The celebration of “both worlds” in terms of black mixed heritage persons has always been problematic in relation to it being a rather superficial exercise…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2011-12-31 20:51Z by Steven

Consequently, the celebration of “both worlds” in terms of black mixed heritage persons has always been problematic in relation to it being a rather superficial exercise, limited to one’s inner circle of family and friends. It is pretty obvious that most persons of black mixed heritage will hold a deep love for a parent that happens to be white, yet to suggest that having a white parent alone can mean having a stake in whiteness does not hold true with the historical and contemporary experiences of racism. So why is this “best of both worlds” promoted? Maybe because it is a way to bring racialised groups together? Yet often it can actually further divide. For example, it is common knowledge among transracial adoption agencies that children of black mixed heritage are over-populated in the foster care system (McVeigh 2008). Does this not give an indication that black mixed heritage persons are not particularly popular when born? Maybe, or it could be that the experience of some white parents of black mixed heritage children is so difficult that they have no choice but to give them up for adoption. This again leads us to the notion that racialised harmony is a myth when it comes to analysing the growth of black mixed heritage persons as being synonymous with racial progress in society. Somewhere in this espoused perspective lurks an insidious anomaly, especially when we consider the socio-economic plight of black communities throughout the UK as still largely suffering higher levels of unemployment and discrimination compared to their white counterparts.

Mark Christian, “Mixing Up the Game: Social and Historical Contours of Black Mixed Heritage Players in British Football,” in Race, Ethnicity and Football: Persisting Debates and Emergent Issues, ed. Daniel Burdsey, (London: Routledge, 2011): 140.


Race, Ethnicity and Football: Persisting Debates and Emergent Issues

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2011-12-31 20:40Z by Steven

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 first edited collection dedicated specifically to race, ethnicity and British football, this book brings together a range of academics, comprising both established commentators and up-and-coming voices. Combining theoretical and empirical contributions, the volume will addresses a wide variety of topics such as the experiences of Muslims, the recruitment of African players, devolution and national identities, case studies of minority ethnic clubs, “mixed-race” players, multiculturalism and anti-racism, sectarianism, education, and foreign club ownership. Covering the both amateur and professional spheres, and focusing on both players and supporters, the book elucidates the linkages between race, ethnicity, gender and masculinity.


  • Introduction
    • 1. They Think It’s All Over…It Isn’t Yet! The Persistence of Structural Racism and Racialised Exclusion in Twenty-First Century Football Daniel Burdsey
  • Racialised Exclusions and ‘Glocal’ Im/mobilities
    • 2. ‘Dark Town’ and ‘A Game for Britishers’: Some Notes on History, Football and ‘Race’ in Liverpool John Williams
    • 3. Is Football the New African Slave Trade? Colin King
    • 4. Football, Racism and the Irish David Hassan and Ken McCue
  • Contested Fields and Cultural Resistance
    • 5. Racisms, Resistance and New Youth Inclusions: The Socio-Historical Development and Shifting Focus of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Football Clubs in Leicester Steven Bradbury
    • 6. What is Rangers Resisting Now? ‘Race’, Resistance and Shifting notions of Blackness in Local Football in Leicester Paul Campbell
    • 7. British Muslim Female Experiences in Football: Islam, Identity and the Hijab Aisha Ahmad
  • ‘New’ Ethnicities and Emergent Communities
    • 8. Flying the Flag for England? National Identities and British Asian Female Footballers Aarti Ratna
    • 9. Mixing Up the Game: Social and Historical Contours of Black Mixed Heritage Players in British Football Mark Christian
    • 10. ‘Tough Talk’, Muscular Islam and Football: Young British Pakistani Muslim Masculinities Samaya Farooq
  • The Cultural Politics of Fandom
    • 11. The Limits to Cosmopolitanism: English Football Fans at Euro 2008 Peter Millward
    • 12. ‘Wot, No Asians?’: West Ham United Fandom, the Cockney Diaspora and the ‘New’ East Enders Jack Fawbert
    • 13. ‘They Sing That Song’: Sectarianism and Conduct in the Informalised Spaces of Scottish Football John Flint and Ryan Powell
  • Equity, Anti-Racism and the Politics of Campaigning
    • 14. Negative Equity? Amateurist Responses to Race Equality Initiatives in English Grass-Roots Football Jim Lusted
    • 15. Football, Racism and the Limits of ‘Colour Blind’ Law: Revisited Simon Gardiner and Roger Welch
    • 16. Marrying Passion with Professionalism: Examining the Future of British Asian Football Kuljit Randhawa
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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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When examining the issue of multiracial identity, it is important to understand the legacy of white supremacy.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2011-05-09 03:48Z by Steven

When examining the issue of multiracial identity, it is important to understand the legacy of white supremacy.  It is a theory and practice based on the irrational opinion that white Europeans (mainly Anglo-Saxon and Northern European origin) are inherently superior to non-Anglo-Saxon origin peoples—particularly those of African and Asian ancestry.  Moreover, it is also a theory and practice that hover over the subject and analysis of miscegenation.  Absurd as it is, we have an approximate 500-year history of European domination and subjugation of African and Asian peoples, yet wherever Europeans have colonised they have sexually intermingled with the indigenous populations.  Apart from this obvious paradox, it is a taboo subject that should be exposed, yet rarely does this occur in an academic sense.

