The Fletcher Report 1930: A Historical Case Study of Contested Black Mixed Heritage Britishness

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive, Social Science, Social Work, United Kingdom on 2011-10-07 02:42Z by Steven

The Fletcher Report 1930: A Historical Case Study of Contested Black Mixed Heritage Britishness

Journal of Historical Sociology
Volume 21, Issue 2-3 (August 2008)
Pages 213 – 241
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6443.2008.00336.x

Mark Christian, Professor & Chair of African & African American Studies
Lehman College, City University of New York

This article examines a controversial report that focused negatively on mixed heritage children born and raised in the city of Liverpool. The official title was: Report on an Investigation into the Colour Problem in Liverpool and Other Ports. The social researcher was Muriel E. Fletcher, who had been trained in the Liverpool School of Social Science at The University of Liverpool in the early 1920s.  The report was published in 1930 amid controversy for its openly stigmatizing content of children and mixed heritage families of African and European origin.  It could be deemed the official outset in defining Liverpool’s ‘half castes’ as a problem and blight to the “British way of life” in the city.

…Numerous ‘intellectual’ views held by white commentators, either consciously or unconsciously, or even a mixture of the two if we take the example of Ralph Williams, related to racialised discourse and they appear to have had a strong bearing on the complex nature of the anti-Black riots in 1919 Liverpool.  An outcome of this was to further stigmatise Black-white sexual relations in which the offspring of those liaisons were effectively branded as less-than human, degenerate, only to be despised and scorned by mainstream society.  Again, imbued in the rhetoric, was the notion of hybridity between Black-white unions being anomalous, which echoed the philosophy of the Eugenics Movement in Britain (Park 1930; Searle 1976: 43)….

…The aftermath of the anti-black riots in 1919 saw the problem of ‘half-caste’ children in Liverpool take on greater significance and the issue developed into a much discussed and analysed topic (King and King 1938; Rich 1984, 1986; Wilson 1992).  The debates engendered ‘intellectual’ legitimisation of racialised ideology that effectively produced a climate of opinion that sought to reduce the sexual interaction between Black and white people.  The corollary of this was to further stigmatise the mixed heritage population as a social problem that society had to be rid.  Some of the key racialised stereotypes associated with the term ‘half-caste’ will be made clearer through an examination of key Liverpool-based philanthropic organizations, which were set up to deal specifically with the ‘social problem’ caused by the progeny of Black and white relationships…

…Arguably, in relation to the Liverpool Black experience, the pivotal stigmatising report to be published in the history of poor ‘race relations’ in Liverpool was in regard to mixed heritage children and their family structure. Muriel E. Fletcher (1930), who had the full backing of Ms. Rachel Fleming, a prominent eugenicist (Jones 1982), and other contemporary pseudo-scientific intellectuals, conducted the research on behalf of the Liverpool Association for the Welfare of Half-Caste Children and published in 1930 a document entitled a Report on an Investigation into the Colour Problem in Liverpool and other Ports. It is a sociological report produced in the late 1920s and can be regarded as a nadir in the Liverpool mixed heritage population’s struggle to secure a positive social identity.  This ubiquitous racialised stigma was grounded in the eugenicist tradition of Sir Francis Galton (1822–1911) and the Eugenics Society. The society viewed humans in terms of being ‘inferior’ and ‘superior’ in stock (Jones 1982), and it is an overt philosophy throughout the report. Using eugenicist techniques, it is apparent that Fletcher attempted to study the physical and mental quality of ‘half-caste’ children.  Implicit in the research is the idea that the African and white British/European offspring were an anomaly in terms of human breeding. Eugenicists believed selective breeding could improve the physical and mental quality of humans by, e.g., ‘controlling’ the spread of inherited genetic abnormalities (which led in this era, 1920–1930s, to eugenics being abused by the Nazi Party in Germany to justify the extermination of thousands of ‘undesirable’ or mentally and physically ‘unfit’ humans)…

