The car was a potent symbol of freedom for black America, but the cultural critic Paul Gilroy argues that the escape it once represented has become a cage for the African American. Consumerism and the ultimate commodity of the car has turned the fight for rights into a race to buy new things. He tells Laurie Taylor how black people spend far more on their cars than whites and how the automobile has fatally undermined culture and community.
In his new book, Darker Than Blue, Paul Gilroy writes about how jazz, blues, hip-hop and much of what stood for black culture now seems generically American and is exported around the world. And within the United States luxury goods, motor cars, branded items and a quest for individual gratification have diluted the collective spirit which brought African Americans the civil rights they won. With his brilliant and provocative analysis, Paul Gilroy traces the shifting character of black culture on both sides of the Atlantic and offers an account of what it means to be black in Britain and the United States.