Dave’s Brit Award performance was nothing less than stunning. Seldom do we get the chance to see a black man with a platform able to articulate issues within Britain.
The narrative of political issues in this country currently is focused on Brexit; with a firm fixation on immigration that has created an us vs. them plight, with people of colour being ‘othered’. The fracturing of society has meant that many issues have been circled as racially or religiously exclusive. But it is important to note that the issues raised in Dave’s performance are not black exclusive. They are British issues that we must tackle together.
In his performance, Dave labelled Prime Minister Boris Johnson ‘a real racist’, called out the media’s treatment of Meghan Markle, hailed London Bridge victim Jack Merritt, called for environmental action, accommodation for Grenfell victims and support for the Windrush generation. All wrapped up into an under 5-minute, live performance that saw him also playing the piano. Nothing short of extraordinary.
For many, it was a breath of fresh air and showed exactly why he was worthy of winning The Brit Award for album of the year. And yet Ofcom received over 300 complaints. Social media was awash with hateful comments and secretary of state Priti Patel herself denied the Prime Minister was racist following the performance. The backlash was more than uncomfortable. It was a hard smack in the face that completely undermined the black British experience.
Thankfully the powers that be at Ofcom threw out complaints, a landmark in social progression. In this instance, the system worked but as Dave pointed out we still have a long way to go in making Britain a safe and inclusive place for all. It is not up for debate whether Boris Johnson has or hasn’t made racist comments. Unlike the passing jokes you may hear in the office that make your stomach recoil, Boris has solidified his thoughts and feelings in articles that he has written and edited. However, Boris’ backlash from said comments have barely tarnished his reputation and despite them went on to win a landslide at last year’s general election.
To this day many refuse to see the racism in his words and only last week did Labour MP Dawn Butler, a woman of colour, have to defend herself on BBC programme Politics Live after Conservative MP Laura Trott said she found it “extremely offensive” to call Conservative narrative racist. It is unfortunately often the reaction to racism and not the racism itself that causes the most offence.
Just last week the royals were out celebrating ‘Commonwealth Day’, a union of nations that are mostly former empire states. A crazy juxtaposition, whilst there is a whole day dedicated to this union the Conservative government’s home office has spent the last couple of years trying to deport Windrush generation citizens. Culture it seems is to be celebrated when appropriate for the British establishment. And a black man coming on TV to celebrate his culture and share its pain clearly was a step too far for some.
So, whilst the royals are rubbing shoulders with Commonwealth leaders, Boris Johnson ruling the country unscathed and 300 Britons scouring at Ofcom reports. There are people up and down the country who face adversity, deportations and a lack of support. Society is far from equal in any direction but we can all share some hope and wonder in Dave’s performance and Ofcom’s decision.