The children born to Black American GIs and white British women during Second World War

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2021-10-10 21:46Z by Steven

The children born to Black American GIs and white British women during Second World War

The Bristol Post
Bristol, England, United Kingdom

Hannah Simpson

Interracial couples dancing in England during WWII (Image: ‘Courtesy of Gregory S. Cooke Collection’)

The children, who came to be known by the British press as the nation’s “Brown Babies”, grew up in post-war Britain

During World War II, around one million American troops arrived in England to prepare for the invasion of Europe and to assist Great Britain in the fight against Nazi Germany.

Of these GIs, 130,000 were African American who landed in cities such as Bristol between 1942 and 1945.

For many Brits, this was their first time meeting a person of colour, but in Bristol, the public were incredibly welcoming to their American visitors, with some pubs such as The Colston Arms refusing to adhere to US segregation practices.

America’s stringent Jim Crow laws were not limited to the United States alone, as the army was officially segregated until 1948…

…Professor of social and cultural history at Anglia Ruskin University, Lucy Bland said: “From all accounts a lot of local people much preferred the Black GIs…

Read the entire article here.

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Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2019-09-26 00:11Z by Steven

Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands

Verso Books
416 pages
6 x 9-1/4
Hardcover ISBN: 9781788735094
Ebook ISBN: 9781788735124

Hazel V. Carby, Charles C. and Dorothea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies; Professor of American Studies
Yale University

Imperial Intimacies by Hazel V. Carby

A haunting and evocative history of British empire, told through one woman’s search through her family’s story

“Where are you from?” was the question hounding Hazel Carby as a girl in post–World War II London. One of the so-called brown babies of the Windrush generation, born to a Jamaican father and Welsh mother, Carby’s place in her home, her neighbourhood, and her country of birth was always in doubt.

Emerging from this setting, Carby untangles the threads connecting members of her family to each other in a web woven by the British Empire across the Atlantic. We meet Carby’s working-class grandmother Beatrice, a seamstress challenged by poverty and disease. In England, she was thrilled by the cosmopolitan fantasies of empire, by cities built with slave-trade profits, and by street peddlers selling fashionable Jamaican delicacies. In Jamaica, we follow the lives of both the “white Carbys” and the “black Carbys,” as Mary Ivey, a free woman of colour, whose children are fathered by Lilly Carby, a British soldier who arrived in Jamaica in 1789 to be absorbed into the plantation aristocracy. And we discover the hidden stories of Bridget and Nancy, two women owned by Lilly who survived the Middle Passage from Africa to the Caribbean.

Moving between the Jamaican plantations, the hills of Devon, the port cities of Bristol, Cardiff, and Kingston, and the working-class estates of South London, Carby’s family story is at once an intimate personal history and a sweeping summation of the violent entanglement of two islands. In charting British empire’s interweaving of capital and bodies, public language and private feeling, Carby will find herself reckoning with what she can tell, what she can remember, and what she can bear to know.

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Bristol school drops Colston name and replaces it with African-American, female mathematician’s

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2019-02-10 23:35Z by Steven

Bristol school drops Colston name and replaces it with African-American, female mathematician’s

The Bristol Post
Bristol, United Kingdom

Tristan Cork, Senior Reporter

An 18th century engraving of Edward Colston

All the other house names have been dropped in favour of more diverse role models

One of Bristol’s oldest state schools has decided to ditch the names of its houses – including one named after Edward Colston – in favour of more inspiring names who are better role models.

St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School has a house system with five houses, all named after historic figures from the school’s, and Bristol’s, past.

That system has operated for decades, but from the start of the next academic year in September, they will be replaced.

The school, which is the only Church of England secondary school in the Diocese of Bristol, has come under pressure for its links to the controversial slave trader Edward Colston in recent years, and that included calls to rename one of the five school ‘houses’ which is named after him.

The school groups students into five houses, from when they start in Year 7 to Year 11.

