Enterprising Women by Sallie Westwood, Parminder Bhachu

By Sallie Westwood, Parminder Bhachu

"Enterprising girls" brings jointly black and white British ladies in a suite that confronts stereotypes of black British girls and former debts in their lives.

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Black nurses are an integral part of the health service in Britain, but because many were shunted into SEN training, their earnings and promotion prospects were very limited and they found that they were working overtime or doing two jobs to make up their income. Asian women in factories found they were part of a gender division of labour which gave to women the low paid, unskilled work with few bonuses and no overtime—routine monotonous work, injurious to mind and body. But, as Sallie Westwood’s contribution shows, many black women found that working lives in factories were not just about technical processes.

And Scafe, S. (1985) The Heart of the Race: Black Women’s Lives in Britain, London: Virago. Carby, H. (1982) ‘White Woman Listen! Black feminism and the boundaries of sisterhood’, in Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (eds) The Empire Strikes Back: Race and Racism in 70’s Britain, London: Hutchinson. Department of Employment (1984) Labour Force Survey, London: HMSO. Davis, A. (1981) Women, Race and Class London: The Women’s Press. Feminist Review 17 (1984) Many Voices, One Chant: Black Feminist Perspectives.

A small proportion of Britain’s postwar black and ethnic minority immigrants have built up over time large sums of capital through international trading and multiple shop ownership (see for example articles in the Director, June 1983 and The Sunday Times, 2 October 1983). Nevertheless this does not by itself constitute a barrier to racism and discrimination and does not in any case represent reality for the vast majority of ethnic entrepreneurs in the UK. Entrepreneurship constitutes an escape route for many minority men from the drudgery of the dead-end manual jobs to which they are confined by racism and racial discrimination.

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