I’m a big fan of Channel 4 news. Each evening at 7pm I sit down to watch it accompanied by my lap-top, ready to tweet about any story that catches my attention.  The show’s main anchor Jon Snow, has a privileged position in my house.  Like Sir David Attenborough, he has the persona of one of those wise old men, in whom you believe everything they say.

Another reason I’m a fan of the show is that they have so many Black and Asian journalists, like co-anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy, their Economics Editor Faisal Islam, and sports correspondent  Keme Nzerem amongst others.  But on the evening of 10th October I feel that they let themselves down badly (as did many others, judging by the comments on my Twitter time-line).

The incident in question was around a feature they ran on the new Tom Hanks movie Captain Phillips.  The film portrays the true life story of a ship captured by Somali pirates, but as is Hollywood’s way, tells the story from the view point of the heroic white ship’s captain of the film’s title.  (As we are all know by now, even if a story is set in Africa, it must be seen through a white hero’s eyes.)

Captain-Phillips-Movie-2013

Before commencing an interview with the director and star, Channel 4’s Somali-born correspondent Jamal Osman gave a critique of the film, arguing that it misrepresents both how Somali pirates are recruited and how they operate. After this short piece Jon Snow sat down with Osman and the film’s director Paul Greengrass and star Tom Hanks, and I settled down for a good debate about how complex African politics are often mis-represented on film. But that’s not what we got.  Instead, Osman’s criticism were quickly dismissed by Greengrass, and Snow spent the rest of the interview fawning over the director and star, whilst Osman sat there ignored like a pork pie at a Jewish wedding. It was embarrassing.

http://www.channel4.com/news/tom-hanks-captain-phillips-somalia-jamal-osman

Of the four men sat around that table, Jamal Osman is the most knowledgeable about the situation in Somalia.  Not only was he born there, but as a journalist he has reported often on the pirates, and interviewed them in person. But despite this, his voice was the one we heard the least. For those not familiar with the players involved, the situation may seem strange, but if we look at the power-dynamic of those around that table, it all becomes very clear.

Despite his expertise on the matter, Osman is lowest on the totem pole.  Jon Snow is a well-established, well respected journalist, Paul Greengrass is an A-List Hollywood director, and Tom Hanks is an Oscar winning movie star. Osman is just a struggling Black journalist trying to get his feet under the table at Channel 4, thus his opinion (even when it is an expert one) holds less weight.

Jamal Osman

Ironically, at the same time that these events were unfolding on Channel 4, over on African cable channel Oh TV, Trish Adudu on her topical chat show Real Talk, was discussing the recent re-branding of Black music radio station Choice FM, into ‘urban’ music station Capital Xtra.  Former DJ’s Daddy Ernie (who was live in the studio), and Geoff Schumann and George Kay (who phoned in) complained that the white executives who were making all the decisions at the station, had no knowledge of the Black music and culture that they were supposed to be championing.  And according to Daddy Ernie not only didn’t they know, but neither did they care. As veteran DJ’s were sacked, and the long established, well-loved station was re-named and re-positioned, the views of the specialist DJs at the station were not asked for, because they were not valued.

daddy ernie

Ex- Choice FM DJ Daddy Ernie says ‘the management don’t understand Black culture, and don’t care’.

Back over at Channel 4 news I can fully understand if the staff  there were excited to have Hollywood royalty in the studio.  But if they wanted to focus all their attention on Hanks and Greengrass, why invite Osman to the table to sit there like a lemon?

Some people who watched the show  may have seen things differently, or they may not have even noticed. But judging from comments on twitter and facebook, the whole situation resonated loudly with Black viewers. Many of us have been in the same situation in meetings at work.  We may be the sole Black voice in the room, and though we are invited to the table, our opinions are often ignored and side-lined.  And then we face the same dilemma that Osman did.  We can either accept the ‘diss’, and sit quietly there like the unwelcomed visitor at a  family meal, or we can push our viewpoint more forcefully, and risk being accused of being a trouble maker, or an angry Black man/woman ‘with a chip on our shoulder’.

I don’t blame Osman for choosing the first option.  I felt sorry for him.  Like so many of us, he’s just trying to keep his job. He’s just getting established on Channel 4 News and probably doesn’t want to rock the boat and harm his own advancement. I personally find it more difficult to hold my tongue, which is probably why I’ve made so little progress in the white corporate world.  But when even the right-on, racially inclusive Channel 4 News can be guilty of such side-lining, then we know what we’re up against.

The Channel 4 News showed how Black voices are marginalised and ignored

This particular Channel 4 News item nicely showed how Black voices are often marginalised and ignored

So to Channel 4, Capital Xtra, and those predominately white board-rooms up and down the country – its not enough to just give us a seat at the table, you also have to listen to what we have to say.  Try it, you might learn something!!

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Channel 4's Top Boy - more negative images of Black men

Channel 4’s Top Boy – more negative images of Black men?

The recent Channel 4 series Top Boy came in for much criticism from some quarters. There are those that argued that this gritty urban drama set in east London which depicted a young Black drug gang was yet another negative depiction of Black males on our TV screens. No wonder, they argued, that Black men are disproportionately targeted by the Police, and face harsher sentencing by the courts, when we are so often depicted in the media as sociopathic criminals. Not only this, but how can young Black boys aspire to become positive members of society when they are forever seeing themselves portrayed in this negative light?
Similar criticism was directed at the E4 series Youngers. This programme also had two Black male inhabitants of an inner-city council estate as the lead characters, but in this case the two main protagonists were not aspiring drug dealers, but instead were wanna-be Grime artists. Criminals, rappers, or athletes. How can our Black boys aspire to be anything greater some argue, when these are the only role models they see? And to make matters worse all the music that young people listen to seems to be promoting a ‘bling and bitches’ lifestyle and espousing the ‘get rich or die trying’ philosophy made famous by 50 Cent.

E4's Youngers - if not drug dealers than how about rappers?

E4’s Youngers – if not drug dealers than how about rappers?

I see things differently. I sat and watched both of these series with my teenaged sons, and took the time to discuss with them the issues raised. I wanted my sons to see from the comfort of their living room sofa, that this is how too many of the less well-off tenants of the nation’s council estates live. I wanted them to understand that, right here displayed in glorious HD, was the reason that I and their mother chose to move out of Hackney when they were still in infant and primary school. Back then we could see that if we stayed there, their life chances would be greatly diminished. Sadly many other parents realise this fact too late to save their sons.
In one scene from Top Boy the solicitor of the main character Dushane (played by Ashley Walters) describes the estate on which he lives, and proudly claims to be the boss of, in less than flattering terms. “Somerhouse is a shit-hole”, she spits dismissively. “Well done, you’re the king of shit-hole.” For the fictional character of Dushane displayed the same poverty of aspiration as so many of our young men. For him, the fact that he was the ‘top boy’ of his housing estate, meant that he was a success; that he had reached the top of the totem pole. He struggled to see any life for himself outside of the confines of this small deprived patch of east London.
But this all too widespread lack of aspiration cannot be blamed on Channel 4’s script writers, or any other television channel. If you as a parent, are expecting the television to imbue your children with ambition, then you both need help.
There is an argument that Black children are underachieving in schools because they don’t have enough role models there either. Not enough Black male teachers, and not enough Black people on the curriculum. Black educational underachievement they argue, is partly due to the fact, that Black children feel that the curriculum doesn’t relate to them.

