Utopian Realities: Practical Utopias
In the previous chapters, the post-racial and/or post-racist has been presented as the stuff of dreams. Sometimes it is a tangible possibility, almost within touching distance. At others it is a far-off glimmer, to be maintained as a sliver of optimism in the wake of overwhelming difculty. Yet this book began not with the imagined, but with a real story: the story of my grandmother and her last meaningful relationship with a man that for most of her life she had hardly connected with at all. Their story is by no means unique. Make a journey, for example, to the Black Cultural Archives, and one sees photographs of an elderly Afro-Caribbean woman holding the arm of a white female friend outside church (M. Phillips and C. Phillips 1991) and listens to the oral history testimonies of women such as Baroness Howells talking about post-racial friendships (Bernard 2009). One reads newspaper clippings of mixed-race solidarity in Leicester anti-racist marches in the early 1970s (Campbell 1972), the same decade in which the race relations board was still ghting to remove the colour bar in private members’ clubs. One discovers the accounts of parents involved in interracial adoptions, widening their friendship groups across racial boundaries as a result ( Jackson 1975: 19). And one reads the stories in Windrush of small acts of kindness and connection, ‘too infrequent to alter the tone of the atmosphere’ (M. Phillips and T. Phillips 1998: 138) – a white woman holding an umbrella and walking with a black couple in the rain – all of these evidence that even at the most depressing moments in recent British history what appears utopian has seemingly forced its way, uninvited and unannounced, into the present.