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Is 2017 the year of action for black Britons?

DIVERSITY ON SCREEN: A Black Prime Minister? as part of the BBC’s Black and British season

AFTER THE success of the BBC Black and British season and BFI Black Star, it feels there has been a brief interlude in the mainstream in recognising the interconnectedness of our history, identity and contribution in putting the ‘Great’ back into Britain.

But the question remains: what is the legacy of these initiatives and how can this be sustained? 2017 will be a critical year in a post-Brexit vote and Donald Trump world. To change the cultural amnesia, ignorance or even suppression of our humanity and role in this country over the past 2,000 years, the following 10 actions need to be adopted to ensure our heritage, existence and sanity in forthcoming years:

1. Theresa May and the government must formally adopt the UN Decade of African Descent (2015-2024) and work with community organisation- sand key individuals to draw up a special action in addressing the racial inequalities and structural racism facing the African and Caribbean community covering issues liked education, employment, mental health, health inequalities housing, criminal justice, the arts and young people.

2. The Heritage Lottery Fund, The Arts Council, Department of Culture and Media and Department of Education should ring fence a budget/ establishing fund stream to support schools, community organisations and heritage bodies around the commemoration the 70th anniversary of the Windrush in 2018. The government should also adopt Windrush Day on June 22 to celebrate the Caribbean migration to Britain. Also, the national curriculum should have a greater focus on the black contribution to British history.

3. Mainstream broadcasters should develop new programmes (drama, documentaries, current affairs, children, faith, history) working with a range of talent and production companies targeting African and Caribbean professionals and production companies.


DIANE ABBOTT

4. The publishing industry and the media should commission and support writers, designers, illustrators and black publishing companies to develop more non-fiction, fiction and other genres in promoting black heritage, cultural identity and policy thinking.

5. With the government setting a precedent to fund a new Holocaust Memorial, it should also provide the funding to Memorial 2007 for the first national memorial for the enslaved victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

6. The Department of Communities and Local Government has also commissioned a number of war memorials as the part of World War One celebrations. It should fund the first national memorial for African and Caribbean service personnel for being developed by the Nubian Jack Foundation. Funding should also be available along with a special memorial to support the role and sacrifices made by British West Indies Regiment.

7. Parliament should a have a special debate celebrating the black contribution to politics and public life with reference to the 30th anniversary of the election of Bernie
Grant, Diane Abbott, pictured left, Paul Boateng and Keith Vaz as MPs.

8. As part of the honours list for this year, the government should recognise those elders from the Windrush Generation and key organisations and individuals who have been promoting, education and advocating for this generation which played a key role in post-war Britain.

9. The legacy of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the trauma of enslavement is still ever-present within the subconscious of both black and white people 400 years later.
It is reinforced by everyday racism and the consequences of government policy and globalisation. There should be a royal commission similar to that which was established by David Cameron in February 2014 to examine the impact of the Holocaust. Such a body would report to Parliament and look at the legacy of enslavement in society today across a number of policy areas and the issues of restorative justice.

10. The government should create an emancipation fund to support events, monuments and activities around Emancipation Day, Windrush Day and Black/African History Month.

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