I guess it’s easier to start with my own experience growing up in Britain as that is the basis for me starting this blog as well as the fact that it is part of my MA in International Journalism.
I was born in the middle of the 1970s in Fulham,West London. I was brought up by a single mother (which unfortunately seems quite usual in the Black community), and we lived on a council estate which from what I remember had a mixture of races.
I don’t remember feeling the least bit ‘out of place’ while growing up although I do recall the odd incident like when a boy shouted out on the street ‘where is your tail’ and at school where a few people used to like touching my hair. But on the whole I did not suffer any overt racial discrimination and I felt quite comfortable in my own skin and being Black and British.
It was only when I became a teenager and began to show interest in the news and the world around me that I started to question who I was, where I fit in and what my identity was based on.
I felt British – I mean I liked football, fish and chips and knew the words to God Save The Queen – but obviously I also knew that I had Caribbean ancestry that was just as valid and had just as much claim to me as Britain.
But apart from the example of my mother there seemed to be very few positive stories about Caribbean people in Britain and how much we were contributing to British society. I knew there were lots of Black Caribbean nurses in the NHS, Caribbean people working on public transport and a few with shows on the TV or in the music industry but you had to be determined to find these success stories in amongst the negative imagery of crime, drugs and gangs.
I guess I became content with making my own mark especially in my chosen field of journalism and just tried to ignore the prevailing negativity surrounding the Caribbean experience in the UK. But as I get older the desire to merge my British upbringing with my Caribbean heritage has grown stronger and I’m hoping this blog will go some way to completing the circle.
By uncovering examples in the past of influential Black Caribbean people and interviewing people with my ancestry who have made a positive contribution to British life, I’m hoping to help myself and anyone else who wants to feel uplifted, empowered and motivated by other people’s stories.
I want this blog to show through inspiring individuals how much Black Caribbean people are a key part of British culture and how these two halves – being British and being Caribbean – have entwined and should be celebrated.