Posted on September 15, 2004

Weddings Put Faith In Multiracial Society To Test

Richard Ford and Sam Coates, Times Online (London), Sep. 14

YOUNG Britons want more immigration, have close friends of a different colour, and would almost all be prepared to marry someone of a different race.

But the survey also reveals sharp differences in attitudes between different racial groups. Young Asians are significantly less likely to marry someone of another race and are less likely than whites to approve of new immigration. A quarter would not trust the police “at all” if they were accused of a crime.

Two thirds of young black adults think that Britain is a racist country, with only a third saying that they are proud to be British.

But a Times iGeneration survey reveals that in general today’s young adults form the most tolerant and inclusive generation yet. Nine out of ten twentysomething Britons would marry someone of a different race.

More than half believe new immigration is good for our economy and society while 81 per cent already have a friend who is of a different race or colour from them.

The findings are in marked contrast to a recent survey by the Commission for Racial Equality across all age groups, which found that nine out of 10 white Britons had no or hardly any ethnic minority friends. But far from finding a continuing gulf between races and religions, The Times today reveals that for twentysomethings, multiculturalism has become a way of life.

The Times survey showed that the younger the person, the more likely they were to have friends from different races or colours. While 77 per cent of 28 to 30-year-olds had friends from a mix of backgrounds, this rose to 88 per cent for 18 to 20-year-olds.

Jo Adetunji, 23, is the child of mixed race parents, her mother from England and her father from Nigeria. She is a proud member of a sassy, racially tolerant younger generation, with a white boyfriend from Reading and friends from all ethnic backgrounds.

She said: “Race has never really been an issue. A lot of my friends are mixed race. At school there were some people who were small minded but you just ignored that.

“I think the younger generation in general are more tolerant because there is such a mix of races in music, film and television. Because there is much more exposure, it’s become more mainstream in the cultures so the younger generation accept it a lot more.”

The poll reveals striking differences between racial groups. While Asians and whites believe Britain is a more progressive, inclusive place, the young black respondents took a more negative view. Among the black people surveyed, two thirds would have little trust in the police, and a third would have no faith at all in their ability to solve a crime of which they were the victim.

The young Asian community regards new immigration as a far less positive phenomenon than the black respondents. While four out of five blacks want to encourage further immigration, less than half of the Asians surveyed believe it is a good thing.

While an overwhelming majority of young white and black people (88 per cent) are willing to marry someone from a different race, Asians are far less keen (54 per cent).

Haroon Siddique, 30, has lived in London all his life and finds it a tolerant, accepting place. But he has encountered problems. “At school, race was a problem. I lived in West Hounslow where there would be football matches between whites and Asians that were nasty. But as I got older, it got less of a problem. London is largely tolerant.”

He said that he could understand why fewer Asians wanted to marry outside their race.

“Personally I wouldn’t care what colour my partner is or where they are from. But the fact that fewer Asians want to marry people from other races doesn’t surprise me because there is a strong culture.”


Men (81 per cent) are more likely than women (76 per cent) to regard Britain as a tolerant country

Asian people are most likely (71 per cent) to say that Britain is a united country. 58 per cent of white people say this, and only 38 per cent of black people

‘I’ve never been out with someone who’s of the same ethnic background as me. It’s not a conscious decision — for me, it’s who you like. It’s not really an issue with my family. I think they would prefer it if in the end I married a Persian guy but they recognise it’s down to me’

Martha Ghiami, 25, a trainee psychotherapist

Young white adults are more likely to think that all races are equally trustworthy (85 per cent) compared with 75 per cent of Asians and 77 per cent of blacks

Those still in full-time education are more likely to view immigration as good for the economy and society (63 per cent) than those in employment (51 per cent) or unemployed (49 per cent).

‘I don’t like church. I find it boring. If I feel the need to go to church it will be to sit there quietly in my own time. I don’t think God would want to put people through the pain of going to services. I don’t think it’s necessary to go on Sundays’

Jaime Woodham, 24, a receptionist from southeast London

Graduates are significantly more likely to regard immigration as good for our economy and society than non-graduates

Young adults in social classes D and E are most likely to agree that some races are inherently harder working than others (49 per cent). This compares to 40 per cent among C1s and C2s and 38 per cent among ABs.