Our Century

Prejudice when he married a black woman

Nick Withers
Born 1940

Nick Withers

"Back in 1962, I was in my early 20s working as a door-to-door tallyman. At one of the places in Walsall lived an attractive young woman. We got friendly.

One day, she asked me in for a bite to eat. It was boiled green bananas. I gagged on them because it was something strange. But we got talking and I fell for her.

"Within a year we were married. It did not go down well with the folks. My mother didn't really say anything. Anyone that wasn't white and Catholic didn't count. My father was an ex-public school boy, theoretically he took a stand against racism, but black people were all right so long as they weren't in his family. I must stress that later my parents modified their views and gave me a lot of support.

"We had to suffer regular sarcastic comments and verbal abuse from neighbours, friends and acquaintances. At one stage it was so bad I used to keep a written record of all the incidents of racism. There used to be at least three a week and sometimes there would be five or more.

"A lot of white people say it's the children who suffer but there are very few West Indian people who don't accept mixed race children as black

"Our marriage only lasted ten years but the break-up was nothing to do with colour. Pauline and I are still friends. And I'm pleased that mixed-race couples today don't have to put up with the kind of racism and bigotry that we suffered.

"I have two mixed-race children and three black stepchildren. They are black, British and proud"