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Recently on The Equiano Project an article quoted the Bob and Marcia song 'Young, Gifted and Black'. I was going to mention this in passing and I wanted to check when the song was released (1970). I didn't realise that the song was co-written and recorded by the great Nina Simone and that it was a tribute to her friend the dramatist Lorraine Hansberry who died young, the line 'young, gifted and black' coming from one of Hansberry's plays.

That was incidental to what I was going to write, but it also illustrates what I was going to talk about; that we need to be wary of simplistic narratives. We can also remind younger people of the influence of Black American culture on black people throughout the world, even on Reggae music which is the quintessential Jamaican music (once disapproved of by respectable Jamaicans) which itself has had worldwide culture influence.

There is a danger that we will lose or have already lost the distinction between history, politics and propaganda. Simplistic narratives have their place as do slogans and rhetoric but we should not mistake these things for truth historical, scientific or otherwise.

'Young, Gifted and Black' is rhetoric, so is 'middle aged, middle class and mediocre' the latter have dominated 'black' politics for several decades now (some the same people who were younger then). With a Labour Government we will be seeing a lot more of this clique.

Some have expressed a wish to be raceless, this simply leaves the way open to the dominant clique to define race. We shouldn't seek to escape our blackness (this is unrealistic anyway) but to redefine it in a more generous, universal way.

If you see my black skin you might make assumptions about me. I was born and raised in South London, England, judging from my age you might deduce that I am of Caribbean heritage, and you would be right. But where I was born, where my parents come from, my age, these are biographical things. My blackness says something about me but not much.

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