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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

It Has Been 70 Years Since World War II, Yet The Racism Mixed-Race Children Faced Is Still Fresh In Their Memories

  • IWB Post
  •  May 20, 2019

It was around 70 years ago, during World War II, when life for the 2,000 mixed-race children born to black American GIs and white British women was all about facing partiality and racism.

Those children are in their seventies today, living in different parts of England, but their terrible memories of the institutional racism they faced are still fresh.

In the period of 1942-45, 8% of the 3m US servicemen that passed through Britain were African-American. Relationships were formed between the black GIs and local women and the children born were called illegitimate as the American white commanding officers refused black GIs permission to marry. These children grew in the white-dominated areas and suffered racism and the tag of being illegitimate.

“That was the hardest part. People literally would turn around if I walked into a shop and stare, it was horrible … I was made to feel like a complete outcast, like I was contaminated,” shared Monica, who also lived in one of these areas.

“There was a girl that were very friendly. She told me where she lived and I went to call for her one night. And her mother opened the door. Oh, she went bananas. Oh, she went mad! I thought she were gonna have the door off the hinges. It’s a good job my fingers weren’t in the door, she’d have broke them!” recollected Jennifer, another woman who had spent her childhood confused about her identity.

Half of these children were placed in children’s homes and only a few were adopted thanks to the prevailing mentality that mixed-raced children are “too hard to place”. A few were adopted by non-relatives, several by their grandparents, while a few were fostered.

Even though hundreds of African Americans were keen to adopt the children, the then prevalent Adoption Act only allowed adoption by British subjects or relatives. The Home Office wanted “to avoid any suggestion that we in this country are trying to get rid of the colored waifs left behind by the American occupation”.

H/T: The Conversation




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