Pupils start in James House in Year 7, before being split into four different houses until they take their GCSEs

Colston House will become Johnson House

Katherine Johnson

Edward Colston is one of the most prominent and divisive figures in Bristol’s history. A Bristol-born merchant, he effectively ran the Royal Africa Company in London, before helping to open it up for Bristol.

As well as a statue of him in The Centre, there are roads, buildings, schools and homes named after him, with the use of his name across Bristol increasingly controversial.

Katherine Johnson was an African-American mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics were critical to the success of America’s first manned spaceflights.

She effectively worked out how man could land on the moon during the Apollo missions, and her calculations also were essential to the beginning of the Space Shuttle programme. She was portrayed in the 2016 film Hidden Figures.

Read the entire article here.

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Bristol’s new Lord Mayor removes 316-year-old portrait of controversial slave trader Edward Colston… from her office wall and replaces him with a picture of a lion

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2018-07-06 03:33Z by Steven

Bristol’s new Lord Mayor removes 316-year-old portrait of controversial slave trader Edward Colston… from her office wall and replaces him with a picture of a lion

The Daily Mail

Richard Spillett

Cleo Lake, the Lord Mayor of Bristol, has removed a portrait of Edward Colston from the wall of her office because of his role in the slave trade
Cleo Lake, the Lord Mayor of Bristol, has removed a portrait of Edward Colston from the wall of her office because of his role in the slave trade.
  • Portrait of slave trader Edward Colston has hung in mayor’s office since the 50s
  • But the new mayor has ordered it be removed because she can’t work next to it
  • Colston helped make Bristol a rich city, but his company was behind the trafficking and deaths of thousands of slaves

The Lord Mayor of Bristol has removed a 300-year-old portrait of a slave trader from the wall above her desk.

Cleo Lake said she ‘simply couldn’t stand’ the sight of Edward Colston looking at her as she worked.

The portrait dates back to 1702 and was hung in 1953 when City Hall opened – but Cleo Lake has asked for it to be installed in a museum about the abolition of slavery.

It is the latest move by the city to dissociate themselves from Colston, with venues and schools having previously removed his name from their titles.

Cleo Lake, who describes herself as of Scottish, Bristolian and Afro-Caribbean heritage, was elected in May by fellow councillors…

Read the entire article here.

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I Named My Mixed-Race Daughter for a Slave-Trading Town

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2016-07-23 17:55Z by Steven

I Named My Mixed-Race Daughter for a Slave-Trading Town

The New York Times

Susan Fales-Hill

An oil painting of Susan Fales-Hill’s great-great-great-grandfather hangs in her apartment in Manhattan. He turned out to be not as upstanding as she once thought. Credit Hilary Swift for The New York Times

FOR nearly 20 years, my great-great-great-grandfather’s portrait has watched over me from my red dining room wall. With his high collar, ruffled cravat and black waistcoat, Samuel Fales, 1775-1848, is the very image of the upstanding 19th-century New England gentleman. An eminent merchant and alderman of Boston, he was the founder of the family’s shipping business. I’ve known his face and taken comfort in his smile since I was a child attending Sunday lunch at my grandmother’s in the 1960s.

Samuel Fales seemed utterly unperturbed by the changes the 20th century had wrought, among them his great-great-grandson’s unorthodox choice of bride: my mother, a black Haitian-American actress, and my brother and me, his mixed-race descendants. His portrait has stood as an emblem of our family’s pride in its history. “You have relatives on both sides of your family who fought in the American Revolution,” my mother would frequently remind me.

To honor my forebears, my husband and I named our only child Bristol, after the town in Rhode Island where some of the Faleses first settled in the 17th century. A year ago, I learned through new historical research that Bristol had in fact served as a main hub of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This gave me great pause. Had I done my daughter a dreadful disservice? Upon reflection, I decided that naming a multicultural African-American after a slave port was in fact redemptive, the ultimate act of reclamation.

It never occurred to me that my family might have participated in the port’s inhumane commerce…

Read the entire article here.

