“Where are you from?”
“No where are you really from?”
“Oh! My mum is from…”
This is an interaction that I get very often when I meet new people, obviously a standard question after asking someone’s name and age you naturally want to know more about them and ask them where they are from. But what I often feel is there is a lack of acceptance in my first answer, just saying that I’m from London. A questioning of my identity and a need to know my heritage so it’ll fit with their idea in their heads of what a Londoner looks like, what a British person looks like.
I am from London, born in North London. My mum’s from Zambia and dad is from Ghana, I’ve lived in London all my life, I don’t speak another language and haven’t travelled to my parent’s countries as an adult. One thing about wondering about my heritage is that I’ve found out more about my families’ upbringing and cultures and wanting to learn more about the Ghanaian and Zambian cultures.
Recently I’ve been on social media reading comments about the Black Lives Matter movement and someone commented in response “British Lives Matter” – That statement obviously made me angry, firstly no life is more important than another and that is not what the movement stands for, it’s a call for equality and fighting against the injustice that Black people face on a daily basis. Any response that is not support for an end of racial discrimination and a call of equality for all races is RACISM – period! Then secondly when I read that comment I thought – does this person not know that Black British people exist. To them and most possibly to other people, you can either be Black or British not both. More racist comments on social media said about how Black people should go back to their countries – which made me think about how this is my country and home just as much as it is theirs and they have no right to say things like this behind a keyboard and fake name on Twitter with no consequences and support from fellow racists.
The Black British identity and culture is something that I’ve recently started to learn about through books and online, finding out how the community grew, thrived and survived in London and elsewhere in the UK – Liverpool is known to be the city with the oldest Black community and it can be traced back to the 1700s. This history should be taught in school the only Black history that I was taught was slavery and in America with very little word about how slavery was prominent in this country as well. Black British history was not taught in my history lessons, British history to me back in school was all about white figures to learn about, other races were not mentioned and how they made a difference and influenced change in this country is not taught.
The Black British identity should be celebrated not ignored and forgotten about.
Thank you for reading