Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Black Prime Minister?

Checkout this story in today’s Guardian.

The commentator asks if it’s possible for there to be a British Prime Minister in the near future. They pose some interesting questions. The funny thing is – it’s always been said that the US is more racist than the UK. It may have been in the past but this can’t be the case now. Black people in the US have real chances to better themselves and to take influential positions – through the political process and through wealth generation. That isn’t the case here. Some of that though is to do with the way things work here politically too – I mean where’s the space in our political system for an equivalent to the Black caucus in the States? Black people in the UK haven’t and don’t band together for our common good. Most home grown Black Brits seem (to me) to be eager to fade into the background. They seem embarrassed when issues of race are discussed. But they should be discussed. You can’t tell me that the US isn’t a better place for people like Oprah, the Johnsons (OK, OK BET sucks but they did start a viable business), the other Johnsons (Ebony), Magic (plenty Johnsons eeeh?) and of course Obama – and many others. Creating a society where all people are able to reach for the skies makes things better for all.

I’m not saying it can’t be done here but from my experience it is incredibly hard. There’s an unspoken and deeply held belief amongst many white people I have encountered – that black people are less competent and no matter how much you prove otherwise they just won’t see it. I’ve worked with people for several month, and years and they will still ask me questions that show they think I am a moron. This is troubling because it means you can’t appeal to these people with reason and if you can’t do that it doesn’t leave many options. Which is why many of us have given up and resort to legal measures, where in the past we would have let things slide. But then isn’t that what happened in the States in the 60s which is why black people there have better chances. Maybe the UK is just many years behind in this area. Heck , it’s behind in so many others (just instituted chip and pin so you can use your debit card in a shop a few years ago; live liver transplants available for 15 years, first one done on the NHS last year – there are many examples).

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