Black News is Black Joy
23rd June 2019
Melanated Minds I Opinion
Melanated Minds I Opinion
If you hold the pen, you write the story.
If you hold the brush, you paint the picture.
If you hold the mirror, you show someone who they are.
As a black person, looking at the picture painted of you by the media; often represents a two-dimensional image, one that lacks any depth or light. If you look into the mirror at what is reflected back at you, you will often see a distorted image of the black community or you may see nothing at all.
The writers and creators of the mainstream media here, in the United Kingdom, largely embody a narrow demographic. When you lie outside of this demographic, misrepresentation can at first appear as a small ripple, but over time, it can feel like huge waves of injustice. A narrow demographic cannot lead to a wider worldview and drawing from a limited pool of experience breeds ignorance or an over-dependence on a few in the media to report. The problem is, the majority of voices in the mainstream media are ill-equipped to tell everyone’s story, taking ownership of stories that are not theirs to tell. Black News UK does its part to chip away at the behemoth that is the media, it does this by offering the news-hungry a different, solutions-focused angle to consume.
News about the black community in the UK is often sparse, largely negative and downright aggressive. The thing about news is news is huge; it is local, national and consumed all over the world. A lack of balance can often leave others, outside the UK, surprised that black people have existed in the country for centuries and that the first recorded Briton had dark skin. And so, born out of a monthly book club called ‘Diaspora Discussions’: Black News UK, not just acknowledges the need to address the balance but outright demands to tip the scale.
Sharing and Finding Positive News
The purpose of Black News UK is simply to tell positive news, share events and opportunities ‘because Black people are great.’ We say simply, but, at the start of this process, gathering this news was a slog and we had trouble finding much that was positive. This difficulty in finding news was, in essence, in tune with why we created Black News UK in the first place. At the end of every book club, we would constantly struggle to connect the book successfully to news that was positive in wider society. We would come away from each meeting deflated, aware of the disconnect between what is reported and our own experiences. We know that black people are not a monolith of often portrayed stereotypes, but do others? What we soon came to find is that we do tell our own positive stories every single day but we seldom hear or see them. We were surprised to learn that when you do find positive black news, or the news finds you, the amount out there is actually staggering.
What we are doing is nothing new. Black news in general has come before us in different forms and positive news and has its own publication in the United States. In the UK the conversation around race and racism seems to be quieter in comparison to other countries. Here we have British industries, the global and historical bastions of racism, continuing to enforce racism by failing to fully acknowledge and tackle it despite studies showing racial bias. The need for a louder, collective voice remains ever more significant. It is fantastic that there are people willing to put their time and effort into providing resources for the black community. Whilst bringing black people together is nothing new, mobilising thought in the modern world through social media is easier and faster.
Style and Substance
The style of Black News UK was influenced by the tone of Mediargh, a job listing website in which the creator, who has now sadly passed, had intended for the content to be light-hearted but serious in putting an end to unpaid internships. We are also light-hearted in content but dead serious about black coverage, having run a campaign called #BlackInTheHeadlines on Instagram, where we pick a free newspaper and score how positive and negative the news headlines featuring black people are. There is no shock which way the headlines fall.
Future of How We See Ourselves
We, as a community, are more than knife crime and slavery, although these issues should not be ignored, they are not the full story. Black News UK embraces solutions-focused journalism, knowing that there are problems but showcasing ways in which these issues are solved and recognised. Most importantly, we celebrate the everyday opportunities and successes happening nationwide such as Tobi Kyeremateng who started the Black Ticket Project, Pat Lawson who won Happiest Bus Driver at the London Bus Awards, celebrating Emma Dabiri’s latest book (we cover Irish success too!), opportunities to send submissions to the Black, British and Northern Zine, highlighting communities such as Black Girl Gamers or Coding Black Females, publicising ways to engage with black businesses such as through the Jamii discount card or turning stereotypes and stigmas on their heads with the Dope Black Dads podcast. These are just some of the stories we share which we do voluntarily, squeezing this work into our spare time. We want others to join our cause to create a positive, black, information-sharing community and embolden black joy. Follow us to make our voices louder and contact us to join the cause.