Recent events in America have been eye-opening for those watching from afar. 2020 has seen the rise of the Black Lives Matter organisation in response to the institutional racism in the US, particularly within police departments. Echoes of which have reverberated across the world. Whilst it would be simplistic to feel in some way morally superior in the UK, we still have our own unique problems. It was only a few decades ago that these were out in the open and dominated media coverage.
During the 1960s and 1970s, to fill gaps in our workforce, there were several waves of immigration into Britain from former colonies. Spurred by the likes of Enoch Powell, groups such as the National Front sprung up across the union; expounding racist and intolerant viewpoints. In response to the rise of the far-right, the Rock Against Racism (RAR) movement emerged. White Riot, the new documentary from Rubika Shah, charts this organisation from its inception in 1976.
Using a mix of (impressive) archive footage and contemporary interviews, White Riot is a rollercoaster ride through Britain’s dark ages, which focuses on one of the movements responsible for changing the attitudes of young people. Shah’s documentary is very well constructed, building up a picture of the era and deftly illustrating how musicians responded to such a perilous moment in Britain’s history. White Riot is a timely reminder of the power of music and the dangers of leaving fascism unchallenged.
White Riot is in cinemas in the UK and Ireland from 18 September.