If a persons social position can be determined by where they were conceived then their racial standing can be fixed by what ocean their great great grandmothers and fathers first dipped their toes in. You find it being more of a constant of Caucasians in the west that they think not in terms of parental genealogy but more their immediate family who benightedly stand in front of them and put just enough vitality into not looking back.
I don’t come before you dear reader being a villain peddling hypocrisy in saying that i’m an exception to this rule of dismissing my cultural bathos for I’ve only just started to drink from my tanker of antiquity. I’ve found that on my mothers side I have origins of the Gaelic tongue and my great great grandfather had a hand in forging the first club of lawn Tennis in Leamington in the late 1800’s, something that still thrives today.
And with the multitude of websites designed to assist in unraveling the enigma of our centennial parentage, blemishes an all, I imagine we need some extra elbow grease to find out where our mothers, mothers Au pair once slept. But for the people who had their days defined by what foreign invaders did to them at night they need no internet connection as their identities became amesh with what river their blood ran through, and who of their great uncles helped dig the banks of the creek.
For cultural theorist Professor Stuart Hall the language was preordained for his generation by the effects of colonialism in Jamaica chronically pincer-ed between two world wars. As a boy he viewed this plain of foreign expansion not quite the post-colonial era (as it had never really ended) but more an ethnological result of the British Empire changing the way that racialism was experienced in his province. Hall wrote in his blinding memoir ‘Familiar Stranger’ about this perspective on the cultural segmentation taking place as a child. ‘There was never a single moment in this trajectory which wasn’t impelled by my racial positioning’. I can’t formally tell you how this changed his attitude toward the British, just that when he moved to the UK in 1952 he never officially wanted to become British, (Our approach to migrant integration in his eyes I believe he saw the malaised silhouette of Empire).
Jamaica before and after was an epoch that helped hand political attitudes to the people who’d once referred to themselves as ‘brown’ but because of racial segregation were now forced to be ‘black’. Ethnic diversification was taking place on their own doorstep and still exists today as a universal legacy of the Empire. This cultural deficit we are still living with today as the scandal of the Windrush generation, (one that Stuart Hall was a member of) continues to show just how immigration policies of both Labour and the Conservatives are deeply failing at hem of our society, and failing people who came to this country decades before and should have been given citizenship long ago.
But for me I see the annals of the largest Empire in history as a bloodied battlefield which in the grave word of Enoch Powell demanded ‘assimilation’ from the colonized lands we rigorously inhabited. An arrogance we had of demanding all other cultures to bow with their heritage in an outstretched hand, but lop off the arm with British steel when they ask us to give up some of our own.