Black British

Black British people
Total population
1,904,684 (3.0%)
(2011 census)[1]
Regions with significant populations
United Kingdom United Kingdom
England England1,846,614 (3.5%) (2011 census)
Scotland Scotland36,178 (0.7%) (2011 census)[note 1]
Wales Wales18,276 (0.6%) (2011 census)
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland3,616 (0.2%) (2011 census)[1]
English (British English, Black British English, Caribbean English, African English), Creole languages, French, languages of Africa, other languages
Predominantly Christianity (69%);
minority follows Islam (15%), Traditional African religions, other faiths, or are irreligious (7%)
2011 census, Great Britain only[4]
  1. ^ For the purpose of harmonising results to make them comparable across the United Kingdom, the ONS includes individuals in Scotland who classified themselves in the "African" category (29,638 people), which in the Scottish version of the census is separate from "Caribbean or Black" (6,540 people),[2] in this "Black or Black British" category. The ONS note that "the African categories used in Scotland could potentially capture White/Asian/Other African in addition to Black identities".[3]

Black British people are British citizens of either Black British African background, or of Black British African-Caribbean (sometimes called "Afro-Caribbean") background and include people with mixed ancestry from either group.[5] The term developed in the 1950s, referring to the Black British West Indian people from the former Caribbean British colonies in the West Indies (i.e., the New Commonwealth) now referred to as the Windrush Generation and people from Africa, who are residents of the United Kingdom and who consider themselves British.

The term black has historically had a number of applications as a racial and political label and may be used in a wider sociopolitical context to encompass a broader range of non-European ethnic minority populations in Britain. This has become a controversial definition.[6] "Black British" is one of various self-designation entries used in official UK ethnicity classifications.

Black residents constituted around 3 per cent of the United Kingdom's population in 2011. The figures have increased from the 1991 census when 1.63% of the population were recorded as Black or Black British to 1.15 million residents in 2001, or 2 per cent of the population, this further increased to just over 1.9 million in 2011. Over 95% of Black British live in England, particularly in England's larger urban areas, with most (over a million) Black British living in Greater London.


Historically, the term has most commonly been used to refer to Black people of New Commonwealth origin, of both West African and South Asian descent. For example, Southall Black Sisters was established in 1979 "to meet the needs of black (Asian and Afro-Caribbean) women".[7] Note that "Asian" in the British context usually refers to people of South Asian ancestry.[8][9] "Black" was used in this inclusive political sense to mean "non-white British".[10]

In the 1970s, a time of rising activism against racial discrimination, the main communities so described were from the British West Indies and the Indian subcontinent. Solidarity against racism and discrimination sometimes extended the term at that time to the Irish population of Britain as well.[11][12]

Several organisations continue to use the term inclusively, such as the Black Arts Alliance,[13][14] who extend their use of the term to Latin Americans and all refugees,[15] and the National Black Police Association.[16] The official UK Census has separate self-designation entries for respondents to identify as "Asian British", "Black British" and "Other ethnic group".[17] Due to the Indian diaspora and in particular Idi Amin's expulsion of Asians from Uganda in 1972, many British Asians are from families that had previously lived for several generations in the British West Indies or Southeast Africa.[18]

Census classification

The 1991 UK census was the first to include a question on ethnicity. As of the 2011 UK Census, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) allow people in England and Wales and Northern Ireland who self-identify as "Black" to select "Black African", "Black Caribbean" or "Any other Black/African/Caribbean background" tick boxes.[17] For the 2011 Scottish census, the General Register Office for Scotland (GOS) also established new, separate "African, African Scottish or African British" and "Caribbean, Caribbean Scottish or Caribbean British" tick boxes for individuals in Scotland from Africa and the Caribbean, respectively, who do not identify as "Black, Black Scottish or Black British".[19] In all of the UK censuses, persons with multiple familial ancestries can write in their respective ethnicities under a "Mixed or multiple ethnic groups" option, which includes additional "White and Black Caribbean" or "White and Black African" tick boxes in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.[17]

Historical usage

Black British was also a term for those Black and mixed-race people in Sierra Leone (known as the Krio) who were descendants of migrants from England and Canada and identified as British.[20] They are generally the descendants of black people who lived in England in the 18th century and freed Black American slaves who fought for the Crown in the American Revolutionary War (see also Black Loyalists). In 1787, hundreds of London's black poor (a category that included the East Indian seamen known as lascars) agreed to go to this West African colony on the condition that they would retain the status of British subjects, live in freedom under the protection of the British Crown, and be defended by the Royal Navy. Making this fresh start with them were many white people, including lovers, wives, and widows of the black men.[21] In addition, nearly 1200 Black Loyalists, former American slaves who had been freed and resettled in Nova Scotia, also chose to join the new colony.[22]

Other Languages
português: Afro-britânicos
Simple English: Black British
українська: Афробританці
中文: 英國黑人