To be black. To be British. To be a man.
If you first came to London and read a British newspaper, then you might think that most millennial black men from the UK were basically a 'roadman.' In Britain, a 'roadman' is sort of the equivalent of the African American 'gangsta' but not really on the same threat level in all honesty. However, many millennial black men in the UK are not 'roadman' at all.
As someone who was born and bred in London, I have hung out with a variety of different types of black men that populate Britain. Black culture is born in London, and then it spreads to other major British cities like Birmingham and Manchester. So if you want to understand Black British men then look no further than London.
Of course, every black man is an individual, like any other human, but we can also be broadly categorised into a type in terms of how we present and view ourselves to the world. So, I am writing the first article which exists (to the best of my knowledge) which explains the different types of black British men in the UK.
Feel free to agree or disagree.
1. The modern Black British black man
This is the type of black guy who is usually born in the UK to parents who came to Britain in the late 70s and the 80s. They can be poor, middle-class or wealthy. These types of black guys are very in touch with their Britishness while also acknowledging their African or Caribbean roots. These are the guys who watch EastEnders but also know their afrobeat artists or can speak Jamaican patois. They often speak with a London accent (or the accent of the city they come from) and have a mixture of friends from all races. They can be at a pub during lunchtime eating bangers and mash but also be eating jollof rice at their mum's house for supper. They are part of the African or Caribbean diaspora, and they are proud of it. Their vocabulary often consists of words such as “fam”, “wagwan”, “innit” “mazza” “dickhead” “wasteman” “mandem” and a few others.
Examples: Anthony Joshua, Stormzy, John Boyega,
2. The ‘Roadman’
Probably the most well-known group of black British men, the roadman is usually born in the UK and can be described as the corrupt version of the "The modern Black British man" but not always. There are cases where he is, in fact, a ‘British African’ but now finds himself living the criminal lifestyle that encompasses the roadman's existence. The roadman is basically a criminal who either sells drugs (i.e. trapping), robs people or places and/or spends most of his days roaming the streets with his boys. They often produce questionable drill music or hang around aimlessly in their estate. Some of these guys do go on to have successful music careers where they rap about their trap life. Often black boys in their late teens to mid twenties, the ‘roadman’ is not a new phenomenon as they existed as early as the 2000s. However, with the popularity of drill music and social media, the roadman has, unfortunately, become a more prominent representation of millennial black British boys.
Examples: Headie One, Nines, AJ Tracey
3. The coconut
Although sometimes used in a very derogatory way by others within the black community, a coconut (sometimes referred to as a bounty) is essentially a black boy who acts 'white.' That is to say that these types of black boys talk in a very refined or posh way that many would classify as sounding ‘white’. He may or may not listen to black music, eat African or Caribbean food or even have many black friends. Still, he usually does not overtly emphasise his roots. His hobbies include activities that you would find are popular with British white people and ditto for his music taste. However, this doesn’t make him less black (in my opinion). The coconut is not as hated among the black community as he might have been in the past. Nowadays, he is more accepted as another type of black guy as opposed to a black guy who isn't proud of his heritage.
Examples: Ncuti Gatwa (technically he is Scottish but still he is example of what some may classify as a coconut), Nathan Stewart-Jarrett
4. The eccentric and unconventional black British man
The eccentric and unconventional black British man is different from the coconut in that he is very much aware of his roots and displays that. Unlike 'The modern black British man' or 'The roadman', his personality is very loud, very humorous or very weird. However, his unusual behaviour comes out in a way that is acceptable to the mainstream without gaining the disapproval or indifference from black people that a 'coconut' might have. These types of black British men are often entertainers, but they can also be people with ordinary lives. They are very similar to ‘The modern black British man’ but just a lot louder and whackier in their personalities.
Examples: Mo The Comedian, Michael Dappah, Big Narstie
5. British Africans
British Africans are not a new type of Black British men, but they have become a lot more vocal and visible over the past decade. This is primarily due to the popularity of afrobeats music, which has made African culture a lot more mainstream in Britain. Sometimes born in the UK and sometimes born in Africa, but then immigrated to the UK, British Africans share some similarities with 'The modern Black British man.' But the critical difference is that they emphasise and practice their African culture much more strongly than the former. These are black men who speak their mother tongue with their friends and families even if they were born in the UK. They frequently travel to Africa and wear clothing from their African country of origin. While they may occasionally acknowledge their Britishness (usually in a way to mock British culture) and are comfortable around different races, they are much comfortable carrying on the traditions and behaviours of their motherland.
Examples: Burna Boy, J Hus
So which one do you think best describes you as a black British man? None of them or a mixture? Have I got it completely wrong? And ladies, which type from the list do you tend to date? Feel free to leave your comments below.