BLACK BRITISH COLLECTIVE IDENTITYSo far you have been introduced to what the exam about and what the specific collective groupwere studying. I have chosen to look at the collective identity of Black British people. This has beeninteresting to teach in the past as both I and the students have created new hypothesis and theoriesinto what constitutes someone as belonging to the collective identity ‘Black British’. That’s the funpart coming up with theories hypothesising and backing it up with evidence from the two mediaforms you’re studying, film and music.There is a requirement from the exam board for students to have knowledge of the past, presentand be able to speculate on the future of the chosen collective identity, always referring to themedia and mediated representations when discussing the past, present and future (rememberevery media product is constructed!). The main focus must be the contemporary context of thecollective identity and contemporary texts. It’s necessary to teach you this topic not a leading waybut in way that encourages you to enquire ask questions and form your own debates (hence somany research tasks and independent work), this will allow you to apply and examine relevanttheorists.Anything I teach you should enable you to be able to answer the questions provide by the examboard, so in relation to our collective group you should by the end be able to confidently answer thefollowing questions: How do the contemporary media represent nations, regions and ethnic / social / collectivegroups of people in different ways? How does contemporary representation compare to previous time periods? What are the social implications of different media representations of groups of people? To what extent is human identity increasingly ‘mediated’?I have chosen to investigate the collective identity of Black Britain through the media formats of filmand music. I always start by teaching the historical context of Black Britain as this informs you as tohow this has contributed to the present representation of Black Britain and in turn how theirindentity is now constructed by themselves and others.Historical media textsFILMSapphire (Basil Dearden, 1959)Flame in the Streets (Roy Ward Baker, 1961)Pressure (Horace Ove, 1976)MUSIC (this will be discussed altogether)ReggaeSka2 ToneGrimeOnce you understand the historical context I get students write an essay about what they havelearnt so far, considering how Blacks were represented in the film texts, and how this correlates tothe social and political issues of Britain at the time. This was set for Easter homework.
CONTEMPORARY“The creation of a supposedly multicultural society has created a situation where it’s increasinglydifficult to define what it means to be British. There is no longer any clear distinctive about beingBritish…” BBC/ DNAWhy have I used this quote?In order to answer such a question it’s important that you watch the contemporary films, the 2Tonedocumentary is also useful (Jack will have copies for you please bring in a memory stick with LOTS OFMEMORY)• Kidulthood, Menhaj Huda (2006)• Shank, Mo Ali (2010)• Freestyle, Kolton Lee, (2010)• Attack the Block, Joe Cornish (2011)I hypothesise that the collective identity of ‘Black Britain’ (notice the use of inverted commas) is, infact, a youth sub-culture and that has been slowly been forming. This sub culture is led by Britishyouth more so ‘urban’ youth, young people who have taken on and assimilated themselves intoblack culture. We can no longer describe there being a homogeneous black collective identity that isexclusively for blacks, instead with the absence of the older generation in media texts blackrepresentation in the media, black British collective identity has taken on a heterogeneity.So….If we were to define the social category of black British we may say that:Black British can be defined as one who was born in Britain and has the cultural heritage or ancestryfrom the Caribbean or from AfricaIn the past what did it mean to be Black British?To be Black British in the past, for example in 1940’s Britain, Black British people were not born inBritain but attained the status of being Black British through the colonial past of Britain. This meantthat any person who was from a country under the Imperial rule of Britain was granted entry intoBritain. But this connection shaped the immigrants in Britain as Imperial ‘Others’ they were on theoutskirts of society, shaped as other, and not belonging to Britain.Hypothesis - what it means to be part of the collective group ‘Black British’ in contemporaryBritainThe idea of what it means to be Black British in contemporary British society has changed due to thechanging landscape of Britain throughout its history. Britain is a melting pot of cultures and inparticular a youth sub-culture has been developing since the early 1980’s which has Black styles andculture at the centre. This collective identity is not exclusively for Blacks but any youth who share anidentification with each other that can be communication through and with Black discourses e.g.black culture, music, language and fashion.
Black British collective identity is defined through the media mostly through the representation of anever evolving youth subculture ("with the youtsdem talking black and acting black"), with blackculture at the helm, is this negative or positive who knows? It’s important that you think about howthis compares to the Black British collective identity of the Windrush Days of immigration, therepresentation of blacks as the Other (Sapphire and Flame in the Streets) and the militant years ofthe 70s (Pressure).REMEMBER THIS, IT’S IMPORTANT IN EVERY ESSAY ANSWER TO DEFINE THE GROUP YOUHAVE BEEN STUDYINGWhen referring to black Britain, in contemporary terms, we’re referring to a subculturalyouth movement, which in its present state can be seen as a post-modern version of thecollective group black British. Originally black British referred to those immigrants (withCaribbean and African heritage) who came from the Commonwealth countries to settle inBritain.Due to syncretic processes the make-up of what is described as black Britain has changedand evolved and therefore this description can be challenged. What we now have is a post-modern subcultural youth movement – any young person who is part of this post-moderncollective identity can be from various ethnic backgrounds but the cultural materials -names, narratives, symbols, verbal styles, rituals, clothing, and so on that they associatethemselves with are strongly grounded in black culture. This evolution in the first instancewas instigated by young white people and first generation born black British, but itscontinual evolution, and the way in which this group are represented could be said to havesignificant media influence.I WILL EXPLAIN THIS MORE IN THE COMING WEEKS