…Fletcher argued that ‘half-caste’ women were particularly vulnerable in Liverpool as they naturally consort with ‘coloured men’.  She maintains that ‘half-caste’ women were regarded as virtual social outcasts whose only escape from a life of perpetual misery was to marry a ‘coloured man’. As the opportunity in marrying a white man was, for a ‘half-caste’ woman, a near impossibility.  Again Fletcher points out:

Only two cases have been found in Liverpool of half-caste girls who have married white men, and in one of these cases the girl’s family forced the marriage on the man (1930a: 21).

It should be pointed out that this negative reflection of ‘half-caste’ girls in Liverpool is a major theme throughout the Fletcher Report.  Certainly the experience of mixed heritage women would require and deserves a study in itself, if only due to the significance and importance of highlighting the perspective of mixed heritage women in the history of Liverpool.  However, what is important here and central to this historical social research is to provide an insight into the racialised stigma that has impacted all individuals of mixed heritage in the Liverpool Black experience in terms of their collective social identity in the context of the city…

Read the entire article here.

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British Eugenics and ‘Race Crossing’: a Study of an Interwar Investigation

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2011-10-07 02:40Z by Steven

British Eugenics and ‘Race Crossing’: a Study of an Interwar Investigation

New Formations
Number 60 (2007)
pages 66-78

Lucy Bland, Professor of Social and Cultural History
Anglia Ruskin University, United Kingdom

In 1937 a polemic entitled Half-Caste was published, heralding ‘the richness of hybrid potentiality’. Written by a self-defined Eurasian called Cedric Dover its opening pages indicated the extent of prejudice facing those of mixed race:

The ‘half-caste’ appears in a prodigal literature. It presents him … mostly as an undersized, scheming and entirely degenerate bastard. His father is a blackguard, his mother a whore … But more than all this, he is a potential menace to Western Civilisation, to everything that is White and Sacred…

This ‘prodigal literature’ included novels and ‘a vast mass of pseudo-science’ developed by ‘eugenists, anthropologists, sociologists and politicians’.  In the book’s Preface, written by British scientist Lancelot Hogben, it was eugenics that was singled out for condemnation: ‘An influential current of superstition (called National Socialism in Hitler’s Germany and Eugenics in England) claims the authority of science for sentiments which are the negation of civilised society’. Yet despite the negative tone of the Preface, and the reference to ‘pseudo-science’, Dover was clearly not uninfluenced by eugenics.  He cited a number of British eugenists in his ‘Acknowledgements’, and he dedicated his book to Ursula Lubbock (Mrs Grant Duff) an active member of Britain’s Eugenics Society. He also admitted: ‘I subscribe without qualification to the prevention of undeniably dysgenic matings … but not to the conceit that colour and economic success are indices of desirability’. His invocation of a different index of ‘desirability’ other than economic success was reminiscent of other socialists who espoused eugenics on their own terms.  Eugenics was sufficiently protean to be harnessed to different ideological beliefs, ranging from the ultra conservative to the social-reformist and socialist. What was new and unique about Dover’s particular take on eugenics was the centrality of the ‘half-caste’, who ‘must be regarded … as a portent of a new humanity—a portent to be encouraged by the stimulation of eugenical mixture …’

In contrast to his own positive eugenical reading, Dover recognised that most other exponents of eugenics in interwar Britain took a very different view of the ‘half-caste’, namely, as ‘potential menace to Western Civilisation’. Why did these eugenists (and indeed many of the British establishment) hold such a view? What did they think were the implications of the presence of the ‘half-caste’? What or who was unsettled by the presence of mixed race people? One way of exploring these concerns is through an analysis of a project set up by the British Eugenics Society to investigate what they called ‘race crossing’. An examination of this project not only throws light on the prevailing discourses on race differences and their measurement, whiteness, and Englishness, but it also enables us to test historian Barbara Bush’s claim that eugenics was ‘a strong element of inter-war racism’, and to get a clearer sense of the role played by British eugenics in the discussion and regulation of race…

Read the entire article here.

