19 January, 2009 - Published 16:03 GMT

The mixed race march in Britain

About half of men with Caribbean backgrounds in Britain is in a relationship with a partner of a different race.

That statistic is part of a new study which shows the UK population becoming increasingly racially motivated.

The report shows that one in 10 British children is now part of a mixed-race family.

The study predicts that if current trends continue, some ethnic minorities may disappear as people from mixed race backgrounds become increasingly common.

Ethnicity and Family: Relationships Within and Between Ethnic Groups was commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which grew out of the former Commission for Race Equality.

It shows some ethnic groups are much more likely to have mixed-race relationships.

Figures show 48 percent of Black Caribbean men and 34 percent of Black Caribbean women are in mixed-race relationships.

Ludicrous idea

This is in contrast to people from Pakistani backgrounds, where 8 percent of men and 6 percent of women are in mixed relationships.
Mixed race children
A spokesman for the Equality Commission says "Britain is changing in a remarkable way."

The report states: "Those who define themselves as singularly Caribbean are likely to decline over time, as increasingly complex heritages emerge among those with some element of Caribbean descent".

But that idea was dismissed by Michael Eboda, the chief executive of a media company.

He told Britain's Observer newspaper: "The idea that Afro-Caribbeans are going to disappear is quite ludicrous. There will always be a large proportion of African Afro-Caribbeans who remain in relationships with other Afro-Caribbeans."

But there is another burning issue.

The study's author, Lucinda Platt of the University of Essex, concludes that that it may be difficult for West Indians to sustain distinctive cultural and community institutions.

That is an issue that finds support from Kwame Kwei-Armah, British actor and playwright whose parents came from Grenada.

"It's happening, it's going to happen. There is in my mind nothing that anyone can do about it. I lament it. I love Caribbean culture, it is my own."

Footballers' partners

Kwei-Armah, who changed his name from Ian Roberts, spoke of a generation of UK blacks with no real connection with the Caribbean.

He wondered what message successful Premier league footballers, for example, were sending when the vast majority of them have white partners - whether success means dating outside the community.

But the mixed race partnership trends are not so evident among other minority ethnic communities.

One in five black African men, one in 10 Indian men and women and two in five Chinese women have relationships with other racial groups.

Researchers also found 20% of people aged under 16 are from an ethnic minority background, compared to 15% of the total population.

They also found that 3 percent of children under 16 are mixed race, compared to 0.5 percent of adults and nearly 10 percent of under-16s live in a family with mixed black or Asian heritage.

Next Generation

An EHRC spokeswoman said: "Britain is changing in a remarkable way. One in five of our children are from an ethnic minority background and young people are six times more likely to be mixed race compared to adults.

"The old, polarising debate about black and white is changing and the next generation will not see race in the same way we see it.

"This is hugely positive and we can afford a moment to celebrate: Britain's diverse culture is becoming all the more fascinating and inter-connected. But we can't afford to be complacent, because we face other challenges."