Tuesday, 28 October 2014


     BLACK            SOCIAL           HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                                    Black British

Black British
Notable British people of Black African descent.jpg
Total population
Black British
[note 1]
Regions with significant populations
 United Kingdom
England England1,846,614 (3.5%) (2011)[4]
Scotland Scotland37,000 (0.8%) (2011)[3]
Wales Wales18,276 (0.6%) (2011)[2]
Northern IrelandNorthern Ireland3,616 (0.2%) (2011)[1]
English (British EnglishBlack British EnglishCaribbean EnglishAfrican English), French, African languages, others
Predominantly Christianity (69%);
minorities follow Islam (15%), other faiths, or are irreligious(7%)
2011 census, Great Britain only[5]
  1. Jump up^ (Data from 2011 Census except Scotland 2001 Census)
Black British are British people of Black and African heritage, including those of African-Caribbean background, and may include people with mixed ancestry.[6] The term has been used from the 1950s to refer to Black people from former British colonies in the West Indies (i.e., the New Commonwealth) and Africa, who are residents of the United Kingdom and consider themselves British.
The term "black" has historically had a number of applications as a racial and political label, and may be used in a wider sociopolitical context to encompass a broader range of non-European ethnic minority populations in Britain, though this is a controversial and non-standard definition.[7]
Black British is used as an official category in UK national statistics ethnicity classifications.
The black population formed around 3.3% of the UK's population in 2011.[4] It has increased from 1.1 million in 2001 to over 1.8 million in 2011.[8]


Historically, the term has most commonly been used to refer to Black people of New Commonwealth origin. For example, Southall Black Sisters was established in 1979 "to meet the needs of black (Asian and Afro-Caribbean) women".[9] (Note that "Asian" in the British context means from South Asia only.) "Black" was used in this inclusive political sense[10] to mean "non-white British" – the main groups in the 1970s were from the British West Indies and the Indian subcontinent, but solidarity against racism extended the term to the Irish population of Britain as well.[11][12] Several organisations continue to use the term inclusively, such as the Black Arts Alliance,[13][14] who extend their use of the term to Latin America and all refugees,[15] and the National Black Police Association.[16] This is unlike the official British Census definition which adheres to the clear distinction between "British South Asians" and "British Blacks".[17] It is to be noted that as a result of the Indian diaspora and in particular Idi Amin's expulsion of Asians from Uganda in 1972, many British Asians are from families that have spent several generations in the British West Indies or East Africa. Consequently, not everyone born in, or with roots in, the Caribbean or Africa can be assumed to be "black" in the exclusive sense.[18] Lord Alli is a good example.

Historical usage

Black British was also an identity of Black people in Sierra Leone (known as the Krio) who considered themselves British.[19] They are generally the descendants of black people who lived in England in the 18th century and freed Black American slaves who fought for the Crown in the American Revolutionary War (see also Black Loyalists). In 1787, hundreds of London's Black poor (a category that included the East Indian seamen known as lascars) agreed to go to this West African country on the condition that they would retain the status of British subjects, to live in freedom under the protection of the British Crown and be defended by the Royal Navy. Making this fresh start with them were many white people, including lovers, wives, and widows of the black men.[20]


Roman Britain

There is evidence of the presence of people from Romanised North Africa in Roman Britain. Archaeological inscriptions suggest that most of these residents were involved with the military. However, some were in the upper echelons of society. Analysis of a skull found in a Roman grave in York indicated that it belonged to a mixed-race female. Hersarcophagus was made of stone and also contained a jet bracelet and an ivory bangle, indicating great wealth for the time.[21][22]

