When Stuart Hall Was White by James Vernon
This article has been published on the Public Books website. It begins:
I do not recall when I discovered that Stuart Hall was black. Growing up in Britain as neoliberalism first began to take shape under the rule of Margaret Thatcher, I found that Hall’s work helped me comprehend what was happening to the world around me. I think I began reading him with “The Great Moving Right Show,” an article published in Marxism Today, the ecumenical and “reform”-minded journal of the Communist Party of Great Britain, in January 1979. It is the piece now celebrated as having named “Thatcherism” as a new political formation. Thatcherism, he argued, represented a new type of politics, one that had mobilized a populist revolt to Make Britain Great Again by running it like a business and stopping immigration. It is strangely unnerving to read it again now. Later that year Hall became a professor of sociology at the Open University and began to appear regularly on its television programs designed (in the era before profit-seeking online classes) for their distance learning, nontraditional, students. It was probably on one of those superb programs, no doubt several years later, that I first saw and heard Stuart Hall.