Afropean: Notes from Black Europe by Johny Pitts - review by Mike Phillips

Mike Phillips

A Backpacker in the Banlieues

Afropean: Notes from Black Europe


Allen Lane 391pp £20 order from our bookshop

Johny Pitts’s otherness isn’t straightforward. The son of Richie Pitts, a notable African-American performer who arrived in Britain to join the Northern Soul movement, graduated to the West End stage and ended up making his life in Britain, Johny grew up in Sheffield’s Firth Park. As a black northerner, he expresses frustration at what he describes as the ‘Brixtonization of black Britain – that is, the reduction of the black British experience into a single, neat London-oriented narrative’.

Ironically, Pitts repeatedly refers to Britain’s north–south divide, a favourite trope of the white Left, without apparently being aware of the differences between black migrant communities in separate parts of London or of the dispersal of black Londoners throughout the country. He goes on to describe being fooled

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