All my life, I’ve lived in areas with a small black population. I was born in Swansea, moved to Stafford when I was three, and now I live in Norwich, East Anglia. When I moved to the region for university, I didn’t think twice about the area’s unusually low black population. (The latest census found the black population in East Anglia averages at 1.04 percent, compared to 3.4 percent in wider England and Wales.) White was what I knew. I barely had any black friends growing up in Stafford. We only knew of a black hairdresser in our town. Almost all the local grime artists were white.
Therefore, East Anglia’s tiny black population felt familiar to me. It was only when I graduated in 2015 that I felt an unmistakable tug - a pull between the white community I was embedded in and my melanin, my parents’ mother tongues, my grandparents in Africa. Because of this conflict, I became more aware of concealed black movements and histories around me. Did any of the region’s stately homes keep black servants? Are there any black community groups? Who was the first black person in East Anglia?