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.

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  • Leonie UK

    Mmmmmhhhh well being another Londoner, living outside the city, yes we are not represented in the media much, but thank the Lord we get a mention. London is diverse, but don’t judge the whole of the island, based on a quick skip through the afternoon fashion spread or an episode of eastenders.

    The Black community in the US reminds me of the Asian community in the UK. Lots of coverage, own networks, own identity, everything seems to be sailing ahead. But, when you get to the surface it’s all raceism, classism, sexism, ism ism ism.

    I’m quite happy reading my Pride magazine and not being that “visable”, seriously I’m past it. I want to be like the Chiense. Not even a mention when they discuss Asian people ( UK people, do we see the word Asian then Chiense underneath a census form, like it’s a seperate state?), no information on their contribution to fashion,pop culture or even politricks. But when it comes to bussiness balling with the best of them.

    Silence is seriously golden.

    Oh and about the Rimmel, well they can suck it and see. We got Jordann Dunn doing L’Oreal, so losers take your London look.

    • Jennifer

      Doesn’t Rimmel have Solange? She looks fabulous I might add.

  • Londoner

    Leonie –

    True London doess not represent England – it’s easy to forget that if you live in the metropolis. But we are more ‘visible’ than Pride mag though (no offence to Pride.) That’s a separate space created for/by us, not a ‘representation’ within the wider culture.

    I hear what you are saying about the S. Asian community – its not all roses there either. Outcomes / statistics for Bengali’s (people from Bangladesh) are completely different to those from India. (Bengali’s are basically the most socially deprived and economically inactive section of society, Indian-origin people quite the opposite. )I feel that many African-descended people romanticise the Asian community because they seem more united (although as you mention the reality is different). S. Asian women for example, have one of the highest suicide rates in the country. But that’s another long story…

    I agree the Chinese have the right idea!

    Sod Rimmel, though. They don’t event make dark foundations so I wouldn’t even consider buying their product. Big up Jourdan – she’s also the face of YSL’s Touch Eclat!

  • Girl

    I dont know about you whiners but Im glad that Rimmel picked a black woman PERIOD. Sorry that yall feel the need to make this lovely ad, a American black vs British black situation