For a long time, the term ‘Black British’ had been a problematic one. Growing up in the nineties, I faced the conundrum of whether to refer to myself as ‘British but African’, or ‘African but British’. I couldn’t count the number of times I was berated by peers for describing myself as Ghanaian, whilst being jeered at by family members for “not acting African enough”. ‘Black British’, was thus a convenient filler to occupy the gap left by being neither this nor that.
The simple definition of a Black Briton is a British citizen of black ancestry, particularly with African or Caribbean roots. But what made this seemingly clear descriptor so difficult in practice?
Trying to define one’s identity can be confusing for a young person holding small or no knowledge of their ancestral land, whilst also feeling detached from the country of their abode. Although I was born and raised in London, schooled in Kent and did my best to assimilate to my environment, my brown skin and cornrows were too distinct to go unnoticed. I so wanted to be one with my mainly white classmates, that I contorted myself into different shapes just so I could fit in.