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Marvin Rees Becomes UK’s First Elected Black Mayor

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United Kingdom on 2016-05-15 00:59Z by Steven

Marvin Rees Becomes UK’s First Elected Black Mayor

The Voice

Marc Wadsworth

‘I’m the descendant of Jamaican slaves. Now I’m mayor of Bristol,’ Rees tells The Voice

BRISTOL’S NEW mayor has not only changed the face of the city after winning a huge victory but is also promising a new and inclusive way of doing politics.

Marvin Rees, 44, told The Voice in an exclusive interview: “I’m really honoured and feel the weight of the challenge I’m taking on. It’s also very exciting. I’m pleased so many good people are coming forward, wanting to work collectively, which I think this job requires. It’s not messianic leadership. It’s about fostering collective leadership around shared priorities such as poverty eradication, building homes for people and tackling inequality.”

Rees, who grew up poor in the St Paul’s area of the city, has pledged to appoint an all-party cabinet that reflects how people voted and the city’s diversity.

In 2012 Rees unsuccessfully ran for mayor when the post was first created. He amassed a whopping 31,259 votes, losing to independent George Ferguson, a wealthy architect, by less than seven per cent.

This time Rees notched up just under 70,000 votes, almost 30,000 more than Ferguson…

Read the entire article here.

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Marvin Rees’s triumph as mayor defies Bristol’s racist past

Posted in Arts, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United Kingdom on 2016-05-09 21:43Z by Steven

Marvin Rees’s triumph as mayor defies Bristol’s racist past

The Guardian

Simon Woolley

Source: Marvin Rees

The descendant of enslaved Africans is now running a former slave city. His symbolic victory gives hope – and should not be forgotten

While much has been said, rightly so, about a Muslim now leading London, we must not lose sight of the symbolism and enormous significance of Marvin Rees being elected mayor of Bristol this weekend.

Rees, the working-class son of an English mother and Jamaican father, makes history as the first directly elected city mayor in Europe of African or Caribbean heritage.

And that’s important, because the city of Bristol and its governance cannot effectively be understood without seeing it, in part, through the prism of race…

Read the entire article here.

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Tangled Roots: A Performance of Real-Life Stories Celebrating Mixed Race Families

Posted in Arts, Live Events, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-10-10 21:51Z by Steven

Tangled Roots: A Performance of Real-Life Stories Celebrating Mixed Race Families

Trinity Centre
Trinity Road
Bristol, England BS2 0NW
2014-10-19, 14:00-20:00 BST (Local Time)

Free life-writing workshop and performance with Dr Katy Massey – part of our Black History Month programme

On Sunday 19 October, Tangled Roots are staging a live workshop and performance event at The Trinity Centre. The event is in two parts: a free life-writing workshop in the afternoon led by Dr Katy Massey PhD will then be followed by a live performance staged by the Tangled Roots writers and actors.

Workshop attendees will also have the opportunity to hear their own life experiences dramatised on stage as some of the life-writing produced in the workshop will be adapted by the team becoming part of the live performance.

In addition, attendees can browse an exhibition of photographic portraits of mixed race writers, specially commissioned by Tangled Roots.

Bristol-based poet Katie Grant is a high-profile supporter of the Tangled Roots project. She is part of a mixed race family herself and, last year, presented a documentary ‘The Brown Camp’ about mixed families on Radio 4. “I am thrilled to be representing the Tangled Roots Project in the South West. The history and experiences of mixed race families has a direct relevance and resonance in my life – both as a writer and as a mother” says Grant. “The photographs commissioned by Tangled Roots really reflect the nature of this diverse new population.”

“Bristol’s history at the centre of the UK slave trade is well-known, what isn’t so well documented is the huge mixed population who call Bristol ‘home’. 16% of our city’s population* belongs to a black or minority ethnic group, but among under 15s the figure is 28%*. Rising numbers of people are forming relationships across different racial and ethnic groups. As a result, more families than ever before comprise of more than one race. These families – families like mine, in fact – never see their stories represented in the mainstream media. It is the experiences of mixed families in Bristol and the South West that the Tangled Roots project wants to highlight” Grant explained.

