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The Great Valentine Taboo

Exploring the acceptance of interracial relationships in light of "A United Kingdom"

13th Feb 2017

Image Credit: Getty Images

Valentines' is here.

Men and women all over the world will be celebrating and declaring their love to that special someone in their life. However, it was not always so easy for people to love whoever they wanted.

Recently the film ‘A United Kingdom’ has been released, starring two award winning British actors David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike. The beautifully directed historical romance depicts the untold true love story of a black law student named Seretse Khama, who was also heir to the throne in Botswana and a white English clerk named Ruth Williams in 1948. As you can imagine at that time their courtship ignited international outrage all over the world, with representatives of the United Kingdom claiming that Williams ‘would be responsible for the downfall of the British empire in Africa’ if she married Seretse Khama, whilst Khama had to renounce his right to the thrown as the King of Botswana. All because of the skin colour of the woman he fell in love with.

This powerful film presents the fight for something that we all take for granted in society nowadays. The right to love who we want. For many years racial, social and religious barriers have restricted the rights of people to freely choose who they want to spend the rest of their life with. Personally, this film has hit close to home, my father was born of an interracial marriage in the 60’s in Britain. In 1955 my grandmother a white woman from Bolton married a Jamaican man who moved over to the Mother country to seek a better life. Although I do not know the details of the troubles my paternal grandparents must have gone through. I can only imagine the difficulties, the marginalisation and the rejection that they must have experienced from family, friends and the rest of society, and all for loving each other.

However, we cannot ignore that interracial relationships are still looked down upon by some people in today’s society. As we have seen from the revelation of Prince Harry’s relationship with Suit’s actress Megan Markle and the racist and sexist comments about their relationship, leading to Prince Harry releasing a statement in defence of his new girlfriend and her right to respect and privacy, has highlighted that even now with an increasing influx of interracial relationships that some people still deem them as unnatural. Particularly in royal or traditional spaces.

If we can take anything away from this film it should be to be more accepting of one another, and ultimately that love always wins. For me, Valentine’s day not only represents a celebration of love but also of appreciation. To show your loved one how special they are, and how lucky you are to have them in your life. This Valentine’s day I implore you all to have some awareness and to feel blessed that you may not have to experience the same problems that Seretse Khama, Ruth Williams, Prince Harry, Megan Markle and my grandparents had to, simply because of the person that their hearts chose.

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