In the run-up to the Brexit vote and since, the Black population in the United Kingdom has been conspicuous by its virtual invisibility. Or so you might be led to believe, from the coverage of the EU Referendum and its aftermath.
None of the major actors with dogs in the race (demagogues, politicians, pundits, or news outlets) found it necessary to invest much time or energy in figuring out the impact of the debates and the eventual vote on Black people. It is perhaps then not surprising that the “preferences of Black people”, if there were such a thing, did not even come up in any major consequential forum or engagement platform.
Two of the facts that make this pointed lack of engagement (some might even argue, disengagement) both odd and intellectually indefensible are also ultimately unsurprising, given the primary reason Brexit happened in the first place.
Taking back control and restoring the Great back to Britain
The control that was being wrested back was ostensibly that of the borders from the EU.
An alien listening in to the campaign debates could be forgiven for thinking that extra-terrestrials had taken over most of Britain. That indeed, the “White natives” had suddenly become a small minority and were therefore an endangered species with vast swathes of the country becoming unrecognisable! An evolutionary emergency! (Never mind the inherent intellectual contradiction of that expression).
It was first and foremost about immigration. Or perhaps better put, the visceral feelings about “people who don’t belong here”. And the “problem” needed to be solved urgently, by any means necessary!
On the other hand, restoring greatness back to Britain sounded (and still sounds) like a laudable objective. Except that the last time Britain was “Great”, it was at the monumental expense of other countries and entire peoples. The subtext of course is that Britain cannot be Great in the circle of equals, hence the retreat from the European Union.
The import of “taking back control” and restoring Great back to Britain, it can be argued, is that non-White inhabitants of the United Kingdom effectively become “surplus to requirements” at best and “collateral damage” at worst!
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Swings and roundabouts
Ordinarily, the 2 Million Blacks in the UK should interest anyone desirous of a particular democratic outcome. Particularly when the arguments are finely balanced and the vote could go either way.
But if this demographic is already taken for granted, or worse still, entirely discounted in the political calculations, then it makes sense not to expend precious resources courting this sector.
This is what seems to have happened in the Brexit vote and it is painfully unsurprising.
Fundamentally, the compact between the Black person and the State is under review in peculiar ways. And it is putting the whole relationship under significant strain.
What makes the situation really peculiar is the fact that neither the Black population nor the British State appear conscious of, or willing to grapple with, this radically changing landscape.
“The true salesman is an idealist and an artist.”
Without changing stance or style, both parties are unwittingly set up for shocks and surprises arising from sleep-walking into nightmares.
In the end, Brexit matters so much for Black business owners because they are the only ones with a practical understanding of their own struggles as well as the vested interest to permanently fix the underlying issues. The issues that are sure to become more pernicious after Brexit.
Members of the Black business community have opined that Brexit will further weaken the fabric of the Black community and economy. Unless informed and proactive action is taken before it’s too late.
In the meantime, has Brexit already begun affecting you and your business? Share you experiences in the comments below.
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