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Tonight’s latest episode of Small Axe is based on Adeptales favourite Alex Wheatle.
We have reviewed a couple of his books, “Crongton Knights” and “East of Acre Lane”.
Alex has never shied away from his background and used his experiences growing up as inspiration for his award-winning books.
After being told “That all Black people lived in the jungle”; he was determined to find his tribe in Brixton when he moved there aged 15.
Brixton in the early eighties was rife with racial tension; you would be mistaken to think that police brutality was just an American problem.
The police took liberties with the “stop and search” law and used this as an excuse to treat Black people unfairly.
Alex explains that he and many young Black people didn’t feel wanted by society.
The catalyst was the Deptford Fire in 1981. Nine black people died in a house fire, which was allegedly believed to have been started by a member of the Far-Right.
Nobody has been held accountable, to this very day.
The racial tension snapped when a group of Black men misread the actions of the police.
They saw a Black man being escorted into a police car and didn’t realise the policemen were taking him to safety.
For three days and for three nights in April 1981, Brixton was ablaze.
It would soon be known as The Brixton Riots or ‘The Brixton Uprising’ as the locals called it.
It was an important moment in Black British History. Big cities across the nation took part; Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham. It forced the government to pay attention.
Alex was part of this and was imprisoned for four months.
In a 2016 Guardian interview, Alex speaks of a Rasta named Nelson who took him under his wing. Alex wasn’t seen as a problem, he was seen as someone with promise.
Nelson encouraged Alex to learn about his history and culture such as The Black Jacobins by CLR James and Alex devoured books with gusto.
Alex believed that the Uprisings led to Black people in positions of power and influence; community activists, politicians, and the council.
Thank you, Alex, we at Adeptales salute you and look forward to watching your episode on Small Axe tonight!
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