3.7 The process of 'racialisation'
Stereotypes of African–Caribbean families
There are many African–Caribbean families in British inner cities – London, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool. African–Caribbean communities tend to live in sections of the city where there may be poor housing but they prefer to live where there are other African–Caribbeans who can provide support and where there are local shops selling Caribbean food. Most African–Caribbeans are extremely religious, attending fundamentalist churches. The families are matriarchal – often men are present only as visiting partners and may have several families they ‘visit’. Mothers are very strict and see it as their duty not to ‘save the rod and spoil the child’. Women start their families very young, but the mother of a teenage mother provides a lot of support. Generally, African–Caribbean women do not believe in contraception but the rate of abortion is very high.
The description above of African–Caribbean families in the UK reflects some popular stereotypes. As you read it, think about the kind of picture that emerges of people of African–Caribbean origin.
The impression given in this account is that all African–Caribbean people are similar, with similar family forms, lifestyles, values and beliefs. The description presents a stereotype of African–Caribbean family life, rather than a reflection of diversity within the population. It fails to represent differences within African–Caribbean communities in terms of class and religion, and between generations.
This description can be described as ‘essentialist’ (or, to use Avtar Brah’s term, ‘ethnicist’) in that it reduces people to one aspect of their identity, presents a homogeneous and undifferentiated view of a community, and overlooks the dynamic nature of ethnic and cultural identity.
Stereotypes of this kind are not uncommon and their pervasiveness can have serious consequences for people’s experience of care services. The next activity explores some of these implications.