Black Male Teachers - an all too rare sight in the UK's Secondary Schools

Black Male Teachers – an all too rare sight in the UK’s Secondary Schools

But I would ask, ‘how come Indian and Chinese children do not have the same problems, when they are equally ignored by the curriculum?’
Chinese children infact have the best educational outcomes from the UK school system, despite there being very few Chinese teachers, or Chinese historical figures on the curriculum. Could it be that Chinese and Indian children are not relying on the UK school system for their sense of self? We can see many examples of more recent immigrants to both the UK and US, who after only one or two generations leave the indigenous Blacks far behind, strangely unencumbered by the racism and discrimination that indigenous Blacks complain prevent them from progressing.
The real reason why we as a community are doing less well than our Asian brethren is because they are not relying on the host community to define them, or to give them a job/success.
Yes, we all need role models, but it’s much better if they are closer to home. Real people that we can observe in real-life, speak to and ask for advice. If the only older males that you can look up to in your hood are the local drug dealer, the best rapper on the block, or the guy that got a contract with the local football team, then that’s all we can aspire to be – rappers, footballers and drug dealers. That’s part of the reason that Chinese kids and Indian kids are out-performing Afro-Caribbean children in school. Because they have real life role models in their own community, who they can actually observe and learn from.

The Asian children have many more positive role models in their community's

Asian children have many more positive role models in their communities

The first role model for a boy should be his father. But what if you are growing up without a father, as too many Black boys are? Then you have to find someone else to fulfil that role. It is this vacuum that leads so many of our young to turn to gangs – looking for a father figure – a phenomenon called ‘father hunger’.
Part of the reason that so many of our youths are so disengaged from the educational process, is not just down to the ‘stale and pale’ curriculum, but because they don’t see the benefit of an education. They are doubtful if there will be any jobs available at the end of the process, and even if there are, if they actually want them. They’ve seen how hard their parents have worked, and how little they have to show for it. No wonder the promise of the fast money to be earned ‘on road’, or the fame and fortune of a career in music or football seem so much more appealing.
The school system is set up to allow you to obtain qualifications that you can display on your CV when applying for jobs to work for someone else. What they don’t teach you in school is how to be self-reliant: how to set up your own business and create your own job.
And if no-one in your family is running a business, how then can you know how to set one up and be a successful entrepreneur? If no-one you know has a good job, how do you find out how you go about getting one? That is where role models and mentors come in, and there are numerous organisations in Britain that exist to fill that gap.
So if you are really concerned about the values that our kids are aspiring to, don’t waste your time and energy writing angry letters to Channel 4 or campaigning against the likes of Rick Ross and 50 Cent. Get involved in your community. As Gandi put it, ‘be the change that you want to see’.

We know that rappers like 50 Cent are not suitable role models, but if we don't mentor our kids, THEY WILL!

We know that rappers like 50 Cent are not suitable role models, but if we don’t mentor our kids, THEY WILL!

Listed below are three organisations involved in mentoring, and they are awaiting your input.

The National Black Boys Can Association seeks to break the vicious cycle of underachievement, unemployment, crime and imprisonment. The Association supports community groups to set up and run locally based Black Boys Can Projects to meet the needs of Black boys in their locality. To find out more go to http://http://www.blackboyscan.co.uk/
100 Black Men of London (100 BMOL) is a community based charity led by Black men delivering programmes on Mentoring, Education, Economic empowerment, Health and wellness and leadership. Their mission is to play a leading role in the upliftment and development of the lives of Londoners, especially children of African Caribbean decent, through education in life skills.
The video below shot in 2011, interviews a few members and volunteers about what made them join and what is it that caused them to remain a part of the long term vision of the 100BMOL..
You Tube: http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sp5EZOvOTJk&feature=youtube_gdata_player
The parent organisation founded in 1963 during the height of the civil rights movement, and which to date is 116 chapters strong, worldwide. You can check them out at www.100blackmen.org
If you wish to find out about the London chapter, who they are, what they do and how they do it, send an e-mail to membership@100bmol.org.uk.
The Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) has started a nationwide Community Role Model Programme called Routes2Success (R2S) who’s aim is to connect 1200 young males aged between 11 and 25 with a volunteer force of successful black male role models to raise aspirations and encourage participants to follow the best routes to learning and career success. The objective is simple: to help improve education and employment outcomes and keep our young males away from the criminal justice system. To discover more about them go to http://http://www.bteg.co.uk/index.php/policy-and-projects/young-people.html

If you’d like to read more about the issues raised in this blog post, click on the link  below to check out my new book ‘The Problem With Black Men’, available now on Amazon.

The_Problem_With_Bla_Cover_for_Kindle

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Problem-With-Black-Men/dp/1483990133/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368908485&sr=8-1&keywords=the+problem+with+black+men#_

Unlike most in the Black community I did not view the peerage of Doreen Lawrence as a cause for celebration. Many of us see the acceptance of Black individuals into the exclusive clubs of the ruling white elite as a sign that we as a race are progressing. I don’t see it like that. Let’s not forget that three of the five killers of Stephen Lawrence still have their liberty. To make matters worse last month it was revealed that instead of pursuing the suspects in the immediate aftermath of the crime, the Metropolitan Police spent their time operating a covert surveillance operation on the Lawrence family and their supporters. In their all-to-familiar style, instead of pursuing the criminals the authorities expended their energies trying to smear the Black victims. Will Doreen’s presence in the House of Lords bring the remaining killers to justice? Will it reveal which members of the establishment knew what of the surveillance operation and when? Somehow I doubt it.

Will Doreen Lawrence's presence in the House Of Lords advance the cause for racial justice?

Will Doreen Lawrence’s presence in the House Of Lords advance the cause for racial justice?

At the same time we are told that the Police officers who shot Mark Duggan dead in the street, and those present when Smiley Culture ended up with a knife in his chest, have no case to answer.  Rather than advancing the cause of racial justice, I see Lawrence’s peerage as hush money – like giving a crying toddler a lollipop in the hope that it will shut them up.  To liken the process to the days of slavery, it’s like the slave masters taking one of their most troublesome field negroes and giving them an easier job in the house, thus both pacifying the gripes of said slave, and at the same time removing a rallying point from those disgruntled comrades still left in the field.

