Being Black British
Over the years, I’ve given much thought to being Black British. I’ve always said, I feel black; I look black; I eat black and I am black but I’m NOT British. There’s never been a feeling of belonging, even though I was born and bred in this country. The other day, I listened to David Lammy, as he spoke to a caller and tried to explain to her, why and how he feels British and/or English! Quite frankly, I hadn’t gone to such depths as differentiating between British and English, but there you go! As I listened to him give his explanation, and heard her fire back, it became clear to me, exactly why I feel the way I do. It is people like this caller, commenters of news stories and society, who make me (and I know there are others) feel the way we do! What exactly is it that will have to be done before we are classed as, or thought of, as British (or English) by others and personally. White British may look into their ancestry and find that they aren’t English or British per se, but they are still able to feel more welcome because of the colour of their skin. The only thing that may indicate their origin is their surname. Another census has recently been carried out. When completing, I didn’t know whether we had to complete with our perception or with reality. Either way, it can create problems, as it may be that what we perceive is not even true. What is the truth? I wonder what David Lammy put on his form and would it be deemed false or correct? Rightly or wrongly, I filled mine out on time. The only thing I am sure of is that I am black, we’ll leave it at that!
The decision has been made, within the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, that we move away from the term BAME, which stands for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic. Apparently, the thought is that it is a perception but not a reality! In my view, before the term BAME can be gotten rid of, the reasons that cause this perception has to be removed, seeing as they think it’s not a reality. Those who have a perception that they are treated differently to their peers, have to be made aware why it’s their perception and then it be corrected. Again, in my view, it’s not a figment of their imagination, and there is something that brings about this train of thought; I have felt it too. I’m not sure whether this is discussed in school and cannot recall whether it was, whilst I was there. However, there needs to be a greater understanding because it becomes a problem when you, as an individual, are floating around wondering or concerned, as well as thinking of the meaning of life!
From the figures for the commission report, in 2019, it was found that there is no disparity in the levels of attainment between the ethnic minorities and everyone else, apart from Black Caribbean, who were the only ethnic group performing lower than the White British pupils. Very disturbing! The report also states that “historic cases” of racism can cause mistrust. That may be so but, we see examples of that today, not in the past. As I’ve mentioned before, comments on news stories, the social media posts, where people have made it known their thoughts on black people and their existence, which won’t have been isolated to themselves, as they’ve been liked by many (probably shared) and they did it with confidence in the first place. Celebrities have made comments and gone on to lose their jobs or been reprimanded because of their views. Would they have openly made these comments, with confidence, if they didn’t think it was okay to do so? Is it thought that, the amount of people from the ethnic minority group (notably black) in advertisements, has increased over a matter of a mere few months, and that everything is suddenly ok? All is forgotten? No, it will take a lot more than that. Change needs to be made from the grass roots up. Within all stages of the education system, children need to be made aware that equality truly does exist OR equality needs to truly exist. When the fruits are born from this change, then we can begin to remove the BAME terminology. I know I’m not alone in thought because after writing this, the person who advised on the report, Samuel Kasumu, resigned. It was either the disparities or other reasons that caused him to do so.
Present Day Situation – 1
There was a story in the press yesterday, of a 21 year old man named Evan Nathan Smith, who had Sickle Cell disease. In 2019, he had been left in a “lodger” bed in a ward and did not have access to oxygen or a call bed. Let that sink in. As a person who is a sufferer of Sickle Cell Disease, I must say the pain that we have to endure is no slight niggly feeling that will pass. The pain goes on for days and is unrelenting! Over the years, I have stayed at home and dealt with my pain, self-managing with painkillers and a hot-water bottle and as as much rest as I could, which was hard considering I was a single mother. To me it was just one of those things. I didn’t feel the need to let others know or even tell others the reason I cancelled on prearranged meetings, which was silly because I do have an illness. In a recent conversation with a friend, she quite correctly told me that if I don’t tell people, they’re not going to know, therefore, I can’t complain! She didn’t say the last bit, but it’s basically what she meant and she was correct. Well, it wasn’t until I was in hospital last year that my medication was increased! Let that sink in! I had been having Sickle crises, all my life, I am now 47 years old, but my medication was only increased last year! It was known that the medication hadn’t been working for me before, because I had always informed them during my appointments that the pain didn’t go away until it was ready, several days later. Why was that? Questions that initially come to mind are:-
- Is it really not understood what the pain is actually like;
- Is it thought that sufferers of Sickle Cell exaggerate their pain;
- Is it the thought that we are all (potential) drug addicts; and
- Does it really matter how much pain we have to endure:
Over the years I’d heard of people not being listened to by the Doctors and medics, but didn’t personalise it, until I recently spoke to a few people and watched a few documentaries. I discovered the probable perception of black people and tests that were carried out, to see if they had a similar pain threshold to everyone else! Look into the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, as another example to what I’m telling you here. Even though there are these examples there is still a wonder why black people have been slow on the uptake of the vaccine! The young man I mentioned earlier, died by the way. He suffered a series of cardiac arrests and the cause of death was noted as multiple organ dysfunction and cerebral infarction. A death that could and should have been avoided. The comment on the bottom of the story was ‘bit of a shaking of the colour tree to see what they can dig up’. The inquest is due to conclude on Tuesday.
