Hidden Histories (Vol. 1)

If I was given £1 for each time I was asked ‘Where do you come from?‘ I would be a millionaire. Throughout my lifespan as a black man born in Britain I have constantly been reminded that being black and British are two things which the majority of the planet find hard to conjoin together as one. To be honest it’s not as if there is much commercial evidence of a black presence in Britain across the world in the mass media. You only have to analyse the British media which is exported around the globe and you may have a problem trying to identify a black person yet alone any type of Black British sub-cultures which may exist on a national level in Britain.

Most knowledge of the black presence in Britain stems from National achieve footage of groups of Jamaicans rolling off the ‘SS Windrush‘ in there hundreds to find work in the 1960s. The achieve footage is often framed in way which depicts the black community as animalistic with exaggerated watermelon smiles. The footage is often used during black history month or when describing the so-called ‘arrival’ of a ‘black’ community in Britain. Its very clear from the language used that the archive footage was originally shot for a white conservative audience in the 1960s to gasp and boggle over.

See below an example of archive footage of black men in the 1960s;

Due to popular belief that black people arrived on boats in Essex in the 1960s, many people still have a lack of knowledge about black British history which existed prior to this event. Even more worrying than the people who date all black British history from Windrush era are the recent immigrants who have arrived to Britain over the last 5 years that have no idea that black people have settled in Britain way before they arrived themselves, before ‘SS-Windrush‘ arrived and before generation of Africans who arrived in the 1980s and late 1990s.

Maybe racist attitudes also play a part in the belief that you can not be black and British. Maybe when people ask ‘Where are you from?‘ they are referring to which part of London but often when I answer ‘Bow, London or Britain!’‘  the response I often get is ‘Where is that?” or just a bewildered look of  disbelief until I go one step further and state that ‘My grandparents are from the Caribbean but I was born here!” this is when the persons in question often response with a smile and the good old line ‘Ah Jamaica” without being informed of which specific Caribbean island I originate from. I’m not ashamed of my roots I am a very conscious individual but after the one hundredth time of being asked ‘Where are you from’ you do start to get annoyed with the attitudes of immigrants from outside the UK who now live or work in London.

Below I have posted a video of a black British woman discussing a similar issue;

In part two of ‘Hidden Histories‘ I will provide examples of hidden elements of black history in Britain as well as describing why exposing this information is relevant to people around the world. Until then please enjoy watching the above videos and feel free to vote in the poll and leave any comments below.

Thank You.

  1. Great information, thank you. Can’t hear enough about April Fool’s day! My name is Penny and I just began to blog, it would be such an honor if you would take some time to check out my blogs, constructive criticism is always welcome, and it’s nice to have friends you have things in common with. I love history, on my blog I created the first online African America encyclopedia which is filled with rich history and many colorful, bright, genious, artists, scientists from the African American heritage. Please check me out, I’d be so happy. kindly penny

    • Thank you Penny, much respect fir your appreciative comment. I will head over to your blog shortly and check it out. 🙂

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