Or as Professor Gus John so eloquently put it in a recent article for the Voice without wanting to diminish in any way Doreen Lawrence’s passion for justice for her son, we must not fight shy of pointing out the cynicism of the British state and particularly of the Labour Party in seeking to hijack and fashion Doreen Lawrence into its own grotesque creation.”

I am not trying to detract from the tireless efforts of the Lawrence family over the last 20 years, but in truth she is not a wiley and seasoned political operator versed in the dark arts of the party politics.  She is merely an ordinary wife and mother who was thrust into the spotlight by the outcry from the community when her son was brutally murdered, and the Justice system seemed not to care. How much impact can she really have?

Barack Obama - has the plight of Black people in America improved under his leadership?

Barack Obama – has the plight of Black people in America improved under his leadership?

But my sense of disquiet is not confined solely to the amateur politics of Doreen Lawrence.  Remember back in 2008 when we were all filled with a similar sense of optimism when Barack Obama became the President Of  The United States, and supposedly the most powerful man on earth? Now in the cold light of day, five years later, we can see that Obama has not had the effect that we hoped he would. He has not been able to reduce Black unemployment, or stop the tide of Black men dying on the streets or joining the conveyor belt of the Prison Industrial Complex.  Despite the softening of the Marijuana laws in many states, he has not ended the War on Drugs that results in the criminalisation of so many Black men, and he was not even able to get his signature policy of Obama-care through Congress without a host of compromises. The most powerful man on earth seemed powerless to change the racist ‘Stop and Frisk’ policy adopted by the New York Police Department, or the Stand Your Ground Law in Florida. In truth, having a Black Commander in Chief does more harm than good to the prospects of the average African-American.  Because of him, whites can claim that we now live in a post-racial society where discrimination no longer exists, and affirmative action is no longer necessary. And the Black activists are muted in their criticism because they do not want to undermine the first Black POTUS and give more ammunition to his opponents. And Obama himself is being less proactive in his own appointments because, unlike all of his white predecessors he does not have to pander to the Black vote, and doesn’t want to be accused by the opposition of favouring African-Americans. (Remember that even the much maligned George W. Bush had a Black Joint Chief of Staff (Colin Powell) and a Black Secretary of State (Condoleeza Rice).  So tell me again how much progress Blacks in America have made by having a Black President. It makes all the more puzzling to me why Black people over here are asking when we will have a British Obama?

Duwayne Brookes - Stephen Lawrence's friend getting involved in party politics.

Duwayne Brookes – Stephen Lawrence’s friend getting involved in party politics.

Back in Britain, in a new twist in the long legacy of the Stephen Lawrence case, Duwayne Brookes, the friend who was with Stephen on the night he was murdered, has announced that he will be standing as the Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate for Lewisham. We also learnt this year that Brooks too had suffered a campaign of covert surveillance, attempted smearing and harassment from the Police.  No doubt Duwayne, like Doreen, feels that if he is part of the Political establishment, he can effect change, and stop such miscarriages of justice from occurring in the future.  It was probably such noble motives that Shaun Bailey had when he became a Tory Prospective Parliamentary Candidate and advisor to David Cameron.

Shaun Bailey with David Cameron - valued advisor or token Black?

Shaun Bailey with David Cameron – valued advisor or token Black?

It took him a while to realise that Cameron’s all white, Eton and Oxbridge      cabinet were ignoring his suggestions and side-lining him – for his appointment, just like that of Doreen Lawrence is merely a token gesture, designed to make us believe that they are listening; that they really care. With Doreen, just like Mandela, whites in power elevate one Black person and deify them, to show us that now everything is alright. Mandela became President and so racial inequality was eradicated in South Africa in one fell swoop? Doreen Lawrence becomes a Baroness and so racial justice has been achieved in the UK?

No doubt the recently retired Police Superintendent Leroy Logan wanted to make a difference when he joined the Metropolitan Police 30 years ago.  His own father had been on the receiving end of rough treatment by the Met, and he nobly wanted to try and influence change from the inside. But despite being a founding member of the Black Police Association and one of the highest ranking Black officers, he could still not stop Azelle Rodney and Mark Duggan from being shot dead in the street, or Roger Sylvester, Frank Ogburo and Sean Rigg from dying whilst in Police restraint. As we discover each new case of Police racism, we have to ask ourselves, despite all of their racial sensitivity training and the efforts of Logan and the BPA, how much has really changed at the MET?

All those who want to be MPs say they do it because they want to help – they want to effect change.  But how much do they really help?  Three well established Black Labour MPs David Lammy (Tottenham) Diane Abbott (Hackney) and Chuka Umunna (Brixton) all preside over boroughs with high levels of deprivation.  Knowing all three areas of London well, I don’t know how much the presence of a Black MP has helped Black residents.  What I do know is that all three areas have undergone a process of gentrification whereby poor people can no longer afford to live there.   And remember that both Lammy and Abbott preside over boroughs where the nationwide riots of 2011 first took hold.

MP David Lammy woefully failed to articulate why so many of his Tottenham constituents were angry in 2011, and simply condemned the violence.

MP David Lammy woefully failed to articulate why so many of his Tottenham constituents were angry and alienated in 2011, and simply condemned the violence, and bashed the Tories.

Lammy has been very quiet about the Mark Duggan shooting which sparked off the riots in the first place, and all he felt able to do at the time, was condemn the violence and respectfully escort deputy PM Nick Clegg  around to inspect the damage.  Abbott showed her hand in 2012 when she withdrew perfectly legitimate comments she made on twitter, about white people playing divide and conquer, after receiving instruction from her massa, (sorry leader) Ed Milliband. Are they really there fighting for our interests or simply trying to further their own careers and feather their own nests?

Real activists are down in the trenches, fighting for civil rights, embarrassing the law-makers and law-enforcers into action: not quaffing champagne with our oppressors in Westminster, and occasionally sharing their privilege with those of us still out in the field, by hosting the odd reception at the big house.

Remember that Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Marcus Garvey were not members of any political party.  They were leaders of grass-roots movements, and they arguably have had more impact than any Black politician.  The Reverend Al Sharpton did more to draw attention to the Trayvon Martin case than Obama, who seemed afraid to speak about it too strongly for fear of offending. If we really want to change things for the better, the grassroots is where we should be working, not these exclusive private members clubs in Westminster.

I will leave the final word to the always excellent Gary Younge who wrote this regarding Obama.

“The presence of underrepresented people in leadership positions only has any significantly positive meaning if it challenges whatever obstacles created the conditions for that underrepresentation. To believe otherwise is to trade equal opportunities for photo opportunities, whereby a system looks different but acts the same. “

“ ‘Not Guilty?’ the filthy devils tried to kill me/  When the news gets to the hood the niggas will be/ Hotter than cayenne pepper/  Cuss, buss, kicking up dust is a must.”
Ice Cube – ‘We Had to Tear This MF Up’

The’ Not Guilty’ verdict for George Zimmerman, the killer of  Black teenager Trayvon Martin,  confirms a fact that all Black men know, but hoped had changed.  The fact that many white people view us as a threat.

