22 October 2021
The people who made me who I am today
I’m the first generation in my family to be born in the UK. Being Black and British is an important part of what my identity is. Another part of me identifies with the living history and experience of my parents and grandparents. They are part of the Windrush generation, my mother and grandad coming over from Jamaica. They made so many sacrifices and endured so much, providing a life for me and my siblings.
I often reflect on how their experiences have made me the person I am today. They gave me my strong work ethic and a love of attending church. I may not have seen it at the time, but this was the passing on of family traditions going back generations. Knowledge of my heritage food culture and amazing music genres.
Living and changing history
I’m blessed and privileged to know a plethora of Black British people. Comedians, singers rappers and actors that have contributed and done important things for this country. What my generation has achieved in the last 25 years is amazing.
I love the fact that young people have black heroes on their doorstep. My parents never had that, many of their black heroes were based outside of the UK. The black British heroes they should have been looking up to from history were hidden from them.
Where you’re from and where you’re going
I worry that not enough people are communicating about our history. Especially between the generations. A lot of young people don’t know about the Black British legacy. It’s as important to know where you’re from as it is to know where you’re going. Don’t lose your identity.
Tap into your grandparents while they’re still here – they’ll make you proud and you’ve got a lot to learn from their experiences, even today. It’s important for my generation to pass on our knowledge to the next generation. To keep the family connections going. My fear is that this generation loses its sense of identity, culture and deference to their heritage.
I like to think being a Black British man in this field of work makes me a positive role model to young people coming up behind me. I would like to think I have had a positive and sustainable impact on a large number of young people, colleagues and adults’ lives. And I hope to positively impact many more.
UK Black history is a living thing and is ever-changing. As we look ahead, we should not stop looking back at the great Black Britons from centuries ago. They are a huge part of what it means to be Black and British.