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View from The Voice: Why we can look forward to 2018

NEW YEAR: London skyline (Photo credit: PA)

FOR MANY people, the start of a new year brings a mix of hope. It can be the start of a journey for change, growth and renewal. For others, the start of the year ahead may feel more uncertain, feelings that are perhaps prompted by experiences of loss and unhappiness in the previous 12 months or even several years.

Members of Britain’s black communities could be said to fall into this latter group. In 2017 we witnessed two key events that have a significant impact on our community: the Brexit debate and the Grenfell Tower fire.

Brexit seems to have unleashed a torrent of racism into public discourse not seen since the 1970s. The prevailing narrative in the mainstream media is one that says ‘all foreigners should go home’, regardless as to whether or not they are British.

It has legitimised discrimination. Furthermore, if there’s a hard Brexit, and an inevitable economic down turn, it will be black people who likely to be hit hardest. The tragedy of Grenfell Tower fire came to provide a strong symbol of how national and local government paid scant regard to poor predominantly people of colour.

However 2018 can be one to look forward to. This year holds a particular historical significance for the UK’s black British community, as it marks the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the ship Empire Windrush, which docked at Tilbury in 1948.

The Windrush has become a powerful and iconic symbol of the rise of multicultural Britain, and of the enormous legacy of that generation. This year will also see London host the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit.

Following the hurricanes Irma and Maria that caused such devastation in the Caribbean, one item that is more than likely to be discussed is how climate change is having a disproportionate effect on the region.

In an interview with this newspaper last year Prime Minister Theresa May indicated that she is willing to listen to these concerns and take action.

2018 could be the year for the black community to show why we matter socially, politically and culturally.

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