Over like 4 decades, there has been a rise in interracial couples in the UK. And when Prince Harry married the biracial Meghan Markle (In the US she identifies as black), their union has been highly celebrated. It’s seen as a breakthrough in race relations in the UK. Much as there is a rise in interracial relationships, the white Britons are still less likely to marry outside their race. That’s why Love is All Colors decided to go deeper and look at some of the real-life interracial relationships in the United Kingdom.
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A scoop on interracial relationships in the UK.
The rise is there. But when it comes to actually settling down, only like 4 percent of British whites have done it with someone outside their race. Now, you might wonder why in this case we are using the terms “British Whites”. However, the U.K. census differentiates between “British whites,” It is because there are “Irish whites” and “other whites” those from Eastern Europe). So when talking about interracial dating UK, we combine white people who originated from different countries. Compared to the US, younger folks are more likely to date interracially.
There are some circles in the UK where intermarriages still elicit a negative response. That said, it doesn’t mean that it’s not happening or it hasn’t been happening. Racial mixing has been happening for years back… as far as the 1920s up to the 1940s where British women used to have unions with immigrants.
The rise is there. About 10 of cohabiting couples in England and Whales are interracial couples. This is a 35% increase since the 2001 British census. There is a considerable number of interracial couples stories. It’s quite normal to spot biracial couples in the cities. And when Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced their engagement, one twitter user, Yashar Ali, wrote:
“This engagement is really quite extraordinary….a divorced American woman who is the child of a black mother and white father is marrying the future King of England’s second son. This would have been unthinkable 20 years ago…perhaps even 10 years ago.”
Not many people thought they would survive. Even before their engagement, their relationship was attacked by many racist and prejudicial folks to the extent that Prince Harry had to defend the then, girlfriend. But they managed to give the UK an interracial royal wedding and an interracial child.
Compared to the US though, young couples are still more likely to get into mixed relationships than their British counterparts. But just like the US, UK whites rarely marry interracially. BBC’s Newsbeat documentary covered some of these couples. So lets a look at some of the real-life interracial couples stories in the UK to get a clear picture of what interracial dating UK is like.
Interracial dating stories
Ian and Gigi
Ian, white from Great Yarmouth and Gigi, from the Philippines were introduced by a friend. And they clicked from the beginning. At the time, she was living in Hong Kong while Ian was in England. That distance was their problem. So they kept talking online the Ian flew to Hong Kong a few months later to visit her.
“When I came out of the airport and saw her, I instantly knew she was the one,” Ian tells Newsbeat. He proposed to her four days later. The mum wasn’t impressed by this. “I got mixed reviews, my mum didn’t speak to me for a bit, she thought I was being impulsive”, he says. His friends were also concerned by his move. “They said things like, ‘She’s only marrying you for the money’, or ‘She might be a man, how do you know she’s not a man?'”
Even with all that negativity, Ian and Gigi got married. They both live in the UK and have been blessed with two kids.
Cazz and Silver
Cazz met her Ugandan-born Silver while she was working at a bar. To be honest, they noticed their cultural differences. “I very quickly realised that when I was dating Silver, I was also dating his friends,” she says. This must have been very new to her.
“I’d ask to go around his flat, thinking it would just be the two of us, but about ten of his friends would be there.
“I guessed that was an African cultural thing – but I really enjoyed it, it was good fun.”
After dating for a few years, the interracial couple flew to Uganda to meet his extended family. And much as she was was excited about this visit, she didn’t expect what she met there. She had to meet over 80 people.
“I was paraded as his girlfriend, which really means wife. I wasn’t prepared for how intense it would be,” Cazz said. This concerned Silver as Cazz didn’t cope as well as he thought she would.
“I kept thinking, ‘If this isn’t working for you, well this is where I’m from, this is my roots’,” he says. After the Uganda trip, they went their separate ways.
After an 18th month’s split, they decided to give it a go.
“I started seeing things from Cazz’s perspective,” Silver says. “I put too much expectation on the situation. When we saw each other again, it felt really nice, it felt like the pressure had been taken off.”
Let’s hope things worked out for them afterward.
Sabrina and Olivia
Now for these two, the issue wasn’t their differences in race. Olivia is white, British and Sabrina is half white and half Singaporean Malay. They met on a night out about seven years ago. These two live in rural Surrey. However, they get more stared when they visit central London.
“People look at us and literally nudge the person next to them,” Olivia told Newsbeat.
As for Sabrina’s family members, not all know about their relationship. But she believes that race won’t be an issue.
“I think that the biggest thing for them, rather than the fact I’m with a white woman, is that I’m with a woman,” Sabrina said. “When it comes to having children that’s where we might have slight difficulties. It could turn out I’m the mother to two white children that don’t look anything like me, but that’s something we’ll tackle as a family.”
They know that their wedding will definitely be an unconventional one. But Olivia believes that it will represent their individuality and part of that is their cultural background.
Interracial senior couple for life… Doreen and Andrew
We always love a good story. This one will get you bubbly. White woman, black man. So Doreen, 87, gets rushed to hospital with sepsis, and her husband Andrew was always by her side as it was the tradition.
As the story goes, the dude came to the UK from Dominica in 1956. At the time, racism was very prevalent. “…if you don’t let me down, I won’t let you down”, he always told her that.
The couple used to work together and got closer because he used to take her to the roof to sneak cigarettes.
After six months of dating, she became pregnant and had to reveal their interracial relationship to her parents. Her sister tried to convince them to give the baby up for adoption but she refused. It was chaos when her mum found out but eventually, she had to accept her relationship.
Despite the racism prevalent in the country at the time, these two beat the odds. They stayed together until death robbed Andrew of her beautiful wife Doreen. They were blessed with two children.
Prejudice and cultural differences
The thing is, not all interracial couples manage to beat the odds and have a long and happy marriage. Some biracial couples give in to the pressure of racism from family and friends. Some parents make the children choose between interracial love and family. And some do succumb to this pressure for fear of being outcasts. Other couples go to the extent of hiding their interracial relationships for fear of being shamed.
The thing is, not all mixed couples can withstand and blend their cultures. Some like we have seen in the interracial dating stories above can’t cope. Like it was with the case of Cazz and Silver. So for it to work, a couple needs to come to some form of understanding. There needs to be a lot of compromising that needs to happen.
There is the issue of kids. And as we have seen above, already Olivia knows that probably that is where the issue will lie because the kids might look nothing like her.
We have come a long way. And we need to acknowledge that there is a significant rise and acceptance of interracial couples in the UK and the world over. Who cares about the few racists who can’t accept this fact.
Read this article and get the advice of 80 experts on how to deal with the challenges of interracial dating.