The mixed/multiple race population is the fastest growing minority group in the UK according to the 2011 UK Census an indicator of increased mixing between ethnic groups.
Results state that there were around 1.2 million mixed/multiple race persons in the UK, 2.2% of the UK population or the same population as Cyprus or Mauritius.
677,177 persons identified themselves as ‘mixed/multiple races’ in 2001 and this almost double in 10 years.
UK Census data suggests that as Britain becomes a more open society with more acceptance of other ethnic groups, the mixed-race phenomenon will rise.
We discuss the census data on the mixed-race population, being mixed ethnicity in the U.K. and the internal/external factors that influence and affect lived experiences.
Dr Remi Adekoya said: “It’s a phenomenon of the changing demographics of the world, of migration, it’s clearly evidence that there’s more openness in many cultures now to interracial marriage, definitely than there was fifty years ago.”
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Mixed Race population in UK census
Mixed/Multiple ethnic group categorisations (White and Black Caribbean; White and Black African; White and Asian; Other Mixed) was only introduced in 2001.
Dr Adekoya said: “The fact that identity category exists, creates identifications in people’s heads.
“If it didn’t exist there is no reference point for people to say, ‘Oh well I am mixed.’”
The population of the Mixed/Multiple people in the 10 years that followed increased dramatically with the population growing from 1.3% of Britain’s population to 2.2% in 2011.
Fascinatingly, there were 68 different ethnicities categorised in the ‘Any other Mixed ethnic group’, the most out the other 5 group categories.
Most mixed-race people live in regions where there are larger more cosmopolitan cities where they are diasporas of ethnic minority groups.
Dr Adekoya said: “A lot of people have succumbed to the optical illusion of London and other multicultural and multiracial major cities like Birmingham and Manchester.
“If you’re someone who lives in London, you can start to have the impression that practically half of the population is minority but in reality, the population is 85% white.”
Rise of Nationalism and its impact on Mixed Race peoples
The recent rise of nationalism in the world led to Britain leaving the European Union in 2018 to, among other things, ‘restore its sovereignty’.
According to ONS data in 2019, the estimated population of the all minority backgrounds including ‘other’ increased from 2011 but the mixed race population decreased.
Having said that Dr Adekoya is sceptical and wants to wait for the official results due to come out later this year.
He said: “I do think we need to wait for the census results, I think that’s what we really need to wait for, that will give us a real picture of what’s going on in the mixed-race population.”
A disclaimer from the ONS said: “It is not possible to quantify how much of the change between the 2011 Census and the estimates reflects true change and how much is because of differences in data collection.”
The question is, would the rise of nationalism have a profound impact on the number of mixed-race people being born? Dr Adekoya doesn’t think so.
He believes that there will be a 5–10-year lag on the Brexit deal and real-life data of migration patterns will tell us the results.
He believes that people from Europe are less likely to come to Britain but perhaps those from other continents will increase.
The Global Talents visa is a UK immigration category for talented and promising individuals in specific sectors wishing to work in the UK.
The Historic issues with interracial marriages
Dr Adekoya talked about how Britain is now a more open society that allows for more interracial couples or marriages to occur.
He highlighted that in 1950s, there was a lot more personal risk for interracial couples as society was not used to seeing a black man with a white woman for example.
Yet there are people who defy the odds and risked it then, now and in other societies that are not used to interracial couples.
He said: “What that shows you is that if two people meet, and fell in love, very often, they can decide to defy all the odds. And that love really can overcome all other considerations.”
Dr Adekoya states that there is much less stigmatisation of mixed-race children and more opportunities for them than 50 years ago, including less pressure on the parents from society in general.
He said: “Parents are not going to worry and think, ‘what’s going to happen to my mixed-race children? Are they going to have opportunities in life? Or are they going to be completely stigmatised?’”
Mixed race people are often held up as an example of a post-racial society, but the reality is that mixed race issues and people are still being uncovered.
Social attitudes are changing as according to research conducted by IPSOS, 89% of participants claim they would be happy for their child to marry someone from another ethnic group, an improvement from 2009.
The Socio Psychological Challenge
Dr Adekoya mentioned a challenge that mixed race people face: “There is something universal human tendency to divide into in groups and out groups.
This social identity theory has meant that some people who have parents who are different ethnic groups (White and Asian for example) conform to one group instead of both.
“You find that everywhere in the world, you find it in Asia, you find it in South America, you find it in North America, and you find it in Africa.”
To survive as a small island nation economically and demographically, Dr Adekoya believes that Britain aspired to be an international country.
He said: “a thing that is deeply encoded in the British DNA, and has been for a couple of centuries now, is the aspiration to be an international country.
“Now, that aspiration in the past, led to things like colonialism and the British Empire, which caused a lot of troubles that it is still dealing with.”
The future of mixed-race population in the UK
Dr Adekoya believes that in the in-group/out-group world where people feel safest around their peers, numbers play a huge part for those who are mixed.
“I think it’s really all about people feeling confident enough to declare to the world who they think and feel they are, and not feel pressured to have to announce to the world that they are a person, they think the world wants or needs them to be.”
He believes that as the population of mixed-race people grow, people who were trying to fit into one group of people will suddenly feel safer identifying with being mixed race instead of being left out in the cold.
As we await the 2021 Census results for the UK demographic it will be interesting to see whether ONS estimates are correct, whether more people are proud to identify as mixed race and what the last 10 years has meant for interracial couples.