Eddie’s story: from Black to Black
Published on 29 October 2020
I grew up in Jamaica for the first 11 years of my life, where my black identity was not merely understood as a physical marker or one which made me different. Being black in Jamaica meant so much more than skin colour, race or ethnicity. The process of identifying one’s blackness was chiefly an empowering process due to the dominant “black-culture” that was a part of everyday life. My positive sense of identity was augmented by the security of knowing that I belonged to a people and culture which is valid in its own right. The esteem of my self-worth was assured, and the reality I was equal with all peoples, despite their ethnicity, background or social status, was something that was never challenged in my mind. This identity of blackness and equality was simply the by-product of growing up in a Christian family and a nation whose motto is “Out of Many, One People.”
When I moved to Lowestoft as a young boy I was faced with a new challenge for the first time in my life. I had started to question my assured sense of identity, blackness and self-worth now living in a town which was polarised White. I quickly realised being Black in Britain meant something, contrary to my upbringing. To be black in Britain, I was automatically racialized, a process of consciousness when colour becomes the defining factor about who I was.
Living submerged in whiteness, physical difference became a defining issue, a signifier, a mark of whether or not I belonged. A sense of belonging was stripped and replaced by isolation. I was stereotyped and placed within a box, expected to act in certain ways, have or lack certain attributes simply because I was black. And now for the first time, I heard that I had to work at least three times harder than my peers around me to achieve equivalent acknowledgement. My previous assured sense of identity, belonging self-esteem was shaken.
The Church played a vital role in renewing a correct sense of my true identity and belonging as I grew in faith. I realised I had an identity contained not by boundaries be it cultural or ethnic. A new identity which dealt with the feelings of isolation and not belonging. One where I became a part of a larger family here in Christ Church Lowestoft.