[Edit – Disclaimer: Please be aware I am speaking of my personal experience. I am in no way trying to say you must think like me but I am just speaking from what I have experienced. I encourage your opinions as always]
I say this time and time again, I am not British, I am African. This is a kind of phrase that most African-born or even African people born in the UK will say. However, when I was in France, I asked one girl where she was from.
She said France. I was like no, where are you from? She then understood and said her parents were from Congo and that in fact, she had been born there but moved to France as a baby. I remember the ex-boyfriend (white) of one of my cousins who lives in the UK talking about a woman of Jamaican origin and calling her English. We both were like ”oh, she’s Jamaican”. and he was like ”she’s English”.
One major issue I have noticed in the UK is that people get scared when someone does not see them for who they are. This is the only reason why this Afropolitan has come to be and I don’t subscribe to its’ way of thinking of being a huge melting pot of different so-called ‘Euro’ identities for black people.
It’s that kind of transculturalism that TRACE magazine advocates and again, I don’t particularly understand. By doing this, people act like being African or Afro-Caribbean is some negative thing, by espousing their european identity only. I just find that odd. As a child, I lived in many different nations such as Russia, Sweden and Switzerland. I never once thought I was an Afropolitan who was part Russian and a drop of Swedish. That is farcical to me. I am a Tanzanian who has been lucky enough to live a cosmopolitan life due to my parents’ work.
Another thing that is a complete farce is this idea of Black Britain. I love living in London as a city, but the concept of the Afro-Caribbean society in the UK is something which does not really exist. First because many black people who are born in the UK do not self-identify as black in a proud way. I know what you are thinking, what a huge generalisation right? Unlike the USA, where black people create organisations and really have a sense of ‘community’, there is a real inferiority complex of black people in the UK. This is shown by the 100% complete lack of black love couples in the United Kingdom.
When I see a black woman and a black man walking down the streets, I double-stare due to shock.
This is manifested I believe in the lack of belief in one’s self identity. Many black people born in the UK to Caribbean parents have never ever been to their home countries. I was astonished to learn this, but no way judging. Does it seem weird to have parents from a country and never see that country? In no way am I saying people have to have the identities that they don’t want, but blackness and social identity is rooted in these home countries. I go back to Tanzania every year. That black Congolese girl told me she had never been back for 23 years. This is where I realised: how black people’s parents and families treat identity is INTEGRAL to how we see ourselves. One of my best friends was born in Uganda but moved to London at a young age. She always says she is from Uganda and her family visit regularly.
I am happy my parents’ always made it clear who I am. I love living in London, but I know 100% that I am an African woman. I can’t imagine taking on someone else’s identity.