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In the 1930s, only hundreds of mixed people lived in Britain and its port cities, yet between 2001 to 2021, the mixed population trebled into the seven figures. What was once a trot is now a stampede. According to some estimates, almost a third of Brits will be mixed by 2100. This is a huge group of people we barely hear about, an identity we created but rarely consider, whose history is often ignored. Everyone Everywhere will help to change that.
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Everyone Everywhere: Mixed Race Family Stories

Lucas Fothergill
Status: being funded
Publication Date: TBC
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In the 1930s, only hundreds of mixed people lived in Britain and its port cities, yet between 2001 to 2021, the mixed population trebled into the seven figures. What was once a trot is now a stampede. According to some estimates, almost a third of Brits will be mixed by 2100. This is a huge group of people we barely hear about, an identity we created but rarely consider, whose history is often ignored. Everyone Everywhere will help to change that.

The story of mixed-race Britain, told through entertaining interviews and archival research

In 2011, a story broke: over the past ten years, the number of mixed-race people in Britain had doubled into the seven-figures.

The ever-forgetful media squawked as if mixed-race Brits were a new phenomenon. But mixed-race people have lived in Britain for hundreds of years. This fascinating history matters, yet is rarely told. It’s about one of the fastest-growing groups of people in the UK, yet we rarely hear from them as a group. It's time to change that.

With the latest census data about to be published, there couldn't be a better time to share this collection of voices, stories and memories from mixed-race people of different ages and backgrounds. Some of the their stories are challenging to read and others are tinged with sadness, but collectively, this collection is celebration of diversity, mixed heritage and everyday family life.

This is a sneak peak, an early draft of Everyone Everywhere’s introduction. A very early draft. It may read as if my puppy had written it.

I’m sharing because of a challenge up ahead: without more pledges, this book will never sit on shelves.

By giving a look inside the book, I hope someone new will read it and consider ordering a copy. If that might be you - hello, welcome, and thank you for your time today.

If you’re already a supporter, thank you so very much. It means more than you know.

***

This story starts where most do not: Oceana Watford.

It’s 2013. I’m a teen in the disco room, knees creaking to ‘Summer Nights’. On my legs: Topman’s cheapest. On my chest: more where that came from, with some Lynx sprayed in the pits for good luck. Have you seen Magic Mike? Imagine that but with 0.02 per cent of the muscles… and the magic. That's me. 

The disco room hosted planet Earth's dorkiest people: teenagers from Hertfordshire. It is a swirl of swinging bones. Aggressively middle-aged DJs spin ‘cheese’ as teens slather sloppy kisses around. The aftermath of Jägerbombs trickles down chins as a hundred limp chat-up lines gush past in a gale of hormones, with the unwelcome stench of flatulence flooding overhead. Welcome to Oceana.

Inside this musty, alcopop-guzzling hole, lives are about to change.

I’m with my new-ish friend, Clive. That’s not his real name –he was born in the 90s, a decade-long ‘dry patch for Clive births’[1]

Back then, he was famous for his business idea: posting care packages of chocolates to stoners. This idea first came to him one evening when, of course, he was stoned. It’s scientifically impossible to come up with a business idea this good when you’re sober. Impossible.

Clive and I flail around dancing, a moat of sticky carpet surrounding us. We are the Black Swan; we are Natalie Portman.

I notice my massinā, Liam, across the dance floor.

Liam is asian, while I am mixed: my asian mum is Sri Lankan and my white dad is English. I had never mentioned this to Clive before, in our short, budding friendship.

‘My cousin is over there!’ I shout over Shania Twain in a fit of enthusiasm. ‘Let’s go see him!’

Clive and I slither through gaggles of people toward Liam.

‘Liam, meet Clive,’ I said. ‘Clive, meet my cousin, Liam.’

He’s your cousin?’

‘Yeah?’ I notice confusion washing across Clive’s face, so I tell him about my family.

‘Ohhh,’ Clive says, the blanks filling in. He shoots back:

I thought you were Egyptian.

Clive and I had never discussed race or my family before. He had seen me and decided yes, this person is Egyptian, and never thought about it again. I have a lot of questions about this moment, the first being: how many Egyptians does he know with silly names like ‘Lucas Fothergill’?

Liam loved this. Before I could say kaṭa vahapan, he told all my Sri Lankan family, dozens of whom now live in England having left their lush homeland for their former colonisers'. It was as if Frodo and the hobbits had swapped the Shire for a bungalow in Mordor.

My Sri Lankan pavulak relished that someone thought I was Egyptian. As they laughed, I giggled along with them before the ground beneath my feet came into focus. I flipped Alan Wake’s flashlight 180 degrees to see it: one of my many flaws, blushing, assembled to attention.

Imagine being from Oaxaca and not knowing who Francisco Toledo was[2]. Or from Canada without the faintest about Terry Fox[3]. Yet, I'm a mixed Brit and my knowledge of mixed history or figures? Zilch. I felt uncomfortable, the way you would if a headmaster wore the same school uniform as his year sevens, little grey short shorts and all.

I started reading. In the 1930s, only hundreds of mixed people lived in Britain and its port cities[4], yet between 2001 to 2021, the mixed population trebled into the seven figures[5]. What was once a trot is now a stampede. According to some estimates, almost a third of Brits will be mixed by 2100[6]. This is a huge group of people we barely hear about, an identity we created but rarely consider, whose history is often ignored. Everyone Everywhere will help to change that.

Through interviews and archival research, this book shares the past one hundred years of mixed history, told through dozens of compelling family stories across the timeline, covering tales of love, war and jazz. Behind them all lies one larger narrative.

