I have always felt that Brixton, London is the centre of the world for people of colour.Huh?!?
A collage of ethnicities form on Brixton's high street in the middle of any given day. As a newly-minted immigrant from Jamaica, it was here that I first saw a woman in a hijab driving a doubledecker bus.Oh, glorious diversity!
Brixton bears the weight of a chequered history – notoriously, for race-related riots in the 1980s. The names of streets – Coldharbour Lane, Electric Avenue, Acre Lane, to name a few – carry an edginess that captures the stories of generations of Brixtonians.I think he's only got one type of 'Brixtonian' in mind...
The themes have remained consistent through the years: from Coldharbour Lane describing basic accommodation offered to rough travellers in the 1800s; to Electric Avenue conveying the excitement of being the first street to be lit by electricity in London. This is an area that is defined by progressive change alongside material deprivation.Well, change is good, right?
Predominantly white and middle-class, the newest residents are the face of a resurgent Brixton, who are mostly taking advantage of the area's proximity to the city.The swines! How dare they!
The pattern of homeownership has changed dramatically – in favour of the more affluent.He says that like it’s a bad thing. Also, like there’s no such thing as an affluent black person.
Which coming from a wealthy human rights shyster, is something of a bizarre statement…
Comparisons with New York City's Harlem are, therefore, appropriate. Both Harlem and Brixton are alike for their large black populations and historical significance. They both have seen periods as a sought-after cultural centre, as well as decades of social and economic decline. The decision by President Clinton to make Harlem the home for his post-presidency office and foundation, and the attendant rise in property values in the area – pricing out many of the neighbourhood's longstanding African American residents – has become emblematic of the gentrification debate.Wait, is it Brixton or Harlem that's emblematic? I'm confused now.
Does it matter when increased commercial activity leads to radical changes in the ethnic and cultural makeup of communities?Well, the right were told to ‘shut the hell up, racists!’ whenever they questioned the increased immigration figures (according to Labour, necessary ‘for business and prosperity’) that resulted in wholesale demographic and cultural changes to our towns and cities, so I think the answer must be the same when the boot’s on the other foot, right Philip?
It would be ironic if Brixton's recognition as an iconic black space in Britain comes just at the point when there is a mass exodus of its black residents.So we’d rather it was a violent s***hole rather than a safe, engaging place to live? Would that somehow ‘reflect its status as iconic black space’ any better, I wonder?