Separate Reality…

In an article published yesterday in UK newspaper The Guardian I argued that many African-Americans are content to live within their own communities as long as they have equal rights…a kind of voluntary separation if you will…

I argue that: “In America’s post-civil rights era, many black people can live where, and among whom, they want. The college-educated and middle-class – up to 45% of African-Americans – have no real need to remain in black neighbourhoods. Yet many choose to do so. According to the last census figures, 350,000 even re-migrated to the south – once considered the bastion of racism – heading to more racially homogenous towns with flourishing black communities. The growing number of affluent African-American neighbourhoods also allows the choice to live among those of the same social status.

It’s essential for people of all races to understand and respect one another, and to have access to equal opportunities. If these conditions are met, what is wrong with people choosing to live among their own? Not everyone wants to integrate. Self-identification via race is still a major factor in where many choose to live. Black universities and colleges are examples of the benefits of such choices.

Many African-Americans are content to live separately so long as they have equal rights. Contrary to what most Britons believe, “voluntary separation” need not be a problem. For African-Americans who choose it, the focus is on pride and solidarity. It is a choice to preserve the cultural heritage and values that are often undermined when minorities assimilate into the mainstream.”

Read the article in full here and add your comment: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2244062,00.html

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First They Came For the Jews…revised version

First They Came for the Jews (Original)

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

First They Came for the Inner City Youth (My Version)

First they came for the inner city youth and gang members living in council estates in grimy areas
and I did not speak out because I speak proper English, am not in a gang and live in a leafy suburb

Then they came for the young people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time
and I did not speak out because I wasn’t there…I watched it on the news with glass of Pinot Grigio in hand

Then they just started stabbing and shooting indiscriminately…angry boys who just wanted to take out their aggression… and we all got caught up in it – black, white, middle class, poor…
and finally I realized it was my problem as well as ‘theirs’.

2008: The Year to Get Off Your Backside and Do Something!

newyears.jpgMany of us make individual New Year’s resolutions. We promise that – this year – we’ll lose weight, get fit, stop smoking, drink less…the list goes on. But few of us make collective New Year’s Resolutions. That is goals, plans and ambitions that will benefit our environments, our communities and the wider world.

We tend to think it’s the job of politicians and policy makers to deal with the problems in our society. The uncomfortable truth is that each of us has to be the change we want to see in the world. It’s uncomfortable because it means getting off our backsides and doing something. It doesn’t demand much of us to passively watch the news, mutter under our breaths, shake our heads at what we see and then just continue as normal. Of course, underneath our complaints is the quiet confidence that the gun crime, gang violence, violence going on around us is unlikely to ever affect us personally – or so we think.

I’ve just returned from Nigeria, my homeland. There, the rich people are content to live their rich lives whilst 99% of the country lives in dire poverty. Nothing changes because those who can make a change think it’s not their problem. That is, until someone they know is caught up in an armed robbery.

Already this year – that is, within the past 7 days – at least three young men of colour have died violent deaths in London. The killings of our youth are becoming so commonplace that soon they will no longer fetch headlines. What will black Britons – scratch that, ALL Britons – resolve to do differently for our greater good this year?

This year I’m going to be much more involved in grassroots activism. My resolution in 08 is not to be an armchair theorizer, not someone who just tut-tuts and writes articles, but someone who is actively making a change on a day-to-day practial level. What about you?