A Closer Look at UK Black History

UK Black History Month

By Anoor Ajala

October is Black History Month in the UK. If you had asked me two years ago about Black People in the United Kingdom, I would tell you that my Aunt lives in London, in close proximity to other Nigerians. That’s all I have. I couldn’t tell you about the culture, the places; nothing that matters. 

My journey started unintentionally. It began with a grime playlist where I recognized certain songs and artists. African and Caribbean Artists often connect with Black British Artists based on their roots and shared culture. The songs were different, but I forced myself to listen to the music differently. It took some time and training, but it made the story even better.  The connection even stronger.  

Bored, in 2020, I stumbled on British Netflix Series Top Boy. Trust and believe I had time to watch and re-watch. I even went back to previous seasons before the Netflix Original seasons. If you watch solely through the lens of entertainment, you will miss certain things, but if you watch intentionally, trying to connect the dots between music, culture, and more, so many things start to make sense. Especially from the perspective of a Nigerian American.

UK Black History Month

Black Culture in the UK is a mix of Caribbean, African, and UK-English Cultures. Caribbean’s flocked to the U.K during the Windrush era (Post World War II — 1948 ). They helped rebuild the United Kingdom after the second World War. Africans have been migrating heavily to the UK since the 1960s, in search of better education, work opportunities, and an overall improved quality of life. These colliding forces birthed a Black Culture within the UK. Children of the diaspora and young immigrants set the foundation for the vibrant culture seen today. Black Culture in the UK is a melody of diaspora cultures, which directly influence the music, fashion, and film that is massively popular in 2022.

I encourage you all to do the same this November.  To take the time to learn more about the UK’s Black Culture. I encourage you to start with whatever you are naturally interested in first. If you are about the music, I would start with rappers like Stormzy, Dave, and AJ Tracey. To the American ear these artists are easier to digest.

If you are interested in film, start with Amazon’s prime short film called Small Ax. These 5 short films are about different struggles and breakthroughs within the culture. I recommend that you watch all 5 of them; it’s helpful to understand the full scope of the struggle. Finally, podcasts. Podcasts are still growing, but they’re a chance to hear from normal, everyday people who discuss everyday issues, cultural impact, and more. You’ll learn a lot from those conversations. It also helps with understanding the unique slang and colloquialisms.


All in all, the UK’s black culture is robust and beautiful. If you’re looking for something new, want to expand your cultural understanding, or just want to connect with the music. Beauty is in the Black British culture. And should be celebrated throughout UK Black History Month.  

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