White Representations of Black Identity and the Emergence of the Racialised Ghetto in Post Second World War British Cities
White representations of Black identity and the emergence of the racialised ghetto in post Second World War British cities Professor Barbara Bush (Sheffield Hallam University, UK) Caribbean migrants were marginalised in poorer districts of British cities. In redefining national identity in a period of imperial decline, these new racialised 'ghettoes' were perceived as a threat to white culture and reinforced racial myths about black culture. The development of racialised boundaries in Britain, and the 'race relations' discourse they generated, occurred in a decade when race was a burning issue on the international agenda following the introduction of Apartheid in South Africa and the growth of Civil Rights struggles in the USA. The emergence of the 'dark side' of the city thus evoked fears of U.S. style racial segregation and ghetto formation in Britain, which liberal England was keen to dispel. The reality of black lives in Britain, however, contradicted this multiracial, integrationist vision. This paper explores the creation of the symbolic ghetto in white imagination. It argues that, despite official commitment to multiculturalism and equality within diversity, the experiences of racialised urban residents in Britain and the U.S. have converged rather than diverged. 'Ghettos' have endured as a defensive area for British Caribbean communities who still experience racism but the Asian communities of Northern English towns and 'illegal immigrants' have revived debates about racial segregation and white racial hostility, now increasingly defined by Islamophobia, persists. Thus enduring problems remain relating to racialised identities of minority communities and respect for cultural diversity and equality of citizenship rights across all communities in contemporary multicultural Britain.
Keywords: Racial segregation, Racialised discourses, Ghetto, Racial exclusions, Cultural diversity and citizenship, Multiculturalism, Liberal race discourse, Race relations, Cultural identities
Prof. Barbara Jean Bush
Professor of Imperial History, Department of History, Sheffield Hallam University