Black History Month speaker hopes to inspire change in media industry

By Matthew Chandler

BHM DMU

Beverley Cooper-Chambers (left) and Yvonne Connikie (right), who gave talks at the same event

A speaker at a De Montfort University (DMU) Black History Month event hopes to change the way Black Caribbean families are represented in British media.

Beverley Cooper-Chambers, whose family are of Jamaican descent, spoke on Wednesday, October 10 about the stereotypical portrayal of British Caribbeans in television and the media.

In her talk, Beverley referred to Channel 4’s crime drama series ‘Top Boy’, about a London gang comprised of predominantly black members, to explain how prevalent this stereotype is in mainstream media.

“I’m black 24/7, 365 days a year. It must be that we’re part of the mainstream”

“You get to the situation where they get the guns, the drugs, the money, they’re having kids left right and centre without any responsibility,” she said.

“That image now is coming on the TV screens, so you think all black men are wearing hoodies and taking drugs and that’s not the reality. So my idea is there needs to be more positive TV drama.”

Beverley, former editor of Jamaican newspaper Love Herald, is doing a PhD at DMU on ‘The creation of a blueprint for television drama series that elevates the perception of British Caribbean families beyond the historical and sociological trauma of ‘fictive kin’ and the psychological manipulation of social engineering’.

bev

Beverley at her graduation

But she hopes to offer viable solutions to these well-documented issues:

“I want to be able to create a solution so it stops happening. We know what the problem is. What we need to do is how to solve it.”

“It’s all very well that you have Black History Month, but guess what? I’m black 24/7, 365 days a year. It must be that we’re part of the mainstream.

“In reality the people that control the mainstream aren’t going to do that – they don’t have to. We need to do it ourselves and stop waiting for other people to do it for us.”

While she also feels there are similar issues in the education system – saying it’s like black people “didn’t exist” before slave trade – Beverley is concentrating her efforts on changing the television industry, with her philosophy entitled ‘transform your viewing’:

“I’d want us to have a British Caribbean television network where we have a similar thing to Sky, but it’s British Caribbean, so we have our drama, our own news, we have our reality shows, we have everything, and we are the gatekeepers.”

“I’m not saying I want to isolate us, but you need to have a base from which we can work.”

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