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Differences Between Black and White People in the UK
UK Blacks have fundamental differences to our white counterparts. Although some sweeping generalizations will be made, they can be taken as the norm with the knowledge that there will be UK Blacks who will not follow these patterns.
UK Blacks do not eat the same foods
UK Blacks eat foods that are grown in tropical countries. This is particularly true of older generations. These foods consist of the vegetables; plantain, yam, sweet potato, ackee, cassava, dasheen, okra, breadfruit, corn (and its component cornmeal), etc. Fruits would include; banana, melon, pineapple, guinep, soursop, mango, etc. Pulses; rice (West African sometimes eat "ground rice"), black-eyed peas, gungo peas, red peas (kidney beans), split peas/yellow lentils. Younger generations tend to cook less of this type of food though and are going for meals that are quicker to prepare, but are still significantly spicier than traditional British food.
A UK Black would almost always moisturize freshly bathed skin, even males. This isn't necessarily so for our white counterparts. It is true that over the world, Black people spend considerably more on cosmetics than any other race. These products are not simply articles of make-up, but include moisturisers for the face, body and hair.
UK Blacks tend to be far more extravagant with their hairstyles; again, even the men have hairstyles with many lines cut into it to look more outstanding. Women will often wait for hours at a hairdressers to have extensions sewn/platted/twisted into her hair, or to have her hair relaxed, cut and styled. Dreadlocks are not a rare sight in the UK.
Rastafarians have been evident at least from the 1970's although it wasn't until the 1980's that locks as a style became more common. With the popularity of the band Soul II Soul more men began to sport the "Funky Dread" which was locks on top along with very short back and sides. Locking a child's hair was mainly only done to boys who either had a Funky Dread or had a Rasta parent. Girls' hair was rarely locked.
UK Blacks are not patriotic
I believe this to be a significant difference between UK Blacks and African Americans. UK Blacks would never pledge allegiance to a Union Jack or George Cross (British Flag and English Flag) unless in the Police Force or in the Armed Forces and, in ratio terms there are significantly less blacks in the armed forces here than in the States.
UK Blacks would be wary of white people who have such flags in or around their homes and wouldn't go into old patriotic clubs like the "British Legion" or "The Union Jack Club". These flags represent racism and far right extremism for Black people in England. Black people in Wales, Scotland and Northern Island (which along with England composes the United Kingdom) may have a different view of their national flags.
UK Blacks are not English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish
A passport for either of these countries cannot be obtained and therefore cannot be classed as a nationality. To be English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish one would have to be white as this is the colour of the indigenous people. Being British, however, is a nationality (we have British passports) and as we belong to old British colonies we can be classified as British.
Actually, most UK Blacks still refer to themselves as being Jamaican, Nigerian, Bajan, Trinidadian, West Indian, African, Afro-Caribbean, etc - not Black British or UK Black. This is because UK Blacks still feel a strong affinity to "back home" where their family came to the UK from.
UK Blacks tend to be indifferent to the Royal Family
They are seen as another tax expense. However, it is recognised that the Royal Family bring in large national revenue by encouraging tourism. Prince Philip, the Queens husband, is a known racist and has made such remarks as "slitty-eyed people" when visiting China. He certainly isn't popular amongst the Black people who are remotely interested in the Royal Family. They are seen as being very remote from Black people.
Have you seen "The Madness of King George" (1994) starring Nigel Hawthorn as the King who became insane? Well, his Queen, played by the British actress Helen Mirren, was in actual fact mixed race. Our Black Queen Charlotte (formerly Princess Charlotte of Mecklenberg-Strelitz) is never mentioned in schools or in history programmes in this country. The fact that what is now known as Buckingham Palace was originally built as the "Queen's House" for her, a woman of colour by her husband King George III, is not widely known.
Lack of information on such issues only lends to the belief that Black people here are barely acknowledged by the upper-middle and upper classes. UK Blacks did warm to the late Princess Diana, but this was due in part to the fact that she was less aloof than the rest of the Royal Family.
UK Blacks do not take the British government too seriously
Unfortunately, there is a problem here with encouraging UK Blacks to vote. This isn't because UK Blacks are ill informed about policies of government candidates. The problem comes from a general distrust of politicians and the belief that they do not represent UK Blacks and the problems that they face. Another belief is that once the politician gains a position of power, they go against the policies which won them their votes in the first place.
Traditionally, UK Blacks used to vote for Labour, our socialist, left of centre party, but there have been black Conservative politicians & councillors since the 1980's (although not in large numbers). Should the government take a hard line view on something (fox hunting, farmers rights, etc) a UK Black would generally feel that although these things are of some importance they are far more concerned with single parenthood and the socio-economical problem it poses; poor housing conditions; police brutality (less common than in the seventies and eighties although there is still a problem); drugs in the inner-cities; the educations system's failure of black boys, etc. These issues are not dealt with as a matter of course unless some tragedy befalls one of us which is so appalling that the entire nation is in uproar.
In 1993 an eighteen-year-old boy was stabbed to death whilst waiting for a bus with his friend. The boy's name was Stephen Lawrence. The police investigation into his death was such a shambles that there was a subsequent enquiry into the way the police had dealt with it. The major finding was that the police were institutionally racist. This wasn't news to us.
Pets are not regarded as members of the family
When pets are kept, they are generally kept well, but they are never treated as a member of the family. Dogs, if kept, are normally kept outside of the house in a kennel if possible. Dogs are never allowed to lick the face under any circumstances - the concept is repulsive to the vast majority. Separate utensils are used to serve the pet food wherever possible.
If a UK Black has a pet, they are more likely to have a cat because of the independent nature of the animal. A dog is less likely to be kept by a UK Black living in London because of space restrictions in flats (apartments), which are the most common type of accommodation in the city.
The largest street festival in Europe is a UK Black celebration
The Notting Hill Carnival occurs every year on the last Monday in August (which is a UK holiday) and includes the weekend before it, in London's Notting Hill area. The carnival attracts up to two million people and is a street party of gargantuan proportions with calypso, soca, and steel pan music. There are also sound systems playing a wide variety of music (reggae, dance, salsa, garage, etc) and the essence of the carnival is the masquerade of different costumes.
This was originally a celebration of emancipation of the slaves in Trinidad and then again was a symbol of West Indian resolve not be provoked or kept down by the English when they were mistreating them in the 50's and 60's.
A group of West Indians (mainly Trinidadians) took to the streets in 1964 playing music and wearing costumes and thus the first Notting Hill Carnival was born. Now the Notting Hill Carnival is a reflection of the racial diversity of London and the UK and many nationalities enjoy the festivities. There are a few carnivals throughout the country in cities and towns such as; Leeds (where the first carnival in the country took place), Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Preston, etc.
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