The 'R' Word

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Race and racism remain an inescapable part of the lives of black people. Daily slights, often rooted in the fears and misperceptions of the 'other', still damage lives.

But does race matter as much as it used to? Many argue the post-racial society is upon us and racism is no longer a block on opportunity.

Skin colour has followed Kurt Barling around since the age of four, when he wished 'I had blond hair and blue eyes'. He grew up in a confused and confusing world, in which 'blackness' defined so much social discourse. Racist press coverage of the Broadwater Farm riots in the UK in 1985 helped Barling decide on a career in journalism.

In the thirty years since the riots, much has changed. Overt racism is certainly much less present. Music, youth culture, sport and the obsession with the body beautiful have all made 'blackness' commercial.

But is this all just an illusion conveniently masking a culture of denial?

The 'R' Word explores a changing country in a changing world, and our relationship with notions of race and racism. It explores the paradox at the heart of anti-racism.

By adopting the language of the oppressor to liberate the oppressed, are we paralysing ourselves with the language inherited from raciology, race and racism? Is it yet possible to step out of our skins and leave the colour behind?

About the Author

Kurt Barling is Professor of Journalism at Middlesex University in London. He was a leading broadcaster for the BBC for 25 years, where he covered stories all around the world and operated undercover and in war zones. He has made dozens of prime-time documentaries and won numerous industry awards for his journalism, film-making and writing.

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Cite this page

Korff, J 2021, The 'R' Word, <>, retrieved 14 June 2024

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