Why Is The Black British Struggle Ignored?

I'm sure you have seen all the hype around Samuel L Jackson's comments on black British actors playing American roles in films.

It's a real shame that the interview took an ignorant turn, because the conversation and discussions within the interview was very interesting and thought provoking. Up until the point where Samuel started to speak about black British actors being cheaper than American actors and all the other rubbish about Britain being a country where interracial dating has been happening for years.

"Daniel grew up in a country where they've been interracial dating for a hunnid years. There's only about like eight real white people left in Britain, the rest of them are mixed".

 I find it so bizarre how little African Americans know about Black Britions. Part of me can understand some of the ignorance because the black British experience is rarely shown on such a large scale. Most of the time we are bombarded with the black American experience, so I guess it makes it look like the black British experience wasn't as devastating as the American one, from the African American point of view. Which is ridiculous really because black is black, so regardless of where we are now due to slavery and colonisation we all started in the same place. I think the way racism is here in the UK and in the US is different as well. In American it comes across like the racism there is very obvious, blatant and normalised I guess you could say. Whereas here in the UK racism is a lot more covert.

"Covert racism is a form of racial discrimination that is disguised and subtle, rather than public or obvious. Concealed in the fabric of society, covert racism discriminates against individuals through often unnoticeable or seemingly passive methods".

The UK has this whole "keeping up appearance" thing, where everything is actually shitty, but instead of saying that and being honest they'd rather act like everything is all good. I get the sense that America is the opposite, it's more of a "Yeah, I'm a racist so what?" Whereas here it's "Oh God no, I'm not racist. My neighbour is black". And I think this is what Americans are seeing, but aren't really articulating this issue very well. I think because African Americans aren't seeing the police brutality and racism streamed as widely here as it is there, they believe that everyone is cool over here in the UK. When really it's all fake smiles and micro-aggression over here.

I kinda agree with Samuel when questions if black British actors/actresses can fully understanding what it is to be black in America. Obviously being black in different parts of the world has its similarities, but I feel like there are some differences in how the racism is presented and handled in various places. Which will affect the way black people view racism. There are some black people who have never experienced any forms of racism,  whereas there are others who have only ever experienced racism. The way those two people would play the role of a African American or black Briton is going to be very different. I think this is what Samuel poorly tried to explain. However at his age I would think that he would have a better understanding of the black British experience that doesn't just involve what he has seen on TV.

This ignorance will change when more British shows staring black British actors and actresses are produced and accessible to a international audience. Shows like Chewing Gum are needed, as well as other shows that showcase the black British experience in more creative and honest ways. Youtube is also a great place to see black British actors and actresses in short series. One of the 20Something Podcast episodes featured the extremely talented Danielle Dash where Danielle mentions her web series DearJesusTV. It's a great series that looks the modern highs and lows of a black British family.

The ignorant comments made by Samuel during this interview is due to a lack of knowledge. Ignorance is so damaging and it unintentionally encourages a lot of the "stop trying to be like the US" tweets and comments. It shouldn't be a fight to see who is the most oppressed and who is more deserving of certain roles due to their place of birth. There is so much more to focus on, discussing whether Daniel should of been casted for an American role or not is just a way to avoid this bigger issues that black people as a whole are facing daily. Even though things are being done, there are movements and open discussions about race and racism. More still needs to be done, more discussions and more action.

I'm getting real tired of non-black people and even some black people either questioning or dismissing my oppression. This level of arrogance needs to be checked and dismantled every single time it appears. This constant silencing is very soul crushing, It breeds anger and frustration. Sometimes those emotions/feelings take over, which just makes it ten times harder to fight the system and all its issues. Especially when you already know that once those emotional and feelings are expressed, the "angry black woman/man" stereotype is forced onto you, which only encourages others to silence you, because you didn't respond to the systematic oppression you and your people are experiencing in a calm, digestible, apologetic manner.

Brits love to remind oppressed people about how bad and racist America is, without acknowledging their own issues. They also love to tell people of colour to "go back home" without speaking about their adverts inviting Caribbeans over to work and live in Britain. We are shown the "No dogs, no Irish and no blacks" sings, but not the same invitations that we're used to encourage Caribbeans to come over.

So you're going to invite me to over then when I get there tell me "nah, go back home" huh? 

Some bloggers/writers who have articulated this issue a lot better than I have:

Samuel L Jackson & African American Solipsism - Danielle Dash

Samuel L. Jackson's Statement On British Actors Represents The Crabs In A Barrel Mentality Stopping Black Unity - Antoine Speaks

Samuel L. Jackson Is Wary Of Hollywood’s Fondness For Casting Black Brits As Americans - Sara Boboltz [The Huffington Post]

How Black Oppression In the U.K. Can Be Ignored - Zachary Okundaye [Affinity Magazine]

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