Political Blackness and British Asians
AbstractIn the 1980s a political concept of blackness was hegemonic, but is increasingly having to be defended, even within the sociology of race. This is to be welcomed and seven reasons are given why the concept harms British Asians. The use of `black' encourages a `doublespeak'. It falsely equates racial discrimination with colour-discrimination and thereby obscures the cultural antipathy to Asians and therefore of the character of the discrimination they suffer. `Black' suggests also a false essentialism: that all non-white groups have something in common other than how others treat them. The fourth reason is that `black', being evocative of people of African origins, understates the size, needs and distinctive concerns of Asian communities. Fifthly, while the former can use the concept for purposes of ethnic pride, for Asians it can be no more than `a political colour', leading to a too politicised identity. Indeed, it cannot but smother Asian ethnic pride-the pride which is a precondition of group mobilisation and assertiveness. Finally, advocates of `black' have tried to impose it on Asians rather than seek slower methods of persuasion, with the result that the majority of Asians continue to reject it. The new emphasis on multi-textured identities is therefore encouraging, as long as we are not simply exchanging a political for a cultural vanguardism.