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Racial mixture in Great Britain: some anthropological characteristics of the Anglo-negroid cross (A Preliminary Report)

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2011-06-21 04:46Z by Steven

Racial mixture in Great Britain: some anthropological characteristics of the Anglo-negroid cross (A Preliminary Report)

Eugenics Review
Volume 33, Number 4 (January 1942)
pages 112-120

K. L. Little
The Duckworth Laboratory
University Museum of Ethnology, Cambridge

With the exception of a large number of family studies secured by Miss R. M. Fleming, little anthropological attention has so far been given to the question of racial crossing in this country, although the presence of some fairly extensive hybrid communities in most of our sea-port cities affords an excellent opportunity for anthropometric investigation, particularly in respect to the Anglo-Negroid cross. The present paper, comprising a brief statistical analysis of the measurements of some ninety Anglo-Negroid or “Coloured” children, together with a smaller “White ” sample of forty drawn from the same environment, represents what it is hoped may be merely a prelude to a wider and statistically more adequate survey of the subject, especially as far as the adult element is concerned. The present data, including those of a small number of adults with one F1 adult exception, were gained entirely from a community in Cardiff, where all the subjects were born. In the course of the enquiry the opportunity was taken of examining a further sample of some eighty subjects mainly of Anglo-Arab and Anglo-Mediterranean parentage. These, however, have been omitted from the present discussion for considerations of space. The Anglo-Negroid adult sample is as yet too small for statistical treatment, and has similarly been omitted, although a few particulars as to its characters are given below.

Briefly stated, the aspects of racial crossing it is intended to cover comprise such questions as the segregation of both quantitative and qualitative physical characters in the hybrid population, the comparative variability of the respective groups, and comparative differences in growth and sex differences. In the light of these considerations it was decided to. employ as wide an assortment of characters as was practicable, and having regard to the specific racial stocks involved, i.e. Negroid and Caucasoid (White), to give special attention to those features which show clear differentiation between the parent stocks. In terms of the present facilities these may be listed as skin, hair and eye colour, lip thickness, nasal width and height and the corresponding nasal index, and the ratio of nasal depth to width. In addition, a fairly large number of characters possessing genetical rather than racial significance were chosen, and these included such features as head length, head breadth, facial length, etc., etc., from which the relevant cephalic, facial, fronto-jugal and other indices were obtained. Finally, two modifiable characters in the shape of stature and sitting height were included….

Read the entire article here.

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Anthropological Studies of Children

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, Social Work, United Kingdom on 2011-04-06 21:34Z by Steven