16th century

Early in the 16th century, Africans probably arrived in London with Catherine of Aragon when she travelled to England to marry Henry VIII. Among the six trumpeters depicted in the royal retinue of Henry VIII in the Westminster Tournament Roll, an illuminated manuscript dating from 1511, is a black musician. He wears the royal livery and is mounted on horseback. He is generally identified with the "John Blanke, the blacke trumpeter" who appears in the payment accounts of both Henry VIII and his father, Henry VII.[23] There was also a group of Africans at the court of James IV of Scotland, including a drummer referred to as the "More Taubronar". Both he and John Blanke were paid wages for their services.[24]
When trade lines began to open between London and West Africa, Africans slowly began to become part of the London population. For example, merchant John Lok brought five Africans to London in 1555. The voyage account in Hakluyt reports that they: "were tall and strong men, and could wel agree with our meates and drinkes. The colde and moyst aire doth somewhat offend them."[25] In the later 16th century and into the first two decades of the 17th century, 25 persons named in the records of the small parish of St Botolph's in Aldgate are identified as "blackamoors".[26] In the period of the war with Spain, 1588-1604, there was an increase in the number of Africans arriving in England, many of them freed from Spanish ships. Sir Thomas Sherley and Caspar Van Senden, a merchant of Lübeck, attempted to capitalise on this by petitioning Elizabeth I's Privy Council to allow them to transport Africans to Lisbon, presumably to sell them there. The relevant Privy Council Letters of July 1596 and a draft proclamation from the papers of Robert Cecil have been presented as an attempt to deport Africans from England,[27] but Van Senden and Sherley's efforts were unsuccessful, as they themselves admitted in correspondence with Sir Robert Cecil.[28] This is further demonstrated by the continued presence of Africans in the archival record in the 17th century. Recent studies of Africans in Early Modern Britain include Imtiaz Habib's  (Ashgate, 2008), Onyeka's  (Narrative Eye, 2013) and Miranda Kaufmann's Oxford DPhil thesis . These studies demonstrate the presence of hundreds of Africans in the period, not just in London, but across the country from Aberdeen to Hull, to Truro, with concentrations in port cities such as Bristol, Plymouth and Southampton and well as individuals living in remote villages such as BluntishamHuntingdonshire.[29]

17th and 18th centuries

The slave trade

Six African slaves in chains and their African seller, with bow and arrow, alongside two sailors at the Port of Liverpool

William Hogarth's engraving Four Times of the Day: Noon (1738) shows a black London resident.
During this era there was an increase in black settlement in London. Britain was involved with the tri-continental slave trade between Europe, Africa and the Americas. Black slaves were attendants to sea captains and ex-colonial officials, as well as traders, plantation owners and military personnel. This marked growing evidence of the black presence in the northern, eastern, and southern areas of London. There were also small numbers of free slaves and seamen from West Africa and South Asia. Many of these people were forced into beggary due to the lack of jobs and racial discrimination.[30][31]
The involvement of merchants from Great Britain[32] in the transatlantic slave trade was the most important factor in the development of the Black British community. These communities flourished in port cities strongly involved in the slave trade, such as Liverpool (from 1630)[32] and Bristol. By 1795, Liverpool had a monopoly of 62.5% of the European Slave Trade.[32] As a result, Liverpool is home to Britain's oldest black community, dating to at least the 1620s, and some Black Liverpudlians are able to trace their ancestors in the city back ten generations.[32] Early Black settlers in the city included seamen, the children of traders sent to be educated, and freed slaves, since slaves entering the country after 1722 were deemed free men.[33]
Slavery was never legal in England.[34] The Cartwright decision of 1569 resolved that England was "too pure an air for a slave to breathe in". From the early 18th century, there are records of slave sales and various attempts to capture Africans described as escaped slaves. The issue was not legally contested until the Somerset case of 1772, which concerned James Somersett, a fugitive black slave fromVirginia. Lord Chief Justice William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield (whose own presumed great-niece Dido was of mixed race) concluded that Somersett could not be forced to leave England against his will. (See generally, Slavery at common law.)
Around the 1750s, London became the home of many Blacks, as well as Jews, Irish, Germans and Huguenots. According to Gretchen Gerzina in her Black London, by the mid-18th century, Blacks comprised somewhere between one and three percent of the London populace.[35][36] Evidence of the number of Black residents in the city has been found through registered burials. The whites of London held widespread views that Black people in London were less than human; these views were expressed in slave sale advertisements. Some Black people in London resisted through escape.[35] Leading Black activists of this era included Olaudah EquianoIgnatius Sanchoand Quobna Ottobah Cugoano.
With the support of other Britons, these activists demanded that Blacks be freed from slavery. Supporters involved in these movements included workers and other nationalities of the urban poor. London Blacks vocally contested slavery and the slave trade. At this time, the slavery of whites was forbidden, but the legal statuses of these practices were not clearly defined. Free black slaves could not be enslaved, but blacks who were bought as slaves to Britain were considered the property of their owners. During this era, Lord Mansfield declared that a slave who fled from his master could not be taken by force or sold abroad. This verdict fuelled the numbers of Blacks that escaped slavery, and helped send slavery into decline. During this same period, many slave soldiers who had fought on the side of the British in the American Revolutionary War arrived in London. These soldiers were deprived of pensions and many of them became poverty-stricken and were reduced to begging on the streets. The Blacks in London lived among the whites in areas of Mile EndStepney,Paddington, and St Giles. The majority of these people did not live as slaves, but as servants to wealthy whites. Many became labelled as the "Black Poor" defined as former low-wage soldiers, seafarers and plantation workers.[37]
During the late 18th century, there were many publications and memoirs written about the "black poor". One example is the writings of Equiano, who became an unofficial spokesman for Britain's Black community. A memoir about his life and attributions in Black London is entitled The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano.
The Black Londoners, encouraged by the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor, decided to immigrate to Sierra Leone to found the first British colony in Africa. They demanded that their status as British subjects be recognized, along with the duty of the Royal Navy to defend them.
The number of people in the United Kingdom with Black African origins was relatively small. There were, however, significant communities of South Asians, especially East Indianseamen known as lascars. In short, the links established through the British Empire led to increased population movement and immigration.
In a famous case, an Indian Briton, Dadabhai Naoroji, stood for election to parliament for the Liberal Party in 1886. He was defeated, leading the leader of the Conservative Party,Lord Salisbury to remark that "however great the progress of mankind has been, and however far we have advanced in overcoming prejudices, I doubt if we have yet got to the point of view where a British constituency would elect a Blackman".[38] This led to much discussion about the applicability of the term "black" to South Asians. Naoroji was subsequently elected to parliament in 1892, becoming the first Member of Parliament (MP) of Indian descent.