Present Day Situation – 2
Another example is Richard Okorogheye, aged 19, who has been missing for several days and nothing was thought of it. On reporting his disappearance, his mother was told or asked (I’m not sure which), that he was unknown by officers. They also said ‘we can’t find your son if you can’t’! I’m sure that’s what they are paid and supposed to do. This is a mother who knew her son, so knew when to be concerned. Richard was also a Sickle Cell Disease sufferer so, during the lockdown, he had only left home for his blood transfusions. On top of that, the mental issues, which go along with the pain of this disease is not realised often enough. His going missing was very unlike him. A stark contrast to when Sarah Everard, who was 33 years old, went missing; searches started (almost) immediately. I am by no means implying that was wrong but a great contrast in approach should be recognised? Richard has now been missing for almost 10 days and there was a delay in any action being taken.
Present Day Situation 3
Benjamin Hannam is a young man who applied, and was accepted, as a probationary police officer at the tender age of 22. He was found to be a past member of an outlawed neo-Nazi group and there was video evidence of him and his beliefs. Is it to be thought that he is one in a million and that there are no others like him? Please! Just as he ‘slipped through the net’ it is possible for others to have done the same. Those in authority cannot really be expected to see through all the crap because, at the end of the day, they can only take a person’s word for it. There’s nothing more that can be done, unless they are to thoroughly investigate each applicant, but I do doubt they have the finances or resources to do so…….however, maybe they should be given some. A story I read in The New York Times says, there is evidence of right wing infiltration within the German police force. Officers have been found to be members within chat rooms, which have a racial connotation.
Dare I say it, a change is gonna come. Oftentimes, I read and not much is held in my memory, but as I write, this is the song that ran across my mind. A Change Is Gonna Come, written and sung by Sam Cooke on the inappropriate and uncalled for struggle of the black man as he had/has to fight for equality. Centuries have gone by and black people have had to fight for equality: WHY? We are human! We deserve to be treated as everyone else. We are the same as everyone else, only with different shades to the colour of our skin. Even the slogan Black Lives Matter was created and it was criticised because All Lives Matter. That wasn’t being disputed. It’s not everyone that is going through the struggle that we have to. As members of the LGBT+ struggle for equality I haven’t heard or read anything disputing whether they are at a disadvantage concerning that; people are most likely to agree with it and stand with them or speak negatively about them…….if my last comment is incorrect, maybe I just haven’t read enough articles, watched the correct documentaries or maybe I just can’t remember! Don’t get me wrong the LGBT+ experience issues too, but they are recognised and a lot more change is taking place to resolve them; not just by sweeping things under the carpet but by real change. Changes are being made with the gender specific pronouns and everyone is expected to fall in line. You cannot hide being black; it’s the first thing a person sees when they look at you, they don’t have to try looking closer, get to know you or ask you any questions. The Government has suggested that we help ourselves to end racial inequalities! S.I. Martin, who is an author, was listed as a contributor but has said that he was not contacted by the Race Commission! Now, I won’t claim to know him, because I don’t, but he has said ’If they knew anything about me, they know I would not have had anything to do with any of the current shenanigans at Number 10’. Did they really think he would not dispute the fact that he had been incorrectly listed as a contributor? That is a lie, so can we be sure about anything else contained within its pages?! Isn’t one of the jobs of the Government to manage how the country’s run day to day? I feel this falls under one of their responsibilities.
More needs to be done for members of the BAME group. It’s not enough to just dissolve the acronym, and then make the people who make up said acronym feel as though they are going bonkers, or that there are only “historic cases” causing these doubts. It’s not in our minds. We haven’t imagined it. After reading this, what would you say it is; is it a perception or a reality?
As this is entitled, Thinking Out LOUD, Unapologetically, that is exactly what I’ve been doing with this blog piece, thinking out loud, unapologetically! No research has been done but it’s just what is on my mind, seen with my eyes and brought forth.