Reflections on Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted in Live Events, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United Kingdom on 2016-09-21 01:47Z by Steven

Reflections on Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

International Slavery Museum
Dr Martin Luther King Jr building, Albert Dock
Liverpool, United Kingdom
2016-09-21, 13:00-16:00 BST (Local Time)

Dr Mark Christian, Professor and Chair of Africana Studies
Lehman College, City University of New York

Black Liverpool and grassroots education in L8

There remains a burning need in today’s society for Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s message, and his hope of a Beloved Community to prevail:

  • where all people share equally in the wealth of the earth,
  • where poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it;
  • where racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood;
  • where international disputes are resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation of adversaries, instead of by military power;
  • for love and trust to triumph over fear and hatred,
  • and for peace with justice to prove more powerful than war and military conflict.

The city of Liverpool’s history of fighting racism and discrimination goes back centuries. At this free talk, Dr Mark Christian, Professor and Chair of Africana Studies at Lehman College, City University of New York, himself a product of grassroots education in Liverpool (Charles Wootton Centre/College and L8 Access to Higher Education), will reflect on Dr King’s ideas from the perspective of Black Liverpool.

Following Mark’s talk, there will be a panel discussion and the opportunity for the audience to consider the role of education and the empowerment of marginalised groups in Liverpool.

For more information, click here.

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The half-Chinese children on growing up find little difficulty in obtaining work or in entering into marriage with the surrounding white population…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2016-05-22 21:34Z by Steven

The half-Chinese children on growing up find little difficulty in obtaining work or in entering into marriage with the surrounding white population. The girls in particular are attractive and good-looking. On the other hand, the Anglo-negroid children when grown up do not easily get work or mix with the ordinary population.

Maurice Broody, “The Social Adjustment of Chinese Immigrants in Liverpool,” The Sociological Review, Volume 3, Issue 1 (July 1955) pages 65-75.

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The family who never knew their father

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2015-08-31 00:46Z by Steven

The family who never knew their father

BBC News Magazine

Harry Low

Our story about the forced repatriation of Chinese sailors who had been recruited for the Merchant Navy during World War Two told of the devastation for those families left behind. Barbara Janecek shared her own tale in response.

She had read about Yvonne Foley, whose father Nan Young, a Chinese ship engineer, was sent back to the Far East following the end of the war. He was one of thousands of recruits from Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong who lived in Liverpool.

“I was always waiting for my father to come back, I was always daydreaming he would,” says Barbara, whose father John had suffered the same fate. John Ong had married Eileen Hing in 1943 when they were both aged 23. Eileen was devastated when her husband left, leaving his wife to raise three children under the age of four…

Read the entire article here.

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Looking for my Shanghai father

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2015-08-30 02:17Z by Steven

Looking for my Shanghai father

BBC News Magazine

Jody-Lan Castle

Yvonne Foley with her mother Grace

After World War Two ended, the British government forcibly repatriated hundreds of Chinese sailors who had been recruited for the Merchant Navy. Their sudden departure had a devastating effect on families left behind, like that of Yvonne Foley.

“You’re just like your father,” Yvonne’s mother exclaimed, “always arguing, trying to change the world.”

The nine-year-old was confused. That sounded nothing like her father.

“I mean your Shanghai father,” her mother insisted.

Who? Yvonne was momentarily baffled, but then put it to the back of her mind.

Two years later, in 1957, the subject came up again. This time her mother, Grace, wanted to tell her more.

The man Yvonne had been calling “Dad” was not her biological father. Instead her birth father was Nan Young, a Chinese ship engineer her mother had met in Liverpool in 1943…

Read the entire article here.

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Before the Windrush: Race Relations in 20th-Century Liverpool

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2013-12-17 23:02Z by Steven

Before the Windrush: Race Relations in 20th-Century Liverpool

Liverpool University Press
March 2014
288 pages
16 black and white illustrations, 1 colour illustrations, 1 maps
234 x 156 mm
Hardback ISBN: 9781846319679
Paperback ISBN: 9781781380000

John Belchem, Emeritus Professor of History
University of Liverpool

Long before the arrival of the ‘Empire Windrush’ after the Second World War, Liverpool was widely known for its polyglot population, its boisterous ‘sailortown’ and cosmopolitan profile of transients, sojourners and settlers. Regarding Britain as the mother country, ‘coloured’ colonials arrived in Liverpool for what they thought to be internal migration into a common British world. What they encountered, however, was very different. Their legal status as British subjects notwithstanding, ‘coloured’ colonials in Liverpool were the first to discover: ‘There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack’.

Despite the absence of significant new immigration, despite the high levels of mixed dating, marriages and parentage, and despite pioneer initiatives in race and community relations, black Liverpudlians encountered racial discrimination, were left marginalized and disadvantaged and, in the aftermath of the Toxteth riots of 1981, the once proud ‘cosmopolitan’ Liverpool stood condemned for its ‘uniquely horrific’ racism.

‘Before the Windrush’ is a fascinating study that enriches our understanding of how the empire ‘came home’. By drawing attention to Liverpool’s mixed population in the first half of the twentieth century and its approach to race relations, this book seeks to provide historical context and perspective to debates about Britain’s experience of empire in the twentieth century.


  • List of Tables
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
  • Introduction: ‘The most disturbing case of racial disadvantage in the United Kingdom’
  • 1. Edwardian cosmopolitanism
  • 2. Riot, miscegenation and inter-war depression
  • 3. War-time hospitality and the colour bar
  • 4. Repatriation, reconstruction and post-war race relations
  • 5. Race relations in the 1950s
  • 6. 1960s: race and youth
  • 7. The failure of community relations
  • 8. ‘It took a riot’
  • Sources consulted
  • Index
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Multiracial Identity: An International Perspective

Posted in Africa, Books, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States on 2013-03-28 13:16Z by Steven

Multiracial Identity: An International Perspective

Palgrave Macmillan
September 2000
186 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches
ISBN: 978-0-312-23219-1
ISBN10: 0-312-23219-5

Mark Christian, Professor of African & African American Studies
Lehman College, City University of New York

Multiracial Identity provides an accessible account of the social construction of racialized groups. Using both primary (in-depth interviews) and secondary data, four nations are examined: the UK, US, South Africa, and Jamaica. The author discusses how little attention has been traditionally been given to theorizing multiracial identity in the context of white supremacist thought and practice.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword–Diedre L. Badejo
  • Part I: Theorizing Multiracial Identity
    • Toward a Definition of Identity
    • Multiracial Identity as a Term in the 1990s
    • Historical Theories of ‘Mixed Race’ Persons
    • Contemporary US Theories in Multiracial Identity
    • Contemporary UK Theories in Multiracial Identity
  • Part II: Speaking forThemselves (I)
    • How the Liverpool, UK Respondents Define Themselves in a Racial Sense
    • Parental Influence in the Construction of a Racialized Identity
  • Part III: Speaking for Themselves (II) Shades of Blackness
    • Is Wanting to Change One’s Physical Appearance an Issue?
  • Part IV: South Africa and Jamaica: “Other” Multiracial Case Studies
    • South Africa and the Social Construction of “Coloureds”
    • Jamaica in Context
  • Part V: Assessing Multiracial Identity White Supremacy and Multiracial Identity
    • Social Status and Multiracial Identity
    • Nomenclature Default and Multiracial Terminology
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Mixing Up the Game: Social and Historical Contours of Black Mixed Heritage Players in British Football

Posted in Books, Chapter, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2013-03-25 02:08Z by Steven

Mixing Up the Game: Social and Historical Contours of Black Mixed Heritage Players in British Football

Mark Christian, Professor & Chair of African & African American Studies
Lehman College, City University of New York

pages 131-144

in the volume Race, Ethnicity and Football: Persisting Debates and Emergent Issues
288 pages
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-415-88205-7

Edited by:

Daniel Burdsey, Senior Lecturer of Sociology
Chelsea School of Sport
University of Brighton


As the world comes to terms with the reality that the most powerful man on earth, President Barack Obama, is of African-American (mixed heritage) background, it is evident that multiracial heritage has become a popular subject matter. Yet much of this interest stems from the fact that history has been made in terms of a person of colour holding court in the most powerful office in the world. That stated, the social world of mixed heritage persons continues to be one of mixed fortunes. In relation to football, however, there is little doubt that the emergence of players of mixed heritage is palpable in the English Premier League and England team set-up.

This chapter primarily focuses on the socio-historical experiences of black mixed heritage’ footballers within the context of British society. What qualifies me to write on such a subject as black mixed heritage footballers in the UK context? In the world of social science, my social background and academic training would probably be deemed “organically connected” to the phenomena under scrutiny. Indeed having been raised in the city of Liverpool in the 1970s and 1980s, I am acutely aware of both British football and institutional racism. Moreover, my black British heritage and intellectual interests have intersected with my love for the beautiful game and the experience of black British players in general.

Additionally, I played for over a decade in the amateur football scene in Liverpool during the 1980s in predominantly black mixed heritage teams based in Toxteth/Liverpool 8, winning league titles and cups on a regular basis. During the 1980s, both of the city’s professional clubs, Everton and Liverpool, had very successful teams, yet it was rare to see a black face on the pitch or on the terraces. Racialised relations were rather poor, and it was difficult for local blacks in the city to go beyond the boundaries of Toxteth/Liverpool 8, where the majority resided, without incurring physical threats to one’s life. Moreover, the city council also had an appalling record of discrimination in employment against its local black population (Gifford et al. 1989).

Most importantly, beyond the structures of institutional racism in Liverpool, I know what it is like to be called a “black bastard” while playing a game of football. Indeed, racism was rife in amateur football on the pitch and in the professional game on the terraces. I recall John Barnes making his England debut in 1983, and later the chants of the England supporters: “there ain’t no black in the Union Jack, Johnnie Barnes, Johnnie Barnes”—a chant that would lead the academic Paul Gilroy (1987) to coin the phrase for his bestseller There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack


Britain has a long history of amnesia in what could be deemed a “racialised mongrelisation” memory loss. After all, it is a state that has historically “mixed” with many cultural groups. To be sure, since the earliest times of British history, peoples with varied ethnic backgrounds, beliefs, languages and cultures have settled in Britain; from the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages (5000 BC-100 BC) to the Roman Britain era (55 BC-410 AD). Briefly, the Picts, Celts, Romans, Saxons, Angles, Danes, Jutes, Vikings and Normans are key historical cultural groups that led to the “normative” white ethnic category now described homogenously as “white” and singular in authoritative government census surveys…

Read the entire chapter (by permission of the author) here.

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The Difficulty of Defining “mixed-race”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes, United Kingdom on 2013-03-15 20:01Z by Steven

The very definition of a “mixed-race” society is fraught with difficulty, and this is one of the problems of acknowledgement, even in Liverpool. All the current terms are inadequate: The term “half-caste” has long been discredited, but even newer terms; “mixed-race” and “dual heritage” have their own problems. “Dual heritage” suggests a child living with the supposed ‘dilemma’ of each parent having a different culture or background. This may not be the case in many Liverpool children with both European and African genes, as any intermarriage may have taken place generations ago. Thus, a child who appears to have 50/50 genes may not have one black and one white parent, but could be the product of a community which became a distinct multi-racial community literally centuries ago, just as Mexicans and many Central and South Americans have now evolved from being considered half Native American (or ‘Indian’, as they were wrongly called) and half Spanish to distinct ethnic identities…

Dr. Ray Costello. “The Liverpool-Born Black Community,” Diverse Magazine. 2009.

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Dropping Anchor, Setting Sail: Geographies of Race in Black Liverpool

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2013-02-21 19:47Z by Steven

Dropping Anchor, Setting Sail: Geographies of Race in Black Liverpool

Princeton University Press
312 pages
6 x 9
ISBN: 978-1-4008-2641-4

Jacqueline Nassy Brown, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Hunter College of the City University of New York

The port city of Liverpool, England, is home to one of the oldest Black communities in Britain. Its members proudly date their history back at least as far as the nineteenth century, with the global wanderings and eventual settlement of colonial African seamen. Jacqueline Nassy Brown analyzes how this worldly origin story supports an avowedly local Black politic and identity—a theme that becomes a window onto British politics of race, place, and nation, and Liverpool’s own contentious origin story as a gloriously cosmopolitan port of world-historical import that was nonetheless central to British slave trading and imperialism.

This ethnography also examines the rise and consequent dilemmas of Black identity. It captures the contradictions of diaspora in postcolonial Liverpool, where African and Afro-Caribbean heritages and transnational linkages with Black America both contribute to and compete with the local as a basis for authentic racial identity. Crisscrossing historical periods, rhetorical modes, and academic genres, the book focuses singularly on “place,” enabling its most radical move: its analysis of Black racial politics as enactments of English cultural premises. The insistent focus on English culture implies a further twist. Just as Blacks are racialized through appeals to their assumed Afro-Caribbean and African cultures, so too has Liverpool–an Irish, working-class city whose expansive port faces the world beyond Britain–long been beyond the pale of dominant notions of authentic Englishness. Dropping Anchor, Setting Sail studies “race” through clashing constructions of “Liverpool.”

Read the entire first chapter for free here in HTML or PDF format.  Excerpts are below.

“TO UNDERSTAND Black people, you’ve got to understand Liverpool.” So argued my friend Scott, a sixty-year-old Black man born and raised in that city…

…In the midst of describing the center’s aims he stopped short, interrupting himself to say, “To understand Black people, you’ve got to understand Liverpool.” He explained that Stanley House was established by charitable White people.  But their charter referred to the children of African seamen and the White women to whom they were often married as “half-castes,” a much despised term now…

Variations of that question were being posed in seaports all over Britain and in the overlapping arenas of social work, philanthropy, and academia, which would, in the mid to late nineteenth century, include physical anthropology and ethnology.  In contrast to eighteenth-century British ideas about human variation, which considered religion and clothing as key indices of civilization and posited climate as an explanation of different human potentials, the 1840s saw the emergence of a more biological argument (Wheeler 2000; Hamer 1996).  Physical types, which were correlated with areas of geographic origin, became the basis of racial distinctions and served to explain differential human capacities. Classificatory schema abounded. In this respect, Brontë’s mysterious, somewhat monstrous representation of the racially ambiguous Heathcliff is intriguing; it accords with the fearful image of the half-caste conjured up in Gothic literature and other discursive contexts.  As H. L. Malchow provocatively explains, “[O]ne may define [the Gothic] genre by characteristics that resonate strongly with racial prejudice, imperial exploration and sensational anthropology—themes and images that are meant to shock and terrify, that emphasize chaos and excess, sexual taboo and barbarism, and a style grounded in techniques of suspense and threat” (1996: 102).  Just as the unpredictable and brooding Heathcliff posed an ever-present danger, so too were the “hundreds of half-caste children” in 1920s Cardiff said to have “vicious tendencies.” These children also confused the categories of science, exhibiting, according to the press, a “disharmony of physical traits and mental characteristics” (Rich 1986: 131). In an era when science had attained unprecedented legitimacy (Lorimer 1996), the racially ambiguous or mixed person was a threat to the social order. Again, Malchow writes, “The terms ‘half-breed’ and ‘half-caste’ are double, hyphenated constructions resonating with other linguistic inadequacies and incompletes—with ‘half-wit’ or ‘half-dead’, with ‘half-naked’ or ‘half-truth’, and of course with ‘half-civilized’” (1996: 104). The person of mixed race was a pathology to be studied from both literary and “scientific” points of view. Their sexuality was of particular concern. It was one thing to be born of immoral unions in immoral circumstances; but as freaks of nature themselves, what moral predilections would they reproduce? Could they reproduce? (Malchow 1996; Young 1995)…

…Into a milieu defined, at the very least, by the above-described dynamics of colonialism, race, nationality, place, sexuality, class, and gender entered one Muriel Fletcher, infamous in present-day Liverpool for a study she conducted in 1928 under the auspices of the Liverpool Association for the Welfare of Half- Caste Children. Fletcher was trained in social research at the Liverpool University School of Social Science, where her circle included eugenicist anthropologists (Rich 1986).  The subjects of Fletcher’s research were White women who were formerly involved with African men and their “half-caste” children. She published her conclusions in Report on an Investigation into the Colour Problem in Liverpool and Other Ports. Ultimately, the Fletcher Report, as it is commonly called, concludes that “the colour problem” in that city owed not to the racist structuring of British society, the ideologies promulgated by the British state and its institutions, nor those circulating within Liverpool’s social welfare establishment, nor to the everyday racism of White Liverpudlians who routinely subjected colored seamen to violence. Rather, Fletcher attributed the colour problem in Liverpool to African seamen. It would be hard to state emphatically enough how thoroughly racial politics in Liverpool/Britain reflect the legacy of the Fletcher Report….

…The African man creates the White woman’s problems, while they both create the myriad crises said to befall their “half-caste” children. Fletcher uses the term half-caste in various ways. At times she distinguishes between “Anglo-Negroid” and “Anglo-Chinese” children; yet both of these groups belong to the half-caste category. Fletcher remarks at the outset, however, that “Anglo-Chinese” children are quite well-adjusted.  Since they pose no problem, we need not hear anything more about them.  As well, in the early pages, Fletcher uses the term Anglo-Negroid for children of African men and White women.  In detailing the minute phenotypical features of “half-caste” children, the Fletcher Report marks some of them “English,” as in “30 per cent. had English eyes… A little over 50 per cent. had hair negroid in type and colour. 25 per cent. had English, while the remaining 25 per cent. exhibited some curious mixtures… About 12 per cent. had lips like the average English child” (27).   She refers to these children’s social characteristics in similar terms. While she does not suggest that biological inheritance is at work, the children nevertheless manifest a troubling duality, exhibiting the worst trait of each parent.  Here speaking about “half-caste” girls, Fletcher argues, “From her mother the half-caste girl is liable to inherit a certain slackness, and from her father a happy-go-lucky attitude towards life” (34). The problems of half-caste children are not of their own making, then. They are victims. They attend earnestly to their schoolwork and seem amiable enough. But the immorality that characterizes their home life, given the low character of both parents, cannot help but be reproduced in these hapless children….

Read the entire first chapter for free here in HTML or PDF format.

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Some Anthropological Characteristics of Anglo-Negro Children

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, United Kingdom on 2012-06-07 02:49Z by Steven

Some Anthropological Characteristics of Anglo-Negro Children

The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland
Volume 73, Numbers 1/2 (1943)
pages 57-73

K. L. Little, M.A., Ph.D.
The Duckworth Laboratory
University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Cambridge

I. Introduction

Although fairly large Negro communities have been in existence in Liverpool, Cardiff, London and other ports of the kingdom since the time of the Great War, very little advantage has so far been taken of the opportunities ostensibly available there for the study of racial mixture. The work of Miss R. M. Fleming (1939), who examined a large number of Anglo-Negro and other crosses, mainly in Liverpool, is an exception, but she designed her investigations more from the standpoint of family than of group inheritance. In the present inquiry, which was carried out during a series of visits to Cardiff, Hull and Liverpool in the summer months of 1941, 1942, and 1943, an attempt has been made—so far as the nature of the material allows—to examine certain aspects of mixture on linen more familiar to the anthropologist. The data presented relate to groups rather than to individuals. Perhaps a word on the methodological implications of this point may be permitted. It is evident, in the popular discussion of the topic, that a great deal of confusion has arisen in this country, as well as elsewhere, through failure to appreciate the significance of individual, as opposed to group, situations. Yet the issue is quite plain, provided its nature is understood. Since the term “race” is essentially a concept relating to a group of people, it is incorrect to speak of certain results following from racial mixture unless such results can be shown as well marked characteristics of a “hybrid” population, regarded not as the product of individuals genetically more or less unrelated to each other, but as the product of racially unrelated groups of individuals. This significant distinction has been made somewhat pungently by Ruth Benedict (1942) in a book in which she points out that miscegenation, like race, is an abstraction: the mating of two persona is a reality. It is possible, also, that a great deal of unnecessary controversy, as well as confusion, would be obviated if it was realised more widely that biological differences between individual members of the same racial group are usually greater than the differences between typical individuals representing different racial groups. Marked “overlapping ” in anthropological characteristics is nearly always found in comparisons between different populations, even when they are racially quite distinct.

The urgency of clarification of this matter needs to be emphasised. Until the biological and sociological aspects of the problem are recognised as quite separate parts of the field, and until the problem has been shorn of biological mysticism, the study of racial mixture in this country, considered as a topic concerning human biology, will remain a difficult and unenviable task for the investigator.

II. Anthropometric Criteria Employed

The data which are analysed in the following Tables and Figures relate to some 460 male and female ” English” and Anglo-Negro children, the offspring of members of the seafaring communities of the ports mentioned. Most of these subjects were living in Cardiff and Liverpool, and they had an environment, in their dockland habitat, which is not unlike that of other children of the same social and economic class as themselves. On nearly all these subjects some two dozen measurements and a number of observations regarding the colours of hair, eye and skin, and the condition of the teeth, were taken. The object of the investigation was to compare the Anglo-Negro (“hybrid”) and ” English ” populations in terms of the central tendency, variation and growth of physical characters. The latter sample may reasonably be regarded as being made up by juvenile representatives of one of the parental stocks from which the former was derived.   As wide an assortment of characters as was practicable was employed, and having regard to the racial elements concerned—-i.e. Negroid and Caucasoid — special attention was paid to features such as nasal breadth and shape, thickness of lip, colour of skin, etc., which make the clearest distinction between the parental groups. In view of the relative consistency of environmental factors, it was thought best to include for secondary consideration some of the more modifiable characters such as stature, height sitting, and weight…

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