The Black population of the UK is a mere 3% with the addition of the mixed race population boosting it only to 4%. So what does it mean to be Black and British? The majority of us are only 2nd generation with our grandparents being born in our tropical Motherlands, travelling thousands of miles in the Windrush of the 1950’s and 60’s to arrive in a hostile pre-civil rights Britain. But have we become anymore welcome? Racism appears to have drifted away from the mainstream to the far right and with Black culture weaving itself through the country and the rise of the ‘lightskin’ ideal are we yet at home or are we still islanders lost on the wrong island?
The answer is a complex one, while on the surface racism has declined in the eyes of many it is still present for Black people yet it appears to be a taboo to mention. I myself have been told to “stop talking about black rights because slavery is over” but is it? Or has it just modernised itself? I was inspired to write this blog after a trip to Mallorca with my friends, if you’ve ever been abroad in Europe you may have seen the ‘Lucky, Lucky’ people, they’re Africans who have travelled to tourist destinations to sell goods and try to earn a living (there is an ethical issue in that itself). A white British man came up to me and shouted “Lucky, Lucky” in my face as he proceeded to laugh. This touched me deeply, he knew I wasn’t a Lucky, Lucky woman but is that all that he could see? – My skin colour must mean that I couldn’t be here on holiday I must be here to work and serve?
To be Black has almost become a fashion statement which has led us to be accepted but not understood, many Britons want to relish in Black culture – skanking out to Skepta on the weekends, smoking weed, getting a Jamaican takeaway and as I’m always being told in nightclub bathrooms “have mixed race children”. But are these same Britons able to see the struggle of Black people? With UKIP and the far right on the rise it has become increasingly hostile in the UK and there are places that I as a Black person know that I simply cannot go to. It is widely known that there are more ‘stop and searches’ on Black males by the police than on white males, darker skin is viewed as a greater threat to society. But who’s safe guarding Black Britons? The government doesn’t appear to be as Theresa May cuddles up with the DUP who have been publicly dubbed as racists (along with many other things). Earlier this week Diane Abbott a Black Labour MP spoke out about the shocking amount of racial abuse she gets weekly through emails and social media, even at the highest levels of British society Black people are subjected to racism.
This is not to discredit our country as I am proud to be British and appreciate it is one of the most liberal countries in the world. It is simply an evaluation of the Black experience, we are at a better point than we ever have been but there are still issues that may never be resolved and come with the territory of being islanders on the wrong island.