What is it to be British?


A question that is becoming more and more difficult to answer.  In last week’s British The Sunday Times, an article stated there are a growing number of ethnic minorities who consider them selves to be British, not English I should stress, but British. And in no way do they see it clashing with their own culture.  I guess it makes sense that the longer each generation is rooted in a country, the more likely they will be connected to that country. 

I am second generation born (of West Indian parentage) in the UK and have to admit, that my generation did not see themselves as Brits and found it difficult to apply any title or label.   But a lot of the younger generation see themselves, without any doubt, as British.  It’s also really strange seeing and hearing some of my own people talk about ‘too many foreigners’ coming into ‘our’ country and how ‘we’ must put a stop to this!  At times, I listen to our conversations and quietly laugh to myself at how things have changed since the 70s.

You detect traces of sympathy for the Anglo-Saxon because he/she is losing their identity more and more and don’t know where they belong; the nasty little old white lady, who we all had as a neighbour once upon a time, we want to say all is forgiven especially when you now have a ‘traveller’ or an East European living next door to you.  I am shocked that we have somehow forgotten how painful and humiliating those days were, and really surprised that we don’t have much time for anyone who goes to the UK to seek a new life – just like our parents did fifty years ago.

 Integration has improved in the UK although from time to time, a Jade Goody will pop up to remind you that racism is still very much alive and kicking. But to answer the question – what is it to be British?  I wish I knew.  I haven’t got a clue but it’s good that the younger generation can come up with an immediate answer.