Zimmerman claimed he was in fear of his life from a 17 year old boy

Zimmerman claimed he was in fear of his life from a 17 year old boy

It doesn’t matter if the Black man in question is well educated and softly spoken. It doesn’t matter if he has not even finished puberty. We are seen as a threat that must be contained. Trayvon was an unarmed teenager, and George Zimmerman was an heavily set 29 year old with an obvious weight advantage, who also happened to be packing a gun.  But still Zimmerman felt that he was the one who’s life was in danger, which could only be preserved by use of lethal force with a deadly weapon.  Even though casual observers can see nonsense of this, the Police could see Zimmerman viewpoint, as they released him without charge on the night of the murder.  A year later in the calm light of day, the six women of the jury could also see the logic of his viewpoint, as they acquitted him of all charges. They too could see how being faced with a young Black male wearing a hoody could put one in fear of their life.

Let’s drop the façade that these trials by jury are about legal argument or points of law.  Let’s be honest, they hinge on the prejudices of the members of the jury. That is why such a big deal is made of jury selection – because the defence know that the most significant factor that influences a jury’s decision, is not be the evidence put before them during the trial, but rather the prejudices they walked into the courtroom with.  The reason that Black celebrity OJ Simpson was found not guilty of murdering his ex-wife Nicole, was not because of the clever legal arguments of his defence team. It was because the Black women of the jury were well aware of the history of violence and lynchings visited on Black men in America, and were not going to send a Black man to jail for killing a white woman, where there was any sliver of doubt.

Is there a 'raging Hulk' inside every Black man?

Is there a ‘raging Hulk’ inside every Black man?

I am not for one minute suggesting that the members of that jury in Florida are all racists that think that all Black men should be put to death.  I’m not even arguing that George Zimmerman thinks that.  But what Zimmerman and those jury members, and so many white people share is the ‘Fear of the Black Man’.  We are viewed like Dr Bruce Banner – the mild mannered character from Marvel comics who, when put under stress will metamorphosis into an uncontrollable beast with super-human strength.

It was a similar thought process held by the Los Angeles police officers who were caught on camera viciously beating Black motorist Rodney King back in 1991.  It took four grown men with night sticks to keep him at bay, and if they were to ease up their beating for just a moment, no doubt King would have risen to his feet, and Lord only knows what kind of violent revenge he would have visited upon them.  The members of the jury at the trial in Simi Valley saw it that way too, when they found the four officers not guilty of using unreasonable force – a verdict which sparked the LA Riots.

Even though the cops who beat Rodney King were caught on camera, they were still found not guilty

Even though the cops who beat Rodney King were caught on camera, they were still found not guilty.

But this ‘Fear of the Black Man’ is not just something felt in America.  Many white people in Britain feel it too. Maybe the Metropolitan police officers who shot to death Azelle Rodney in 2005, and Mark Duggan in 2011 felt that same fear.  Maybe they thought that to alert these Black men of the presence of Police officers would be putting their own lives in danger.  Maybe they thought that attempting an arrest of the suspects would be too risky, and it would be simpler and safer to simply shoot them dead in the street, and worry about issues of due process later.

Maybe it was fear for their lives that the four Police officers who forcibly restrained the mentally unwell Sean Rigg were feeling, until he fell unconscious and died in 2008.

The Police restraint of Sean Rigg resulted in his death

The Police restraint of Sean Rigg resulted in his death.

Maybe that’s what the three G4S officers who were restraining Jimmy Mubenga on board a British Airways flight bound for Angola in 2010 were thinking.  No doubt those security guards felt that his pleas for help and cries that he couldn’t breathe were just a ruse, so that they would loosen their grip and he could break free of his shackles and attack them.  Until he stopped breathing that is.

And God only knows what was in the minds of the Police officers who visited Smiley Culture in his home in 2011, only for the visit to end with a knife in his chest!

This ‘Fear of the Black Man’ can also carry over to ‘Fear of Black Women’.  Maybe that’s what the Police who went to Joy Gardener’s house 20 years ago felt.  In 1993 an immigration officer and police officers arrived at her home to serve a deportation notice, and when Gardner refused them entry, the police entered by force and struggled and fought with her. The officers gagged and restrained Gardner using a body belt and wrapped 13 ft of tape around her head, which they later claimed was to prevent her biting them. Gardner suffocated and subsequently fell into a coma, later dying in hospital. The three police officers involved were found not guilty of manslaughter in 1995. Clearly all concerned thought that 13ft of gaffer tape was a reasonable precaution to take when dealing with an ‘angry Black woman’.

Police were fearful that Joy Gardner would bite them

Police were fearful that Joy Gardner would bite them

All of these examples are of confrontations between law enforcement officers and Black people suspected of a crime.  This naturally heightens the tensions and raises the stakes for all concerned.  But this ‘Fear of the Black Man’ is also something that ordinary brothers face on a daily basis.  This was brought home to me when a friend related an experience he had in his work place.  During a meeting with his white colleagues, this professional Black man was involved in a full and frank exchange of views.  After the meeting had ended, one of his female colleagues pulled him aside and asked if he had calmed down. When he confirmed that he had, she expressed her relief, confiding that back in the meeting she feared that ‘he might stab somebody’.  This white woman who had worked with my friend for years, feared that if he lost his temper he might erupt into murderous violence against his work-mates! If she can fear this from one of her work colleagues who she knows well, then how much more does she fear from a Black man whom she has never met?  How much more from a Black youth she encounters on the street who is wearing a hoody?

The great irony is, as I hope I have shown, that it is us who has more to fear from them, than they do from us. But Black men, since this is what we are facing, how can we protect ourselves and stay safe?  Here’s some tips to remember in your interactions with white people.

1)      Best not to wear a hoody.

2)      Never ever raise your voice or gesticulate wildly.  Although this is the way people of colour naturally communicate, it makes white people nervous, and could escalate any conflict to dangerous proportions.

3)      If you are unfortunate enough to have prolonged contact with the Police or other authority figures, then surreptitious audio and video recording devices, and/or eye witness are recommended. (The come in very handy at the trial).

4)      In interactions with the Police, never argue, resist arrest or make any quick movements, or you could end up dead.

5)      If you’re an immigrant, never overstay your visa, because if they come to deport you, you could end up dead.

6)      If you’re mentally ill, make sure you always take your medication, because if you relapse, and have a psychotic episode that results in the Police being called, you could end up dead.

In summary, just tread very carefully, or you could turn up missing, and judging from past evidence, no one will be convicted of your murder.

