By The Making of Black Britain

Robyn

Listen to Robyn's story as part of The Making of Black Britain oral history project

Read

RobynThe Making of Black Britain

Robyn is of Jamaican heritage. 
He was born in Britain and is the author of Prisoner to the Streets that gives a fresh perspective on the 'postcode wars'.
 
Robyn was interviewed for The Making of Black Britain on 27th August, 2021.

Robyn, London (2021) by Vanely BurkeThe Making of Black Britain

Robyn talks about his first memory
00:00

You can visualise it enough to where you can taste it almost

I know that something happened that day. And connected with the feeling of, I can't explain it, yeah it is my Dad but, I saying I can’t remember what he looks like, but I remember being at the airport.

Robyn discusses his nationality
00:00

Are you British? I don’t know.

So where are my people from? Are they from England? No. So I guess I'm not English. I don't think British people who designed the system as racist, would like me to go around saying I'm English. I think some of them curl in their stomachs when they see black people wearing their England football tops. 

Robyn talks about racial violence
00:00

I'm grateful the police don't have access to guns.

And I’m desensitised. For me, it's like Jekyll and Hyde, okay we can talk about, but when are you lot ready to fight and go and take people out? And that sounds like an extreme measure. But that's my way of looking at life. So Mark Duggan made me realise, you think that somebody could have killed my brother, and I'm going to be throwing stones at the police? No.

Robyn discusses race
00:00

It isn't as black or white as you think it is.

And I love my people with a passion and that’s why I wana wake them up to the idea we might not be getting heard by the people who we want to hear us, because we sound angry still. We sound like, maybe they are scared, maybe the oppressor is scared to show us love because he knows, though as corrupt as he is, if he gave us back what was rightfully ours, we might come and kill him. Which is definitely not the case.

Robyn talks about his relationship with the police
00:00

My hate for the police, I’m going to use that word.

Just like anyone else who's been oppressed by a system, by certain individuals, everyone has a breaking point. And as if you say, everyone’s so PC, if I say the next time the police touch me, I'm going to defend myself and like Malcolm X, any means necessary? All of a sudden you’re a terrorist. Well, evidently you're terrorising me. And your laws are not there to protect me. 

Robyn at his nans, London, 1993, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
,
Robyn at rugby, Birmingham, 1991, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
Show lessRead more

Robyn, London (2021) by Vanely BurkeThe Making of Black Britain

Robyn talks about living in Hackney
00:00

This is murder mile to us.

If you’re my age, this is murder mile. People are being killed on the street.
At the top of the road there, it starts there. There’s a lot of memories for me. I’ve been shot at.
I could have been one of the murder mile victims when I was 16.

Hackney, London, 2022

Robyn, London (2021) by Vanely BurkeThe Making of Black Britain

Robyn discusses ideas for the future
00:00

I've always wanted world peace.

Real equality and world peace. And I don't just mean for black people. I mean for the Syrian, I mean for the Afghan, I mean for everybody. Everybody suffering. There's no need for anybody to suffer. And as long as we – whoever we are – as long as we live our lives where there’s people suffering in the world, and we're living properly, okay, then we're not really human.

Robyn at his boxing club, 2018, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
,
Robyn at graduation, 2012, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
Show lessRead more

Now listen to Chidi tell her story for The Making of Black Britain.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.