Skip to main content

Britain's 'Brown Babies': Lucy Bland at Brunel

It was great to welcome to Brunel Professor Lucy Bland Professor of Social and Cultural History at Anglia Ruskin University.

Lucy Bland at Brunel 2Lucy told us about the lives of some of the mixed-race babies born to black GIs and white British women in and after the Second World War.  The racism of the time – and of the care system itself appalled us.  Nearly half of the babies were given up to children’s homes, as the stigma for some mothers was about racism and that they were already married, and very few of these children were adopted, with adoption societies seeing them as ‘too hard to place’.  The racism of the education system was shown in the case of the little girl seen here – now a member of Mensa – but not expected to be teachable by her teachers so sat at the back with a toy.  The harshness of the care system was upsetting too – discouraging connection and bonding between the children.  The moving stories from the reunions of childhood friends or step-siblings that Lucy created at her booklaunch will go into the Race Archive.  The questions this raised about attachment and the care of children outside their birth families will stay with the students and staff a long time.

Reported by:

Dr Pam Alldred
+44 (0)1895 267270