Can Black British Entertainers Relate To The African-American Experience?

Published: Tuesday 14th Mar 2017 by David


In 2015 the US Census Bureau estimated that there are 46,282,080 African Americans living  in the United States.

Quite interestingly, as proponents of racial diversity within entertainment celebrate the arrivals of a new batch of “melanated” Hollywood stars, some industry insiders have made an interesting observation.

Most of them are British.

This week, after Samuel L. Jackson took to Hot 97 to reveal why he believes movie studios are overlooking African-American actors to hire Black British actors when casting, the debate surrounding why this may be continues to heat up online.

More below…

Daniel Kaluuya, the star of the hit movie ‘Get Out‘ had this to say about it in response to Jackson’s remarks:

Here’s the thing about that critique, though. I’m dark-skinned, bro. When I’m around black people I’m made to feel “other” because I’m dark-skinned. I’ve had to wrestle with that, with people going “You’re too black.” Then I come to America and they say, “You’re not black enough.” I go to Uganda, I can’t speak the language. In India, I’m black. In the black community, I’m dark-skinned. In America, I’m British. Bro!

[Black people in the UK], the people who are the reason I’m even about to have a career, had to live in a time where they went looking for housing and signs would say, “NO IRISH. NO DOGS. NO BLACKS.” That’s reality. Police would round up all these black people, get them in the back of a van, and wrap them in blankets so their bruises wouldn’t show when they beat them. That’s the history that London has gone through. The Brixton riots, the Tottenham riots, the 2011 riots, because black people were being killed by police. That’s what’s happening in London. But it’s not in the mainstream media. Those stories aren’t out there like that. So people get an idea of what they might think the experience is.

Unfortunately, despite receiving praise for his response, there are some who feel it did little to explain how the legacy and trauma hinders actors of colour seeking work in an industry stained with tales of racism.

One TGJ commenter shared:

All blacks may go through the same discrimination, but discrimination on the basis of race in itself is not racism in its entirety. It is one aspect. It is a side effect. The fact of the matter is that all black people do not have have the same experience. A black person from the U.K. with parents, grand parents, or great grandparents that immigrated from Africa, knowing the exact country from which they are from, cannot identify with the African American experience. Period. It is not the same. Like he said, you can empathize. You can try to put yourself in our shoes. But that’s where your understanding ends. You don’t have the historical baggage in a comparable degree and you don’t have an erased ethnic identity. I’m not going to go into detail because it’ll take too long but while black people in the Caribbean and South America have more similar experiences, though we share differences as well, such as black people being a minority in the US and the Catholic Church’s jurisdiction rather than the crown. Who colonized the country also altered the way the people in that specific country experienced their oppression. Whether it was Spanish. Portuguese. French. Dutch. British. The African-American experience is different from the African-Latino experince is different from the African experience is different from the Daniel Kaluuya experience.

Do you agree?

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  1. We are the grandchildren of the slaves you couldn’t kill – tyler March 14, 2017

    No, not unless they’ve lived in the states

    • Meme March 14, 2017

      And even that’s not the same. I’ve been here half my life and still struggle to relate.

  2. Meme March 14, 2017

    This is an interesting topic. While I thought Daniel Kaluuya interview was very informative and he seem very intelligent, I do agree whole heartedly that non African American blacks can not relate the African American experience period. And this is soeaking first hand. I empathize with my African American friends but my views on race are almost always different.

    • Kofi March 14, 2017

      I’m a Ghanaian Brit and I have to acknowledge that we can empathise but not relate. Most West Africans have been conditioned to believe that enslaved Africans were deserving of slavery because they “misbehaved.” In fact, the GA word ((Ga is one of Ghanas many languages) for Caribbeans is Sugar People. I was raised to believe this by several elders in my family until I woke up and realised that the only ones who misbehaved were the white devils who r****, tortured and mutilated us. A lot has to be done for there to be true understanding among Africans and African Americans. We are one people separated by an evil act.

      • Widit March 14, 2017

        Whatever u say us like u been enslaved yourself. And it was your black kings and queens who sold their asses anyway so think twice before calling anyone a white devil yeah

    • Rosy March 14, 2017

      Mine too, African Americans cannot let go and move on we know racism still exist, but are they going to allow it to kill each other and try not to progress in life, British blacks all blacks around the world were controlled by the queen the difference with African Americans they fight amongst themselves hate on each other the problem is within their community it’s always something with them they cannot understand other blacks while we experience racism we will not allow it to stop our progress blacks here will complain for the rest of their life they hate on other blacks from another country our work ethics is different from theirs I work with African American women hate to say this everyday they show up to work late it’s ridiculous I’m not saying all of them but my experience with them is crazy they always quit a job

      • Shake March 14, 2017

        “African American women show up late to work everyday.” Can you show me the proof that these women get to work any earlier or later than anybody else? Please, take your broken English and nonsensical theories and take the first train, plane, boat or bird out of here.

