Black and British: A Forgotten History

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2016-11-19 02:26Z by Steven

Black and British: A Forgotten History

Pan Macmillan
2016-11-03
624 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1447299738
Ebook ISBN: 978-1447299745
Digital Audio ISBN: 978-1509837113

David Olusoga

A vital re-examination of a shared history, published to accompany the landmark BBC Two series.

In Black and British, award-winning historian and broadcaster David Olusoga offers readers a rich and revealing exploration of the extraordinarily long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa. Drawing on new genetic and genealogical research, original records, expert testimony and contemporary interviews, Black and British reaches back to Roman Britain, the medieval imagination and Shakespeare’s Othello.

It reveals that behind the South Sea Bubble was Britain’s global slave-trading empire and that much of the great industrial boom of the nineteenth century was built on American slavery. It shows that Black Britons fought at Trafalgar and in the trenches of the First World War. Black British history can be read in stately homes, street names, statues and memorials across Britain and is woven into the cultural and economic histories of the nation.

Unflinching, confronting taboos and revealing hitherto unknown scandals, Olusoga describes how black and white Britons have been intimately entwined for centuries.

PREFACE

When I was a child, growing up on a council estate in the North-East of England, I imbibed enough of the background racial tensions of the late 1970s and 1980s to feel profoundly unwelcome in Britain. My right, not just to regard myself as a British citizen, but even to be in Britain seemed contested. Despite our mother’s careful protection, the tenor of our times seeped through the concrete walls into our home and into my mind and my siblings’. Secretly I harboured fears that as part of the group identified by chanting neo-Nazis, hostile neighbours and even television comedians as ‘them’ we might be sent ‘back’. This, in our case, presumably meant ‘back’ to Nigeria, a country of which I had only infant memories, and a land upon which my youngest siblings had never set foot.

At the zenith of its swaggering confidence, the National Front – the NF – made enough noise and sparked enough debate within Britain to make the idea of sending ‘them’ ‘back’ seem vaguely plausible. The fact that in the 1970s and 1980s reputable, mainstream politicians openly discussed programmes for voluntary assisted repatriation that were aimed exclusively at non-white immigrants demonstrates the extent to which the political aether had been polluted by the politics of hate. In the year of my birth the Conservative Party’s General Election Manifesto contained a pledge to encourage voluntary repatriation of immigrants. Today we seem to have forgotten that Enoch Powell’s prediction of ‘Rivers of Blood’ was followed, many years later, by unsubtle calls for a mechanism to be found that might prevent the black British population from ‘doubling or trebling’. In 1981 Powell suggested that people from the ‘new commonwealth’ might be ‘happier outside of the UK’, and proposed a new British Nationality Act to redefine what British citizenship meant. In my childish fearfulness such discussions translated into a deep but unspoken anxiety that a process might, feasibly, be set in train that could lead to the separation and destruction of my family.

To thousands of younger black and mixed-race Britons who, thankfully, cannot remember those decades, the racism of the 1970s and 1980s and the insecurities it bred in the minds of black people are difficult to imagine or relate to. But they are powerful memories for my generation. I was eight years old when the BBC finally cancelled The Black & White Minstrel Show. I have memories of my mother rushing across our living room to change television channels (in the days before remote controls) to avoid her mixed-race children being confronted by grotesque caricatures of themselves on prime-time television. I was seventeen when the last of the touring blackface minstrel shows finally disappeared, having clung on for a decade performing in fading ballrooms on the decaying piers of Britain’s seaside towns. I grew up in a Britain in which there were pictures of golliwogs on jam jars and golliwog dolls alongside the teddy bears in the toy shop windows. One of the worst moments of my unhappy schooling was when, during the run-up to a 1970s Christmas, we were allowed to bring in our favourite toys. The girl who innocently brought her golliwog doll into our classroom plunged me into a day of humiliation and pain that I still find hard to recall, decades later. When, in recent years, I have been assured that such dolls, and the words ‘golliwog’ and ‘wog’, are in fact harmless and that opposition to them is a symptom of rampant political correctness, I recall another incident. It is difficult to regard a word as benign when it has been scrawled onto a note, wrapped around a brick and thrown through one’s living-room window in the dead of night, as happened to my family when I was a boy of fourteen. That scribbled note reiterated the demand that me and my siblings be sent ‘back’…

Read the entire Preface here.

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BBC’s Emma Dabiri says her first time in Brixton was like discovering a black utopia

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-11-19 01:14Z by Steven

BBC’s Emma Dabiri says her first time in Brixton was like discovering a black utopia

London Evening Standard
2016-11-17

Ellen E. Jones


BBC presenter Emma Dabiri in Brixton Matt Writtle

She’s a SOAS fellow and former model, and now Emma Dabiri is fronting a new BBC show as part of the broadcaster’s Black and British season. She talks race, immigration and the politics of hair

There are many ways of being black and British. More than two million at the last count. Some of these are being celebrated, explored or simply presented this month as part of the BBC’s Black and British season. Programming strands include history, music, football and family life, all of which come together nicely in Back in Time for Brixton, which begins on Monday.

