About BAC

“…Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds…”
Bob Marley

Researchers from various ethnic groups use bicultural theory as a means of attending to the well-being of their members living in a society which is not the homeland of their ancestors. A key tenet of bicultural theory is that of bicultural socialisation. To be biculturally socialised is to be socialised into a culture of origin as well as a culture of residence. Significantly the culture of origin should be valued and affirmed by the culture of residence.

Bicultural socialisation is important because culture becomes inner experience. Consequently, socialisation into a culture of origin provides the individual with a perspective from which to understand other cultures. Failure to ensure bicultural socialisation in polyethnic societies like Britain means the individual is at risk of internalising contradictory values resulting in cultural confusion.

Unique to the experience of descendants of enslaved Africans is that such bicultural socialisation does not take place as a matter of course. Instead, members of this group are unconsciously ‘contained’ within British-English culture where they have been co-opted since the enslavement of their ancestors centuries ago.

Research findings identify descendants of enslaved Africans to be unconsciously biculturally competent as adults and unconsciously biculturally incompetent as children. This important finding gives crucial insights into the seeming inability of members of this group to work through the problems they face as a group.

Social issues faced by members of this group identified by the media include:

  • Educational underachievement
  • Social exclusion
  • Absent fathers/single mothers
  • Continuing problem of gang violence
  • Gun and knife crimes
  • School exclusion

From these outcomes we see that black culture is not a valued culture within British society. In a state of unconsciousness descendants of enslaved Africans are, as a group, largely unable to extricate themselves from the experience. Given they do not function as an ethnic group they are unable to pool ideas and resources to find a group solution to the problems of black culture. Instead descendants of enslaved Africans continue to exist as a social category at the periphery of English society. Here they exist as ‘blacks’ relative to ‘whites’.

To transform this experience descendants of enslaved Africans need to associate ethnically under the umbrella term of British African Caribbeans, signifying their intention of engaging with their history and in this way differentiate themselves from the ethnic majority – the English. To identify ethnically is to take responsibility for their lives as a group, something deprived of descendants of enslaved during slavery and colonisation.
The British African-Caribbean (BAC) identity has been adopted because:

  • Enslaved Africans and their descendants have been socialised into British culture since the 16th century and have unconsciously internalised many aspects of the culture.
  • The Caribbean is where the black culture which now frames our life evolved.
  • The culture of origin of descendants of enslaved Africans is African culture.

This understanding is in line with Pinderhughes (1989) finding that black culture consists of three elements: residues of African culture, the victim culture of slavery and aspects of British culture.

While descendants of enslaved Africans may be reluctant to identify with any one of these cultures they have, nevertheless, been unconsciously shaped by them. In working with these three experiences descendants of enslaved Africans will gain a sense of how they have been shaped historically and what the implications of this history is for their lives today.

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