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Forget story of the year – they were the story of the decade

Lester Holloway takes a look back at the big stories of 2009, including (of course) this one.

The result was never in doubt – the stand-out story of the decade, never mind year, was the inauguration of President Barack Obama (yes, it still feels good to say it!).

But, like his election three months beforehand, much of the UK media could not apparently find Black commentators to make sense of the historic event.

The honeymoon has long been over for Obama in the American media, and it’s fair to say that it’s pretty much over here too. Apart from the Black press, which still accurately reflects the pride that still burns brightly in many of our communities, particularly African and Caribbeans.

Lester Holloway

One of the key differences between the way different communities view Obama, is that for many the President’s family, and the obviously thriving relationship between the First Couple, truly captured our imaginations. And continues to do so.

It’s almost as if politics has at times played second fiddle to the Obama’s embodying the ideal of a healthy, loving black family.

But in 2010, as we inevitably get familiar with this, politics will again rise to the fore. Having spent the past year in dizzy elation, we’ve got some ground to make up by applying some hard analysis as to what Obama means – in practical terms – for society and the authorities that govern us.

While Obama succeeded in making us believe that anything it possible, surely the coming year is about moving from equality of aspiration to equality of reality.

The second biggest story in my eyes was the death of Michael Jackson. His death, much like his life, was a mixture of melodrama, rumour and counter-rumour, celebrity glitz, and an overdose of homilies about a talented but lonely and confused man.

The British tabloids, in particular, overindulged in wacko conspiracy speculation. While many simply wanted to mourn, we were instead subjected to a unpleasant daily Diana-fest.

But now that the dust has settled, Jackson we are just left with his music – which, after all, was what he was all about. And now the circus has moved on, we will forever remember the genius of the man.

The most under-reported story of the year was the disproportionate effect the recession is having on Black communities. Although everyone, of all races, has been affected in some way, it is increasingly clear that the axe has not fallen in a colour-blind way, and that is a scandal.

2009 was the year that politics suffered a death by a thousand cuts from the expenses scandal yet Parliament missed an opportunity to for serious political reform to reconnect voters and change a voting system that ensures half of all seats do not changed political control.

The cliché of 2009 was that the election of Nick Griffin was a “wake-up call” to Britain. It remains to be seen whether Britain has woken up, but I fear that this year will continue to see further gains for this collection of neo-Nazis and Holocaust-deniers.

Britain will have truly woken up when many more people join the anti-fascist campaigns that are taking on the Far Right on two fronts – the elected BNP and the street-fighters of the English Defence League.

Gazing into my crystal ball (a Christmas present from Poundland), I predict a nail-biting finish to the Election That Was in May. Somewhere between 8 and 20 new BME MPs from all three parties will take their seats in the Commons. And Rev Al Sharpton’s visit this month will help inspire Black communities to get involved in politics.

Cote d’Ivoire, powered by Didier Drogba, will reach the World Cup finals. Speilberg’s biopic of Dr Martin Luther King will be a blockbuster hit, and Danny Glover will eventually finish his biopic of Haitian rebel leader Toussaint L’Ouverture.

Great thing this crystal ball. I wonder what happens if you plug it in…


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