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ON BLACK ROLE MODEL

By Agnes Agyepong

Monday, November 16, 2009.

So before I begin let me just start by saying this post is not intended to be a personal attack on Dizzee Rascal, as the issue I am about to address is actually not his fault.

Ok, well picture this. I was on the underground today reading the Evening Standard newspaper whilst waiting to reach my destination. Flicking through the pages I came across an article on page 4 entitled “The 20 people who keep London leading in the world”. Amongst some of the figures were Boris Johnson, The Mayor of London; Stella McCartney, fashion designer; Mervyn King, Bank of England Governor and Lord Coe, London Olympic Organising Committee chairman. And then at number 18 my eyes gleamed on Dizzee Rascal, occupation rapper and most notably the only Black figure to enter the top 20 line up.

Subconsciously I screwed up my face. And then I started to ask myself why am I actually annoyed to see him there? After all Dizzee is doing it big. You know he came from the streets of East London and is now an award winning number one selling artist. But despite his success is he really London’s most influential Black person?

Where is David Lammy MP for Tottenham or Charlene White who presents the ITV London News? Furthermore what about Sherry Dixon, the editor of Pride Magazine or Idris Elba the critically-acclaimed actor who has starred in Law and Order and most notably known for his role in The Wire and whose success is shamelessly ignored by the British media?

Is The Evening Standard really trying to say that the most influential Black Londoner is Dizzee Rascal? When without even scratching the surface I can name several Black Londoners who have far more influence than Dizzee with far more reaching positive effects.

As I said at the beginning I have no personal qualms with Dizzee but it just winds me up when I read things like this from the main stream media that insinuate that the only thing Black people will ever be rewarded for is rapping and the images that this subsequently conjures up. If they really couldn't find a Black person that they felt worthy enough for the title then they should have left it vacant. But please spare the token figure, as it's insulting!

So I have to wonder who did they collect their data from (certainly not me or anyone I know)? What message are they really trying to send out? And do you agree that he is the most influential Black person in London?

Agnes Agyepong comes from a Public Relations and Communications background and is currently a postgraduate student in International Relations. She blogs at http://agnesagyepong.blogspot.com/

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