Yasmin Alibhai- Brown: Mixed-race Britain is us at our best

I bring tidings of comfort and joy, though perhaps not to the BNP and Co. When superwoman Jessica Ennis became an emblematic face of the Olympics, she also symbolised the nation's quiet, irreversible genetic revolution. New data from the 2011 Census shows around a million Britons identified as "mixed". The real figure could be twice as high because substantial numbers describe themselves as "black" (because that is how they are seen and treated by society) and a proportion pass as white because they can and do so for an easier life.

I have written two books on mixed-race Britain – The Colour Of Love (1992) and Mixed Feelings (2001) – by which time we had the highest mixed-race population in the modern Western world. Since then, numbers have soared and, in some areas, mixed-race youngsters are the largest minority. Miscegenation is part of the national identity, albeit officially unacknowledged. Political leaders shy away from mentioning it, as if it is an embarrassing family secret.

They could but don't acclaim Ennis as a superb exemplar of migration and integration (her dad, Vinnie, is a Jamaican and her mum, Alison, was raised in Derbyshire) or Muslim Mo Farah's mixed-race partners and babies. Or the wonderful X Factor winner Leona Lewis, or the talented novelists Zadie Smith and Hanif Kureshi, the poet Jackie Kay or the shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna (our own Obama), or the racing driver Lewis Hamilton and so many others. Granted, they are brilliant individuals in their own right and shouldn't be defined by their biological inheritance. But in a country where immigration is now a swear word and pessimism widespread about ghettoised and xenophobic white as well as Muslim communities, we need our politicians to tell that other story, the good story of how these islanders have, throughout history, sabotaged racial and national boundaries. Nothing could stop them from breaking out, not slavery, the empire, eugenics, family ostracisation or savage violence.

Look at us now. My family is completely mixed up and not at all unusual. In 1990, half of the white population disapproved of racially mixed relationships. Now, according to a new survey by the think-tank British Futures, only around 15 per cent mind. In my own substantial research, I found most opposition today comes from black, Asian, Muslim and Jewish Britons caught up in the hideous politics of identity. So yes, white Britons can be rightly proud of their openness and receptivity.