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  • Writer's pictureBEES

Black Identities - I am who I am (Part Two)

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

I’ve never really identified as being British, but that is what I am. My grandparents on both sides of my family were born in Jamaica, but both of my parents were born in London, England, so I am British.  Whilst I identify with my Caribbean heritage, I must accept that I have been shaped by my “Britishness”!!

Black man

As a Black British woman, would I feel truly comfortable outside of London, or other major cities? I am a Londoner, and being born and raised in London, gives you a sense of security and assurance that you may not find in the rest of the country. 

My blackness is what makes me cautious and in some areas of England, a little uncomfortable.  There is such an air of acceptance in London, a mixing pot of cultures and races, that we almost have our own culture, so we are allowed to feel comfortable. Over the years there has been an acceptance of the black culture, so much so that it is represented in all that we do. 

I know I am at an advantage due to my Britishness, but that has not made me exempt from prejudice, racism and being aware of my black in the world. It sometimes feels like travelling on a tight rope.  

I still go on holiday and find people surprised by my being Black and British, but I am not surprised by the shop assistant who followed me around a shop in Rome and was being blatantly rude; being called a monkey while at work in London; a boss being surprised that I can tan after a holiday because, clearly, I am already too black to get any darker and by being asked by a so-called friend “why are black women, so aggressive? “

As a people we are constantly given the impression that no matter what we do, we can never do enough. I am Enough. We are Enough! 

I have learnt over the years that I don’t need permission from anyone to accept my uniqueness and beautiful skin. Accepting other people’s ignorance, small-minded behaviour and prejudice, is to own it as my problem to fix! Nope that is their issue not mine. 

So, I am a black London born woman. Who loves my Caribbean origins, where we honour the respect we are to have for our elders and how we have to know ourselves when we are talking to big people. Where we are part of a community that makes us stronger as one, where we eat Rice ’n’ Peas on Sunday (or whatever day suits) but grew up eating Fish and Chips on a Friday, and where we have shared understanding of blackness and some of the struggles that our beautiful skin brings with it. 

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