This spin-off from the hugely enjoyable social history series Back in Time For Dinner follows the Irwin family from Dagenham as they go on a time-travelling adventure through  50 years of black British life, recreating interiors, hobbies, talking points and hairdos as they go.

Giles Coren is reprising his presenting role but this time specialist expertise is provided by Emma Dabiri. She is a SOAS fellow in African Studies, a broadcaster and occasional model (her Twitter handle is @thediasporadiva), so there’s plenty to talk about when we meet in the Ritzy cinema’s café, a short walk from Brixton Tube station.

“I think sometimes, when there are attempts at diversity, it’s like, ‘Oh, we’ll just pop a black person in there and that’s diversity’,” she says of the need for the BBC’s season. “But here the emphasis is actually on black stories and black people. Representing all those different versions of blackness is really important, especially at this moment when the issue of British identity is such as it is.”

Dabiri’s own story serves as a typically atypical example. Her mother was born to white Irish parents in Trinidad, where Dabiri’s maternal grandfather worked as a civil engineer. Her father was born to black Nigerian parents in Ireland before moving back to Nigeria, and Dabiri herself was raised in her paternal grandparents’ house in Atlanta, Georgia, before returning to Dublin aged five. In summary? “So my mum was Irish but she’s Trinidadian, and my dad’s Nigerian but he’s Irish,” she laughs.

Although Dabiri, 37, has lived in Hackney since 2000, Brixton retains a special place in her imagination. The first time she ever set foot in London was as a child, when her mother brought her to Brixton to have her hair styled: “In comparison with Ireland at the time it seemed like this black utopia.”…

Read the entire article here

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New Generation Thinkers: The Moor of Florence – A Medici Mystery

Posted in Audio, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2016-04-23 20:50Z by Steven

New Generation Thinkers: The Moor of Florence – A Medici Mystery

Free Thinking
BBC Radio 3
2015-11-09

2015 Festival, The Free Thinking Essay

For over 400 years it’s been claimed that the first Medici Duke of Florence was mixed race, his mother a slave of African descent. Catherine Fletcher of Swansea University asks if this extraordinary story about the 16th-century Italian political dynasty could be true. Or do the tales of Alessandro de’ Medici tell us more about the history of racism and anti-racism than about the man himself?

The New Generation Thinkers are the winners of an annual scheme run by the BBC and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to find academics at the start of their careers who can turn their research into fascinating broadcasts.

The Essay was recorded in front of an audience at the Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead. If you want to hear Catherine Fletcher discussing her research you can download the Essay and conversation as an Arts and Ideas podcast.

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

Listen to the lecture (00:14:40) here.

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Jackie Kay the new Scots Makar, Shaping the Body

Posted in Arts, Audio, Media Archive, Religion, United Kingdom, Women on 2016-03-26 23:17Z by Steven

Jackie Kay the new Scots Makar, Shaping the Body

Woman’s Hour
BBC Radio 4
2016-03-25

The acclaimed writer Jackie Kay has just been announced as the next Scots MakarScotland’s national poet. She tells Jenni about the plans she has for her new role.

Today a new exhibition examining how food, fashion and lifestyle have shaped women’s bodies and lives opens at York Castle Museum. The curator Ali Bodley and fashion historian Lucy Adlington join Jenni to talk about 400 years of squeezing and binding. And, how the current vogue for big bottoms and padded underwear echoes the false rumps of the past.

Mary Magdalene – what do we know about the woman who was described as the constant companion of Jesus, who wept at the foot of the Cross, and who gave the first account of the empty tomb? What is it about her story that continues to fascinate and what evidence is there that she was a prostitute or even the wife of Jesus? Michael Haag author of The Quest for Mary Magdalene speaks to Jenni.

Penrose Halson author of “Marriages are Made In Bond Street” traces the history of one of Britain’s most successful marriage bureaux founded by two twenty-four year olds in the Spring of 1939. Penrose eventually became the proprietor and she tells Jenni about the remarkable cross-section of British society in the 1940’s who found partners through this tiny London office.

Listen to the episode here. Download the episode here.

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Tiger Woods at 40: The 14-time major champion’s legacy

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive on 2015-12-30 20:59Z by Steven

Tiger Woods at 40: The 14-time major champion’s legacy

BBC Sport
2015-12-30

Iain Carter, Golf Correspondent


Masters 2001: Woods seals ‘Tiger’ slam

Imagine Earl Woods choosing to put a baseball bat rather than a golf club into the hands of young Eldrick, his toddler son.

