Justins’ parents came over from Jamaica with his grandparents in the 1960s and are about the same age as Anne and I. He and his parents are what we refer to as ‘Black British’, which means they’ve absorbed many of the norms of British culture because, as Justins’ grandfather, Cromwell, once told me at the school gate: “Life is so much better here! I got a house for me and my family, not a shack shared with a dozen people. My boy always had shoes on his feet and food in his belly, my wife always has nice clothes to wear. I had a job with good pay and I got a pension. That’s worth a little snow!” I asked him about racism, and he told me about the landlords who displayed signs saying “No dogs, no blacks, no Irish” “Now they say ‘no DSS’,” He told me. “Just as bad.” As to the rest, “Some people don’t like Black people at first, but they come around, there’s the ones like you and your family, who don’t give a damn, and the ones who’ll never like us, but not so many of them. Mind, the Asians don’t like either of us, and neither of us like them much!”
Just so we’re clear, “Asian” in the UK refers exclusively to people originating from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh (including the ‘Ugandan Asians’ exiled here by Idi Amin). Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and so forth are referred to as ‘Oriental’ or by their specific ethnicity, and are rather thinner on the ground — 400 000 British Chinese, for instance, constituting 0.5% of the population, and only 43 000 British Japanese.
It was difficult having that talk with Rik about Asian girls, because it smacked of racism. But, sadly, I was dealing in facts. My son, the most amiable soul in the world, was a clear and present danger to Asian girls. The Asian community here is insular and culturally conservative. The reasons for this are complex and tangled and, if I’m honest, do little or no credit to either side! Your situation is, if much more dangerous, at least more clearly defined.