Anthropological Studies of Children

Eugenics Review
Volume 18, Number 4 (January 1927)
pages 294-301

Rachel M. Fleming

Some ten years ago, with the guidance and help of Professor Fleure, of the Department of Geography and Anthropology, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, I began to study race type in women, and from the study of divergent-race characteristics for the sexes there naturally emerged a desire to follow up growth in children, and see how far and in what way racial type affected development, if it affected it at all. For this purpose it seemed essential to follow the course of growth year by year in individuals; there are numerous studies of different batches of children at different ages compared as to various physical characters. This method, however, does not bring out either what actually happens in individual cases, or allow for racial variations. On the other hand the method of following up growth in individual children is a slow and laborious one, and though, for the past eight years, some thousand children have been under continuous observation, the work is still far from complete. Last year, at the suggestion of the Eugenics Society, Professor Fleure and I took some measurements on children of mixed parentage (coloured and white) in various seaport towns. In its initial stages the work had for its main aim to record developmental changes and their correlation, if any, with different race types.As the work has progressed other possibilities have developed-the marked differences in rate of development according to sex led to some conclusions as to the desirability of recognising the sex factor in school curricula, and the Advisory Committee to the board of Education asked for the data. Further, the extensive studies of racial types carried out by Professor Fleure and his students have afforded a basis on which to consider some possibilities of special aptitudes associated with particular race types. In the course of my visits to secondary schools I am often asked by children and their parents for help in deciding on a possible career for a youth or girl who seems “pretty good all round,” “likes nearly everything,” &c., and is obviously as yet not fully developed in knowledge of what will finally be the special bent. No claim is made that special aptitudes must go with particular physical types, or vice versa, but the claim is made that in many cases it is possible to say that to many people of a certain type, a certain side of life appeals, and therefore to suggest this as probably the right one. To take a concrete example. In taking measurements at a boys’ commercial secondary school in an industrial centre, where most lads were of Scotch parentage, a lad was brought to me with the half-jesting suggestion that perhaps the callipers could find out why he had done such consistently bad work for the 18 months that he had been in the school, though he had headed the scholarship list on entry. It happened that the lad was of a striking physique noted frequently among photographs of old Welsh bards and preachers. In conversation it turned out that the lad was of Welsh extraction, that a relative had just won a bardic prize, and that the lad’ s interests were all literary. Following a talk to the head master the lad was removed to a school where his literary ability had scope, and later I heard that he had done brilliantly and was now in a University. Head teachers in some schools are now helping me to record special aptitudes, and eventually the cards should help, it is hoped, in the problems of advisory committees on the occupation of adolescents. An important scientific aspect of the work is the effort to record ancestry, and so to work out to some extent the heredity of the child and its relation to each of its parents. The advantages from this point of view of studies of children of negro and white, of Chinese and white, &c., are obvious, since some results of crossing are written in obvious characters, whereas in the blending of the races so long living side by side in our own island, the problem is much more intricate…


The observations on children of English and foreign parentage have only been carried out for the last year, and so results are based on much smaller numbers, and no growth data are available. The conclusions given are therefore merely in the nature of an interim report and should not be taken as final.

Several children whose fathers were Chinese, and mothers English were measured; in one case the father was Chinese and the mother Anglo-Chinese. Parents were measured in some cases. As regards physical characters, 47.3% had inherited the fold of the eyelid characterised as Mongolian. One unfortunate lad had this fold and an orbit of Chinese shape on one side only. His eyes also varied, one being the characteristic “opaque” brown of the Chinese, and one being a light grey-brown English eye.

Skin colour. Although the mothers were usually of the fair “Nordic” type, only one child had a really fair fresh skin, and 68.4% had inherited Chinese skin type and colour.

Eye colour. 68.4% had the characteristic “opaque” brown Chinese eye, and only one child had blue eyes…

…Social Workers agreed in reporting that the Chinese were good husbands, and especially good fathers, and insisted on care of the children. This was borne out by what we saw in visiting the homes, where the Chinese father often seemed most anxious to get the children to be at their best intellectually when we went in. Several Chinese were bitter about the impossibility of getting good housing conditions The children often seemed affectionate and to have complete confidence in their Chinese father, whereas in the negro-white home the children clung to the mother. The unions of Chinese and White were more usually stable than those of Negro and White…



Skin colour. With three exceptions skin colour had been inherited from the coloured side to a greater or less degree. There were several cases of negro father and half-caste mother, and in these cases the skin was distinctly negroid. In all cases, Fl and F2 reckoned together, 92% showed some degree of negro colouring. Marked variations of intensity in pigmentation occurred, and it was noticeable that in many children the forehead seemed specially dusky, in others the arms and legs and neck varied much in intensity of shade. In cases of Portuguese and Spanish negro crossed with English half-caste, the skin was a beautiful gold-orange tint with a deep red in the cheeks. In the case of negro ancestry of American origin there were indications of North American Indian in skin and eyes, etc. It is hoped to follow up this question of inheritance of skin colour in larger numbers, and to get data on the effect of sex linkage.

