Postcolonial London: Rewriting the Metropolis

By John McLeod | Go to book overview

3

Living room

Buchi Emecheta, Joan Riley and Grace Nichols

During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s several black communities in London formed a number of political organizations, some of them short-lived, which became active in resisting racial discrimination in housing and employment, and - most explosively - at the hands of the police on the streets, whose behaviour was deemed increasingly racist and hostile. These groups included the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination (CARD) established in 1965, Michael X's Racial Action Adjustment Society (RAAS) created in the same year, and the United Coloured People's Association (UCPA) formed in 1967 by Nigerian playwright Obi Egbuna under the influence of the Black Power movement in the United States. The 1970s heralded the formation of organizations such as the Black Unity and Freedom Party (BUFP). Coincident with these initiatives were organizations created by black women specifically about black women's experiences, condition and values. Although they worked alongside other black groups and feminist organizations, their existence was often a response to the chauvinism and insensitivity to gender allegedly discovered amongst black men, and the predominantly middle-class orientation of white British feminism which did not recognize racial discrimination as a priority or 'the boundaries of sisterhood in the overall struggle' (Ramdin 1999:256). As regards London, these groups included Brixton's Black Women's Group (BWG) formed in 1973 (and which launched London's first Black Women's Centre in 1979), the Organisation of Women of Asian and African Descent (OWAAD) created in 1978, and the Southall Black Sisters set up by women of Asian descent in 1979 (Sivanandan 1982; Bryan, Dadzie and Scafe 1985; Ramdin 1999; Donnell 2002).

These groups were fundamentally important to the politicizing and organizing of black women in London, and their efforts were expended against both the discriminatory practices visited upon black communities and - especially as regards black women's movements - gendered inequalities within them. The Southall Black Sisters offered crucial support to those

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Postcolonial London: Rewriting the Metropolis
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Making a Song and Dance 24
  • 2 - London, England 59
  • 3 - Living Room 93
  • 4 - Babylon's Burning 126
  • 5 - Millennial Currents 158
  • Coda 189
  • Bibliography 195
  • Index 205
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