The term “Black Power” often puts various different ideas into one’s head, from the civil rights movement started by our forefathers to defend us against racial oppression to an umbrella term for numerous ideologies. One would be forgiven for often thinking that “Black Power” meant something a little more sinister and radical. However to me the term symbolises just that: the power to achieve whatever I want personally as young black man. It also means to me the power to free our black community from inequality, stereotype and other injustices posed by society, as a whole or our own. I believe that we all have this power.
But what do I mean when I mention in my title: “The power to raise tomorrow’s achievements”? Having attended an event at London South Bank University yesterday , ran by the National Union of Students, an interesting discussion on inequalities was held and while taking part in what was a very rousing and eye opening debate, my attention was soon caught by a point made by someone else. It was certainly food for thought. It was that often amongst our young black people we are said to “aspire” for positive outcomes, rather than our white counterparts who are more likely to be said to have “ambition” for the same outcomes. The aspiration V ambition debate really made me think throughout the rest of the day’s events. I make no apologies for writing an article this evening that is somewhat “London-centric”. Now more than ever we need to harness that black power- our power to drive change and inspire our peers and youth more than ever.
In the past decade , the future has never looked so bleak (calm down, I’m only 19!) where as of May 2012, half of the UK’s young black males between 16-24 were unemployed as well as a high concentration of London’s black population living in the most troubled and poverty stricken boroughs. Statistics from the IRR (Institute of Race Relations) state that BME families are more likely to be in poverty with an income of 60% of the average median for white households. This combined with negative social attitudes towards our youth in the majority of corners of society, especially the veiled institutional racism which is often found prevalent in the state secondary schooling system, will lead to an even more disaffected generation than ever before. I have seen it first hand amongst my peers, where sadly some of my peers would gladly trade in a pen for a spliff or an open mind and optimistic attitude for one of more cynicism and separatism. Fortunately this is often just a rare extreme , but sadly when even just one of our youth become disaffected, our power as a rich, determined and liberated people becomes that little bit more diminished. Things are only set to get worse, with damaging cuts to education, youth services and
As the older brothers and sisters to the little ones in our community, we must seek to teach them what we have learnt from our parents. We must do what we can to instil the values of hard work, determination and a sense of community within our younger peers from NOW! I speak mainly to my peers between the age group of 18-25 as we are set to overtake our parents in their place and our younger brothers, sisters, cousins and community members are set to take ours very very soon. Our people remain a largely divided people, where our fathers did the fight for equality amongst everyone else in society, yet we are not in an equal footing within our own community. Whether it be Caribbean vs. African or Dominican vs. St Lucian, we all need to drill home that we are one people and we all want to achieve the same goal- to liberate ourselves from the modern day injustices that we face today.
In fear that I have gone terribly off message (which I often have a habit of doing) , I believe we can help our malcontent peers and prevent our younger ones from falling into the same trap of discontent by striking while the iron is hot. Be this by simply sitting down and having a chat with them or going out into our communities and mentoring them. We need to go back to basics and ram home not just the correct values on how they can achieve like we have and how they can be determined as the going gets tough but to also equip them with the power to create robust change, no matter what the issue, be it racial or not. I fear that I have probably ended up still being off message as I write this article, not to tell you how to do any of this or anything else but to rather make you think as much as I did on Tuesday’s event and hopefully if one person out there can get thinking, then maybe some more will too!
I thought I’d round off with a very famous and quite relevant quote to the topic at hand: “Education, is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela (1918-2014) , so let us educate our brothers and sisters, for I will never settle for my two younger brothers to settle for anything less than the best because society has indoctrinated them to believe that they deserve anything less than what they can truly achieve and you shouldn’t settle for this either.
Please comment below and discuss, I’d love to see everyone’s thoughts about what I’ve had to say and if you wish to discuss on a personal level then please feel free to do so by emailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org