Eye colour. 30% had English eyes, 70% had the peculiar velvety deep bluish brown negro eye. Only one child had really blue eyes. There were several cases of a grayish rim to the eye which had the appearance of the ring due to age, and in two cases cataract had developed. It would be interesting to work out whether this had any relation to the different light conditions, i.e., the eye had developed its intensity in tropic conditions and that intensity may possibly not be suited to our cloudier conditions.

Hair. A little over 50% had hair negroid in type and in colour, 25% had hair English in type and colour. The remaining 25% exhibited some curious mixtures-hair tight and frizzy in type, but flaxen in colour surmounting a quite black face, in another case hair partly woolly in type and partly straight, and ranging from light brown to black, and so on.

Lips. About 12% had lips like the average English child, 50% had wide everted lips, and the remainder had one lip wide and everted and one English in type.

Nose. 70% had the broad flat negro nose.

Limbs. 70% showed negroid features in the slimness of bone or in the bulbous appearance of the joints.

General appearance. 43% immediately gave the impression of being distinctly negroid. 5% might have passed as English children, and the remainder were half caste in appearance. There were some striking anomalies, e.g., negro skin and flaxen hair, negroid colouring and white scalp-in this peculiar case, almost the only thing that betrayed any English blood was the very white scalp-the hair was woolly and black. In another case the eyes and lips were English in type, the skin colour a rich brownish red, the hair dark and the scalp, very light. Other peculiarities were the long hairs often growing on the check bones and outwards from a central vertical space in the forehead. The fact that 25% admitted half-caste blood on the mother’s side shows that this intermixture is going on steadily in our seaport towns.

Head Shape. In most cases the head form was markedly long and narrow, as is to be expected since the mothers were mainly fair long heads and the negro is long headed.

General conclusions. The negro side of the ancestry tends to be very apparent in both Fl and F2 generations. Skin, eye and hair colour are not all inherited together, but vary most curiously and unexpectedly, giving the children at times a most disharmonic appearance.

Most of the Anglo-Negro children observed came from poor homes, and frequently children of the same mother had different fathers e.g. a family where the mother was recorded as sub-normal, included pure European, Anglo-negro, Anglo-halfcaste children, and a child of uncertain fatherhood. One such European child in a mixed family was a girl of aristocratic features anid bearing, who had an expression of suppressed and sullen inward rage and shamnefacediness that was painful to see. There were pleasant exceptions to this rule of bad conditions, notably a family where the father was a well educated, musical and intelligent negro, and the woman an intelligent and devoted European mother, who insisted that the father was her superior in mind and ideals. One girl in this family took a prominent part in school activities and athletics and was popular with both staff and scholars. Her frank, happy and intelligent expression was a refreshing contrast to the sulky, half shamed expression too often seen on the face of the adolescent half caste girl in our crowdecd cities. Yet even in this case teachers were finding it difficult to plan out a future occupation for the girl…

Read the entire article here.

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BBC Two explores what it means to be mixed-race in Britain

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom, Videos, Women on 2011-03-16 04:27Z by Steven

BBC Two explores what it means to be mixed-race in Britain

British Broadcasting Corporaton

Mixed-Race Britain is put under the spotlight this autumn on BBC Two in a collection of revealing and compelling new programmes.

Britain in 2011 has proportionately the largest mixed population in the Western world, but 100 years ago people of mixed race lived on the fringes of British society, an invisible community unacknowledged by the wider world.

With an exciting mix of drama and documentaries, the programmes provide a window into the varied and surprising lives of mixed-race people in the UK and help us understand what the increasing rise in mixed-race people means for the way we live now in Britain.

