Thursday, September 25, 2008

Black/African British Identity and Young People

I read a piece in the Voice the other day which argued that young people in Britain lack a sense of identity.

They may have been born in the UK or come here at an early age. When they go back to visit their parents’ homes in Africa or the Caribbean, the place seems foreign to them. But in Britain, they don’t feel as if they belong.

Identity is clearly an important issue. In the 1970s, many young people turned to Rastafarianism as a way of reclaiming their cultural identity.

The article glossed over some factors. For example, a young person living in a big city might feel out of place on a farm, whether that farm is in a rural area of Britain or in the Caribbean or Africa.

Still, the article states that “nearly all youth projects only offer musical or sports-related activities”, which “reinforces the stereotype that Black males can only be successful if they are sports figures or musicians”.

It is so important that we reinforce positive cultural values and a sense of their African heritage and identity with our young people. Without this, many of them are lost. They often don’t do well in school, join gangs which offer a feeling of belonging, get involved in crime and end up behind bars.

In my book, Black Success Stories, I made a conscious decision to avoid featuring people in the fields of sports or entertainment. After all, people of African heritage are good at everything. I celebrate Black success across a wide range of fields. All of the people I feature in the book are based in Britain. To order your copy today, visit:

We also celebrate Black success and talk about the need for positive Black role models on my Success Strategies radio show every Tuesday. To listen in, and to hear recordings of previous shows, visit:

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