Custom Search 1

Race row: 'Ross Barkley is white. Except he's not.'

ABUSE: Ross Barkley

IT'S THAT time again. Who are you going to vote for?

My 18-year-old will get her first opportunity to exercise her democratic right come June 8. You’ve got to feel for her generation, though, because knowing who to vote for is harder now than ever before. No wonder a lot of these kids can’t be bothered. No wonder they would rather stay at home and watch the telly or play a computer game when the rest of us are acting like we can make a difference. My daughter knows who not to vote for.

But then that has always been relatively straightforward. Every now and then a wolf has duped us in their sheep’s clothing. However, ordinarily speaking, the parties have been unable to hide their true colours for long. Having said that, knowing who loves us as black people has never been harder. Because at the moment, we are not on the agenda. There are bigger fish to fry than us and there is a greater calling to us as Brits rather than to us as black – or at least that’s what it looks like on the surface.

I heard a Ukip spokesperson say the other day that the Brexit war has been won, but the battle to stop immigration is not over and the battle against multiculturalism as a failed integration policy has still to be fought. My 18-year-old was listening to the same broadcast and immediately responded, “Well, I’m not going to vote for them, then...”

You see, she’s done her African history classes and understands the trajectory of who we are and what we are in this country. We are, and will always be, the immigrants. No matter how long we live in this country and no matter how lighter and whiter we become with each generation, we bear the stain of immigration in perpetuity.

SHAME: Kelvin McKenzie's comments about Ross Barkley show that racism is still a problem

This thing they call multiculturalism has become such a dirty word. In other words, we had to straighten Britain and the British out when we came here. For one thing, they weren’t bathing every day. Real talk. They were going down the public baths (nowadays we call them the swimming pools) once a week to have a bath. Please believe me, people. This is not about race. This is about culture. A lot of British people, particularly those working class ones that we lived amongst were not bathing every day, which was anathema to us who came from hot countries. Some of you who were at school ‘bout yah in dem times will back me up on this.

And we weren’t having it. Not amongst the white friends that we used to spar with. We had to straighten them out.
Now, call that ‘multi-culti’ if you want, I call it a simple exchange of intellect. As scientists now do across the globe, not least thanks to the Internet.

In return we learned how to eat fish and chips out of a newspaper, to hold our wives’ hands in public and to ‘tap’ our noise on our streets and in our yards, or at least to drop the volume because every Englishman’s home is his castle – not his shebeen.

The cultural exchange that I remember most clearly from my adolescence was when my white school mate reprimanded me for re-using the teabag to squeeze the last drops of juice out of it and to save the penny that my father had assured me on many occasion that if I took care of, my pounds would take care of themselves. My school mate added, “That’s why I don’t like to go to coloured people’s houses to eat.”

DOING THE ROUNDS: Jeremy Corbyn will join other party leaders in touring for votes ahead of June

Like I say, call it multiculturalism if you want, but a fair exchange of intellect is no robbery.

All of this is, of course, lost to my daughter’s generation. They know nothing about dem days.

‘But what about the Tories’ and Labour’s policies?’, I questioned her. Quite apart from the flim-flam of the Lib Dems and the Greens on race matters, it doesn’t look like there’s any love lost between the Conservatives and Jeremy Corbyn’s band of merry men and women when it comes to black issues.

That being the case, those of us whose vote is predicated by who we are and what we are in this country will have a hard time deciding between the devil we know and the devil we know we know this time around.

The Sun columnist and former editor of The Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie, claims that he didn’t know that Everton mid-fielder Ross Barkley’s grandfather was Nigerian when he likened him to a gorilla is a case in point.


I’m not so sure. Remember, this is the man who was editor of The Sun newspaper at the time when it published brazen lies about the courageous Liverpool supporters who were trying to save the lives of their fellow supporters at the Hillsborough disaster which claimed 96 lives. Can we then trust anything he says?

READY: Prime Minister Theresa May gears-up for the suprise general election this summer

Ironically, if it wasn’t for the storm that ensued, many of us would not have known that Ross Barkley is a black guy. Okay, since growing his hair out the African curls have started emerging. But to all intents and purposes, he is a white guy. Except that he is not. Remember that we have to feel it in the one drop. Isn’t that what Brother Bob told us? Feel it in that one drop, from the days when they made us work so hard – I know Jah will never let us down – even if you only had one drop of African in you, as far as they were concerned, you were the property of the b*****d that raped your mother.

The righteous thing to do today is to claim that one drop for ourselves. And, in so claiming, strengthen our resolve and destiny. We should shower Ross Barkley with our love to let him know that we, his black brothers and sisters, know what he’s going through. We have also been described as gorillas by the most ignorant of white people who, when we try to show them the difference between a gorilla and a human being start shouting that multiculturalism has failed. Remember these are the very same people who we taught how to bathe regularly.

So what has all this got to do with the UK election?

Well, it feels like the planet of the apes, where the main parties are aping each other in trying to avoid any black questions which are still, like it or not, the most fundamental questions at every British election: 'Why are we still being discriminated against?' 'Why are we still being regarded as primates by way of grunts, subtle hints and nudges as good as winks in the British press?'

Alas, for my 18 year-old, she will be voting in what may be the lowest turn out at a general election for some time. There will not be the same queues that we saw last year for the referendum. Ironically, when there is a low turnout is when the black vote is strongest and can make a real difference.

However, this time around, I don’t think that even the black vote is bothered to get up and stand up for the right to ask that fundamental question: 'Why are we still being discriminated against?'

Dotun Adebayo is Britain’s most listened-to black radio talk show host. He presents Up All Night on BBC Radio 5 live Thursdays through Sundays on 909/693 MW, The Sunday Night Special on BBC 94.9FM and Reggae Time on BBC London 94.9FM on Saturday evenings. Tune in if you’re ranking!

Read every story in our hardcopy newspaper for free by downloading the app.

Facebook Comments