You might think that white parents choosing to adopt black or mixed race children would be heralded as yet more evidence that – overall – we are living in, or moving towards, a post-racist society. Not so for the professional race gurus of Operation Black Vote, it seems. Simon Woolley, director of OBV, writes:
It is unfortunate that the Government’s crude articulation – there is no good reason why a Black child in care should not be placed with a white family – doesn’t even begin to understand the racialised world we live in, that all too often ignores a globalised ‘white privilege status’.
For example, in general a poorly educated white person can go to the four corners of the globe – Africa, China, the Americas and the Asian sub-continent, and they will generally be met with courtesy, hospitality, and at times deference.
In sharp contrast, generally speaking, an educated African, arriving in the UK, the USA or mainland Europe too often finds discourtesy, indifference and at times open hostility. Black parents arre [sic] uniquely placed to help their children navigate through this cultural-political minefield with self confidence and self worth.
My own view is that if white families are to adopt Black or mixed heritage children – and I’m still not entirely convinced – then they need to show how they understand these racial dynamics with a clear demonstration as to how they might mitigate their own and society’s euro-centric world view.
If those seeking to adopt fail to understand these racial dynamics, they might save the child from care homes but will almost certainly leave the child with either a confused and disjointed sense of belonging or at worst a life long feeling of self hatred.
I fail to see how this is very different to the kind of attitudes found amongst white racists – ‘it’s better we stick to our own kind’, and so on. How can racism be broken down if different ethnic groups keep themselves as hermetically sealed units?
The reality of modern Britain is somewhat different, as a 2009 study revealed:
One in 10 children in the UK now lives in a mixed-race family … Mixed-race relationships are now so common that some ethnic groups – starting with African-Caribbean – will virtually disappear, the research states. Young people are six times more likely to be mixed-race as adults … Half of all men in Britain who have Caribbean heritage and are in a relationship already have partners of a different race. The same is true of one in five black African men, one in 10 Indian men and women and two out of five Chinese women. One in five children belongs to an ethnic minority – a far higher proportion than among the adult population … Over the past 14 years the number of children of Caribbean heritage with one white parent has risen from 39% to 49%. Among the Indian population it has increased from 3% to 11%, for Pakistanis from 1% to 4%, and for Chinese from 15% to 35%.
To prefer to see black and mixed race children left in care homes, where they may very well experience ‘a confused and disjointed sense of belonging’, rather than having the opportunity of living in a loving family environment, seems utterly perverse.
Alan A adds: