A Color Problem in England

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, Social Work, United Kingdom on 2012-06-07 01:05Z by Steven

A Color Problem in England

The Journal of the American Medical Association
Volume 95, Number 3 (1930-07-19)
Foreign Letters: London Letter
pages 210-211
DOI: 10.1001/jama.1930.02720030040020

From Our Regular Correspondent (1930-06-21)

There is no color line in England such as exists in America. This does not mean that the English do not appreciate differences of race. They are keen on such differences, even between European races, and often contrast the Latin races with themselves. They are by no means without race prejudices but at the same time they have a strong tendency to take a man for what he is, regardless of race or of color. His color may arouse prejudice but this may be overcome when he is known. This absence of a color line has given rise to a color problem. The great seaport of Liverpool is frequented by seamen of many races, including Chinese and many Negroes from West Africa. The cohabitation of these races with the women of the city has given rise to a half-caste population. The number of Anglo-Negroid families is about 450 and the children born of this union amount to about 1,350. On the other hand, the Anglo-Chinese children do not provide any particular problem. The Anglo-Chinese child is declared to be mentally equal if not superior to the white, and since coloring and features are far less distinctive than those of the Anglo-Negroids they are not such a handicap. Further, the family life appears to be stable, the man remaining faithful to one woman though not married to her. The Anglo-Negroid family is far different. A Liverpool association for the welfare of half-caste children has been formed. The chairman, Prof. P. M. Roxby, says that the conditions under which colored seamen from West Africa enter Liverpool are a social menace and detrimental to the best interests of blacks and whites alike.

Miss Muriel E. Fletcher has for nearly two years been occupied with an inquiry for the association into the condition of half-caste children in Liverpool, where they are more numerous than in any other port. Of the Anglo-Negroid unions she says there is little harmony between the parents; the colored man generally despises the woman with whom he consorts, while the majority of the women have little affection for the men. They regret their union but stay for the sake of the children. The mothers are generally good to the children while they are small but later resent the fact that the children cannot get work and grudge having to keep them. The children find their lives full of conflict, and all the circumstances give undue prominence to sex. These families have a low standard of life morally and economically, and there appears to be little future for the children. They attend school in the poor districts and do not show any inferiority of health or proneness to infections compared with white children. The balance of evidence is that their intelligence is below the average. Their relations with the white children are friendly but they begin to feel outcast when they leave school and this feeling develops rapidly. There is no evidence that they have any special delinquent tendencies, but all their circumstances give undue prominence to sex. Owing to their unemployment, fondness of dress and finery, and the persistence of men, it is practically impossible for them to remain chaste, even if they desire to do so. As employers are unwilling to engage colored labor, the association has tried training schemes for colored girls but with limited success. It is thought that a larger and more intensive scheme might have greater success. It has been suggested that the obvious solution of the difficulty is to replace colored firemen by white on all British ships coming to this country, but the shipowners say that white men could not work in the heat of the stokeholds on the West Coast of Africa. However, the National Union of Seamen denies this. Other suggestions are the signing on of men in Africa so that they would be obliged to take the round trip and receive no pay in this country, and greater discrimination in the issue of British passports.

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Upfront (With Guests Mark Christian and Anna Rothery)

Posted in Audio, Live Events, New Media, Social Science, United Kingdom, United States on 2012-06-04 02:34Z by Steven

Upfront (With Guests Mark Christian and Anna Rothery)

BBC Radio: Merseyside

Phina Oruche, Host


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

Anna Rothery, Councillor
Liverpool City Council, Princes Park Ward

Host Phina Oruche discusses the current state of the African diaspora in the United States and Britain with Dr. Mark Christian and Liverpool Councilor Anna Rothery. Dr. Christian is author of the book Multiracial Identity: An International Perspective, the chapter “Mixing Up the Game: Social and Historical Contours of Black Mixed Heritage Players in British Football” in the anthology Race, Ethnicity and Football: Persisting Debates and Emergent Issues, and article “The Fletcher Report 1930: A Historical Case Study of Contested Black Mixed Heritage Britishness.”

Download the interview here (00:18:27/15.0 MB).

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Children of the banished dragon

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2012-05-18 19:24Z by Steven

Children of the banished dragon

The Daily Post
Liverpool, England

Lew Baxter

Lew Baxter reports on a shameful episode after World War II when Chinese sailors who had risked their lives for Britain were deported back to China, many leaving behind distraught British wives and children.

Even 60 years later, tears and trauma trail in the wake of a callous official decision to forcibly repatriate hundreds of Chinese seamen who helped crew the British merchant fleets on the dangerous Atlantic wartime convoys ensuring the country’s vital lifeline.

Hundreds of other Chinese sailors lost their lives in those bitterly cold waters.

As a result of Home Office policy of the time, families were broken up and many of the British-born wives and children left behind became destitute, some women even thought of suicide as a way out of their misery. Others remarried and tried to forget the past. Many believed their husbands had deserted them and, for years, explained away their embarrassment by claiming they had drowned at sea.

The truth is much harsher and more brutal.

From October 1945 to July 1946, hundreds of Chinese sailors were rounded up, largely in Liverpool—quite a few at night by crack squads of police led by Special Branch—and repatriated. In reality, almost 5,000 were sent back to China under specially altered directives that affected their landing rights.

Their children—at least 450—were told little of their fathers, or that they were dead or had left, others were adopted by strangers who knew nothing of their background. Their early lives were cloaked in mystery and confusion.

Today the story of these perfidious and shabby deeds has been unearthed by the tenacity of a small number of these lost children of the Chinese dragons.

A memo locked away for decades in the Public Record Office in Kew—amongst a fascinating archive that reveals the shocking depth and extent of the iniquity—dated November 9 1945 reads: “I am directed by the Secretary of State to say that, with the ending of the war against Japan, deportation to China is likely to become possible before long and the Ministry of Transport will shortly be making available transport for the repatriation of Chinese now in this country.”

Many of the men had settled in Britain after “doing their duty” and had married local girls, particularly in Liverpool. There were hundreds of Eurasian children from these relationships and most of these sailors from Shanghai, Ningbo, Hong Kong and even Singapore assumed they had a right to remain in the country they had defended…

…It was the same mission that drove Yvonne Foley, who first learned of the facts after the BBC documentary and she became determined to trace her own background.

“My interest was stirred by that programme and I met Keith. We agreed to help each other. He gave me the names of others and there are now about nine of us. We have called ourselves the Dragons of the Pool,” says Yvonne, who has actually lived in Hong Kong and visited China many times. In many ways, the “dragons” are now a family forged out of a shared heartache.

In the wake of these post war deportations came awful distress and even attempted suicides amongst broken, distraught families: women who had no idea where their men had gone, some believing they had deserted them while generations of children never knew their fathers or their true bloodlines. Official records show that more than 230 married Chinese sailors were given no choice or chance to say goodbye to loved ones…

Read the entire article here or here.

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Eurasians: The First British Born Chinese?

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2012-05-18 18:04Z by Steven

Eurasians: The First British Born Chinese?

DimSum: The British Chinese community website

Yvonne Foley

I am a Eurasian.  I am the daughter of an English mother and a Shanghai father.  In traditional Chinese culture, having a Chinese father, I am regarded as being Chinese.

I am part of a community that has been around for over 100 years.  We pre-date by many decades what many people seem to think is the point at which Britains’ Chinese community came into being.  The 1950s, when people from Hong Kong’s New Territories started to come to the UK.

Our fathers’ origins

Chinese men started to settle down in Britain in the last years of the nineteenth century. Right from the start they seemed to have few problems in getting partners amongst the working class girls of the cities in which they settled. Not very surprising when up to World War Two and even beyond it marriage for a young woman could mean violence and the most desperate poverty.  John Chinaman, as he was called at the time, was clean, sober, hard working and a good father. And, of course, more often than not he was quite a handsome man!

But where did these men come from?  For many, the answer they gave to any official who asked was ‘Hong Kong’. But that tells us little.  A Chinese seaman had to take an English language test – unless he was from Hong Kong.  So there were few who were prepared to say that they were not from Hong Kong unless they had confidence in their English language skills!  Where they were actually from ranged from Hainan Island to Fukien and Tientsin.  But since Shanghai was by far the most important commercial city in China and its major port, it seems that many were recruited there and in the nearby city of Ningbo

Read the entire article here. For more information about Liverpool’s early Chinese Community, see http://www.halfandhalf.org.uk

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… the primary cause of the anxieties underlying the Coloured Alien Seamen Order moved far beyond employment issues in the shipping industry.

Posted in United Kingdom on 2012-02-27 01:13Z by Steven

While the British government was somewhat pressured by white seamen’s organisations to protect jobs for whites, the primary cause of the anxieties underlying the Coloured Alien Seamen Order moved far beyond employment issues in the shipping industry. As has been well-documented by several scholars, the effort to limit immigration of African seamen to Britain was fundamentally linked to growing unease with the social and sexual liaisons between white women and black seamen. According to Carina Ray (2009), the anxiety over interracial sexual relations was at the root of a massive repatriation campaign for black seamen in the interwar era. Jacqueline Nassy Brown’s work depicts the political backlash against black seamen within England at this time, having been identified as the root of the ‘colour problem’ and the degeneration of white women’s morality. To demonstrate the tone of the British public’s views on the subject of racial mixing, Brown cites the writings of Muriel Fletcher, a social scientist who conducted research on black seamen in Liverpool in 1928–30. As Fletcher wrote in the report of her findings:

In their own country they are not allowed to mix freely with white people or have relations with white women. Once having formed unions with white women in this country, they are perhaps loathe to leave England … In this country [the black seaman] is cut adrift from [tribal restrictions] before he has developed the restraint and control of Western Civilization. In Liverpool there is evidence to show that the negro tends to be promiscuous in his relations with white women. [Their] sexual demands impose a continual strain on white women.

Fletcher’s deepest fears, and indeed those of the British public at large, were linked to the ‘half-caste’ children born out of these unions and raised in an environment characterised by immorality. Far from being a marginal view, Fletcher’s findings have been identified as both constructive and representative of ‘systematic social and political disempowerment of Black people’ in Liverpool until the present (Christian 2008:238). According to Brown (2005:28), ‘It would be hard to state emphatically enough how thoroughly racial politics in Liverpool/Britain reflect the legacy of the Fletcher Report’. Indeed, studies from the 1980s and beyond confirmed the ongoing marginalisation and stigmatisation of the black and mixed-race community in Liverpool (Christian 2008:238).

Lynn Schler, “Becoming Nigerian: African Seamen, Decolonisation, and the Nationalisation of Consciousness,” Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, Volume 11, Issue 1, (April 2011): 46. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1754-9469.2011.01100.x.

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Black Liverpool, Black America, and the Gendering of Diasporic Space

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2011-10-20 04:46Z by Steven

Black Liverpool, Black America, and the Gendering of Diasporic Space

Cultural Anthropology
Volume 13, Issue 3 (August 1998)
pages 291–325
DOI: 10.1525/can.1998.13.3.291

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

The terms black Liverpool and black America, no less than the African diaspora, refer to racialized geographies of the imagination. The mapping of racial signifiers onto geographical ones lends such terms the illusion of referring to physical rather than social locations. That there is no actual space that one could call “the African diaspora,” despite how commonly it is mapped onto particular locales, points attention to the ways that social spaces are constructed in tandem with processes of racial formation…

Inspired by Paul Gilroy’s first book, There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation (1987), I set out in 1991 to study the meanings and practices surrounding “race” andnation in Liverpool, England. Set in a city with one of the longest-settled black populations in the United Kingdom, my research investigated why and how black identity is constituted as the mutual opposite of English and British identities. Yet in pursuing these themes, I became increasingly amazed at how frequently my informants would make discursive forays into “black America.” Nested at key moments in their narratives were references to the formative influence that black America—in many forms—has had on racial identity and politics in their city. The experiences they narrated were varied, and the narratives themselves were rich, poignant, and deeply gendered. Black Liverpudlians told of their relations with the black American servicemen (or “GIs”) who were stationed outside their city for some 25 years following World War II. Men and women also spoke about the travels of their own African, Afro-Caribbean, and native black Liverpudlian fathers who were employed as seamen by Liverpool shipping companies. The global wanderings of the city’s black men often brought them to black Atlantic ports of call-many in the United States. Narratives of black Liverpudlians’ diasporic encounters also referred to the emigration of local women to the mythical place called “black America.” Finally, and crucially, men and women told of how and why they have accessed the many black American cultural productions that have, for decades, circulated around the social space of black Liverpool.

Setting Sail: The Birth of Liverpool’s Black Community

When black Liverpudlians narrate their history, three themes often emerge. The first concerns the participation of black men in the city’s shipping industry; the second concerns the birth of the black population-a process narrated with special reference to the prevalence of interracial  marriage in Liverpool; and the third concerns the transformation of their racial identity from “half-caste” to “black.” These related processes, to be examined briefly below, have given rise to the contemporary form of black Liverpudlians’ local and racial identities…

African seamen, as has been suggested, are heralded in Liverpool for essentially giving birth to the black community. Yet they are also noted for setting another phenomenon into motion: the institution of interracial marriage. The prevalence of interracial marriage is a crucial theme in narratives on local history. During their careers at sea, African men commonly docked in Liverpool’s port, formed romantic relationships with local women, mostly white, and later married them, had children, retired from seafaring, and settled in the city—so the dominant narrative goes, both in social scientific and local discourse. Diane Frost’s recent explanation is exemplary of the former. She writes,

Transient work patterns that derive from the nature of seafaring… led to short-term relationships with local women. Permanent and long-standing relationships with local women through marriage (formal or common-law) usually occurred when these seamen became permanently domiciled in Liverpool or in some cases this became a reason for gaining domicile. [1995-96:51]

Several black Liverpudlians told me of a much earlier study of this phenomenon. Published in 1930, it was written by an anthropologist named Muriel Fletcher and given the revealing title Report on an Investigation into the Colour Problem in Liverpool and Other Ports (Fletcher 1930). Mark Christian marks the publication of “the Fletcher Report” as the dawn of philanthropic racism in Liverpool because it expressed “concern” both for the “morally degenerate” white women who consorted with African seamen, and for their haplessly pathological “half-caste” children (1995-96). The sexualized interpretation of seafaring lends specificity to the racialization not only of interracial unions, but also of the children born of them.

Major and minor publications on blacks in Liverpool always condemn the Fletcher Report for essentially developing a non-category (“neither black nor white”) to speak of blacks of mixed racial parentage. Their struggles to overcome that inscription is an absolutely central theme in black Liverpudlian accounts of the way they became black. While some blacks of mixed parentage specifically cite black American influences on the rise of a black identity in Liverpool, the blacks I knew with two black parents tended to boast that “we were always ‘black’ in our family”—speaking somewhat disparagingly, perhaps, of those who took longer to claim that identity. Yet the narratives of black Liverpudlians of mixed parentage reveal the difficulty of that process, for these Liverpudlians indicated rather painfully that their African fathers, whom they said they looked to for racial identity, often perceived their children as racially different than themselves. Blacks of mixed parentage in Liverpool commonly reported that their African fathers referred to them as “half-caste.” While this is not the place to historicize the term, we must grant the obvious possibility that West African societies colonized by the British were heavily influenced by Victorian constructions of “race” that were characterized by a concern for “purity” (Lorimer 1978). African informants in Liverpool reported that they, too, grew up with the term, and never recognized it as derogatory. A relatively recent immigrant to England explained, “Growing up in Nigeria, it was acceptable to call people of mixed race ‘half-caste’ because to a lot of Nigerians it was not an abusive term. It was purely a biological description of somebody who comes from a mixed race.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Fletcher Report 1930: A Historical Case Study of Contested Black Mixed Heritage Britishness

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive, Social Science, Social Work, United Kingdom on 2011-10-07 02:42Z by Steven

The Fletcher Report 1930: A Historical Case Study of Contested Black Mixed Heritage Britishness

Journal of Historical Sociology
Volume 21, Issue 2-3 (August 2008)
Pages 213 – 241
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6443.2008.00336.x

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

This article examines a controversial report that focused negatively on mixed heritage children born and raised in the city of Liverpool. The official title was: Report on an Investigation into the Colour Problem in Liverpool and Other Ports. The social researcher was Muriel E. Fletcher, who had been trained in the Liverpool School of Social Science at The University of Liverpool in the early 1920s.  The report was published in 1930 amid controversy for its openly stigmatizing content of children and mixed heritage families of African and European origin.  It could be deemed the official outset in defining Liverpool’s ‘half castes’ as a problem and blight to the “British way of life” in the city.

…Numerous ‘intellectual’ views held by white commentators, either consciously or unconsciously, or even a mixture of the two if we take the example of Ralph Williams, related to racialised discourse and they appear to have had a strong bearing on the complex nature of the anti-Black riots in 1919 Liverpool.  An outcome of this was to further stigmatise Black-white sexual relations in which the offspring of those liaisons were effectively branded as less-than human, degenerate, only to be despised and scorned by mainstream society.  Again, imbued in the rhetoric, was the notion of hybridity between Black-white unions being anomalous, which echoed the philosophy of the Eugenics Movement in Britain (Park 1930; Searle 1976: 43)….

…The aftermath of the anti-black riots in 1919 saw the problem of ‘half-caste’ children in Liverpool take on greater significance and the issue developed into a much discussed and analysed topic (King and King 1938; Rich 1984, 1986; Wilson 1992).  The debates engendered ‘intellectual’ legitimisation of racialised ideology that effectively produced a climate of opinion that sought to reduce the sexual interaction between Black and white people.  The corollary of this was to further stigmatise the mixed heritage population as a social problem that society had to be rid.  Some of the key racialised stereotypes associated with the term ‘half-caste’ will be made clearer through an examination of key Liverpool-based philanthropic organizations, which were set up to deal specifically with the ‘social problem’ caused by the progeny of Black and white relationships…

…Arguably, in relation to the Liverpool Black experience, the pivotal stigmatising report to be published in the history of poor ‘race relations’ in Liverpool was in regard to mixed heritage children and their family structure. Muriel E. Fletcher (1930), who had the full backing of Ms. Rachel Fleming, a prominent eugenicist (Jones 1982), and other contemporary pseudo-scientific intellectuals, conducted the research on behalf of the Liverpool Association for the Welfare of Half-Caste Children and published in 1930 a document entitled a Report on an Investigation into the Colour Problem in Liverpool and other Ports. It is a sociological report produced in the late 1920s and can be regarded as a nadir in the Liverpool mixed heritage population’s struggle to secure a positive social identity.  This ubiquitous racialised stigma was grounded in the eugenicist tradition of Sir Francis Galton (1822–1911) and the Eugenics Society. The society viewed humans in terms of being ‘inferior’ and ‘superior’ in stock (Jones 1982), and it is an overt philosophy throughout the report. Using eugenicist techniques, it is apparent that Fletcher attempted to study the physical and mental quality of ‘half-caste’ children.  Implicit in the research is the idea that the African and white British/European offspring were an anomaly in terms of human breeding. Eugenicists believed selective breeding could improve the physical and mental quality of humans by, e.g., ‘controlling’ the spread of inherited genetic abnormalities (which led in this era, 1920–1930s, to eugenics being abused by the Nazi Party in Germany to justify the extermination of thousands of ‘undesirable’ or mentally and physically ‘unfit’ humans)…

…Fletcher argued that ‘half-caste’ women were particularly vulnerable in Liverpool as they naturally consort with ‘coloured men’.  She maintains that ‘half-caste’ women were regarded as virtual social outcasts whose only escape from a life of perpetual misery was to marry a ‘coloured man’. As the opportunity in marrying a white man was, for a ‘half-caste’ woman, a near impossibility.  Again Fletcher points out:

Only two cases have been found in Liverpool of half-caste girls who have married white men, and in one of these cases the girl’s family forced the marriage on the man (1930a: 21).

It should be pointed out that this negative reflection of ‘half-caste’ girls in Liverpool is a major theme throughout the Fletcher Report.  Certainly the experience of mixed heritage women would require and deserves a study in itself, if only due to the significance and importance of highlighting the perspective of mixed heritage women in the history of Liverpool.  However, what is important here and central to this historical social research is to provide an insight into the racialised stigma that has impacted all individuals of mixed heritage in the Liverpool Black experience in terms of their collective social identity in the context of the city…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed Britannia – marrying an alien

Posted in Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom, Videos on 2011-10-03 16:56Z by Steven

Mixed Britannia – marrying an alien


George Alagiah, Host

Nearly 100 years ago, Chinese seaman Stanley Ah Foo arrived in Liverpool to start a new life. He soon fell in love—but laws at the time meant that his English bride, Emily, was only able to marry if she gave up her British nationality and became a so-called alien herself.

In Mixed Britannia—a new three-part series for BBC 2—George Alagiah explores the often untold stories of Britain’s mixed-race communities. He met Stanley and Emily Ah Foo’s daughters, Doreen and Lynne, who told the remarkable story of how their parents met, and the restrictions placed upon them.

The first episode of Mixed Britannia will be broadcast on BBC 2 at 20:00Z (21:00 BST) on Thursday, 2011-10-06.

View the video clip here (00:02:11).

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The Social Adjustment of Chinese Immigrants in Liverpool

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Social Science, Social Work, United Kingdom on 2011-08-26 23:51Z by Steven

The Social Adjustment of Chinese Immigrants in Liverpool

The Sociological Review
Volume 3, Issue 1 (July 1955)
pages 65-75
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.1955.tb01045.x

Maurice Broody

Some of the most urgent social problems of a cosmopolitan seaport city like Liverpool are problems of adjustment between ethnic minorities and the indigenous society into which they have migrated. This adjustment is often very difficult, and many immigrant communities suffer acutely as a result of prejudice and discrimination. Their problems have been the concern of both administrators and sociologists, and the research which has hitherto been undertaken in Liverpool into problems of race-relations has been related to the Negro communities, since it is they which are most adversely affected by racial discrimination.

The Chinese community, on the other hand, it interesting precisely because its adjustment is not regarded as a problem. In a report, which was published in 1930, Miss M.[uriel] Fletcher came to the conclusion that the Chinese, unlike the West African community, did not present a serious social problem. That judgment was confirmed four years later by Caradog Jones, whose comment on the Negro and Chinese communities still appears to be substantially true: Each community comprises about 500 adult males. In both cases, there has been widespread inter-marriage and cohabitation with white women. Here the resemblance between the two groups ceases. The Chinese appear to make excellent husbands and there is little evidence of any of their families falling into poverty, but the same cannot be said of the negroes and their families. 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.

The comparatively untroubled adjustment of the Chinese may be explained partly by the fact, that local residents do not discriminate…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Racialised relations in Liverpool: A contemporary anomaly

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2011-08-17 01:54Z by Steven

Racialised relations in Liverpool: A contemporary anomaly
Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Volume 17, Issue 4 (1991)
pages 511-537
DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.1991.9976265

Stephen Small, Associate Professor, African American Studies; Associate Director of the Institute of International Studies; Director, The Rotary International Center for Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution
University of California, Berkeley

The city of Liverpool stands out as an anomaly in the mapping of ‘racialised relations’ and the black experience in England. While it shares a number of continuities with other cities, it reveals several structural and cultural features which are absent or significantly at variance with patterns elsewhere. These include extreme residential segregation, a powerful white local sentiment and insular identity, and extremely virulent ‘racialised’ hostility. In addition, the black population is markedly different in its length of residence, its ethnic and national origins, the proportion of mixed parentage and the frequency of mixed dating and marriages. All of this has occurred in the context of regional deprivation scanning four decades.
The city of Liverpool stands out as an anomaly in the mapping of ‘racialised relations’ in England with regard to a number of structural, cultural and ideological features. The notion of an anomaly employed here refers to aspects of ‘racialised retations’, the black experience and the characteristics of the black population. In most analyses of the black experience in England, black people are correctly seen as immigrants of recent arrival, primarily Caribbean in origin, with the vast majority of families headed by two parents from the Caribbean (Daniel 1968; Smith 1977). These newcomers arrived almost exclusively to take up work in areas and industries with a demand for labour (Patterson 1963; Peach 1968; Rose et al 1969; pero 1971).