RIP,  Smiley Culture, Mark Duggan, Sean Rigg, Jimmy Mubenga, Azelle Rodney, Stephen Lawrence,  Joy Gardener, Rodney King and Trayvon Martin.

trayvon-martin

One of the very first music features I wrote, back at the start of my journalistic career in the early 90’s, was about the then new format of compact discs. The piece argued that cds were an inferior and unnecessary format imposed on the listening public just to enable the evil record companies to get more money out of us. At the time that was not only the opinion of my editor, but also most fans of Black music. Mixing, cutting and scratching were an integral part of DJ-ing, and apparently you couldn’t do that with a compact disc. Not only that, but supposedly these cold sterile discs didn’t have the warmth of music recorded on vinyl. But over time it became harder and harder for the sceptics to resist. Record labels were releasing albums with bonus tracks on the cd versions, and certain albums on cd only. Vinyl heads were missing out. I had to relent, and once I did, I found that I actually preferred the format. They didn’t warp or scratch, had all the portability of a cassette, but you could easily rewind or skip tracks at the touch of a button. The record companies were right and the vinyl die-hards were wrong. CDs were better!

Compact discs - progress or the work of evil corporations?

Compact discs – progress or the work of evil corporations?

But 20 years later some of these vinyl die-hards
are still championing the old format, arguing that it is still somehow superior.  A lot of these musical dinosaurs are DJ’s.  They may tell us that they are music lovers, but then why would they argue against something that makes music easier to find, cheaper to buy, and easier to store and carry around? What they were so attached to was not infact the music, but the prestige that that old way of things gave them. They liked the fact that they needed help to hump big crates of records into a club, and the crowd had to part to let them through. They liked the rarified exclusive atmosphere of the specialist record shop, where they were on first name terms with the staff behind the counter, who would put aside exclusive new releases just for them. They hate the fact that now anybody can buy any track, no matter how old or rare in a matter of minutes for less than a pound, when they used to spend their Saturdays digging and haggling for ‘rares’ at dusty record fares.

Old-school record shops - a vinyl junkies paradise

Old-school record shops – a vinyl junkie’s paradise.

They hate when kids in clubs come upto them in the DJ booth waving i-pods in their face showing them what tune they want them to play.  Due to Spotify, and i-tunes and Shazam, they’ve lost their prestige. Like supporters of President Assad in Syria or Gaddafi in Libya, its natural that when you’ve invested so much for so long in the old system, you don’t want to let it go.  THAT’S why let don’t want to let the good old days of vinyl go.

So why am I bringing up this tired old argument in 2013?  To illustrate that you can’t fight progress, and you’re wasting your time and energy if you try. Sorry vinyl junkies – the game has changed and the good old days ain’t never coming back.

Their’s is a sad feeling of nostalgia that the record companies now share. Back in the 90’s people cursed them for imposing cds on us.  Now the record companies are cursing the internet for destroying the music business. Just as people no longer need to go to a record shop to buy music, artists don’t need to go through a record label to release it.  They can instead cut out the middle man and release it straight to the fans.

Jay Z recently inked a deal with mobile phone manufacturer Samsung, where they purchased  in advance of release, a million copies of his new album to give away free to the first one million Samsung Galaxy owners who download a special app.

In 2007 Prince did a similar thing by selling the rights to release his Planet Earth album to the Mail on Sunday, who then gave it away free with the paper, in an attempt to boost their circulation.

Artists like Prince now circumvent the record labels

Artists like Prince can now circumvent the record labels.

The record companies hate all this.  They’ve lost their monopoly – they’ve lost their prestige. They are increasingly irrelevant.

But the artists are worrying too. Though old fogies like me are happy to pay 99p for a single or £5.99 for and album, in this era of free downloading and streaming, kids nowadays don’t think they should have to pay ANYTHING.  So if you’re not Jay Z or Prince, how is an artist to make money?

Well the answer seems to be through live shows.  Though kids may not be prepared to pay for the music, they are prepared to shell out to see their favourite artists perform it live. (Haven’t you noticed how much concert ticket prices have gone up of late?)  That’s why many record companies are now insisting on deals that include recouping a portion of proceeds from ticket sales.  The rules of the game have changed – the record companies have realised that they have to adapt or they will die.

They are not the only one’s fretting. The internet has changed the way we consume everything. Not only record shops, but book shops too are closing (blame that on Amazon).  Book publishers are shook because authors can publish themselves more cheaply than ever using ‘Print on Demand’ technology. Sales of print media are also free-falling. Why pay for a newspaper when you can read the news for free on-line?  Rupert Murdock has erected a pay-wall around some of his on-line titles, and the other publishers are watching closely to see whether he is still a business visionary or whether he has hastened his own demise.

Rupert Murdock is trying to hold onto the old way of doing business.

Rupert Murdock is trying to hold onto the old way of doing business.

But its also affecting us journalists. If less people are buying papers and magazines, then that means not only a loss of income from the cover price, but less interest from the advertisers. If the magazines and newspapers are earning less, then they in turn have less money to pay the writers.  And if people can follow their favourite artists on twitter, download their new music for free before its even officially released, and read reviews of it on blogs, then what is the point of music journalists anyhow?  Like the record labels, we have become redundant and surplus to requirements. Now everyone’s worried.  The rules of the game that have existed for decades, have changed and nobody’s told us what the new ones are.

Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook led the way in shaping the new business model

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook led the way in shaping the new business model.

The new business model adopted by Jay Z and Prince, as well as Twitter and Facebook is rather than try to get a small amount of money from lots of customers, you give your product away for free to even more customers, and then get big money from a few large corporations, who want access to your customer base.

The internet has brought us an on-line revolution – taking the power from a small elite of all powerful publishing houses, record labels, gatekeepers and taste-makers, and shared it out to the general public. Comedians no longer have to wait for some out of touch TV exec to give them their big break.  They can set up their own channel on YouTube. Thanks to the net, now everyone’s a DJ, and everyone’s a writer. Thanks to smart phones anyone can be a photographer or journalist. The amateur who’s there on the scene is of a lot more use than the professional who’s sat in the office. Naturally this has resulted in a decline in the market value of these trades.

But though the business models have changed drastically over the last decade or so, human nature is exactly the same.  People still want to hear new music and share the experience with their friends, only now they huddle around a mobile phone instead of a radio-cassette recorder.  People still want to indulge in the latest gossip, only now it’s more likely to be about a celebrity they have never met, rather than someone they actually know. The desire to hear gripping stories told around a fire is as old as civilisation. When cinema was invented they thought it would kill radio.  When TV was invented they thought it would kill cinema. Neither happened – people just consumed them differently.

So don’t cry for the old days, welcome in the new, and spend your time figuring out how you can get your slice of this newly egalitarian pie.

ends

At the start of 2008 a friend of mine predicted that it would be the year of the Black Man, and as the year evolved he was proved to be right.