Workshop & Performance information

The writing workshop (2pm-5pm) is open to adults who wish to learn how to write about their own life experiences or anyone else’s. You do NOT have to be mixed race to attend! The workshop theme will be “Home” and you must book your place in advance.

The evening performance (7pm- 8pm) is open to young people and adults (please note the performance is not suitable for under 12s). It is free and lasts approximately one hour…

For information, click here.

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When the Mirror Speaks: The Poetics and Problematics of Psychic Performance for métisse Women in Bristol

Posted in Books, Chapter, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom, Women on 2012-02-06 02:16Z by Steven

When the Mirror Speaks: The Poetics and Problematics of Psychic Performance for métisse Women in Bristol

Jayne O. Ifekwunigwe, Visiting Associate Professor of African and African American Studies
Duke University

Chapter in: Ethnicity, Gender and Social Change
pages 206-222
ISBN-10: 0312217633; ISBN-13: 978-0312217631

Edited by:

Rohit Barot, Harriet Bradley, and Steve Fenton

Note from Steven F. Riley. Click here to read a definition of the term métis and the reasoning of its usage and subsequent dis-usage by Dr. Ifekwunigwe.


  • Introduction
  • Setting the State
  • Is English Synonymous with Essential Whiteness?
  • Akousa: Is Being Dark-Skinned the Primary Criterion for Essential Blackness?
  • Sarah: Narratives of Space, Place, and Belongings
  • Ruby: Accepting Blackness when Praying Doesn’t Make One White
  • Similola: Dressing ‘The Part’
  • Yemi: Re-Defining ‘The Issues’
  • Bisi: Racism in Our Families or Origin or Nowhere to Hide
  • Beginnings by Way of Concluding Remarks
  • Acknowledgments

We can try to deprive ourselves of our realities but in the darkest hour of the night, when no one else is around and we have gone to the loo to spend a penny, we must look in the mirror. Eventually that moment comes when we look in the mirror and we see a Black woman…


Sharon is a woman in her thirties who grew up in racial isolation in care in the north of England without either her White English mother or her Black Ghanaian father. In an English society which codes its citizens on the basis of their colour, Sharon must reconcile the psychic split between a genealogical sense of herself which is Ghanaian and English and a racialized self which is Black and White. As her statement reveals, the psychological struggle begins when she realizes that hi-racialized English society dictates that she embrace her Blackness and deny her Whiteness.

Her sentiments reflect the profound existential paradox facing individuals whose lineages historically situate them as grandchildren of both the colonizers and the colonized. I refer to such individuals métis(se). In England, the multiplicity of terms in circulation to describe individuals who straddle Black and White racial borders drove me in search of a new formulation. More often than not, received terminology either privileges presumed ‘racial’ differences (‘mixed race’) or obscures the complex ways in which being métis(se) involves both the negotiation of constructed ‘Black’/’White’ racial categories as well as the celebration of converging cultures, continuities of generations and overlapping historical traditions. The lack of consensus as to which term to use as well as the limitationsof this discursive privileging of ‘race’ at the expense of generational, ethnic, and cultural concerns, led me to métis(se) and métissage.

In the French African (Senegalese) context, in its conventional masculine (métis) and feminine (métisse) forms, métis(se)refers to someone who, by virtue of parentage, embodies two or more world views, for example, French mother and Black Senegalese father (Diop, 1992; Koubaka, 1993). However, it is not exclusively a ‘racial’ term used to differentiate individuals with one Black parent and one White parent from those with two Black or White parents. Métis(se) also pertains to people with parents from different ethnic/cultural groups within a country, for example in Nigeria, Ibo and Yoruba, or in Britain, Scottish and English. By extension, métissageis a mind set or a shorthand way to describe the theorizing associated with métis(se) subjectivities: oscillation, contradiction, paradox, hybridity, polyethnicities, multiple reference points, ‘belonging nowhere and everywhere’,  métissage also signals the process of opening up hybrid spaces and looking at the sociocultural dynamics of ‘race’, gender, ethnicity, nation, class, sexuality, and generation and their relationship to the mechanics of power.

