Black British Voices project: Major national study aims to redefine black Britishness

Words by Paulette Simpson, Director of The Voice newspaper

It has been an emotional year. From the tragic loss of human life as a result of Covid-19, to the haunting images of George Floyd murdered on the streets of Minneapolis. From the latter, followed promises of change, particularly as it relates to tackling some of the racial inequalities that black people face in the UK. But what has changed and does anyone really know what black people want and how they really feel? This collaborative project between The Voice, Cambridge University and I-Cubed is an opportunity to help us understand how the community is feeling about certain issues.

Much has been said about us and to us, but we have not always been able to speak for ourselves, to define ourselves as a community. There are black people living in every corner of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. They have a voice, and we want to hear from them how it feels to live as a black person in these regions.

We cannot and should not assume that everyone has the same experience. We all have different lived realities, perspectives, and aspirations. In the past, we have had attitude surveys and national census type surveys which speak to people about particular social and economic issues. But this survey will get black people to define themselves and as Dr. Monrose, principal investigator for the project, has said ‘’allowing black people that sort of autonomy, allowing the team to translate some of the feelings that black people have about a wide range of topics”.

The killing of George Floyd brought promises of change. Credit: PA

The survey is comprehensive and will include questions on healthcare, media, youth, policing, identity, business, sport, disability, LBGT, religion, politics, the workplace and more. For a while now, we have been defined as BAME. This term, according to some people, is limiting and restricting and does not define us a group.

In the sixties we were referred to as ‘coloured’, in the seventies as either ‘West Indian’ or ‘African'; in the eighties, we were referred to as ‘Afro-Caribbean’ and the definitions continued to evolve. We were never really consulted or asked how we should be defined.

Paulette Simpson tells ITV News how the survey could make a change

This study is about engaging with the everyday black person – to be part of something that will help us to understand the reality of what it is like to be black and British. We hope to be able to use this insight to prompt real change for our community, to build a narrative that has genuinely come from the community and start to document what our lived experiences are right now in 2021.

So, we encourage everyone to take the survey, get your voice heard at

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