I have a severe fixation with British pop culture. (Sidebar: If I lived in England, I probably would be enamored with American pop culture.) As a youngster, I watched PBS and, sometimes, Canadian television to get my British telly fix. Now, I rely on BBC America. My favorites are Chef!, Coupling, The Vicar of Dibley, Desmond’s (aired on American cable), My Hero, and As Time Goes By. (I am now a huge fan of Dame Judi Dench). What I find interesting about most of my favorites is that most of the shows do not have any Black characters. You will see us as extras sitting in restaurants or working as nurses in hospital. Rarely ever speaking, barely even one line. But Chef! and Desmond’s had Black lead and supporting characters, which many viewers could relate to. Chef!, played by comic Lenny Henry, was about a chef at an exclusive English restaurant. The very hilarious Oliver Samuels, renowned Jamaican comedian and actor, played his father. Desmond’s was about the day in a life of a Black barber shop. Desmond’s was described as the British Cosby Show and Black “Cheers”. Norman Beaton, the actor who played Desmond, appeared in an episode of the Cosby show comparing baseball vs. cricket. Loved it. I love seeing the African Diaspora represented on the telly. 😀
Clip from Chef!
Clip from Desmond’s
A few months ago, my friend OM sent me a clip from a show called The Real McCoy. This show was the British version of “In Living Color.” Both sketch comedy shows aired around the same time in the early 1990s. I loved ILC, the concept was fresh and funny. The Real McCoy was definitely cutting edge. It is a shame that it never made it to American shores. The show ran from 1991-1995 on BBC.
West Indians butchering the Queen’s English
This clip is too funny because many of my family members and friends speak this way. Shout out to Aunt V. Another interesting word play is how West Indians, specifically Jamaicans, can rhyme choice and nice, which ends up sounding like “chice and nice.”
My husband and I wonder why there are no American shows with West Indian lead characters, even though some of the popular Black actors are of Caribbean descent i.e. Nia Long, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Garcelle Beauvais, Tatyana Ali, Lela Rochon, although the Cosby Show did a good job of showcasing the African Diaspora. Anyhoo, it is all for the good.
There is diversity in the Black community. We live all over the world. Many of our ancestors were displaced from our native land as slaves; therefore, some were taken to the United States, the Caribbean, South America. We are connected more than we think.
Today, begin to learn about other Black cultures than your own. We are going to start with the Brazilian gospel choir, Raiz Coral, which is Portuguese for Choral Root. There are great gospel songs on their website. Even, if you cannot speak Portuguese, Google will translate the text on the website. I love this song called “Louvado”, which means Praised. (Notice how Black American music has influenced the world!) Loves it!!
As you learn about the varied Black experience, you will be richly blessed because you will feel and know the connection.