…Leading the programming is Shirley Bassey—A Very British Diva (working title), an intimate and revealing drama that tells the extraordinary life story of Dame Shirley Bassey—one of Britain’s national treasures and one of the world’s most enduring and successful divas. But her rise from poverty to international stardom is no ordinary rags-to-riches story…

In a three-part series, journalist and TV presenter George Alagiah leads viewers through the remarkable and untold story of how Britain’s mixed-race community has become part of everyone’s lives today. With previously unseen footage and unheard testimony, Mixed Britannia (working title) uncovers a tale of illicit love, marriage, children, tragedy and triumph.

Charting events from the turn of the 20th century to the present day, George explores the social factors that have influenced the shape of the mixed-race Britain we see today.

He’ll find out about the flourishing love between merchant seamen and liberated female workers during the First World War; how the British eugenics movement physically examined mixed-race children in the name of science; how pioneering white couples—including English aristocrats—adopted mixed-race babies; and how Britain’s mixed-race population exploded with the arrival of people from all over the globe—making them the fastest-growing ethnic group in the UK.

Mixed—Sex, Race And Empire is a one-off documentary exploring the social, sexual, economic and political issues that led to the race mixing of people across the world. From India to West Africa via South America and the USA, this programme reflects upon the stories and consequences of racial mixing across the world…

Read the entire press release here.

Notes from Steven F. Riley.

For some early 20th century background material on the topics covered in Mixed Britannia, see:

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Whatever action may be taken to prevent such intermixture in the future, if it can be proved to be undesirable, it certainly seems a bad policy of citizenship to penalize half-castes for a fault of birth for which they are in no way responsible.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2010-12-10 03:01Z by Steven

For some time past the writer has been in close contact with girls of Anglo-Chinese and Anglo-Negro origin who are unable to find employment because social stigma refuses to allow them to mix in our society in the ordinary way. They are British citizens, and they are the weakest of our citizens, and as such need protection. Whatever action may be taken to prevent such intermixture in the future, if it can be proved to be undesirable, it certainly seems a bad policy of citizenship to penalize half-castes for a fault of birth for which they are in no way responsible. Liverpool, always to the fore in attempts towards civic betterment, has formed an “Association for the Welfare of Half-Caste Children” (Hon. Sec., Mr. G. E. Haynes, B.Sc., University Settlement, Nile Street, Liverpool), and a wholetime research worker [Muriel E. Fletcher] has been appointed. We hope that other seaport towns may soon follow this example of scientific research into a serious problem…

Rachel M. Fleming, “Human hybrids in various parts of the world,” The Eugenics Review, Volume 21, Number 4, (January 1930) 257–263.

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Human hybrids in various parts of the world

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2010-12-09 01:33Z by Steven

Human hybrids in various parts of the world

Eugenics Review
Volume 21, Number 4 (January 1930)
pages 257–263

Rachel M. Fleming

Political issues involving the right of so-called ‘superior’ races to preserve privileges denied to other races on account of their so-called ‘inferiority’ are tending to darken counsel in the study of racial biology. Another form of political effort is a desire to demonstrate separateness of physical type, so that a subject race may claim autonomy. It is only with painful slowness that man is learning to study himself scientifically and dispassionately, and to apply biological and genetical laws) to his own case. Humanity to-day is the result of long racial crossing; it is difficult to apply the term “pure” to any physical type. All human races are capable of fertile crossing one with another, and man’s tendency to wander both over land and sea, frequently unaccompanied by the women of his own type, has led to marked heterogeneity of inheritance everywhere. The story of the “Sons of God” and the “daughters of men” is world wide and possibly as old as the oldest prehistoric find. And yet in a book published in 1928 we read, “Only a pure race is a strong race”; while the facile statement that the coloured half-caste inherits the worst of both sides, as if the laws of heredity bowed to our colour prejudice, is commonly quoted and believed…


