This UK Black Phenomenon

This UK Black PhenomenonYvonne Christie raises some important questions about the loss of identity and sense of self in the Black community in the UK. The article was intended as a letter to one of the Black newspapers. Interestingly, it never got published!

I am interested in raising something for us to consider and or begin to talk about. Am I the only mother of a young ‘normal toned’ black skinned daughter – meaning that both parents are of Caribbean descent? And who, in addition, does not sport weaves, wigs, or extensions, is proud of her ancestry and African lineage, which makes it impossible to compete in being noticed by Black young males because of the UK phenomena of guys ignoring any female who is not white or, of late, mixed race.

What my daughter brings up is how she is ignored or looked over and or looked through – because she does not fit the current trend of light hue? Now, before you all kick off and say here we go again a skin colour discussion, can I ask you all to rise above it and look at things a bit deeper and from a sociological stand point.

I would argue that there is something going on in our community which needs to be discussed by sociologists and psychologists – whether amateur or trained – to enable us who are watching this multi-cultural story unfold. That something fundamentally and deeply damaging is emerging in our interaction – or lack of interactions – with each other. I am also aware that some readers will immediately jump to the conclusion that my daughter must be ugly, fat, spotty, unattractive and such like. On the contrary, she is a photographic model, a student, who works part-time to see her through university expenses. So not your stereotype of a non-ambitious, young Black person – no different to many of the readers, I am sure.

We talk so much about our community not sticking together, we talk a lot about our communities needing to have relationships with each other if we are to be sustained and successful in the UK. However, I seriously wonder if such plaudits are just an illusion, because as a Black community we do not seem up for exploring such issues. I may be wrong though and people in lecture theatres, offices and homes are discussing this very issue, but I just haven’t been a part of it. Hence my need to write to see what others think.

The first set of questions I am posing are this: ‘Are ordinary/dark skinned black people being shunned by their own race of males and females for white and mixed race people because we want to have off-spring who are light coloured and long haired (instead of weaves?). Do we shun people who look like ourselves because we cannot stand to see a reflection of ourselves opposite us? Do we try and mix it up so that we can dilute the blackness of us so that we become more acceptable/palatable/attractive (but in whose eyes). Are we trying to wash the blackness out of us so that society can become one?

My next set of questions to us as Black people are: Which other race of people do we see who totally shun their own images in the way that black people can? Apparently, ‘usually’ when people/mammals choose mates they go for partners who look like their mother or their father. Why doesn’t this happen with Black people?

Should we not be deeply concerned about this phenomenon? In the same way we look at the continuity of the environment, should we not be concerned about our continuity and preservation as Black people? What does it mean when we do not look at our own psychology to understand what drives us in the direction that we are going, in the numbers that we are doing what we call assimilation and multiculturalism.

Isn’t it about time we stood still and did some research and gained deeper understanding about this? Where are our Black anthropologists and psychologists? Are we being silent about our behaviour for a reason? Is this phenomenon also one of the factors behind why we are not happy with ourselves and kill and maim and mutilate people who look like us?

There are at least two other groups of victimised people whose experience of oppression has left them as confused and overrepresented in prisons and psychiatric institutions, dependent on drugs and alcohol (possibly denial of self too) as Black people here in the UK – the indigenous Americans (Indians) and the aborigines in Australia.

Has the time come to explore our psyche and our history side by side?

Let us debate and learn. 
Yvonne Christie
January 2008