chapter  7
19 Pages

Identity, ‘race’ and citizenship

Stuart Hall’s observation of the late 1980s captures a paradox of the ‘black’ condition in Britain which had, by the mid-1990s, been further confirmed.1 Black Britons were apparently more at ease in the cityscapes of a predomi­ nantly white society than was so in the early and mid-1980s when a series of bitter clashes between the youth and the police had occurred. Black popular culture with Afro-Caribbean connections, but also occasionally crossing over with Indian subcontinental elements in a syncretic mix, was flourishing and continuing to influence youth culture in general, which had for some time been part of its historic mission in any case. There was an ever greater confidence in the identities of black and Asian Britons, especially the young. Yet the indices of social deprivation, unemployment, criminalisation, educational underachievement, psychological breakdown, and so forth, associated with the Afro-Caribbean British, in particular, had not significantly changed for the better since the confrontations of 1981 in Brixton and 1985 on the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham. Moreover, a certain enhanced visibility and ameliorative presence in the mass media and the professions had only partially masked over enduring forms of injustice, oppression and exclusion.