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Race, Miscegenation and Representation: The Black Female Experience in Liverpool, England

Patricia Reid-Merritt





This paper seeks to examine the impact of the representation of race and gender on Black women in Liverpool, England. It is a beginning effort to focus attention on the unique experiences of women of color in European societies dominated by traditional beliefs in racial superiority. It questions the extent to which perceptions of femininity and desirability are viewed as characteristics associated with whiteness, and the impact this has had on gender relationships and the development and sustainability of Black families and communities in European countries.

Liverpool, England is home to the oldest Black settlement in the UK. Many Black Liverpoolians can trace their family histories back to the late nineteenth century when merchant seamen, fleeing from the oppressive racial conditions of the British West Indies, sought economic and social opportunities in the seaport city. While this population of British citizens, who were descendants of the African Slave Trade, was never welcomed with open arms, thousands of men made Liverpool their permanent homes. Many married local women and began to raise families. The offspring of these unions have produced many generations of mixed race children who often struggled (in silence) with the concept of a Black identity.

Miscegenation is an integral part of the Black Liverpool experience. However, for more than one hundred years, racial mixing has been heavily skewed in favor of Black male/White female alliances. The social ramifications are far-reaching. As a result, Black women in Liverpool appear to be among the least desirable population. The overwhelming majority of the adult Black female population is composed of single women, many of whom are single parents, who view their prospects of long-term commitments in stable relationships as limited by the society’s negative images of blackness. This has impacted their ability to achieve satisfying lives in the personal, social and political arenas. Using a case study format (structured, open-ended research design with qualitative analysis), this paper lifts up the voices of Black women who describe their lifelong experiences as Black women in Europe.


Selected Bibliography

Christian, Mark (2000). Multiracial Identity. New YorK: St. Martin’s Press.

______(1998). ”An African-centered Approach to the Black British Experience:
With Special Reference to Liverpool, England”, Journal of Black Studies 28 (3) pp. 291-308.

Crawford, Larry D. (2000). Excuses, Excuses: The Politics of Interracial Coupling in European Culture, Atlanta: Ankoben Press.

Dolphyne, Florence Abena (1991). The Emancipation of Women: An African Perspective, Accra: Ghana Universities Press.

Gilroy, P. (1993). Small Acts: Thoughts on the Politics of Black Culture, London: Verso Press.

Hooks, Bell (1992). Black Looks: Race and Representation, Boston: South End Press.

Reid-Merritt, Patricia. (1996) Sister Power: How Phenomenal Black Women are Rising to the Top. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Russell, Kathy. Midge Wilson. Ronald Hall. (1993). The Color Complex: The Politics of Skin Color Among African Americans. New York: Anchor Books.

Steady, Filomina (1981). The Black Woman Cross-Culturally, Boston: Schenkman Books.


Questions:


  1. How are “Black identities” formed in the midst of racially biased white majority communities?

  2. Are the experiences of Black women in Liverpool an aberration of Liverpool culture or are they shared throughout the European continent and the African Diaspora?

  3. What are the best approaches to shared knowledge and discourse among Black Europeans and others in the African Diaspora?


Broad Research Interest

My particular area of expertise and research interest focuses on empowerment issues for women of African descent. My work emphasizes the development of self-identity, the construction of social roles and the life-span experiences of Black women. Finally, a global perception of “a Black woman’s place” in society is also prominently explored.

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