19th century

Pablo Fanque, celebrated circus owner and performer in Victorian England
Coming into the early 19th century, more groups of black soldiers and seaman were displaced after the Napoleonic wars and settled in London. These settlers suffered and faced many challenges as did many Black Londoners. In 1807 the British slave trade was abolished and the slave trade was abolished completely in the British empire by 1834. The number of blacks in London was steadily declining with these new laws. Fewer blacks were brought into London from the West Indies and parts of Africa.[37]
The 19th century was also a time when "scientific racism" flourished. Many white Londoners claimed that they were the superior race and that blacks were not as intelligent as whites. They tried to hold up their accounts with scientific evidence, for example the size of the brain. The late 19th century effectively ended the first period of large-scale black immigration to London and Britain. This decline in immigration gave way to the gradual incorporation of blacks and their descendants into this predominantly white society.
During the mid-19th century there were restrictions on African immigration. In the later part of the 19th century there was a build-up of small groups of black dockside communities in towns such as Canning Town,[39] Liverpool, and Cardiff. This was a direct effect of new shipping links that were established with the Caribbean and West Africa.
Despite social prejudice and discrimination in Victorian England, some 19th-century black Britons achieved exceptional success. Pablo Fanque, born poor as William Darby in Norwich, rose to become the proprietor of one of Britain's most successful Victorian circuses. He is immortalised in the lyrics of The Beatles song "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" Thirty years after his 1871 death, the chaplain of the Showman's Guild said: "In the great brotherhood of the equestrian world there is no colour line [bar], for, although Pablo Fanque was of African extraction, he speedily made his way to the top of his profession. The camaraderie of the ring has but one test – ability."[40] Another great circus performer was equestrian Joseph Hillier, who took over and ran Andrew Ducrow's circus company after he died.[41]

Early 20th century

Members of the West India Regiment on the Somme, September 1916. All of the men pictured were African-Caribbean people who volunteered in the UK to fight for theBritish Army.

The Empire Windrush is extremely important within Black British history, as aboard the ship in 1948 was the first large wave of Jamaican immigrants to the UK.
Before World War II, the largest Black communities were to be found in the United Kingdom's great port cities: London's East End, Liverpool, Bristol and Cardiff's Tiger Bay, with other communities in South Shields in Tyne & Wear and Glasgow. The South Shields community (which, as well as Black British, also included South Asians and Yemenis) were victims of the UK's first race riot in 1919.[42]Soon all the other towns with significant non-white communities were also hit by race riots that spread across the Anglo-Saxon world. At this time, on Australian insistence, the British refused to accept the Racial Equality Proposal put forward by the Japanese at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919.

