During my early twenties I attended various community and culture based meeting to give myself an incite into issues affecting the Black community. This covered topics such as racism, government policy, post-colonialism and untold history. I would also spend time reading up on these topics along with other topics relating to religion and black heritage. I thought I had reasonable knowledge but over time this diminished as I became busy with family life.
Over time the community changed. The so-called Black culture turned into street (urban) culture. Government policy and policing changed due to the Stephen Lawrence case. In your face racism changed to become subtle.
When news came on black boys failing in schools, gangs and knife crime I responded with avoidance. I focused on getting my childrens into better schools and avoided the troublesome areas.
The Black community problems never really bothered me until the riots in 2011. This led me to do some soul searching that resulted in an analysis of the Black community. I came up with a number of questions which I couldn’t answer.
- Why are Black fathers missing?
- Why are Black boys under achieving?
- Why are Black men under represented in business?
- Why are so many young Black men in prison?
- Why is their so few Black owned businesses?
- Does the Black community still exist?
- What can be done to reverse the current decline?
A few weeks ago I received an email inviting me to attend a conference entitled Black Men in the Community (BMITC). I had some reservations because I wasn’t keen on some of the speakers, but I decided to attend for a few hours.
Attendees were very sparse but what I heard made sense. The focus was on targeting sources of the problems which will in turn reduce the symptoms (gang crime, under achievement, etc.). Here are some of points raised:-
- Be fathers to our children. This has been a long-standing problem in the Black community. We need to encourage fathers to face up to their responsibility. Let them know that their actions are unacceptable.
- Teach young people UK Black history. Young people need to know about how the community stood up to racism in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
- Expose young people to possibilities. Show them that they can achieve great things in many industries. Encourage them to fulfil there potential. Give the options outside of sports and music.
- We need a political voice. This is difficult one, because there is a sense that current Black MPs lack interest in improving the community. We have some control over this if we vote. This also means encouraging our young people to vote.
- We need to re-unify the community. We need to support one another rather than attack each other because they’re doing better that us.
In additional to these points, we need to wise-up and realise the no one else will fix our problems. For example: –
- Racism is still being denied. An example of this was a court case where a jury found a Police Officer not guilty even when his statement calling a Black youth a ‘Nigger’ was recorded. Another example of this is the John Terry case.
- The ‘System’ has its own agenda. Therefore, be aware that stories reported the media, statements issued by the police and the government may not be what they seem.
These points may help to provide some answers to my questions. Hopefully, they will also give the Black community areas to focus on in there efforts to improve things.