E. Rodenwaldt has therefore rendered a great service to the study of human heredity by seizing the opportunity of examining the results of an experiment in human crossing which has been worked out in Kisar, an island in the East Indies 127°35’E. long., 8°5’S. lat. His results are published in Die Mestizen auf Kisar (in German) in two volumes, one of which gives detailed measurements and photographs of the Mestizos (half-castes) whom he observed. It contains a remarkable family tree showing the very complicated inter-marriages between the descendants of Mestizo families, and also, by an ingenious device, indicating their skin, eye, and hair colour heredity. No student of human heredity can afford to omit the study of these volumes. The Mestizos of Kisar are ideal material for such a study. The Dutch East Company had a station here in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and soldiers of Dutch, French, German, and British nationality became the ancestors of the Mestizos. From 1819 onwards the island was no longer a station for troops, and the half-caste families formed a group which felt itself superior to the natives and tended to inter-marry. Thus we have available for research a sort of natural experiment in human breeding which has gone on for about two centuries…


Recently the writer visited Cape Town and had many conversations with workers among the ‘coloured’ (half-caste) colony there. One worker of long experience had observed the same rule of a higher cultural level and a general demand for better living conditions among those with a large admixture of white blood. He suggested that encouragement of intermixture between the best of the coloured people and the whites would tend to raise the standard of life in Cape Town. Some ‘coloured’ people with a large admixture of white blood showed such small traces of native inheritance that they had “passed over” into the white section and were making good there. Needless to say, this solution is most unpalatable to advocates of  ‘race purity,’ and there may be sound objections to it. On the other hand, it may ultimately be less harmful than the present cruel system of stigmatizing the half-caste socially, and so creating a moral and social environment for him which adds undesirables to the community. For some time past the writer has been in close contact with girls of Anglo-Chinese and Anglo-Negro origin who are unable to find employment because social stigma refuses to allow them to mix in our society in the ordinary way. They are British citizens, and they are the weakest of our citizens, and as such need protection. Whatever action may be taken to prevent such intermixture in the future, if it can be proved to be undesirable, it certainly seems a bad policy of citizenship to penalize half-castes for a fault of birth for which they are in no way responsible. Liverpool, always to the fore in attempts towards civic betterment, has formed an “Association for the Welfare of Half-Caste Children” (Hon. Sec., Mr. G. E. Haynes, B.Sc., University Settlement, Nile Street, Liverpool), and a wholetime research worker [Muriel E. Fletcher] has been appointed. We hope that other seaport towns may soon follow this example of scientific research into a serious problem…

Read the entire article here.

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Race Crossing

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes, History, Passing, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2010-08-13 03:07Z by Steven

…Fleming’s use of the term ‘passing’ is also worthy of comment. Not only does it have the connotation of deceit and disguise, but it also implies that the offspring of mixed heritage could never be truly English, despite their birth in England and their English mothers. To cross racial boundaries (‘race crossing’) had two meanings: crossing the ‘colour line’ in terms of sexual relationships, and crossing races in the sense of being of mixed race. The white women who crossed the colour line and gave birth to mixed race children were not aliens as such, but liminally placed by virtue of their ‘unBritish’, ‘unpatriotic’ behaviour. Where the mothers were Irish, as some were (as Hodson noted) the mixed race children were even less likely to have been permitted the mantle of Englishness, for the Irish were not only ‘not English’, but frequently seen as ‘not white’ either. There was (and is) a hierarchy of whiteness, in which some people were/are white only some of the time, such as Irish, Latinos, and Jews. Fleming’s assumption that mixed race children were not, and implicitly could not, be English, sounds not dissimilar from the ‘one drop of black blood’ rule that was operating at this time in US Deep South. This ‘rule’ proclaimed that even a single black person in ones ancestry deemed one black. The system was a means of policing entry to the privileged category ‘white’. In the context of Britain in the interwar, the Eugenics Society was concerned with classifying and codifying those of mixed race in an attempt to reduce the threat to racial and national boundaries represented by their presence…

Lucy Bland. “British Eugenics and ‘Race Crossing’: a Study of an Interwar Investigation”, New Formations. 2007,  Number 60, pages 66-78.

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