Seven years ago, when I moved from New York to London, it initially appeared to me that London was more racially integrated. Unlike New York, with its little Jamaicas, Italys and Chinas, it seemed that the European counterpart metropolis was tinted with multiculturalism in each of its corners. With time I began to note that the cultural diversity of British society was to an extent a façade.
Nevertheless, London is one of the world’s most racially integrated cities, but one thing that has made itself eerily apparent to me is the lack of black women’s stories in the public domain.
Where in the US one was repetitiously bombarded with news headlines such as black women have a higher mortality rate than any other group; black women have too much attitude to find men; black women have the highest rates of unemployment; black women account for the highest rates of single motherhood; black successful women run the risk of remaining unmarried; black women yada yada yada . . ., it seems that in the UK, black women are so invisible we don’t even make it into mainstream media’s negative news domain. Not that this is something to strive for, but it’s worrisome that from the beauty industry to music to talk shows to advertising, the black British woman’s perspective is barely noticeable.
I spoke to Simone Bresi-Ando, the founder of I’mPOSSIBLE, a UK organisation working to put black women’s voices in the public domain. She told me about a first-of-its-kind event organised by her this month in London. There, a group of black women will be gathering for an intimate evening of sharing and discussing issues surrounding the lack of focus on black women in British society.
“The I’mPOSSIBLE conversation is a groundbreaking event for the UK and women of colour as it puts their stories, unabridged, into the public domain in a way that’s empowering and inspiring…We are happy to be at the forefront of adding a voice to the mix that’s been historically overlooked,” she said.
I don’t know whether it’s worse to be negatively portrayed or invisible in the mainstream media, but I do know that the only people who can fix that problem is us ourselves. From the US to the UK and beyond, black women are demanding that their voices be heard and not only when it’s bad news.
For more information about the I’mPOSSIBLE conversation, check out Simone’s website.