When it was published in 1984 Staying Power vividly captured the struggle for black British identity. Now, 25 years on it still has lessons to teach
“The very serious function of racism is distraction,” Toni Morrison argued in a lecture in Portland, Oregon, in 1975:
It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.