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Is the black community powerless?

DEMONSTRATING: People protesting deaths within police custody

Each week we ask two writers with contrasting opinions to answer the question...


ON April 12 Boris Johnson and Ken Livingston -during their hustings- articulated  their policies for empowering London's black community.

Throughout the debate, the echo of empty promises filled Gaumont State theatre (Kilburn). But then again what else could we expect when the leadership of this country  which is  still largely male, pale and stale?

No real improvement to the lives of black Britons will ever come from Number 10 (sadly), but that doesn't mean that they are powerless. It's a challenge to find alternative arenas and platforms through which make their voices heard.

It's undeniable that their struggle starts from a position of net disadvantage. According to the Office for National Statistics, black youths in this country are twice as likely  to be unemployed than their caucasian counterparts.

Moreover statistics revealed by the Metropolitan Police last year, show that the majority of men held responsible by police for gun crimes, robberies and street crimes in London are black.

However the numerous demonstrations which took place over the past year (against the EDL and in solidarity of  Smiley Culture and Treyvon Martin), sent a strong message: no attack on the precious legacy of the civil rights movement will be taken sitting down.

Of course much has changed since then, with many falling into comfortable apathy or too afraid to raise concerns deemed to be divisive.

Articulating a fight for equality can be daunting - especially in our intolerant society, which likes to to think of racial issues as gone and dealt with.

It's unsurprising many black Britons, especially youths, feel their concerns are constantly disregarded.

That is where the crux of the issue lies. Will the feeling of being powerless, prevent black Britons from realising the power they actually do have?"


I ATTENDED the mayoral hustings for “the Black Community" on April 12, and I generally felt a sense of powerlessness and despair among the audience.

Attendees asked what the Mayor of London is going to do to help black parents with kids in gangs.

Boris Johnson replied, signalling the work of a parenting coffee club for such parents, many in the audience guffawed (I personally think the initiative sounded great).

The black community appears so enfeebled that it cannot look within itself to solve intra-community issues.

Moreover, why do the older generation, known to demographers as Generation X (individuals born between 1965 and 1980) seem so willing to invite the state into their lives?

As David Lammy MP so often reiterates: the government does not have a good track record of raising children, I mean, the statistics on young children in care always point to a downhill spiral.

Personally, I feel that black Generation X has lived in denial about their relationship with their children and, as a result the knife, gun and drug violence, has snowballed; the youth are now out of their control.
Power has been given away.

Unfortunately, power and influence over the young Generation Y (born between 1980-1995 and Generation Z (born between 1995-2012) is disproportionately in the hands of the street: local gangs and the music they listen to. Even religious establishments are failing to reign in issues within the black community at large.

Sure, there are young black go-getters who can think for themselves, but too often than not, they have to endure bullying and put themselves out in order to achieve half of what their Caucasian and Asian counterparts would consider standard.

Power has also been taken away by external forces. Faced with a recession, few black businesses and what seems to be habitual racism, black 18-24 year-olds in London are more likely to be unemployed than their counterparts in Spain and Greece. We seem to be fighting against the tide. 

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