      • Lindsay Slapped Me March 14, 2017

        Totes hilaire when you remember that black women are the fastest rising demographic in entrepreneurialism.

  3. Suicide Blonde March 14, 2017

    I’m not black and my opinion does not count but I think all black people can relate to “the African American experience”, every group of black people in the world have experienced some sort of discrimination, and at times even persecution, every group, at some point in their lives/history, so yes, they definitely can relate, not only them but also Afro-Latinos as well, and many black people around the world.

    • Kofi March 14, 2017

      But there has never been anything like chattle slavery and the systemic abuse which followed. Please learn that all discrimination isn’t the same. A down low gay man does not face the same issues as an openly gay man even though they are both gay.

    • Jasmine March 14, 2017

      Since you are “not black” and your “opinion does not count” then keep it to yourself.

    • RealNegro March 14, 2017

      As stated above. African Americans aren’t immigrants. Immigrants have the luxury of knowing where they come from. African Americans have to settle with just being black. It’s unfair!

      • Jay March 15, 2017

        Ancestry, 23andMe, DNAtribes, DNA Lands, My Heritage, GED Match, and African Ancestry can tell what their true identity is. Many are finding their long lost African relatives.

  4. Kae March 14, 2017

    Wasn’t African Americans complaining about diversity in movies, now when there is a film that is number 1 in the US Samuel L Jackson who appears in every damn film felt the need to be salty and throw shade, Gtfoh

    It’s a time to be celebrating that such a film is number 1 not start a internal race war between black British and African Americans

    It’s called acting for a reason you get into f****** character, who cares if Daniel is British he is still Black

    Do you hear white american actors complaining about white Brits such Kate Winslet, Micheal Fassbender, Daniel Day Lewis etc taking ‘their parts’ ? NO!!!

    This whole Samuel L Jackson commentary on downplaying Black British is disgusting

    I didn’t here black Americans complaining about Will Smith playing a Nigerian or Don Cheadle or Forest Whitaker playing Africans but they were up in arms about Zoe Saldana an Afro Latina playing an Black American

    African Americans need to understand they are not the only ones who are apart of the African Dispora

    • Fifi March 14, 2017

      I have one word for you. Nuance. Look it up and then work out why it relates to this matter.

  5. #TeamTinashe Stan (New Single “Flame” Out 3/16/17) March 14, 2017

    Yes they can!
    Being black is already an experience within itself. Every black person around the world from when they were born to when they get older are taught about traumatizing experience that blacks had & still have to go through. This is ALL in preparation with the mere fact that anyone walking around with black skin is already deemed “trouble” & a “thief”. This doesn’t just happen in America but everywhere in the world even with police brutality it happens, it’s just not heard of in mainstream media.
    There has been many cases that I’ve heard outside of America that have been swept under the rug due to the justice system not caring about blacks.

    At the end of the day, people should be HAPPY that a black person was casted for that role than any other race as they always do in major films.

    • Fifi March 14, 2017

      I’m sorry but we cannot. This isn’t our fault but we trivialise how disgusting the AA experience has been when we say we can. As an African I can trace my lineage back by a thousand years and may not find a single slave. African Americans literally can’t research their history without finding one of their ancestors was r****, lynched, sent to a breeding farm, branded or maimed. Therefore we can empathise from afar but we cannot relate.

      • blue March 14, 2017

        and from day to day in your life what difference would it make if your ancestors did experience slavery? would your current life be better or worse or would you still be going through the same struggles, made to feel like a second rate citizens in ur own country?

      • Jay March 15, 2017

        Thank you. I cant tell you the amout of white faces that have shown up in my ancestry dna family tree. They are slave owner descendants and have turned their relative’s plantation home in million dollar museums… my ancestors that helped build it and some even buried underneath their lawns still struggle and are robbed… and doing the ansetry test has opened my eyes.. I am majority west African and not just black like I was led to believe… i now know my ethnic group and where my ancestors come from… i now have an identity and culture to learn… i am finding people from Africa that have helped me learn the language and clothing.. i shall be getting my African name soon as well as taking a trip… i now only buy from black businesses no matter in Lagos, London, Atlanta… my family has shunned me and deny their african ancestry also some africans have shunned me … but my DNA says I am African… i pray to not be robbed of that any longer same way my ancestors were robbed of their culture and true identity

    • Suicide Blonde March 14, 2017

      Thank you, that’s exactly what I wanted to say.

