Back in 2009, seven days from today on the 20th January, events on the other side of the Atlantic were making headlines around the world. Barack Hussein Obama the second became the first ‘black’ president of the United States of America. This was a big thing. Huge in fact.
In a country somewhat infamous, in parts, and in history, for its racial intolerance, the gun loving, Friends giving, never-venture-from-this-land, inhabitants of the world super power that is the US of A, democratically elected a black president.
Black people people rejoiced. After the Civil Rights movement, Segregation, the silent protest of the ’68 Olympics, police brutality, Million Man march and every other indignity that had been heaped upon them, this was the ultimate sign that, as a people, they had arrived. A black man at the top. Yeah!
Even here in the UK, black people walked a little taller. A black was just elected leader of the free world! Amazing.
The papers raved about how inspiring it was for a black man to have risen to such a position of prominence, even raising the possibility of a young, black politician here, who is making a name for himself in the Labour party, Chuka Umunna, becoming leader of the party! Leader of a main party in the UK!
Wait a moment. Leader of the party. Not the country. Let’s not get carried away. He is still black, a piddling minority, how can he represent the whole country? How can he appreciate what the majority of the populace think or feel, without being one of them. How’s that? His mother? White? Like Obama? Like Obama!
And here we have the conundrum. The majority of the country is white. The news and more sensationalist media outlets would have you believe that the country is in the grip of an unstoppable, immigrant invasion. It is not.
There is a lot of immigration, as there always has been, but these days most of the immigrants are white, having come from various parts of Europe.
The liberal, cosseted, middle class masses, that pay taxes and make up the largest vocal presence, embrace tolerance. Blacks, Indians, gays and lesbians, they should all have a voice. They love embracing different! It’s a British trait. Look at the people we love. Graham Norton,
Clare Balding, Alan Carr, Grayson Perry. None of them are black. Lewis Hamilton, Leona Lewis, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Colin Jackson and Chuka! All mixed race. Love Idris! He made is name in the US.
The fact of the matter is is that there is an acceptable face of blackness. There are those who, for a time, entered the national consciousness; Frank Bruno, Colin Salmon, Sir Trevor McDonald. Remember them? The ubiquitous sporting and music stars, though those are less and less, every music style embraced by whites.
Generally the acceptable face of ‘black’ is mixed.