Socialist Worker

Guess Who Is Coming To Dinner: photographs of mixed race Britain

by Louise Rathbone
Issue No. 2138

The lives of the first generation of mixed race families are explored

The lives of the first generation of mixed race families are explored

This exhibition tells the stories of black mixed race families in Birmingham in the 1950s and 1960s.

We are privileged to see family photographs and read remarkable stories of overcoming the horrific levels of racism encountered by black men and white women who fell in love and raised families together.

Many of the white women were Irish and knew all about discrimination.

They had faced the notices on lodgings that read, “No Irish and no dogs” before black people were also added to the list

They understood the racism and were prepared to defy the prejudices of those around them.

But there are also lovely stories in the exhibition that speak of acceptance. They help us see how much we have to be grateful for to those that stood up to racism.

There is also an exploration of what it was to be among the first generation of mixed race children.

Some of the testimonies talk of a pressure to choose between black or white culture – and how complicated that could be.

Nevertheless, this exhibition rightly celebrates the individuality that mixed race people have inherited.

This history is just one part of multicultural Birmingham – one of the most integrated cities in Britain.

There have been many struggles to make it so and there are many stories to be told.

Racists will hate this exhibition, as it makes a nonsense of the idea we can simply categorise people on the grounds of race.

The generation documented were pioneers that changed our lives for the better.

Guess Who Is Coming To Dinner
Photo exhibition
The Drum, 144 Potters Lane, Aston, Birmingham, B6 4UU until 27 February


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Tue 10 Feb 2009, 18:24 GMT
Issue No. 2138
Share this article


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.