I can almost smell the patties in Cornfields Bakery, Thornton Heath. The flaky yellow pastry crumbling around mine and my sister’s small, hungry mouths after swimming classes on a Saturday morning. We’d try our hardest to brush off the crumbs before jumping in the car, ready to listen to Choice FM for ten minutes before arriving home.
It’s these small yet significant memories that contribute to the significance of my culture and identity. As a Black British Jamaican, who was fortunate enough to grow up with not only my Jamaican parents and grandparents, but even my Jamaican great grandmother, I have always strongly identified with my Jamaican roots. I was born and grew up in South London, eating patties and ackee and saltfish, and have waved the Jamaican flag at Notting Hill Carnival since I was a child.
According to the last UK census, London has the highest number of Black people in one single area in the UK at 13.3% – 52.7% of which are African and 31.7% are Caribbean. I have always known there to be a differentiation between being Black British/Caribbean and Black British/African. I believe the post-World War II Windrush immigration of Caribbean nationals to the UK contributes to this. Whilst the UK census sheds little light on the Black population of the UK, through my own eyes, I have seen and experienced the rich diversity of UK Black culture, particularly in London. I have Black friends with roots from various countries and I myself have always identified as British/Jamaican. For example, if you asked me if I am African, I would say ‘No, I’m Caribbean, I’m Jamaican.’