Mark Christian. Multiracial Identity: An International Perpective (Palgrave: Hampshire, England, 2000), p 105.

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Multiracial Identity: An International Perspective by Mark Christian [Book Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, United Kingdom, United States on 2011-03-20 04:46Z by Steven

Multiracial Identity: An International Perspective by Mark Christian [Book Review]

Journal of Black Studies
Volume 32, Number 2 (November 2001)
pages 261-264
DOI: 10.1177/002193470103200206

Molefi Kete Asante, Professor of African American Studies
Temple University

Multiracial Identity: An International Perspective, by Mark Christian. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.

Mark Christian has written a perceptive, enlightening account of the international politics of racial identity. Here is the first example of a scholarly approach, using African agency, to the issue of race and identity in the United Kingdom and the United States. Thus, what Christian has given us is not so much a comparative discussion of multiracial identity but a discourse on the meaning of the term multiracial identity given the social and political history of the United Kingdom and the United States. It is easy to understand why this theme has not been attempted before Multiracial Identity. It is a difficult subject to plow through given the many stumps that stick out of the political ground to halt the would-be interpreter. Christian showed an unusual courage in taking on this deeply complicated subject. He has simply burst the bubble of racial quietude in both the United Kingdom and the United States by demonstrating how the concept of multiracial identity is wrapped up in the idea of White supremacy. Racism in Britain, we also discover, is hardly different from racism in the United States and other parts of the world. Although there have been British intellectuals in the past eager to suggest that Britain was categorically more progressive in its race relations than the United States or South Africa, Christian has shown that racism is an international phenomenon. This book is important if for no other reason than the fact that Christian has taught us that the elements of racism that appear pervasive and all too common in America’s national life occur with regularity in Britain and other nations as well. This is a profound point. He has demonstrated a broad and deep appreciation of the difference between Britain and the United States while recognizing that there is a commonality of the engine of racial animosity. Both societies operate on the basis of White racial supremacy. Furthermore, British…

Read or purchase the review here.

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BBC Two explores what it means to be mixed-race in Britain

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom, Videos, Women on 2011-03-16 04:27Z by Steven

BBC Two explores what it means to be mixed-race in Britain

British Broadcasting Corporaton

Mixed-Race Britain is put under the spotlight this autumn on BBC Two in a collection of revealing and compelling new programmes.

Britain in 2011 has proportionately the largest mixed population in the Western world, but 100 years ago people of mixed race lived on the fringes of British society, an invisible community unacknowledged by the wider world.

With an exciting mix of drama and documentaries, the programmes provide a window into the varied and surprising lives of mixed-race people in the UK and help us understand what the increasing rise in mixed-race people means for the way we live now in Britain.

…Leading the programming is Shirley Bassey—A Very British Diva (working title), an intimate and revealing drama that tells the extraordinary life story of Dame Shirley Bassey—one of Britain’s national treasures and one of the world’s most enduring and successful divas. But her rise from poverty to international stardom is no ordinary rags-to-riches story…

In a three-part series, journalist and TV presenter George Alagiah leads viewers through the remarkable and untold story of how Britain’s mixed-race community has become part of everyone’s lives today. With previously unseen footage and unheard testimony, Mixed Britannia (working title) uncovers a tale of illicit love, marriage, children, tragedy and triumph.

Charting events from the turn of the 20th century to the present day, George explores the social factors that have influenced the shape of the mixed-race Britain we see today.

He’ll find out about the flourishing love between merchant seamen and liberated female workers during the First World War; how the British eugenics movement physically examined mixed-race children in the name of science; how pioneering white couples—including English aristocrats—adopted mixed-race babies; and how Britain’s mixed-race population exploded with the arrival of people from all over the globe—making them the fastest-growing ethnic group in the UK.

Mixed—Sex, Race And Empire is a one-off documentary exploring the social, sexual, economic and political issues that led to the race mixing of people across the world. From India to West Africa via South America and the USA, this programme reflects upon the stories and consequences of racial mixing across the world…

Read the entire press release here.

Notes from Steven F. Riley.

For some early 20th century background material on the topics covered in Mixed Britannia, see:

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More Than Black? Multiracial Identity and the New Racial Order [Book Review: Christian]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2010-07-31 20:29Z by Steven

More Than Black? Multiracial Identity and the New Racial Order [Book Review: Christian]

The Western Journal of Black Studies
Volume 27, Number 4 (2003)
pages 279-280

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

This book comes out the school of thought that advocates for the “multiracial identity” classification in the US. More Than Black? Multiracial Identity and the New Racial Order offers a postmodern analysis of “race” and issues a call for the acknowledgement of what can be deemed the multifaceted racialized heritages of many Black peoples located in the African Diaspora. In this sense the book offers little other than what is largely akeady known. Indeed many peoples of African descent do have claim to other heritages. For example it is broadly accepted now that at least two-thirds of African Americans have some Native American and European heritage. However, it is erroneous to run away with this idea as if it is the sole criteria for establishing a “new racial order” based on what is in fact unlikely to have any impact on white supremacy and its continued dominance over the socially constructed “peoples of color.”…

Read or purchase the book review here.

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