It was the 40 year anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, but it was also the year the world had its first year Black F1 racing champion (Lewis Hamilton), the year a Black man captained the England football team (Rio Ferdinand), and the first Black man to manage a premiership football team (Paul Ince).  Most significantly it was the year that Barack Obama became the first Black President of the United States. When Obama won the Presidential election, Black people the world over were filled with pride and new hope.  On the morning after his election victory I like many others received this text message.

Rosa Parks sat,

so that Martin Luther King could walk,

so that Barack Obama could stand,

so that our children can fly.

Does Obama's success mean that racism is no longer a barrier to success?

Does Obama’s success mean that racism is no longer a barrier to success?

But were Black people right to feel such pride?  Barack Obama can be claimed by whites just as much as he is by Blacks.  He is infact of dual racial heritage, as is Lewis Hamilton, and Rio Ferdinand.  And Obama was not part of that American civil rights legacy of struggle.  None of the ancestors on the Black side of his family came to America in slave ships, they were never cotton pickers or share croppers, and they never marched for freedom in the 60’s.   When his African father met his white mother it was as an overseas student at the University of Hawaii. Obama spent only a matter of days with his father and was raised by his white mother and his white grandparents. It occurred to me that maybe it was because of his unique racial heritage that he had the confidence to run for President when no-one gave him a chance.  He didn’t listen to all those people, (particularly Black ones, myself included) that said a Black man could never be President.  Just like those who said that ‘Black men don’t play Golf’ before Tiger Woods came along, or that ‘F1 racing is not a Black man’s sport’ before Lewis Hamilton.   Maybe it was because he wasn’t hampered by those shackles of mental slavery that he was able to succeed so spectacularly.

Lewis Hamilton - another successful Black man breaking down barriers.

Lewis Hamilton – another successful Black man breaking down barriers.

But what about the rest of us? Can the success of Obama, and Hamilton, and Ferdinand inspire Black men throughout the diaspora to new heights?  We sure as hell hope so, because aside from those success stories, most ordinary Black men are struggling.  We are over-represented in all the places that we don’t want to be – the school exclusion figures, the young offenders institutions, the prisons, and the psychiatric units – and under-represented in all the places we should be – university graduation ceremonies, in the boardrooms, at the business breakfasts and business dinners, at the school parents’ evenings, on the schools’ boards of governors, even in the park playing ball with our sons.

In the States 47% of the penal population is African-American, but only 3.5% of the college students. We are 37% of the schools suspensions and have the lowest life expectancy. We have the highest homicide and cancer rates, and over 30% of the African-American males between 18 and 25 are unemployed.

In the introduction to his excellent book Outliers, another high achiever of mixed parentage Malcolm Gladwell argues that when looking at success stories we should not ask ‘what are they like?’ but rather examine the circumstances of their birth for clues to the secrets of their success.  In my examination of the failure of Black men I will do the same thing and argue that when we look at the many areas in which Black men are failing, we should not look at the particular failings of these individuals, but instead look at the circumstances of their birth for clues to the origins of this malaise that blights the Black community.  This is not to let off the hook those Black men who are bad fathers, or gang members, or drug dealers, or prison inmates, but rather to understand the phenomenon.  Once we can understand the causes of the problem we can go about changing it.

Mal;colm Gladwell - his book 'Outliers' examines what it takes to be a success.

Mal;colm Gladwell – his book ‘Outliers’ examines what it takes to be a success.

In The Problem With Black Men I have separated what I see as the Black community’s main problems into five areas and address each problem in turn with its own chapter.  At the end of each chapter I offer solutions – things that can be done on a personal individual level to improve the situation.  For each of these topics there are those that argue that the root cause is institutional racism.  Black boys are excluded from schools in such numbers because of the racism of the teachers.  They enter the penal system in such numbers because of the racism of law enforcement officers, and are misdiagnosed as schizophrenic because of the racism of mental health professionals.  They struggle to find employment because employers are unwilling to employ Black men, and thus contribute to the break-up of the Black family because whilst Black men are denied access to the world of work, Black women are let through, and are thus leaving their Black men behind.  All of these explanations maybe true, but if we just blindly accept them then we are accepting the role of mere victims. We are giving all the power to ‘the other man’, and there is nothing that we can do except to ask very politely if the white man would be so kind as to remove his foot from our necks!  I for one am tired of waiting for a kindly white man to come along and save us.  That is why, whilst acknowledging the role that white racism has to play, I am putting the onus firmly on Black folks, as the causes of and the solutions to our problems.

My book 'The Problem with Black Men' offers  solutions to our problems.

My book ‘The Problem with Black Men’ offers solutions to our problems.

 

The Problem With Black Men is available now on Amazon on both paperback and Kindle formats

Nearly 50 years after his assasination, the harrasment of Malcolm X’s family continues…..

Davey D's Hip Hop Corner

Got a disturbing phone call earlier today noting that the grandson of Malcolm X, Malcolm el Shabazz had been murdered in Mexico. Initially I heard it was Mexico City but published reports are stating it was in Tijuana.. I doubled checked and hear it was actually Mexico City..  In either case the word was he was robbed, shot and tossed off a roof..I’m at a loss for words..I can only imagine what his family is going through.. The father of two was a good man destined to do great things..

Below is a link to give you crucial details as to what went down with Malcolm http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2013/05/malcolm-xs-grandson-killed-in-mexico-city.php

I met Malcolm a few years back when he was attending school here in the Bay Area and would frequent our radio station.. He was pretty open, candid and someone who had grown and was continuing to grow spiritually and politically..He was…

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On the morning of May 2nd the Today programme reported the story of a performance by Black comedian Reginald D. Hunter at the Professional Footballers’ Association’s annual awards dinner.  Hunter is known for using the ‘n-word’ in his comedy routines, and this night’s performance was no exception.

Reginald D. Hunter - no stranger to the 'n-word'.

Reginald D. Hunter – no stranger to the ‘n-word’.

This was particular embarrassing for the PFA as they have been fighting the battle against racial abuse in the game for some years now, not least in their promotion of the ‘Lets Kick Racism Out of Football’ campaign.  Now the use of the n-word is a contentious issue. As I have previously said on this blog I feel that white people should never use the word in any circumstance, but I acknowledge that many African-Americans reserve the right to use the term in an attempt to reclaim it. But this post is not about who or when it is appropriate to use that word.  What’s got my back up is who the Today programme thought was qualified to discuss the issue. The best participants for the debate would have the Black PFA chairman Clarke Carlisle and Reginald Hunter himself.  But no such luck.  If they were unavailable then how about a representative from the ‘Kick it  Out’ campaign, or a Black ex-footballer like John Barnes who experienced having this term shouted at them from the terraces? No?  Well how about a Black comedian? No, to debate this sensitive issue the Today programme chose white comedian Marcus Brigstocke and white comedienne  Rhona Cameron. So on BBC Radio’s flagship news programme we have the spectacle of three white people, none of whom have ever been on the receiving end of that term, discussing in which (comedic) circumstances it is allowable to use it.  Could no-one on the production team see what was wrong with this picture? They really couldn’t find anyone more suitable – no Black comedian, no anti-racist campaigner, no one?  Did they try and fail or could they just not be bothered?

