I’m sure you have seen all the conversation around Samuel L Jackson’s comments on black British actors playing American roles in films.
It’s a real shame that the interview took an ignorant turn, because the conversation and discussions within the interview was very interesting and thought provoking. Up until the point where Samuel started to speak about black British actors being cheaper than American actors and all the other rubbish about Britain being a country where interracial dating has been happening for years.
“Daniel grew up in a country where they’ve been interracial dating for a hunnid years. There’s only about like eight real white people left in Britain, the rest of them are mixed”.
I find it so bizarre how little African Americans know about Black Britons. Part of me can understand some of the ignorance because the black British experience is rarely shown on such a large scale. Most of the time we are bombarded with the black American experience, so I guess it makes it look like the black British experience wasn’t as devastating as the American one, from the African American point of view. Which is ridiculous really because black is black, so regardless of where we are now due to slavery and colonisation we all started in the same place. I think the way racism is here in the UK and in the US is different as well. In American it comes across like the racism there is very obvious, blatant and normalised I guess you could say. Whereas here in the UK racism is a lot more covert.
“Covert racism is a form of racial discrimination that is disguised and subtle, rather than public or obvious. Concealed in the fabric of society, covert racism discriminates against individuals through often unnoticeable or seemingly passive methods” – Wikipedia
I think because African Americans aren’t seeing the police brutality and racism streamed as widely here as it is there, they believe that everyone is cool over here in the UK. When really it’s all fake smiles and micro-aggression over here.
I kind of agree with Samuel when he questions if black British actors/actresses can fully understand what it is to be black in America. Obviously being black in different parts of the world has its similarities, but I feel like there are some differences in how the racism is presented and handled in various places. Which will affect the way black people view racism. There are some black people who have never experienced any forms of racism, whereas there are others who have only ever experienced racism. I think Samuel executed his point poorly. However at his age I would think that he would have a better understanding of the black British experience that doesn’t just involve what he has seen on TV.
This ignorance will change when more British shows staring black British actors and actresses are produced and accessible to an international audience. Shows like Chewing Gum are needed, as well as other shows that showcase the black British experience in more creative and honest ways. Youtube is also a great place to see black British actors and actresses in short series. One of the 20Something Podcast episodes featured the extremely talented Danielle Dash where Danielle mentions her web series DearJesusTV. It’s a great series that looks the modern highs and lows of a black British family.
Brits love to remind oppressed people about how bad and racist America is, without acknowledging their own issues. They also love to tell people of colour to “go back home” without speaking about their adverts inviting Caribbean’s over to work and live in Britain. We are shown the “No dogs, no Irish and no blacks” signs, but not the same invitations that we’re used to encourage Caribbean’s to come over in the first place.
So you’re going to invite me to over then when I get there tell me “nah, go back home” huh?
Some bloggers/writers who have articulated this issue a lot better than I have:
Samuel L Jackson & African American Solipsism – Danielle Dash
Samuel L. Jackson Is Wary Of Hollywood’s Fondness For Casting Black Brits As Americans – Sara Boboltz [The Huffington Post]
How Black Oppression In the U.K. Can Be Ignored – Zachary Okundaye [Affinity Magazine]