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Making change happen in 2010

After a year of regression on race equality, we must now go forward again, says Simon Woolley

Gary Younge is right to lament that the last decade, which held out the hope that race equality would have strengthened, instead ended up weakening and often demonising it.

Under Prime Minister Tony Blair, the first Labour Government for 18 years promised to be a ‘beacon of hope’ in regards to equality of opportunity for Briton’s BME communities.

But after the race riots in Bradford and 9/11, as Younge points out, the race debate dramatically swung back towards bigotry and hatred.

Many well-meaning, but ultimately wrong, commentators sort to explain the radicalisation of Muslims through by singling out multiculturalism.

The deniers of race inequality – too many to mention – siezed their moment to attack not just Muslims, but also Africans, Caribbeans, in fact anybody who wasn’t white, Christian and British.

Particularly worrying has been the daily diet of Islamophobia, which has not only alienated the vast majority of Muslims – including those who could only be described as moderate – but it also fuelled the extremists looking to poison susceptible young minds who desire to kick back at what they see as global injustice.

But although the challenges in some areas have increased, anti-racists and Black communities in general have rallied hard, held the line and – as we reach the end of the decade – are starting to be on the front foot.

For example: year on year education for Black boys is getting better; BME small and medium size businesses are amongst some of the fastest growing businesses in the UK. We have had four Cabinet members in Parliament, including Paul Boateng, Baronesses Valerie Amos and Patricia Scotland, and Sadiq Khan.

The inauguration of President Barack Obama has, in one single act, given our communities here in the UK the great sense that no public office, no high powered job, is beyond our reach.

We end the decade, therefore, with the supreme self belief that with hard work and endeavour not only is anything possible, but we will be the agents for that positive change.


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