A few weeks ago I attended an event called ARISE. I had performed there with my band Bastedo at the previous event. I had really enjoyed the guests on that particular session so I was looking forward to this event.
Being interviewed about their lives were Tim Campbell former winner of The Apprentice. Paulette Randell who latest claim to fame was working with old friend Danny Boyle on the Olympic Opening Ceremony, and finally Paul Elliot, former Chelsea Captain. As esteemed bunch indeed.
Each guest was interviewd by DJ Daddy Ernie about their lives and careers. ARISE is focussed on interviewing people from the African Diaspora. All 3 of the guests happened to have Jamiacan parents. If I’m not mistaken, all 3 came from single parent families as well!
I found this strangely comforting as I come from a similar background. Hearing these successful people talk about how they overcame the various barriers to make successes of their lives was truly inspiring.
There was a familiar lament from Paul and Paulette. Paul spoke of the rasicm that he had experienced from the terraces and how when times got toughest (for example when he went to play in Italy) he drew even closer into the game to sustain him through those hard times. He also spoke about his work in the ‘Kick Racism ot of Football Campaign.’
Paulette did not speak about racism directly, but there were allusions to struggles she faced in getting support for various projects, and even with the success from a show like Desmond’s, it did not make it any easier for her to pitch ideas and get them excpeted onto the mainstream.
She cited an example from a show called The Crouches, where an unknown Scottish writer was tasked with creating a sitocm about a black family from London! After the failed first series, the BBC then called her in to help with the 2nd series. Although she felt offended, she accepted the commission so that she could ‘save her friends’ from the awful offering that was series one. She said when she asked the BBC why they had not called her before, they said it was something to do with giving opportunities to new writers…but there was a knowing weariness in the room, that these types of situations have been all to common for ethnic minrities in all sorts of workplaces. Lack of recognition for contributions and also a belief that someone else..perhaps with a different colour skin…might make a better job of it.