We Need A British Jesse Jackson

jessejackson.jpgFrom today, political website http://www.tmponline.org will feature my writings in a fortnightly column.

Other contributors to this site have been MP’s such as David Lammy and Keith Vaz so I’m in good company!

This is a snippet of my first article entitled “We Need A British Jesse Jackson”:

Jesse Jackson has recently been in the UK talking to African-Caribbeans across the country… Hundreds, if not thousands, of people of colour have come out to listen to Mr Jackson’s encouraging and empowering words. He has energetically and enthusiastically urged black Britons to raise self-esteem and self-knowledge, to focus on achieving equality within British society and to overcome problems such as educational failure and low expectations. Words, which according to the government’s recent REACH report and the intense media spotlight on so-called ‘black on black’ crime, are currently vital and long overdue.

The US is well known for powerful African-American social and political figures such as Reverend Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Media moguls such as Russell Simmons and Oprah Winfrey can also be added to the list. Not only are these people respected within the upper echelons of society but they are listened to by the masses. Therein lies their power. That potent combination has enabled them to galvanize black people when necessary, as well as represent black interests to the outside world by providing coherent, intelligent and unified voices.

I sincerely believe that black Britons would benefit from such figureheads. Black Britons need people who are inspirational not only as a result of their wealth or celebrity status (e.g. athletes and entertainers), but because they are able to provide positive, uplifting messages, as well as put across credible arguments and discussions in areas in which black voices may not otherwise be heard. These people become both role models and representatives.

It is not enough to sit on committees and speak to government ministers, as important as that is. In order to be truly effective, any such leader must also be in close contact with the community, have its respect and be able to stimulate the people. In the UK, there is nobody I can think of whose influence cuts across society, from top to bottom, in that way….

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2 thoughts on “We Need A British Jesse Jackson

  1. You can have ours. No really, take him!

    Then he can exploit your struggle for dignity and equality to fill his pockets at the expense of British Blacks.

    But I do consider myself a man of the Diaspora, and Britan, well all of Europe, seems to lack any major social activism-political figures.

  2. The reality is Jesse Jackson is a huckster and opportunist.

    I have failed to see how Sharpton or Jackson could ever represent the voice of black America and I think it would be a shame to have a similar kind of role model here. The dynamics of black politics in the uK is very different and represents a lot more mixing of black culture than the US. We already have strong politicians like David Lammy who does represent the black cause but is not restricted by it. We have a number of business and educational figures who actually realise that mobilisation is more on a local grassroots level rather than chasing headlines (or creating them) like Trevor Philips or Lee Jasper.

    Within that context Damon Buffini and Mark Anderson (business), Dr Gus John, Tunde Banjoko and Paul Gilroy(Education), Decima King and Ray Lewis (Community) and Caroll Thompson and Dotun Adebayo or Henry Bonsu(Media) are already showing that a sense of identity and leadership can be taught and maintained without it having to be solely restricted to black politics.

    I think the day of needing iconic black figure is a good thing and they should be able to provide a voice and represent the culture they come from. Ironically people like Baroness Amos and David Lammy who are representative at a government level are pilloried by those who dont relate to them on a class level, regardless of the work they do. British icons yes. A British Jesse Jackson. No thanks.

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