World War I

World War I saw further growth in the size in London's Black communities with the arrival of merchant seaman and soldiers. At the same time there was also a continuous presence of small groups of students from Africa and the Caribbean slowly migrating into London. These communities are now among the oldest black communities of London.

World War II

World War II marked another period of growth for the black communities in London, Liverpool and elsewhere in Britain. Many blacks from the Caribbean and West Africa arrived in small groups as wartime workers, merchant seaman, and servicemen from the army, navy, and air forces. For example, in February 1941, 345 West Indians came to work in factories in and around Liverpool, making munitions.[43] By the end of 1943 there were a further 3,312 African-American soldiers based at Maghull and Huyton, near Liverpool.[44] It is estimated that approximately 20,000 black Londoners lived in communities concentrated in the dockside areas of London, Liverpool and Cardiff. One of these black Londoners, Learie Constantine, who was a welfare officer with the Ministry of Labour, was refused service at a London hotel. He sued for breach of contract and was awarded damages. This particular example is used by some to illustrate the slow change from racism towards acceptance and equality of all citizens in London.[45]


In 1950 there were probably fewer than 20,000 non-white residents in Britain, almost all born overseas.[46] After World War II, the largest influx of Black people occurred, mostly from the British West Indies. Over a quarter of a million West Indians, the overwhelming majority of them from Jamaica, settled in Britain in less than a decade. In the mid-1960s, Britain had become the centre of the largest overseas population of West Indians.[47] This migration event is often labeled "Windrush", a reference to the Empire Windrush, the ship that carried the first major group of Caribbean migrants to the United Kingdom in 1948.[48] "Caribbean" is itself not one ethnic or political identity; for example, some of this wave of immigrants were Indo-Caribbean. The most widely used term then used was "West Indian" (or sometimes "coloured"). "Black British" did not come into widespread use until the second generation were born to these post-war immigrants to the UK. Although British by nationality, due to friction between them and the white majority they were often being born into communities that were relatively closed, creating the roots of what would become a distinct Black British identity. By the 1950s, there was a consciousness of black people as a separate group that had not been there between 1932 and 1938.[47] The increasing consciousness of Black British peoples was deeply informed by the influx of Black American culture imported by Black GIs during and after World War II, music being one central example of what Jacqueline Nassy-Brown calls "diasporic resources". These close interactions between Americans and Black British were not only material but also inspired the expatriation of some Black British women to America after marrying GIs (some of whom repatriated to the UK).[49]

Late 20th century

Ridley Road Market in Dalston, London, which sells Afro-Caribbean music, textiles, and food including goat meat, yams, mangos and spices.
The 1962 Commonwealth Immigrants Act was passed in Britain along with a succession of other laws in 19681971, and 1981 that severely restricted the entry of Black immigrants into Britain. During this period it is widely argued that emergent blacks and Asians struggled in Britain against racism and prejudice. During the 1970s—and partly in response to both the rise in racial intolerance and the rise of the Black Power movement abroad—"black" became detached from its negative connotations, and was reclaimed as a marker of pride: black is beautiful.[47] In 1975, a new voice emerged for the black London population; his name was David Pitt and he brought a new voice to the House of Lords. He spoke against racism and for equality in regards to all residents of Britain. With this new tone also came the opportunity for the black population to elect four Black members into Parliament.
Since the 1980s, the majority of black immigrants into the country have come directly from Africa, in particular, Nigeria and Ghana in West Africa, Uganda and Kenya in East Africa, Zimbabwe, and South Africa in Southern Africa. Nigerians and Ghanaians have been especially quick to accustom themselves to British life, with young Nigerians and Ghanaians achieving some of the best results at GCSE and A-Level, often on a par or above the performance of Caucasian pupils.[50] The rate of inter-racial marriage between British citizens born in Africa and native Britons is still fairly low, compared to those from the Caribbean. This might change over time as Africans become more part of mainstream British culture as second and third generation African communities become established.
By the end of the 20th century the number of black Londoners numbered half a million, according to the 1991 census. An increasing number of these black Londoners were London- or British-born. Even with this growing population and the first blacks elected to Parliament, many argue that there was still discrimination and a socio-economic imbalance in London among the blacks. In 1992 the number of blacks in Parliament increased to six and in 1997 they increased their numbers to nine. There are still many problems that black Londoners face; the new global and high-tech information revolution is changing the urban economy and some argue that it is driving up unemployment rates among blacks relative to non-blacks,[37] something, it is argued, that threatens to erode the progress made thus far.[37]

