territorieS of WhiteneSS in BlAck BritAin
The “matter of race” must include stories of whiteness.
—Jane lazarre, Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness
Whiteness changes over time and space and is in no way a
transhistorical essence.—ruth
frankenberg, White Women, Race matteRs
Diana Jeater, a white Eng lish woman, grew up in South London in the
1970s during a period when reggae music rather than roast beef char-
acterized her cultural landscape. Jeater, who studied African history
and wrote a doctorate on the construction of moral discourse in white-
occupied Zimbabwe, designed a course on black history. Already im-
mersed in black culture, she became politically allied with blacks through
music and her participation in the Anti-Nazi League. Jeater, who shares
her home and her romantic life with blacks and who, as a youth, was
allied with black political struggles against the racism of the British state,
has identified a need within black antiracist political discourses for lan-
guage that can account for her experiences of whiteness in London. She
argues that there is no vocabulary or category within black political dis-
course to accommodate the “white hybrid identity” that she acquired as
a youth in multicultural London, a position on the “white spectrum” far
removed from her parents’ and grandparents’ generations:
The issue of being white comes up for me every day. It’s not a theo-
retical pondering, it’s a day-to-day struggle to make sense of who I
am. . . . I live in Brixton . . . my lover is black; so is the woman I live
with. I can cook sadza or curry at the drop of a hat, but I don’t have a
clue how to cook roast beef. Clearly my life is not entirely white. Yet
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