This paper offers an exploration of how race shapes the migration trajectories and labour market experiences of Black African youth who migrated to deindustrialising Newcastle, a traditionally White working-class city. The paper draws on qualitative data gathered from interviews with 20 Black African youth (10 males and 10 females) residing in the city in 2018. Their ages ranged between 18 and 30 years and they migrated to Australia under different circumstances as students or dependents of their carers who travelled to Australia as skilled migrants or as refugees. These young people migrated to Australia from different African countries including: The Republic of Guinea-Bissau, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Kenya, Nigeria, Liberia, Uganda and Ghana. Theorising their experiences through decolonial theory and Critical Race Theory, this paper explores how these young migrants imagined Australia pre-migration in contrast with how they experienced Australia post-migration. With this, the paper forwards the argument that pre-migration Black African youth draw on modernist notions of development associated with Whiteness to position Australia as a developed place, and they have the expectation that once in Australia these experiences of development would be available to them. Post-migration, these young people negotiate being racialised on the labour market while looking for work and working, meaning that these experiences of ‘development’ are not available to them. The paper concludes by reflecting on the importance of accounting for how other processes like racialisation impact on young people’s experiences of migration and labour market engagement in deindustrialising localities like Newcastle.
- Critical Race Theory