Street conflicts and riots

The Brixton race riot in London, 1981
The late 1950's through to the late 1980s saw a number of mass street conflicts involving young Afro-Caribbean men and (largely white) British police officers in British cities, mostly as a result of tensions between members of local black communities and white racists.
The first major incident occurred in 1958 in Notting Hill and when roaming gangs of between 300 and 400 white youths attacked Afro-Caribbean individuals and houses across the neighbourhood, leading to a number of Afro-Caribbean men being left unconscious in the streets.[51] The following year, Antigua-born Kelso Cochrane died after being set upon and stabbed while walking home to Notting Hill by a gang of white youths.
During the 1970s, police forces across England began to increasingly use the Sus law, provoking a sense that young black men were being discriminated against by the police[52] The next newsworthy outbreak of street fighting occurred in 1976 at the Notting Hill Carnival when several hundred police officers and youths became involved in televised fights and scuffles, with stones thrown at police, baton charges and a number of minor injuries and arrests.[53]
The 1980 St. Pauls riot in Bristol saw fighting between local youths and police officers, resulting in numerous minor injuries, damage to property and arrests. In London 1981 brought further conflict with a perceived racist police force after the death of 13 black youngsters who were attending a birthday party that ended in the devastating New Cross Fire. The fire was viewed by many as a racist massacre[51] and a major political demonstration, known as the Black People's day of Action was held to protest against the attacks themselves, a perceived rise in racism, and perceived hostility and indifference from the police, politicians and media.[51] Tensions were further inflamed when, in nearby Brixton, police launched operation Swamp 81, a series of mass stop-and-searches of young black men.[51] Anger erupted when up to 500 people were involved in street fighting between the Metropolitan Police and local Afro-Caribbean community, leading to a number of cars and shops set on fire, stones thrown at police and hundreds of arrests and minor injuries. A similar pattern occurred further north in Toxteth, Liverpool, and Chapeltown, Leeds.[54] Despite the recommendations of the Scarman report,[51] relations between black youths and police did not significantly improve and a further wave of nationwide conflicts occurred in Handsworth, Birmingham, in 1985, when the local South Asian community also became involved.[52] Following the police shooting of a black grandmother Cherry Groce in Brixton, and the death of Cynthia Jarrett during a raid on her home in Tottenham, in north London, protests held at the local police stations did not end peacefully and further street battles with the police erupted,[51] the disturbances later spreading toManchester's Moss Side.[51] The street battles themselves (involving more stone-throwing, the discharge of one firearm, and several fires) led to two fatalities (in the Broadwater Farm riot) and Brixton.
In 1999, following the Macpherson Enquiry into the 1993 killing of Stephen Lawrence, Sir Paul Condon, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, accepted that his organisation was institutionally racist. Some members of the Black British community were involved in the 2001 Harehills race riot and 2005 Birmingham race riots.

Early 21st century

Firefighters douse a shop and flats destroyed by arson during the initial rioting in Tottenham.
In 2011, following the shooting of a black man, Mark Duggan by police in Tottenham, a protest was held at the local police station. The protest did not end peacefully, with an outbreak of fighting between local youths and police officers leading to widespread disturbances across British cities.
Some analysts claimed that black people were disproportionally represented in the 2011 England riots.[55] Research suggests that race relations in Britain suffered deterioration in the period following the riots and that prejudice towards ethnic minorities increased.[56] Groups such as the EDL and the BNP were said to be exploiting the situation.[57] Racial tensions between blacks and Asians in Birmingham increased after the deaths of three Asian men at the hands of a black youth.[58]
In a Newsnight discussion on 12 August 2011, historian David Starkey blamed black gangster and rap culture, saying that it had influenced youths of all races.[59] Figures showed that 46% of people brought before a courtroom for arrests related to the 2011 riots were black.[60]



