|Dr. Michael Friedman’s interview at Psychology Today with Pauline Black, lead singer for The Selecter, and Steve Shafer’s recent review of The Selecter’s new record, Subculture, are vivid reminders of the social issues highlighted by Ms. Black, The Selecter, and the 2-Tone movement overall. In the interview Ms. Black describes growing up in the 1950’s as a biracial child adopted by white parents and the racism and sexism she encountered coming of age in 1970s England. During a period of racial strife and economic dislocation in England, The Selecter, a multiracial band, fronted by a woman, playing a politically conscious mix of ska, reggae and punk and producing top 40 hits, was an important counter narrative to the National Front.
Subculture finds The Selecter still energized to comment on social, economic and political issues. At the end of the haunting track, “Breakdown”, co-vocalist Gaps Hendrickson calls out a stunningly long list of black youth, women, and men killed by police in the UK and USA. In his review Shafer writes
“Inspired by appalling incidents in both the UK and the US, “Breakdown,” the most politically potent song on the album, posits that the relatively frequent unjustified police killings of mostly unarmed (and sometimes handcuffed) black boys, men, and women are a horrific symptom of entrenched racism, societal dysfunction, and purposeful neglect.”
The track “Hit the Ground Running” is about workers locked into “zero-hour contracts” – employees are expected to be on-call at all hours but are given, at the employer’s discretion, anywhere from zero to 40 hours of work per week and are only paid for the hours worked.
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