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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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Mixed Race Britain – How The World Got Mixed Up

Mixed Race Britain

This one-off documentary explores the historical and contemporary social, sexual and political attitudes to race mixing.

Throughout modern history, interracial sex has been one of society's great taboos, and across many parts of the world, mixed race relationships have been subjected to a range of deterrents. Mixed couples have endured shame, stigma and persecution and many have risked the threat of ostracism from their friends and families.

In several parts of the world, including South Africa during the apartheid era, governments introduced legislation to prohibit race mixing. Laws against race mixing were still in force in 16 American states until they were declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court's verdict in the Loving v Virginia case of 1967.

Yet despite the social and legal constraints – and the even more violent extra-judicial attempts to discourage race mixing organised by extreme nationalist groups like the Ku Klux Klan – interracial relationships have been an ever-present feature of societies throughout modern times.

Through the stories of interracial relationships which created scandals in their own time – including the liaisons between the East India Company's James Achilles Kirkpatrick and the Muslim princess Khair un-Nissa at the beginning of the 19th Century, and the romance of the Botswanan royal Seretse Khama and the middle-class British girl Ruth Williams in the years after the Second World War – the film examines the complex history of interracial relationships and chronicles the shifts in attitudes that for centuries have created controversy and anxiety all around the world.

Contributors to this film include the former Labour Cabinet minister Tony Benn; who founded the Seretse Khama Defence Council; and the esteemed moral philosopher Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah, whose mother Peggy Cripps – the daughter of the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Stafford Cripps married his father, the Ghanaian political activist Joe Appiah in 1953.

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