Adam Elliott-Cooper
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Black masculinity and criminalisation
The 2011 ‘riots’ in context
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This historical framing provides an analysis for the racist criminalisation of black men in twenty-first-century Britain. The chapter highlights three key ways in which police racism becomes entrenched through Britain’s imperial discourses, rehearsed over several centuries. First, gender and masculinity are framed and regulated to reproduce imperial power and the racialisation of subject populations. Specifically, ideas about both gender and race are imposed on colonised people to better exploit, control and execute violence upon them. Secondly, racialisation is constantly changing: presenting itself as fixed, it is in fact in constant flux across time and space. Thirdly, building on the previous chapter, both radical anti-racism and black feminism are shown to be vital conceptual tools for analysing the perception that black men require a distinctively punitive control. The first section of this chapter looks at how imperial discourses framed colonised men. The second section uses black conservatives in Britain as a case study to look at how black masculinity is criminalised. It looks at how these campaigners for black respectability contrast the ‘success’ of their own families and careers with the ‘failures’ of criminalised men. The final section of the chapter focuses on one particular incident – in which a criminalised black man is confronted by the police – in order to illustrate how masculine violence can be considered legitimate if it is state-led, but criminalised if it is associated with the colonised, or black people or working classes.

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