Community organizers in London.
In the 2001 UK Census, 565,876 people stated their ethnicity as Black Caribbean, 485,277 as Black African and 97,585 as Black Other, making a total of 1,148,738 in the Black or Black British category of the census. This was equivalent to two percent of the UK population at the time.[61]
Mid-2009 estimates for England put the Black British population at 1,521,400 compared to 1,158,000 in mid-2001, an increase of 23.9% in eight years.[62]

Population distribution

Most Black Britons can be found in the large cities and metropolitan areas of the country: there are almost one million Black Britons in London. According to the 2011 census, cities and towns with large and significant Black communities are as follows (London boroughsincluded).[63]
Large Black British Communities
Greater London1,088,600
Enfield53 700
Waltham Forest44,800
Barking and Dagenham37,100
Hammersmith and Fulham21,500
Areas with pop. over 8 million
  • London 13.3%
Over 1 million
Over 700,000
Over 500,000
Over 400,000
Over 300,000
Over 200,000
Over 100,000
Over 50,000
Over 10,000


Ghanaian independence day celebrations in the London Borough of Barnet.
Far-right political parties have cited concerns about uncontrolled immigration in order to gain support during elections. Parties such as theBNP have declared policies that include a halt to all non-European immigration.

Mixed marriages

As of 2005, it is estimated that nearly half of British-born African-Caribbean males, a third of British-born African-Caribbean females, and a fifth of African males, have white partners.[64]

Culture and community


British Black English is a variety of the English language spoken by a large number of the Black British population of Afro-Caribbean ancestry.[65] British Black dialect has been influenced by Jamaican Patois owing to the large number of immigrants from Jamaica, but it is also spoken or imitated by those of different ancestry.
British Black speech is also heavily influenced by social class and the regional dialect (CockneyMancunianBrummieScouse, etc.).
However, it has also been argued that there is no such thing as "British Black English" because black Britons speak the same English as all other ethnic groups in Britain. For example, Black Britons are required to sit GCSE English language and literature exams, and middle and upper-middle class black Britons do not associate themselves with "British Black English".


Black British music is a long-established and influential part of British music. Its presence in the United Kingdom stretches back to the 18th century, encompassing concert performers such as George Bridgetower and street musicians the like of Billy WatersSamuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875–1912) achieved great success as a composer at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
In the late 1970s and 1980s, 2 Tone became popular with the British youth; especially in the West Midlands. A blend of punkska, and pop made it a favourite among both white and black audiences. Famous bands in the genre include The SelecterThe SpecialsThe Beat, and The Bodysnatchers.
Jungledubstepdrum and bassgarage and grime music were invented in London and involve a number of artists from primarily Caribbean communities but recently Black Africans also, most notably Ghanaian and Nigerian. Famous grime artists include Dizzee RascalTinchy StryderTinie TempahChipmunkKano (rapper)Wiley, and Lethal Bizzle. It is now common to hear British MCs rapping in a strong London accent. Niche, with its origin in Sheffield and Leeds, has a much faster bassline and is often sung in a northern accent. Famous niche artists include producer T2.
The MOBO Awards – recognizing performers of "Music of Black Origin" – are seen as a UK equivalent to the BET Awards and Soul Train Awards for being the main award show in Britain to focus on urban music.


The black community in Britain has two leading publications. Pride Magazine is the largest monthly lifestyle magazine within the community; The Guardian stated that the magazine has dominated the black magazine market for over 15 years and is now in its 21st year. Its owner, Pride Media, also specialises in helping organisations target this fast-growing community through a range of media. The other key publication is The Voice newspaper, which targets the Caribbean diaspora and has been printed for more than 20 years. The community also has a number of radio stations and cable-television channels targeting them.

Social issues

There is much controversy surrounding the politics of integrating the United Kingdom's black community, particularly concerning institutional racism and inequality present in the employment and higher education of urban black Britons.