These characteristics simply do not apply to Liverpool. In Liverpool the vast majority of black people are indigenous, with many families resident over several generations (MAPG 1980; Liverpool Black Caucus 1986); it is a population which only a small proportion of West Indians, most being of African origin (Gifford 1989); and it is one characterised by frequent inter-dating with the white majority and a high proportion of mixed couples and marriages (Commission for Racial Equality 1989). In addition, the majority of black people in the city are of mixed origins (Gifford et al 1989; Ben-Tovim 1989). Black people did not settle there in response to a demand for labour, and they have never been the beneficiaries of an expanding economy (Caradog Jones 1940; Meegan 1989; Parkinson et al 1989).

But the city is not an island of activity unto itself and it is important to recognise the common features it shares with the black experience elsewhere in the country, in particular, the unrelenting ‘racialised’ discrimination, the confinement of black people to the most disadvantaged positions, and the hostility, indifference or inability of the majority population to combat this discrimination. Whether in employment or in housing, education or health, the private, voluntary or public sector, and in relations with the police, evidence from across the nation indicates that ‘racialised’ disadvantage is entrenched and discrimination continues unabated (Small 1984; Brown and Gay 1985; Smith 1989a; Rooney and McKain 1990; Interim Background Report 1991). The continuing impact of these obstacles has led to the charge of ‘uniquely horrific racism’ in the city (Gifford et al 1989: 82).

Both the continuities and the discontinuities are important and this combination makes it an aberrant case, an analysis of which has many implications for the study of ‘racialised relations’. The former because they underline the futility of analysing specific contexts in a vacuum; the latter because they belie the view that there are general solutions to general problems, reaffirming instead the need to find specific solutions 10 the particular manifestations of problems. The city is also important because of its symbolic significance as the longest standing black community in the country…

In this article I want to indicate why Liverpool is best considered as an anomaly and explain how it became one. I want to use the black experience in the city to make a broader contribution to theorising about ‘racisms’ and ‘race’. In so doing I will relate a story not previously told in full, or widely disseminated, and link this to broader debates on ‘racialised relations’ in England. This will highlight some of the limitations in general theories of ‘racialised relations’ and facilitate an examination of the interplay of local, regional, national and international contexts. The desirability of this has been emphasised in recent studies (Ouseley 1984; Boddy and Fudge 1984; Reeves 1989; Goldsmith 1989; Taylor 1989; Harloe et al 1990; Solomos and Back 1990; Ball and Solomos 1990), although most of the assumptions upon which these theories are based do not apply to Liverpool (Smith 1989b: 156). This is especially relevant as the pattern in Liverpool is suggestive of future developments elsewhere, as the black population becomes increasingly indigenous, socialised in England and young, and as patterns of inter-dating and inter-marriage increase (Brown 1984; Liverpool Black Caucus 1986; Smith 1989a; Ben-Tovim 1989).

All of this will be achieved in an approach that emphasises the ‘racialisation’ problematic (Banton 1977; Miles 1982; Jackson 1987; Small 1990c). I will argue that there is a need for considerable rethinking of theory about ‘racialised relations’. In particular, there is a need for a reassessment of ‘racial harmony’ and ‘racial parity’. This will also help advance our understanding of the interplay of ‘racisms’ and class relations, and emphasise the need to unravel the intricacies of this relationship empirically. I will address two specific omissions from existing analyses of ‘racisms’ and class relations. The first is a failure to extend detailed consideration to the nature and impact of the complex dynamic of ‘racialised’ attitudes and ideologies which help to structure relations between blacks and whites. A prime example of this dynamic is the matrix of meanings associated with inter-dating, and the pejorative category of ‘half-caste‘ in Liverpool (Fleming 1930; King and King 1938; McNeil 1948; Collins 1951, 1955; Richmond 1954; Manley 1955; Rich 1984a; Gifford ei al 1989; Wilson 1989)…

