Sunday, 9 November 2008

Who Wants To Feel British?

There is a huge amount of fuss being kicked up about an interview of Dizzee Rascal by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight the night of the American elections this year. I didn’t watch the interview so I cant comment on the detail of the conduct or tone of the interview. But it would appear that Paxman was his usual facetious self and Dizzee responded appropriately light hearted and unserious. Following a response by Baroness Scotland (it’s a wonder the number of Black people who are happy to don the robes of feudal imperialism) that a lot of Black youth do not have a sense of what it is to feel British; Paxman asked Dizzee whether he feels British. It appears Dizzee gave a rambling answer that said little and included a declared lack of interest in what goes on politically.

Some people have complained it was an unserious approach by the BBC to primetime coverage of a momentous event. Some Black people have indicated feelings of being let down and poorly represented by Dizzee. It appears on the one hand some fold think that an artiste like Dizzee is not an appropriate commentator for the BBC. Clearly they probably switched on expecting to see Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand showcasing the kind of good taste and high quality the BBC is so well renowned for. Puhleese!

I think some of us are taking our misconceptions too far. There is this completely apposite notion that the BBC is the epitome of quality broadcasting. This is a broadcaster whose head of radio could not see what could possibly be wrong in a public funded programmer allowing its staff to abuse and harass members of the public, and also broadcasting that abuse. The BBC claims to want to pay wages at market rates but feels no need to actually apply the standards of commercial broadcasting to itself. Its perpetually whining about continuing and increasing license funding but offers very little back that is in the public interest. It certainly does not hire people who understand what the public interest entails. This is an organisation that is unwieldy and lacking in both efficiency and innovation.

I cannot see why there is a call for Dizzee Rascal to represent Black people. I don’t want him representing me. I want him representing himself. And he does that very well. He is a smart and witty man who I thought gave a good enough account of himself. No one should expect any more than that of him. If you want to criticise someone for making Black people look bad. Take your pick of Baroness Scotland or Trevor Phillips. They fill that role so completely Dizzee would never get a look in.

And exactly what would I be wanting to feel British for. Has being British suddenly become synonymous with fairness, equality, justice, sincerity or social and cultural emancipation? Maybe these are the things we should value more. These are things I would want to be recognised for being known for. I think there is a slavish devotion amongst British politicians for having a citizenry that is mindlessly patriotic along the American lines. One of the most insufferable things about Americans is their notion that being American superseded being human. Yet the greatness of America is founded in the diversity of different cultures that live alongside each other in America. It is nothing to do with some kind of American homogeneity.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Time To Get Your Game On

It is starkly ironic that the election of the first ever Black president in America coincides with a period of economic tumult and questionable war campaign. Needless to say its likely that improving the lot of the Black person, or other minorities, in America may not be his top priority. However, the time for promises has passed and now is the time give back to all those young Black people who started this journey with him and have backed him fearlessly and resolutely. Its their future and destiny he now holds in his hands. There is no one else to point the finger of blame at.

The lot of Black people in America needs a huge amount of systemic change for marked improvement to be seen. Change in the educational, justice, health and economic systems. Obama has promised "change we can believe in". We have believed. Now we need change we can see and feel.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

The Fulfilment or Just Fulfilling

I guess I always knew I was going to have something to say about today. A truly momentous day for all Black Americans. It represents a crack in the door. A door that its firmly slammed shut exterior has seen more Black young men graduating from the prison system than from the educational system. Has seen Black women more marginalised and brutalised in their communities and the society than when they couldn't vote. It has been a time when Black people have identified leisure and entertainment as their best, and maybe only, path to financial security and a better life. Even though less than one percent of prospects go on to achieve a professional career in sports or in showbiz. So I can see why a lot of people see Barack Obama's succession to the presidency as the culmination of all the civil rights fights and the fulfilment of Martin Luther King's dream. But is it? Have we now finally overcome?