According to the TUC report Black workers, jobs and poverty,[66] people from black and certain Asian groups are far more likely to be unemployed than the white population. The rate of unemployment among the white population is only 12%, but among black groups it is 16%, mixed-race 15%, Indian 7%, Pakistani 15%, and Bangladeshi 17%, Chinese 5%. The rate of poverty are and low income are twice to three times higher, of the different ethnic groups studied, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, and Black British had the highest rates of child of over 50%.


Both racist crime and gang-related crime continues to affect black communities, so much so that the Metropolitan Police launchedOperation Trident to tackle black-on-black crimes. Numerous deaths in police custody of black men has generated a general distrust of police among urban blacks in the UK.[67][68] According to the Metropolitan Police Authority in 2002–03 of the 17 deaths in police custody, 10 were black or Asian – black convicts are have a disproportionately high rate of incarceration. The government reports[69] The overall number of racist incidents recorded by the police rose by 7% from 49,078 in 2002/3 to 52,694 in 2003/4.
The media, mostly BBC News, has highlighted "gangs" with black members and violent crimes involving black victims and perpetrators. According to a Home Office report,[69] 10% of all murder victims between 2000 and 2004 were black. Of these, 56% were murdered by other black people (with 44% of black people murdered by whites and Asians – making black people disproportionately higher victims of killing by people from other ethnicities). In addition, a Freedom of Information request made by The Daily Telegraph shows internal police data that provides a breakdown of the ethnicity of the 18,091 men and boys who police took action against for a range of offences in London in October 2009. Among those proceeded against for street crimes, 54 percent were black; for robbery, 59 percent; and for gun crimes, 67 percent.[70]
Black people, who according to government statistics[71] make up 2% of the population, are the principal suspects in 11.7% of murders, i.e. in 252 out of 2163 murders committed 2001/2, 2002/3, and 2003/4.[72] It should be noted that, judging on the basis of prison population, a substantial minority (about 35%) of black criminals in the UK are not British citizens but foreign nationals.[73] In November 2009, the Home Office published a study that showed that, once other variables had been accounted for, ethnicity was not a significant predictor of offending, anti-social behaviour or drug abuse among young people.[74]
After several high-profile investigations such as that of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the police have been accused of racism, from both within and outside the service.Cressida Dick, head of the Metropolitan Police's anti-racism unit in 2003, remarked that it was "difficult to imagine a situation where we will say we are no longer institutionally racist".[75] Black people were seven times more likely to be stopped and searched by police compared to white people, according to the Home Office, A separate study said blacks were more than nine times more likely to be searched.[76]

Notable black Britons[edit]

Pre-20th century[edit]

Crimean War nurse, Mary Seacolehas been dubbed the "Greatest Black Briton"

Olaudah Equiano, a significant figure involved with the abolition of the Atlantic Slave Trade

John Sentamu is the Archbishop of York, the second most senior clerical position in the Church of England after that of Archbishop of CanterburyJustin Welby
Well-known black Britons living before the 20th century include the Chartist William CuffayWilliam Davidson, executed as a Cato Streetconspirator; Olaudah Equiano (also called Gustavus Vassa), a former slave who bought his freedom, moved to England, and settled inSoham, Cambridgeshire, where he married and wrote an autobiography, dying in 1797; Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, pioneer of the slave narrative; and Ignatius Sancho, a grocer who also acquired a reputation as a man of letters.
In 2004, a poll found that people considered the Crimean War heroine Mary Seacole to be the greatest Black Briton.[77] Seacole was born in Jamaica in 1805 to a white father and black mother.[78] A statue of her is planned for the grounds of St. Thomas' Hospital in London.[77]


Television reporter and newsreader Sir Trevor McDonald, born in Trinidad, was knighted in 1999. Also notable is Moira StuartOBE, the first female newsreader of African-Caribbean heritage on British television. Other high-profile television personalities and entertainers include Lenny Henry and chef Ainsley Harriott.


Initially winning acclaim as a visual artist and winning the Turner Prize in 1999, Steve McQueen went on to direct his first feature Hunger(2008), which earned him the Caméra d'Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. His most recent film, 12 Years a Slave (2013), won several major international awards, and McQueen is the first black filmmaker to win an Academy Award for Best Picture.[79]


Numerous Black British actors have become successful in US television, such as Adewale Akinnuoye-AgbajeIdris ElbaLennie JamesMarsha Thomason, and Marianne Jean-Baptiste. Black British actors are also increasingly found starring in major Hollywood movies, notable examples include Adrian LesterAshley WaltersChiwetel EjioforColin SalmonDavid Harewood,Eamonn WalkerHugh QuarshieNaomie HarrisSophie Okonedo, and Thandie Newton.