How different would golf be if Tiger Woods, who turns 40 on 30 December, had chosen to play something else?

As the ailing 14-time major champion struggles to swing a club again, he can celebrate this landmark birthday by reflecting that no-one has had a bigger impact on the game…

…Woods was golf’s poster boy. He was different – a black man in an overwhelmingly white sport – and he became the inspiration for the players who populate the top of the current world rankings.

“What Tiger Woods has done for golf, I’m not sure anyone would do again,” four-time major champion Rory McIlroy told the BBC.

“Not just how unbelievably talented he was, but what he stood for, where he came from. He brought a whole new demographic into golf and sort of made golf cool again for kids.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Divided Loyalties

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-06-05 13:27Z by Steven

Divided Loyalties

BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Stories
BBC
2014-05-04 (Available until 2014-05-09)
Duration: 1 hour

DJ Semtex, Host

DJ Semtex has a black mother and a white father and, as a mixed race kid, had both negative and positive experiences.

The latest national census showed that the mixed race population is the fastest growing in Britain, so what does that mean in 2014? Semtex talks to young people from a range of backgrounds and across the UK, including Jordan from Rizzle Kicks, model Rob Evans, comedian Michelle De Swarte and playwright Sarah Lee.

Are loyalties divided or is society beyond categorising by skin colour?

Listen to the program (until 2014-05-09) here.

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Upfront (With Guests Mark Christian and Anna Rothery)

Posted in Audio, Live Events, New Media, Social Science, United Kingdom, United States on 2012-06-04 02:34Z by Steven

Upfront (With Guests Mark Christian and Anna Rothery)

Upfront
BBC Radio: Merseyside
2012-06-02

Phina Oruche, Host

Guests

Mark Christian, Professor & Chair of African & African American Studies
Lehman College, City University of New York

Anna Rothery, Councillor
Liverpool City Council, Princes Park Ward

Host Phina Oruche discusses the current state of the African diaspora in the United States and Britain with Dr. Mark Christian and Liverpool Councilor Anna Rothery. Dr. Christian is author of the book Multiracial Identity: An International Perspective, the chapter “Mixing Up the Game: Social and Historical Contours of Black Mixed Heritage Players in British Football” in the anthology Race, Ethnicity and Football: Persisting Debates and Emergent Issues, and article “The Fletcher Report 1930: A Historical Case Study of Contested Black Mixed Heritage Britishness.”

Download the interview here (00:18:27/15.0 MB).

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Mixed Britannia: Part 3 of 3 (1965-2011)

Posted in Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Work, United Kingdom, Videos on 2011-10-25 04:09Z by Steven

Mixed Britannia: Part 3 of 3 (1965-2011)

BBC Two
2011-10-20

George Alagiah, Host

Below is the last episode as four 15-minute videos.

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Britain: More mixed than we thought

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, New Media, Social Science, United Kingdom, Videos on 2011-10-08 02:50Z by Steven

Britain: More mixed than we thought

British Broadcasting Corporation
2011-10-07

Mark Easton, Home editor

New figures seen by the BBC suggest our mixed race population may be twice the size of official figures—numbering up to two million people

Looking at some new figures on ethnic minorities in Britain the other day, I glanced at a footnote and suddenly sat bolt upright in my chair.

The implications of it were clear: Britain’s mixed-race community must be at least double the size we previously thought.

The research by Dr Alita Nandi at the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) used data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS) to examine the experience of different ethnic groups in the UK.

As with the census and other surveys, ethnicity is defined in the UKHLS by the individual: if you regard yourself as black Caribbean or white British that is how you are counted.

Using this self-reported approach, the figures suggest that 0.88% of adults define themselves as “mixed”.

But the survey—following 100,000 people in 40,000 households—asks another question: what is the ethnicity of your parents?

The footnote puts it: “If we use this alternative definition of mixed then 1.99% of adults are of mixed parentage.”

More than twice as many over-16-year-olds are technically mixed race than describe themselves that way…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed Britannia, BBC Two, review

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2011-10-06 21:58Z by Steven

Mixed Britannia, BBC Two, review

The Telegraph
2011-10-06

Josephine Moulds

Josephine Moulds reviews the first episode of BBC Two’s documentary Mixed Britannia, presented by George Alagiah.

The first part of an ambitious documentary series, Mixed Britannia, ran last night, continuing BBC Two’s season about mixed-race life in the UK.

Over the course of three programmes, it aims to show the experiences of mixed-race people living in Britain from 1910 to the present day. The problem was it tiptoed so lightly around the subject of race, the first episode at least fell rather flat.

Last night covered 1910-1939, so presenter George Alagiah could shudder at how racist our country once was rather than tackle the thornier issue of the current climate. (That is saved for the last instalment.)…

Read the entire article here.

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