Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The day Brixton lost its 'cool'

As a yoiungster, I used to think Brixton was cool.
The Brixton I remember, had a strong Caribbean community, was ecclectic in many ways, but in the main, vibrant. An interesting mix of music, culture, resistance.

It confused me at times.. walking up the steps of the station and hearing crys of 'skunk'..'skunk'.. I do remember thinking wtf.. am I in London!?!.. throw in a chanting preacher or two.. I'd look up .. and the sign would confirm it.. I was in Brixton

The riots that took place in places like Bristol, Birmingham, and Brixton ( April 1981) were partly a result of rising tensions - amidst a backdrop of racism, poor relations with the police ( sus laws and operation swmap), and rising unemployment.
In Brixton at that time Thatcher was in power.

The Scarman report did pathologise the black community (along with the media etc..) and the police were relatively let off the hook, but this post isn't about that.

Margaret Thatcher at that time, reportedly said with regards to investment.."Money cannot buy either trust or racial harmony."

She was not entirely wrong. It cannot.. not truly.

Relations between the police and the black community has never truly recovered.. and racism is still alive and well.

However, at the time of the riots I was still fairly young. ( approx 13)
I remember my brother being asked by his then boss, with a smirk if he caused it ( what with his 'rasta tam' an all)
Still.. through my eyes.. Brixton was still cool.

Not any more.

Many people did benefit under Thatchers government, and many people did not. Like it or not the sale of council houses enabled many ( who otherwise wouldn't have been able..) to get onto the property ladder.. and let's be honest..most people want their own homes.
The Brixton of the 80's is not the Brixton of today.

The Gentrification of Brixton has been relatively slow, and is still in many ways ongoing but again my post isn't about that either.

Brixton lost its cool the moment pictures emerged on our screens of 'Thatcher street parties' in celebration of her death. I never thought I would see the day. There was a time when 'we' would observe scenes from the so called 'orient' .. no..let's be frank, black Africa, or the middle east, where jubilant displays of death or the dying , would have had us 'occidentally'.. wondering.. wow.. how could they...the baying crowds..

Wonder no more.

I didn't see many faces that would have even been involved in the Brixton riots... so..who were these people?..

I was raised in a household where the phrase.. never speak ill of the dead.. didn't pass my ears. (lots did.. but not that for some reason) so if I ever do .. please feel free to pull me up on that

Yes people have a right to do whatever they feel is right.. or do they?... and if so..isn't that what Thatcher did?
Exactly who.. have we become.. and how did we get here?.
What's equally interesting is that had most of the faces on the street yesterday had been black.. we would have had a very different media response. .. sad but true. As it stands.. it was tolerated with minimal (if any) scorn.

In truth I suspect that if you lived there, Brixton was never cool.
I'm an outsider.

From my outsiders eyes, Brixton lost it's cool yesterday.. and it's soul.. many , many years ago.

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