Liverpool’s black population…

…The majority of the black residents in Liverpool are indigenous while the majority of black people elsewhere in the country are immigrants (Brown 1984; Smith 1989a; Gifford et al 1989). Most studies date the establishment of the black community to the 1700s, though no doubt there were black individuals in the city before that date (Law and Henfry 1981; Fryer 1984). Liverpool thus has the longest standing and largest indigenous black population in the country. For the country as a whole, black people are becoming increasingly indigenous, but Liverpool is the only city with a major indigenous black community that dates back several generations. Even Bristol and Cardiff do not match it (Fryer 1984; Ramdin 1987). The best estimates place the population of the city with origins outside England in the region of 20,000 to 30,000 (4-6 per cent of the city) (Gifford et al 1989: 37). Some have estimated it to be closer to 40,000 (8 per cent) (MCRC 1980; Liverpool Black Caucus 1986: 17; Ben-Tovim 1989: 129). These figures include substantial numbers of Chinese, Arabs and Asians…

…The majority of black people elsewhere in the country have no immediate or apparent European origin and are presumed to be of exclusive African origins (in the sense of having two parents that are defined as ‘black’), while in Liverpool they are ‘Black People of Mixed Origins’. Again, it is currently impossible to say precisely how many are of mixed origins, but in Liverpool the notion of ‘British-born black’ is usually taken as synonymous with mixed origins (Commission for Racial Equality 1986; Gifford et al 1989; Ben-Tovim 1989: 129). This provides for a mixed population in Liverpool of between 7,400-11,100. This amounts to 37 per cent of the total population with origins outside England, and well over 50 per cent of the population of African origins (Commission for Racial Equality 1989; Gifford et al 1989: 37). Again, if we compare this with the nation as a whole we find that the population of mixed origins amounts to a far smaller proportion (Brown 1984).

The majority of black people elsewhere in the country live in households in which both parents are black, while Liverpool’s black population reveals a high incidence of mixed cohabitation and marriages. The majority of such families involves a white mother and a father who is black (or ‘Black of Mixed Origins’), The prima facie evidence for this is striking—it is invariably mentioned in all reports about the black presence in the city and is undisputed conventional wisdom—though again pinpointing numbers with any precision is not possible (Fletcher 1930a; MAPG 1980; Commission for Racial Equality 1986, 1989; Ben-Tovim 1989; Gifford et al 1989). This profile is in stark contrast to the other cities in which black people are to be found, and to the general settlement pattern of black people for the country as a whole (Bagley 1972, 1981). For England and Wales, Brown calculates that around 6 per cent of minority households involve mixed cohabitation or mixed marriages (1984: 21)…

…Historical background to the anomaly

Any explanation of the distinctive black experience in Liverpool must be located in the historical unfolding of migration and shipping, slavery and freedom, economics and employment, competition and conflict, and demography. Much of this has everything to do with ‘racisms’ of various kinds as evidenced in the coercion and exploitation of African people, the growth of the city on the basis of the slave trade, and the constraints imposed on its black residents (Clemens 1976; Ramdin 1987). But much of it has little to do with ‘racisms’, and is more directly impacted by broader structural developments, as in the changing balance of world trade, the establishment and growth of the European Economic Community and the vicissitudes of regional policy (Taylor 1989; Meegan 1989).

The slave trade made many in Liverpool prosperous, and forced the first black people there, as well as white slave owners and ideologies (Anstey and Hair 1976; Law and Henfry 1981). Black men outnumbered black women, which led to mixed relationships, inter-marriage and children (Richmond 1966; Rich 1984a, 1986). Shipping with Africa brought many black sailors there, and continues to do so (Lane 1990). The University and Polytechnic developed strength in maritime studies and continued to attract African students…

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