• miattac

Blackndbritishh: The Page Archiving The Untold Stories Of Black Brits

“’Empire of the Windrush’, South London. Harry Jacobs 1950s-1999”

Most people living in the UK can vouch that the Black British population is comprised of individuals from a vast range of cultures, languages, histories, and experiences. According to the 2011 census, the country is made up of almost 2 million Black people – a decade later, this number is sure to have risen significantly. Though the term ‘Black British’ was originally coined to refer to those of the Windrush generation, it today encompasses a number of African and Afro-Caribbean individuals from various walks of life.

However, many of us find that our stories are often homogenised; if discussed at all. While we often learn about significant events, stories, and figures in African American culture and history, there is very little heard from our side of the pond.

It was for this reason that @blackndbritishh was established by Sika, a British-Ghanian user, on Twitter and Instagram. From photographs of Notting Hill Carnival in the 90s, to UK rave scenes, hall parties, and forgotten British musicians of the past, these pages have essentially become digital archives that showcase everyday life in Britain for Black people; particularly from the ‘80s up until 2007.

Sika highlighted the disparity in representation that he had personally witnessed while navigating social media during lockdown. “I was seeing a lot of Black American archive photos on the timeline, and not enough of Black Brits" he says. "I decided to dig up something for our people here in the UK”.

“Uk garage “twice as nice” party, 1997/98 by PYMCA”

For Sika, this usually means spending hours scouring the web for content to post, all with credit to the photographers and creators. “Sometimes, you get a picture and you forget the story or title behind it so you have to research it all over again”. Though this most often takes the form of photographs, the @blackndbritishh archives also include music, documentary snippets, and footage from live performances.

These efforts certainly do not go to waste however, as the @blackndbritishh Twitter page has racked up an impressive 12,000 followers in only a matter of months. The Instagram equivalent, @blackandbritishh, is also steadily rising; recently hitting 2,000 followers. ”I’m actually surprised, I wasn’t expecting this supportive response. I thought it’d be a normal page that people would see on the timeline, but it’s shown massive growth in less than a year”.

Aside from carrying out individual research, Sika also receives content through submissions. Preferring to keep @blackndbritishh as an open space for other users to contribute to, Sika finds that these posts often prompt discussions. “Through the comments, you get people’s views [on being Black in Britain]”. Sometimes, users spot themselves or a relative in a post, and provide a little more backstory to the content.

As important as the visual content is to @blackndbritishh, the stories behind the content are also central to the page. Scrolling down their feed, you will more often than not learn something new about the history of Black culture in the UK. Sika also highlights influential Black figures in Britain – such as Margaret Yvonne Busby, the UK’s first Black publisher, and Pearl Alcock, an artist and club owner that emigrated to Brixton from Jamaica and created safe spaces for Britain’s Black and queer communities.

“Fashion shoot at Brixton market by Armet Francis, 1973”

“Nigerian Parties in London 1995 by Liz Johnson Artur”

“Pirate Radio era and how it revolutionised London’s music scene in the 90s”

“Wembley, London, England (1986). Youth at the UK Fresh Hip-Hop Event. The boys seen wearing the Cazal sunglasses very popular during the rise of hip-hop in the '70s, '80s, starting in New York City. Photographed by Paul Hartnett.”

“The Legendary Caron Wheeler of Soul II Soul. London, Uk.”

“West London 1999 by Liz Johnson Artur.”

Aside from the more light-hearted stories and memories, @blackndbritishh also covers significant events – from Malcom X’s visit to Birmingham in 1965, to the Tottenham riots of 1985, and the gradual gentrification of Hackney. In light of the Black Lives Matter movement gaining traction following the death of George Floyd, many have turned their attention to the UK’s often silent forms of injustice towards Black people in the UK.

One post that particularly caught the attention of followers was that of the New Cross Fire, which to Sika’s surprise many were not aware of. “13 murdered and nothing said!” the post reads, in reference to the house fire that killed 13 black teenagers in 1981. Despite being a suspected racist attack, many Black citizens at the time were shocked at the apathy towards the case and the subsequent covering up of the story. ”I’m not just trying to entertain the people with party pictures, but also educate them on certain events that happened which are not talked about” Sika notes. “A lot of people were saying they never heard of the New Cross Fire which is sad”.

Blackndbritishh and other similar emerging pages are important to the digital age, as they share the rich cultures and histories of Black Brits that have gone ignored for so long. Not only is this an opportunity for us to learn more about life in Britain for these communities, it is also an opportunity to share these archives with others around the world.

If you have your own stories or content you would like to share, submit to @blackndbritishh under their guidelines.

Recent Posts
ferino banner 300x600.jpg
Featured Articles