Marcus Brigstocke -surely not the best person for the job?

Marcus Brigstocke -surely not the best person for the job?

The anomaly was made all the more stark by the fact that not one but three Black comedians had featured on this same station’s airwaves just the night before!  Felix Dexter is a regular feature on the comedy series ’Down The Line’ (Wednesdays at 6pm) and both Nathan Canton and Curtis Walker appeared on the late night radio sit-com Can’t Tell Nathan Caton Nothing (Wednesdays at 11pm). Is it possible that a Black comedian can appear on Radio 4 and yet no Today programme researchers can get hold of their phone numbers?  Or maybe Black comedians don’t get up early enough to appear on Today.  (The BBC must think that all Black people keep vampire hours, as any show for us seems to be broadcast after 11pm!)

Let me restate, this blog-post is not about the ‘n-word’, it is about the BBC’s attitude to diversity.  It’s now over a decade since the BBC’s then Director General Greg Dyke declared that the BBC was ‘hideously white’.  Since then little has changed in terms of its employment practices.  Back in 1997 when I worked for a brief period in the Radio 1 press office, there were only two other Black men in the building – one fixed the computers and the other one was the security guard. And this was hip and trendy Radio 1. Imagine what it was like at stuffy Radios 3 and 4?  Whiter than a snow storm! And though the BBC pay lip-service to increasing the diversity of their work-force, things don’t seem to be changing.  Even the ‘institutionally racist’ Metropolitan Police are doing better, (at least they let in working-class whites) and this lack of respect on the Today programme shows why.  The producers, presenters and execs continue to recruit from their tight little circle of white, middle-class Oxbridge cronies, even when they are debating Black issues! It is a horrifying fact all the male Executive Directors on the BBC Executive Board are white, privately educated and went to either Oxford or Cambridge. So much for diversity!

Jo Johnson and David Cameron - 'Eton Mafia', 'Old School tie', 'Jobs for the boys', call it what you want, it adds up to the same thing.

Jo Johnson and David Cameron – ‘Eton Mafia’, ‘Old School tie’, ‘Jobs for the boys’, call it what you want, it adds up to the same thing.

It is the same situation in many institutions, not least our own government. Witness only last month, the appointment of Jo Johnson as the head of the Number 10 Policy Unit. Mr Johnson, like Prime Minister Cameron and Chancellor Osborne, and so many in the Tory cabinet is an old Etonian, Oxbridge graduate and former member of the infamous Bullingdon drinking club.  Oh, and co-incidentally he’s also the younger brother of London Mayor Boris Johnson.  David Cameron dismissed accusations of cronyism, arguing that he’s only hiring the best brains for the job.  But can’t he see how bad it looks?  This small band of white, middle-class, public-school boys dominate our government, our judiciary and our media, and it seems no-one outside of their clique can get a look in.  They not only control our parliament, but also our airwaves. They not only make the laws, but also set the political and news agenda.  From the outside, it looks like if you’re Black and/or working class the only way you can get a full-time job at Broadcasting House or the Houses of Parliament, is if your pushing a mop or checking security passes.

In closing I would like to remind our heads of government, and those at the BBC, of the words of an old song by Billy Paul.

“Somebody’s knocking on the door, somebody’s ringing the bell,/ Do me a favour, open the door, and let ‘em in.”

If you’d like to read more about the issues raised in this blog post, click on the link to check out my new book ‘The Problem With Black Men’, available now on Amazon.

 The_Problem_With_Bla_Cover_for_Kindle

The last big argument I had with my wife was about the movie 27 Dresses. For those not familiar with it, it tells the story of Jane played by actress Katherine Heigel, who is always the bridesmaid and never the bride – hence her collection of 27 bridesmaid dresses.27dresses1

I haven’t actually seen it, but it’s a romantic comedy so you can guess the plot. Katherine Heigel’s character, always unlucky in love, finds her potential Mr Right, and the majority of the film is taken up with the ‘will-they/wont-they’ get it together plot-line. I didn’t think my wife should be wasting her time watching such mindless drivel, and I told her so. She didn’t take kindly to my advice.

I hate romantic comedies, and for that matter Fairy Tales, for the lies that they have indoctrinated women with.  The plot of all these stories is the same.  A damsel is in distress, and only a ‘knight in shining armour’ can save her from her plight.  Check Cinderella – Cinders lives a life of druggery and servitude in the service of her two ugly sisters, from which she can only escape when she is rescued by with Prince Charming.  Or Rapunzel, trapped in a tall prison who can only be freed by the intervention of a brave Prince. Or Sleeping Beauty, cursed by the evil witch to sleep in a coma-like state, caused by a spell which can only be broken by true love’s first kiss.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Beauty and the Beast
, its all basically the same story.

It is this same narrative that has driven six year’s worth of Sex And The City (albeit updated for adult tastes with more bedroom action) as heroine Carrie Bradshaw waits in anticipation for Mr Big.

Sex-and-the-City--

Sex & The City – is this really how women think?

And by repeating these stories to our little girls, we are teaching them that they can only find true happiness through the love of a good man.  And when these girls become women, and find their Mr Right/Prince Charming, and succeed in having their longed-for fairy tale wedding, and then find that their life has not become ‘happy-ever-after’, they blame their partner for not doing his job; not fulfilling his job description!

This is part of the reason that more divorce proceedings are brought by disgruntled wives than by unhappy husbands.  If a man is unhappy in his marriage, he will grin and bare it – spend more time at work, or down the pub, or on the X-Box, or have an affair!  If a woman is unhappy with her marriage – she wants out.  Since she’s unhappy she reasons, she must obviously be with the wrong man, and so must extricate herself from this situation for another roll of the dice to try again.

This situation is bad enough, but if you add the racial element into it, it gets even worse.  For though your Black beau, may be talk, dark and handsome, charming, charismatic, good in bed, etc, etc, your lives together may not turn out to be as idyllic as you had hoped on the day he carried you over the threshold. As my uncle used to say ‘life is hard for a poor Black man’s pickney’. So ladies, if you think you’ve met your Will Smith/Barack Obama/Jay-Z, before he ‘puts a ring on it’ ask yourself these few questions.

1) Are you comfortable with being the main-breadwinner?