***

Hundreds of years ago, brown bears and wolves roamed across the British isles. But then we twisted them, turning each animal into fairy tale villains, into beasts, and these stories encouraged people to gut them[7]. Soon enough, those animals dwindled in the wild – a potent fairy tale had helped finish them off. Then, in the early twentieth century, Britain tried to tell itself a new fairy tale.

This time, it was about the ‘vicious hereditary taint’[8] of mixed families. In the early 1900s, if a British woman wished to marry a foreign person, she could automatically lose her nationality[9]. This law did not apply to British men and was not reformed until 1948. The government's own documents from 1923 state that mixed relationships were ‘always most undesirable’[10]. Even the Salvation Army – of all groups! –  were so concerned about mixed relationships in 1917 that it commissioned an investigation ‘into the danger [of] this coloured invasion’[11].

When all of this didn't put people off, the government deported dock workers to break up mixed families. On some occasions, their remaining family members didn’t know what had happened – husbands and fathers simply vanished. It was Sauron-level behaviour from the state. Meanwhile, middle and upper-class mixed relationships, ‘from bankers to barons’, often blossomed without incident.[12]

In 1954, someone wrote into the Daily Mirror: ‘I am willing to call any man my brother,’ they said, ‘but not my brother-in-law if his skin is a different colour from mine.’ In 1965, a poll found that 91 per cent of English people disapproved of racial intermarriage. That same decade, a local conservative party was accused of running a campaign with the slogan: ‘If you want a n***** for a neighbour, vote Liberal or Labour.’[13] The list goes on, and on, and on. Yet throughout school, university and my working life, this story was buried. Instead, we all hear a different tale, about a post-war Britain priding itself on going into battle against prejudice and oppression, or, to paraphrase David Olusoga: ‘We flew across the world to fight Nazis, yet fascists at home seem to get by just fine.’

The stories we tell ourselves have consequences – be it about minorities or wildlife. Yet at the heart of this twentieth-century strife, of fists breaking windows and noses bloodied, is another story begging to be spread.

People from different patches of earth fell in love in Britain. Thousands of them. This prompted the authorities, wider society and sometimes their own families to threaten them. But – and this is my favourite part – these couples carried on loving anyway.

Experiences today are not perfect, of course. Yet how has the relatively untold story of mixed Britain changed to such a dramatic degree? Or, as Sunder Katwala said, ‘how has one generation’s problem turned into our generation’s proud history’[14]? In this book, I’m going to show you. And where possible, I want to share an often ignored part of the experience: compelling stories of triumph and joy. 

The book starts one hundred years ago with a crime story featuring a real Sherlock Holmes. The second chapter is set further forward in time, sharing a soaring, gorgeous love story. Future chapters feature rappers, transatlantic hunts, The Bear-style kitchen dramas, and, yes, more romance. There are fascinating, untold narratives out there, unfurling further and further back in time on a road so long it might as well be the endless runway from Fast and Furious 6. I am desperate to share them with you.

By threading these yarns together, I will solve a mystery I first stumbled across a decade ago in that stupid club: ‘“Is there a mixed British history?’

To find out more, we turn to Sherlock.

The game is afoot.

 

 

[1] The most popular period for calling a baby ‘Clive’ was in the mid-1950s, according to the Office for National Statistics.

[2] The beautiful historic centre of Oaxaca City is protected by UNESCO. Use the wrong materials or colours and the building will be taken away from you, the walls now adorned with posters shouting suspendida. Businesses, houses and schools have been forced to comply. The result: one of the most magical cities in the world. Yet when McDonald’s wanted to open an outlet in the main plaza, it didn’t have to abide by the same rules. In stepped Francisco, a local photographer and lover of Oaxaca who had donated million-dollar properties for public use. First, he collected 10,000 signatures against McDonald’s, before, standing outside the new outlet, he began handing out free Tamales to everyone tempted by a cheeseburger. Why buy that when there’s free, delicious local food available? Soon enough, the chain was chased out. Adiós!

[3] Terry Fox was a keen eighteen-year-old sportsfan. But then he was diagnosed with cancer just above his knee, and his leg was amputated. In response, Terry set himself a goal: to raise $1 from every Canadian for cancer research. To achieve this, he decided to run across Canada: the second-largest country in the world. He ran 5373 kilometres with one leg before the cancer spread to his lungs, forcing him to stop. Terry’s effort inspired the nation and since his passing in 1981, his story has raised over $850 million in funding.

[4] Mixed Race Britain in The Twentieth Century, Chamion Caballero and Peter J. Aspinall, May 2018, p.290.

[5] 2021 UK Census, Office for National Statistics

[6] Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration and the Future of White Majorities, Eric Kaufmann, October 2018

[7] Bristol Zoological Society & Haliburton Forest Wolf Centre

[8] Mixed Britannia, BBC, 6 October 2011

[9] Baldwin, M.P. 2001. Subject to Empire: Married Women and the British

Nationality and Status of Aliens Act. Journal of British Studies 40: 522–556, with thanks to Chamion Caballero and Peter J. Aspinall.

[10] Mixed Race Britain in The Twentieth Century, Chamion Caballero and Peter J. Aspinall, May 2018, p.59

[11] Daily Despatch, 8 August 1917, cited by Smith (2004), with thanks to Chamion Caballero and Peter J. Aspinall

[12] Mixed Race Britain in The Twentieth Century, Chamion Caballero and Peter J. Aspinall, May 2018, p. 55

[13] Ibid, p.336

[14] ‘We should celebrate the rise of mixed race Britain’, New Statesman, Sunder Katwala, 11 December 2012

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Updates

The book is funded!

Dear friends, I’m delighted to share that, as of this weekend, we’ve funded ‘Everyone Everywhere’! Thank you, so very much, for supporting the book. This goes without saying, but I genuinely couldn’t ...

25.04.2024
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