      • Queen Janine (Ms Butcher if Ya Nasty) March 14, 2017

        The only people who think like this are people who forget that slavery only ended 150 years ago and that the KKK hasn’t even “celebrated” it’s 200th birthday yet. African Americans have an experience which is unique to them and only them and we As Black Brits have to check our privilege (however Little it may be) and realise that they are still being discriminated against.

  6. MUSICHEAD March 14, 2017


  7. Mother March 14, 2017

    Why have you got John Boyega pictured though?

    • #TeamTinashe Stan (New Single “Flame” Out 3/16/17) March 14, 2017

      That’s his crush 😉

      • Queen Janine (Ms Butcher if Ya Nasty) March 14, 2017

        Or because John is Black, British and starred in Star Wars. Just a thought.

      • SSS 2017 March 14, 2017

        The gag is that Tinashe’s Flame is going to Flop and you’re out here talking about things you don’t know about. Insufficiently funded mountain goat you are!

      • Shake March 14, 2017

        “That’s his crush.” Orrrrrrrrr because he’s Black British? You’re thirsty for tea when you should be hungry for success. #FlameFlopper

      • Mother March 14, 2017

        Wtf? The post is about Daniel Kaluuya who stars in ‘Get Out.’ Yet John Boyega, a totally different person, is used as the picture to head this post. Y’all are dumb as hell 😕

    • Pum Pum Shorts March 14, 2017

      “Why is Boyega pictured”? You didn’t know he’s from London?

  8. Tamartian#1 March 14, 2017

    Really? Why does it matter? It’s entertainment.

    • Shake March 14, 2017

      Please, worry about Tamar’s missing album sales and phantom Grammy before you come here. It isn’t just entertainment when all of us are consuming it. You must be one of those people who’s ok with the fact that camp gay guys are struggling to find roles in Hollywood because of the roles are going to straight acting of closeted men.

      • Tamartian#1 March 14, 2017

        I’m not even going to entertain you.

  9. JanStan March 14, 2017

    Part of the problem imo is that black people keep getting in black peoples way. The context of what Samuel Jackson was saying was that a British black man shouldn’t be playing the part of a black american. The MOVIE WAS A THRILLER NOT A DOCUMENTARY. He was acting and by all accounts the movie is killing it. So to turn the success of a black man into a racial issue by another black man is ridiculous. Just stop already.

  10. Check Your Lipstick March 14, 2017

    Did someone really ask why John SlayYega is pictured? Cackling downe!!! Fools I tell ya. Fools.

  11. ThatMessJuice.Flop March 14, 2017

    Yeah yeah yeah…blah blah blah…Does Samuel L Jackson know that African Americans and British blacks take African character roles in movies? Does he throw fits as well in that instance when African Americans take roles meant for Africans? Can African Americans relate to the struggles of Africans living in Africa? It really isn’t that deep…if you are black and can act better than others pls get the job

    • Jay March 15, 2017

      You need to stop trying to divide… they are all africans if you like it or not… american… british… what you need to be saying does sam realize these actors in the Diaspora are taking from such and such country… not the entire continent when they all descended from it.. this entire thing is bogus and downright taken out of context

  12. 🙎🏾‍♂️ March 14, 2017

    Despite what either of these men said, I’m so happy this sparked conversation about inclusiveness of all who consider themselves black. Whether that’s your skin tone, social interactions, or other. WE ALL BLACK! Why divide over nationality? That’s dumb.

  13. DanYiel Iman March 14, 2017


  14. What March 15, 2017

    I think Americans need to get their heads out their asses and realise that black history doesn’t begin and end with them. The comment in the post says people in the Caribbean can empathise more… WHERE THE HELL DO YOU THINK A LOT OF BLACK PEOPLE IN THE UK CAME FROM?? Our grand parents immigrated to the uk, does that suddenly mean our whole history ceases to exist? Our ancestors were also enslaved.

    And I hate how African Americans seem to be okay portraying many different areas of the black experience from an African warlord to Jamaicans (all the while with shitty accents) yet for some reason to play an African American you have to ‘LIVE’ that experience?? It boils down to the egotistical way americans engage with the world in general. And as black people we are also always force fed black american history like its completely our own. I never learnt about Marcus Garvey in school and i’m sure the average african american doesn’t even know who he is but they wanna open their mouths to tell me about MY HISTORY?

    Its hilarious that the countries with the most enslaved Africans were actually Brazil and countries in the Caribbean but let an af american tell it and you’d think the whole thing revolved around america. Just shut the f*** up man.

  15. NtsWNow at uyoufr best game way tuesidnz March 15, 2017


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