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Voices from Britain on Obama

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What does the election of Barack Obama mean to young black people in Britain? Socialist Worker spoke to young people in east London to find out.
Issue 2127
Tumi and Maryam
Tumi and Maryam

‘I was so excited that I stayed up most of the night to see if Obama could win. But some time after three I nodded off.

A few hours later my mum woke me up with tears in her eyes, saying, “This is a new day. Obama’s won and now we know nothing is impossible anymore”.’

Maryam, 16

‘There’s too much racism for it to happen in this country.

It might be more hidden than in the US, but actually racism is worse here.’

Tumi, 16

‘My first thought was that if this could happen in the land of slavery, it should be able to happen everywhere.

But when me and my mum were talking about whether a black person could be elected prime minister here, we both thought it couldn’t happen.

Partly, I don’t think enough white people would vote for a black candidate. Partly, I also think that a lot of black people believe the negative stereotypes of themselves.

Perhaps it’s something to do with what black people in the US have had to do to get their rights. They had to have a movement. Britain hasn’t had that – and maybe that’s why we’re so far behind.’

Chimmya, 17

‘I’m fed up with people, black and white, who think that we can only be sportsmen and entertainers.

That’s got to change, and for me the election just proves that we should all see each other as equal.’

Sean, 17

‘Barack Obama has helped America overcome its divisions because he is the first black president.

However I am very worried about his support for Israel because that state is the cause of so much instability.’

Rinad Eltag, 18

‘Obama’s election is a good thing because its uniting people But he has to deal with the problem of terrorism and the conditions that create it.’

Morgan Williams, 17

Reporting by Yuri Prasad and Leila Assaf

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