Reflections on Terraformed: Young Black Lives in the Inner City

Sat 07 May 2022, 14.55-15.15

Dr Joy White, University of Bedfordshire

Forty years of neoliberalism on either side of the Atlantic have embedded nihilistic, consumerist values as though that is the only way for society to move forward.

In this landscape, Black lives have been rendered as troublesome, and are perceived as having little value. Young people’s lives are increasingly informed by what it means to be poor in an affluent world, of feeling trapped in a system that appears to offer few routes out, on, or up. Terraformed is my attempt to connect the dots, to locate the struggles, the wins and the losses of young Black lives within a structural, institutional and historical context.  

In the UK, simmering below the surface of luxury new builds and obvious wealth, the ever-widening gap between the haves and have nots is revealed via the sonic landscape.

In this paper, I reflect on what it means to grow up ‘Black’ and ‘British’ in a hostile environment. While there is little doubt that young Black lives are lived with and through levels of disadvantage, we cannot underestimate the hope and resistance that comes from creativity in all its forms. Therefore, I will discuss how and why music matters, taking into account the impact of austerity, neoliberalism and racism in a specific east London neighbourhood.

About the speaker

Dr Joy White is a Lecturer in Applied Social Studies at University of Bedfordshire and the author of Terraformed: Young Black Lives in the Inner City. Her previous work includes Urban Music and Entrepreneurship: Beats, Rhymes and Young People’s Enterprise, one of the first books to foreground the socio-economic significance of grime music.