Sharon is one of twenty five métis(se) individuals who were participants in my two-year-long ethnographic study based in Bristol, England. Their individual and collective voices represent the significant part of a greater multigenerational whole comprising people in England with Black continental African or African Caribbean fathers and White British or European mothers. By virtue of the aforementioned contradictory bi-racialized classification in Britain, métis(se) individuals’ narratives of self and identity both reflect the gender, generational, racial and ethnic tensions of English society and are located outside it in an imagined but not imaginary ‘grey’ space. That is, the ways in which the women and men I worked with tell their stories are as newfangled griot(te)s. They simultaneously construct dual narratives, which embody lived stories. At the same time, their memories preserve and reinterpret senses of past interwoven cultures. In his essay, The Choices of Identity,’ Denis-Consant Martin talks about identity as narrative (1995,
pp. 7-8):

The narrative borrows from history as well as from fiction and treats the person as a character in a plot. The person as a character is not separable from its life experiences, but the plot allows for the re-organization of the events which provide the ground for the experiences of the person/character… Narrative identity, being at the same time fictitious and real, leaves room for variations on the past—a plot can always be revised—and also for initiatives in the future.

These métis(se) narratives of identity provide scathing sociopolitical commentaries and cultural critiques of contemporary English African Diasporic life and its manifest bi-racialized problematics.

However, the specific focus of this chapter is the differcnts ways in which cultural memories shape contradictory meanings of ‘race’, self and identity for six women who by virtue of birth transgress boundaries and challenge essentialized constructions of self, identity, place and belonging. Their specific lived realities epitomize psychosocial struggles to make sense of explicit epistcmological tensions between subjectivity and alterity. In particular, drawing on their testimonies, I will address the ways in which six métissewomen confront problematic tensions between being métisse and becoming Black. English and Ghanaian philosopher Anthony Appiah (1992, p. 178) formulates an ethos of identities politics which reflects this complexity:

identities arc complex and muliiple and grow out of a history of changing responses to economic, political, and cultural forces, almost always in opposition to other identities… that they flourish despite what I earlier called our ‘misrecognition’ of their origins; despite that is, their roots in myths and lies… there is, in consequence, no large place for reason in the construction—as opposed to the study and management of identities.

The principal narrators are: Similola who has a White German mother and a Black Tanzanian father and Ruby, whose mother is middle class White English and her father middle class Black Nigerian, both of whom were brought up in children’s homes; Yemi and Bisi, who are sisters, grew up in a middle class family in Ibadan, Nigeria with both their White Northumberland English mother and their Black Yoruba-Nigerian father; and another set of sisters, Akousa and Sarah who came of age in a working class, predominantly Black African Caribbean community in Liverpool, with their orphaned White Irish mother and without their Black Bajan (from Barbados) father. Each woman’s mother is at once White and Irish, English or German. Their fathers are both Black and either Bajan, Nigerian or Tanzanian.

Accordingly, as their stories reveal, most of their identities work concerns the management and negotiation of polycthnicity in social and cultural contexts which frequently demand that they choose an essentialized Black identity. This is despite the fact that by virtue of lineage, they can and do situate themselves within at least two specific and yet over-lapping historical narratives…

Read the entire chapter here.

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Belonging to Britain

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, History, Live Events, New Media, Slavery, Social Science, United Kingdom, Videos on 2009-11-04 04:28Z by Steven

Belonging to Britain

The Munk Centre for International Studies
University of Toronto
Video Length: 00:46:36

Hazel V. Carby, Charles C. and Dorathea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies
Yale University

In her lecture, “Belonging to Britain”, Hazel Carby looks at the historic relationship between England and Jamaica, including the history of the slave trade in Bristol and the complex question of identity for those of mixed British and West Indian heritage. Carby is a professor of African American Studies and American Studies at Yale University.

View the video here.

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