Even though neither of you may be planning on this situation at the outset, it may later turn out to be the case.  I’m not asking you to take on ‘waste-men’ and free-loaders, but some Black men don’t seem to be able to get a break, no matter how hard they try.  (Rather than watching a romantic comedy I’d direct you at this point to Will Smith’s movie ‘The Pursuit of Happyness for illustration).

Marital strife as portrayed in The Pursuit of Happyness

Marital strife as portrayed in ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’

Unless you’ve got friends in high-places, its hard to get a job for everyone these days, for Black men, even more so. Research by the Office of National Statistics published in 2012 found that unemployment rates for 16-24 year olds from African and African-Caribbean background are double that of white job seekers, with 56% of Black men being out of work.

Even with the right qualifications, success is still far from assured.  As far back as the early 90s, studies showed that Black graduates had a harder time finding suitable employment. (I was unemployed for 9 months, even after getting a Masters’ degree).

If he is lucky enough to find employment, after some time he may find himself frustrated at his lack of advancement, his head-aching by banging it on the glass ceiling, or the petty humiliations that he must face in order to keep that job.  (Another film tip – check Terrence Howard’s role in Crash).

The Movie 'Crash'  shows the humiliations suffered even by professionally successfull Blacks.

The movie ‘Crash’ shows the humiliations suffered even by professionally successfull Black men.

2) Are you both prepared for him to take the role of the house-husband if that makes better financial sense?  It hit the news last month that there has been an increase in men staying at home while wifey goes out to bring home the bacon. For the reasons outlined above, this is an even more likely scenario for Black couples.  Anyone with kids knows that childcare costs nowadays are prohibitive.  If you earn more than him, it may make more sense for him to stay at home and look after the kids, and for you to return to work, rather than vice versa, than for you both to work and pay through the nose for childcare.

3) Can you be patient with him if he struggles with the role of a father?   You may be less than happy with your partner’s contribution in the parent stakes, but if he’s anything like me, and many Black men like me, he’s learning on the job.  If he had no father figure in his own life, his only knowledge of what fathers do is from seeing Cliff Huxtable in The Cosby Show or Phillip Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Phillip Banks

Some Black men have to learn how to be a father by watching TV

And those programmes never showed the dads changing nappies, or making bottles, or walking their kids to school in the morning.  I’m not defending dead-beat dads, infact I’m the hardest on them (see my previous blog on absentee fathers).  I’m just saying be patient with men who may not have even seen what a real Dad is supposed to do up close, before they became one.

4) Will you stick by him if he ends up in jail?   Of course you wouldn’t think of marrying a career criminal, but due to the way the Criminal Justice system works in this country, too many Black men find themselves being pulled into the system. ANY Black man can end up in Jail, not just gangstas – just ask former Tory peer Lord Taylor).

former Tory Peer John Taylor was sentenced to 12 months for fiddling his expenses.

former Tory Peer John Taylor was sentenced to 12 months for fiddling his expenses.

Evidence from the Home Office’s Offending Crime and Justice survey in 2003 found that white males aged 10-25 were far more likely to have committed an offence within the last year than young males in other groups,  but once young Black people committed an offence, they were more likely to come to the attention of the police. Black people of all ages are three times more likely to be arrested than white people, six times more likely to be arrested for drug offences, 11 times more likely to be imprisoned, and are up to 26 times more likely to be stopped and searched than their white counterparts. Whereas Black young offenders accounted for 6% of total offences in 2004-05 they received 11.6% of total custodial sentences. 

5) Don’t call the Police on Him.  I know of one sister who called the Police on her husband because they were having a heated argument, and she wanted him out of the house.  Listen ladies, unless your life is in mortal danger, don’t ever call the Police on a brother.  Apart from the fact that the Police don’t need any encouragement to harass Black men, with the rate that brothers die in Police custody, that may be the last time you see him alive! You might want him out, but surely you don’t want him dead!

Finally, before you walk out that door…………..

There ARE valid reasons to end a marriage, but just because you’re not happy anymore isn’t one of them. If he’s trying, cut him some slack.  As Chris Rock once said, “I’m not moving back in with my mother cos you ain’t in love!” But what if you just can’t stand him anymore?  Maybe he’s making no effort to find a job, or he’s gambling away all your hard-earned money at the Bookies, or he’s cheating on you. Before you leave him, just spare a thought for the kids.  You may not think that you need him in your life, but they do.

Your son and daughter need their father around even if you don’t

Your son and daughter need their father around………. even if you don’t!

In 1996 a University of California study found that boys raised without their fathers are more than twice as likely to engage in delinquent behaviour, and that girls in the same situation are more than twice as likely to become teenage mothers.  A 1998 study by researchers at Princeton University said that growing up in a single parent home roughly doubles a child’s propensity to commit crime.

Many women will complain about their partners’ lack of romance – the absence of roses and love poems and breakfast in bed.  But is that really what marriage is about? What is more important in making your marriage/family life run smoothly?  Is it rose petals on the pillow and candle-lit dinners, or putting the bins out and making sure the electricity bill is paid on time?   Would you prefer a man who runs a bubble bath for you, or cleans out the gutters and mows the lawn?  Ladies, do you want a man with bling and swagger, or a man of commitment and staying power? A player or a stayer?  (And no you can’t have both).

I’m not saying that a woman can never be happy if married to a Black man.  (I hope that on at least a few days of each month, my wife can say that she’s happily married). What I’m saying is that it won’t be easy.  So if you think the struggle is over as soon as you successfully get him to walk you up the aisle, and you’re all set up for a happily ever after………….. think again.

As a parting thought I‘d like to share this quote that I recently saw on twitter.

“A wise woman knows the importance of speaking life into her man. If you love him: believe in him, encourage him and be his peace.”

If you’d like to read more about the issues raised in this blog post, click on the link  below to check out my new book ‘The Problem With Black Men’, available now on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Problem-With-Black-Men/dp/1483990133/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368908485&sr=8-1&keywords=the+problem+with+black+men#_

The_Problem_With_Bla_Cover_for_Kindle

Its now 26 years since I first heard ‘Public Enemy Number 1’. Wow. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Davey D's Hip Hop Corner

public-enemy benchToday April 18th 2013 is Public Enemy Day… Yep that’s right.. Today we celebrate the landmark group that has been together for almost 30 years.. They are deemed Hip Hop Royalty and tonight they get inducted into the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame.

Last night they performed at House of Blues in LA and absolutely killed.. DJ Terminator X who retired from the group several years ago to do some ostrich farming.. returned to the fold to help celebrate.. Also on hand at HOB was Kool Moe Dee and the Treacherous Three, DMC, Doug E Fresh, Method Man, Whodini, JJ Fad and many more..  It was a testament to the love and respect folks have for Public Enemy..

I first met Chuck D back in summer of ’88 at the New Music Seminar when the group was just starting to make noise.. They had already…

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