Notable Black British writers include novelists Caryl PhillipsZadie SmithAndrea Levy (whose 2004 book Small Island won the Whitbread Book of the Year, the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Common wealth Writers' Prize), Bernardine EvaristoAlex Wheatle and Diran Adebayo (first winner in 1995 of the Saga Prize, which was set up by Marsha Hunt to encourage Black British writing and ran for four years),[80] poets Benjamin ZephaniahLinton Kwesi JohnsonLemn SissaySalena Godden and Patience Agbabi, playwrights Kwame Kwei-ArmahRoy WilliamsWinsome Pinnock,Patricia Cumper and Bola Agbaje, journalists such as Gary Younge and Ekow Eshun, andChildren's Laureate Malorie Blackman.

Police force

Michael Fuller, after a career in the Metropolitan Police, has been Chief Constable of Kent since 2004. He is the son of Jamaican immigrants who came to the United Kingdom in the 1950s. Fuller was brought up in Sussex, where his interest in the police force was encouraged by an officer attached to his school. He is a graduate in social psychology.[81]

Military services

In 2005 soldier Johnson Beharry, born in Grenada of mixed Black African and East Indian roots, became the first man to win the Victoria Cross, the United Kingdom's foremost military award for bravery, since the Falklands War of 1982. He was awarded the medal for service in Iraq in 2004.


In sport, prominent examples of success include boxing champion Frank Bruno, whose career highlight was winning the WBC world heavyweight championship in 1995. Altogether, he has won 40 of his 45 contests. He is also well known for acting in pantomimeLennox Lewis, born in east London, is another successful Black British boxer and former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
There are many notable black British footballers, some of whom have played for England, including Paul InceSol CampbellJohn BarnesRio FerdinandViv AndersonDes WalkerAshley ColeIan Wright and David James.


In business, Damon Buffini heads Permira, one of the world's largest private equity firms. He topped the 2007 "power list" as the most powerful Black male in the United Kingdom by New Nation magazine and was recently appointed to Prime Minister Gordon Brown's business advisory panel.
René Carayol is a broadcaster, broadsheet columnist, business and leadership speaker and author, best known for presenting the BBC series Did They Pay Off Their Mortgage in Two Years? He has also served as an executive main board director for blue-chip companies as well as the public sector.
Wol Kolade is council member and Chairman of the BVCA (British Venture Capital Association) and a Governor and council member of the London School of Economics and Political Science, chairing its Audit Committee.
Adam Afriyie is a politician, and Conservative Member of Parliament for Windsor. He is also the founding director of Connect Support Services, an IT services company pioneering fixed-price support. He was also Chairman of DeHavilland Information Services plc, a news and information services company, and was a regional finalist in the 2003Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the year awards.
Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones is a businessman, farmer and founder of the popular Black Farmer range of food products. He stood, unsuccessfully, as Conservative Party candidate for the Chippenham constituency in the 2010 general election.

Houses of Parliament

People of black African ancestry such as Bernie GrantBaroness Amos and Diane Abbott, as well as Oona King and Paul Boateng who are of mixed race, have made significant contributions to British politics and trade unionism. Boateng became the UK's first biracial cabinet minister in 2002 when he was appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Abbott became the first black woman Member of Parliament when she was elected to the House of Commons in the 1987 general election.
Bill Morris was elected general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union in 1992. He was knighted in 2003, and in 2006 he took a seat in the House of Lords as a working life peer, Baron Morris of Handsworth.
The Trinidadian cricketer Learie Constantine was ennobled in 1969 and took the title Baron Constantine of Maraval in Trinidad and Nelson in the County Palatine of Lancaster.
David Pitt became a member of the House of Lords when he became a Life Peer for the Labour Party in 1975. He was also President of the British Medical Association. The first black Conservative Peer was John Taylor, Baron Taylor of Warwick.[82] Valerie Amos became the first black woman cabinet minister and the first black woman to become leader of the House of Lords.