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Can we go back to our culture now?

OUT OF LINE: Lewis Hamilton’s comments about his skirt-wearing nephew were widely criticsed on social media

BROTHAS AND sistas, we have a problem. A huge problem. A problem that will define us as black Britons and either strengthen us or destroy us. I genuinely do not know which. What is it that makes us who we are? Our culture, or our country?

Ex-footballer John Barnes was booted out of the Big Brother house recently for putting culture before country. You might remember the furore over Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton’s social media video admonishing his pre-adolescent nephew for wearing a skirt.

It whipped up a storm against Lewis for, in effect, indoctrinating the young boy with prejudice. Hamilton might have got away with it if he had said: “Boys don’t wear skirts – except in Scotland” – it might have diffused the outrage and turned the t’ing into a joke t’ing.

John Barnes, however, should have sidestepped a next man’s argument.


When you’re a topanoris you have to jealously guard the reputation you have built over years and decades. In the current climate, one little slip- up might bring a bam-bam.

Watchaman, imagine if John Barnes’ England and Liverpool legacy was ashes and he was forever remembered only as somebody who got kicked out the CBB house because he had said, even though he knows it is wrong, and he wishes he didn’t think like that, but he had been brought up to believe that boys don’t wear skirts and, try as hard as he might, he couldn’t get that ‘cultural’ (if you like) discrimination out of his system.

We can conclude then, can we not, from Barnes’s eviction, that the cultural torment that tears us of bi-cultural backgrounds asunder has no platform in modern Britain when it does not tally with the acceptable narrative of modern Britain.

That we simply have to get over it and swan. Because that was the response on social media to Barnes: How dare this man utter such nonsense – culturally or otherwise – in disyah Great Britain and in disyah 2018!

Now, let it be clear, I do not have a prejudiced bone in my body. I also have a reputation to protect so I don’t want anyone to get it twisted and quote me out of context. For I am extremely litigious and will see you in court if you in any way try to besmirch my legacy by putting a maliciously incorrect slant on what I say.

I never have, and at this stage of my life, I am confident that I never will. I am not a homophobe. Neither am I a racist nor a misogynist or any other ‘prejudiced’. I am, however, culturalist. I’ll be more specific, a black culturalist. And where culture and rationality collide is where scientific, humanistic and philosophical methodology either flourishes or collapses.

Does that make sense? It’s rationality, not nationality that is relevant to the black cultural conversation. We call it ‘reasoning’. Let me explain a little further. Back in the 1990s, there was a hugely successful TV music show called ‘The Word’.

Some of you will remember it. It was presented by the former brodcaster Mark Lamarr among others. Anyway, in one infamous episode they had MC Shabba Ranks as a guest.

I watched it live, and the moment they asked Shabba Ranks what he thought of homosexuality, well, it was like watching a car crash in slow motion. I almost jumped out of my seat screaming, ‘NOOOO...’, because you knew what was about to happen. You know that Shabba is unreconstructed yard.

A great rapper, maybe, but just like you wouldn’t ask Kim Kardashian-West her views on ending world poverty and what we should do about the Iranian nuclear threat, the last person whose views I wanted to hear re; gay pride was Shabba Ranks. Even before he opened his mouth I knew that I would never be able to listen to his music again.

Shabba went even further than I expected. Never mind what attitude I might take to his music in future, he was to become the most vilified musical artist on the planet (until Buju Banton usurped him).

If social media had been around in dem times, Shabba would have been figuratively crucified virally for advocating the crucifixion of homosexuals on live telly, after which, he pulled out his little crumpled up carry-go-bring-come Bible from his back pocket, no doubt to turn to some no-longer- acceptable admonishments from the oft reviled book of Leviticus.

I’m not making excuses for Shabba, but he comes from the rural parish of St Ann’s in Jamaica where once upon a time a rural preacher with his own assumed prejudices would have preached to a semi-illiterate congregation who would have passed down the teachings of love and hatred unvarnished from one generation to another until, arguably, it becomes a cultural narrative.


As ignorant and as repulsive as Shabba’s comments were then, you could say he didn’t know any better and that it was so ingrained in him that it would take more than being berated on the telly to shift his position. What was interesting was how reasoning defeated ‘cultural’ backwardness in the debate that ensued within the black community.

Even those of us from rural parishes in Jamaica had to start reasoning that St Ann’s is in a land far, far away. And yet, we cannot give up our entire culture just like that. And, as more and more demands are made on us to be British and reject even the most modest and least controversial of the cultural imperatives from a land far, far away that we still cling on to, particualrly in the upbringing of our children, what are we going to do?

Now that we’ve tried it the British way, only to see many of our children lost and confused, can we get back to our culture – or do we all have to move to Scotland?

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