As the Western world continues to grapple with the issues and consequences of both Brexit and Trump, there appears to be a sea of TV programmes on Black identity. Below are examples of these programmes
Blackish (E4): Blackish is an American sitcom following the lives of a middle class African American family. It is witty, clever , educational and entertaining. It shows you the various nuances of how an average middle class African American family tries to define or see their blackness
In the Shadow of Mary Seacole (ITV): This is a one off documentary on the life and signicance of Mary Seacole (1805-1881) a Jamaican born woman who funded herself to bring Western and traditional medical relief help to the wounded soldiers during the Crimean War (1853-1856). The documentary ended with a sculpture of her being erected in front of St Thomas Hospital in London
Black is the New Black (BBC): This is a series profiling various Black personalities in different professions and works of life in Britain. They all spoke about how their identity has been interogated and continues to be in their various professions
Will Britain ever have a Black Prime Minister? (BBC). This was a one off docmentary presented by actor and presenter David Harewood. He looked at how odds are stacked against Britain having a Black Prime Minister. These odds starts from birth to University education
Black and British: A Forgotten History (A four part Documentary Series) (BBC). This documentary explores Black British History tracing the history of Africans in Britain back to the 3rd century AD with African Roman soldiers resident near Hadrian Walls in Cumbria. It also looked at how one of King Henry VIII trumpeters was a moor from North Africa in the person of John Blanke. A plaque commemorating John Blanke was unveiled at Greenwich University in London.
One thing all these programmes have in common is Black identity. Could it be that the political and public discourses emerging with the new politics on both side of the Atlantic is causing migrants to visit their roots in order to affirm who they are? Perhaps a more pertinent question is as conversations continue on the implications of Brexit that African and Caribbean in Britain are asserting their dual identity as Black and British? If current rhetoric is almost saying that to be American is white or Britishness equal whiteness then it becomes very powerful for people to be reminded how far back black people have been around these shores and how much they feel part of their identity is rooted in these geo-political construct called America and Britain.
I think these various programmes on the TV and other media platforms are very good for the children and youth of African and Caribbean parentage in understanding who they are and that they belong, and have been part of British history for centuries. I can only hope that these will be translated into our education system at all levels so that Black British History is not confined to the margins but that it becomes mainstream.