What does it mean to be black and British?

In such turbulent, unpredictable and stirring times, it is extremely important to become and stay educated on the issues that affect not only yourselves but your peers and those around you.

Below you can find some thoughts and advice from Miss Stephenson, one of our English teachers.

Hi everyone, I just wanted to touch base with an important message and hopefully help you to understand what is happening in the world at the moment.

A lot of what is in the news at the moment revolves around ‘BlackLivesMatter’ and ‘JusticeForGeorgeFloyd’ amongst other black names – people who have been brutalised and murdered by the police in America. Slowly, these movements are making their way into UK spaces and you will no doubt be consuming so much of this news via social media and other platforms – a lot of which does not tell a full and coherent picture and these snippets of information may have you feeling a mix of emotions. For some of you, this may feel like something that is worlds away and for others of you this will feel like something that is on your doorstep and in your homes, right under your noses.

This is a sensitive time: a time to be considerate of black experiences even when you don’t understand them. For many black people, the fight to be seen, heard, respected and valued is exhausting and a fight which shouldn’t have to happen, a fight which so many other people do not have to take up.

If you are seeing what is happening in the world right now and you feel like you don’t know enough or you don’t understand, then it is imperative to take the time to educate yourself and learn about the world around you so that you can engage with it in a better way.

Akala, in his book ‘Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire’ writes:

“To be black, poor and politicised in Britain is to see the ugliest side of the police and indeed of Britain itself; it is to see behind the curtain and not be fooled by the circus, and to feel crazy because so many others cannot see what is so clear to you. When my safety was threatened when I was growing up the last thing I would have done would be to call the police, it would not even have crossed my mind.”

This may resonate with some of you, you may also be feeling ‘tired’ and for some of you, this might just be the beginning of your journey to understanding what all of this means. No doubt, you will be considering a lot of different news at the moment and it is becoming increasingly difficult for you to make sense of it all and come to a conclusion, so I implore you to consider what exactly Akala is saying here and what it means to be black in Britain.

In order to help you to make sense of everything at the moment, the task I want you to complete is to consider the following:

What does it mean to be black and British?

Use everything that you are reading, watching and consuming to answer this question – you might choose to do this in the form of a mind-map, poem, essay, art, for once there are no restrictions: just engage.