showed what had long been suspected: a collapse in religious belief. Those declaring themselves to have no religion had leapt from 15% to 25% over the ten year period between censuses.
The headline figures on race were also interesting: the white population is now reported to be 86% across the country, and in London, 60%. 6.8% of the nation originates in the Indian subcontinent, and 3.4% identifies as black.
But the most significant change relates to the people declaring themselves as mixed race. This group has increased more than any other, almost doubling in the past decade to 2.2% – meaning that, for the first time, the mixed race population numbers over a million. The mixed race – or “none of the above” – population will continue to grow faster than any other, for simple mathematical reasons. Any person can (theoretically) produce a mixed-race child; and, as racial divides continue to weaken, many more people will.
Racial definition is in part a political decision: in Britain, a person with parents of different racial origins will probably self-describe as mixed-race. In the US, because of the legacy of racist slavery and segregation laws, many mixed-race people identify as black – witness the “black” President himself, the offspring of a European and an African, and Tiger Woods, the “black” golfer, who is in fact more Asian than he is African.
This “one-drop” definition of blackness was designed to hold back the black population; yet perversely, it is black Americans who now most fiercely cling to this racist definition of blackness.
In Britain, without a history of legal segregation to overcome, people are more free to choose a label that most fits their choice of identity, and the mixed race label is thus the fastest growing one of all.
But there are people who dislike the rise of “none of the above”; the far-right’s political pitch has always been based around the “they’re not like us” strategy. In the 1930s the Jews were too alien (they said) to fit in with “British culture”. Then, black West Indians were too different from us, and black immigration was prophesied to cause irreparable social harm in the 1970s. Then, Indians and Pakistanis were again too different; and then Poles and many other groups. Racists hate the rise of “none of the above”, because it proves them wrong. The existence of a growing mixed race population is testament to the fact that immigration doesn’t cause social meltdown (in fact, an analysis of crime figures in recent decades suggests that immigration has helped create a more, rather than less stable society).
Desperate to disrupt the rising racial integration, the most moronic sections of the far-right refer to the rise of racial mixing as “white genocide” (here’s a link to a far-right “white genocide” site – not for the faint-hearted). The idea that interracial coupling is “genocide” is, of course laughable. As globalisation proceeds, all people will become increasingly mixed; and in fact, we already are. DNA analysis demonstrates that the true mixed race population of the UK is far higher than 2.2%; it’s just that most mixed-race people are unaware of their origins.
But the most vocal opponents to black/white racial couplings aren’t only niche groups of far-right white nationalists, but also parts of the black population. I’ve often heard (and seen on Facebook) open discussions advocating against racial mixing, and calling on black men and women to select black partners; such discussions, if conducted among white people, would be (rightly) described as racist. In my personal observation and experience, mixed couples in London are more likely to receive negative comments and attitudes from black people than from whites. Many black people – backed by middle-class whites with little direct experience of multiracial urban life – try to excuse such attitudes; but I see no difference between those morons fearing the dilution of “white identity” and those fearing the dilution of “black identity”. A bigot who has a problem with the racial blend of a couple he has never met is a bigot, whatever his race.
The recent biopic Marley outlined how Bob Marley, as a mixed race child in rural Jamaica, had to contend with teasing and prejudice from his peers (naturally, once he became a global “black” superstar, his black fans were quick to forget his mixed background – but Marley himself never did). Those who are fastest to identify racism in others are slowest to see it in themselves.
Those who feel a gut dislike at the sight of a black man with a white woman, or a white man with a black woman, are racists – whether or not they choose to accept or admit this. Certainly, the afro-centric tradition has become more adept at masking racist ideology behind intellectual-sounding justifications than their white racist cousins. It’s easier for many to mock British and American fascists than it is to criticise black people who oppose racial mixing – but strip away the differences in presentation, and there is no underlying difference in ideology – the dislike of mixing comes from the gut, not from the mind.
The rise of the mixed race is unstoppable; it began with the great Persian, Greek and Roman empires, and went into overdrive when the European empires began their global rise and fall. It will accelerate until the time when we have forgotten what “race” once meant. Some people – white, black, Asian – feel uncomfortable about this. That’s their problem.