It strikes me that the many little churches, are probably the most effective bulwark against racism in Thornton Heath at present. I might be wrong but there seems to be little else for young people or parents to turn to. e.g. As C pointed out there is no adventure playground. A place that often plays a role in supporting young people who are under various forms of pressure.
The non-establishment churches seem to be able to combine a mixture of black cultural identity reinforcement, emotional viserality, ethical frameworks and role models combined with an appearance of repectability which allows the congregations young people to appear acceptable to a racist white world of work. Unfortunately what goes with all this is a lack of critique and thinking about how to change that world. Anger is subsummed by ritual I guess.
Hip hop broadly offers a critique and form of cultural resistance but only a minority of young people can make a living from this… leaving the others to adjust to a second life or turn to crime and gang culture. It not a great choice at the moment for black youth.
Why adventure play?
I just found (jan 2010) this quote:
“The church has been more than a wellspring from which African-American music has poured forth over time. In 1963’s Blues People, a seminal treatise on the music that emerged from the Negro experience in America, Leroi Jones observes: “The early black Christian churches or the pre-church ‘praise houses’ became essential focal points of Negro social life. The relative autonomy of the developing Negro Christian religious gathering made it one of the only areas in the slave’s life where he was relatively free of the white man’s domination.”
In October of the same year, black citizens in Selma, Alabama held mass meetings to consolidate their efforts in the struggle for civil rights. True to Jones’s observations, these gatherings took place in churches. At one meeting they were led in song by a high school girl by the name of Betty Fikes. The local sheriff, Jim Clark, headed up a posse that awaited the congregation outside the church.” Kevin Le Gendre
liner notes from ‘Songs of protest: People Get Ready!’ Warner 2004.