Great Britain

Why this ludicrous dithering on black people’s issues?

“WOMEN are affected by gusts and ways of sentiment.”

“The birth and marriage rate are already decreasing.”

“Women are extraordinarily impressionable.”

“The feminine mind’s deadly logic is destructive.”

“Women know nothing of commerce and industry.”

OK, OK. That’s enough.

I’m sure you’re wondering, what the hell am I going on about? What ludicrous nonsense is this?

Well, these are just some of the reasons that were given in opposition when the Suffragettes had the audacity to fight for the right to vote in 1917.

Fortunately this “wisdom” didn’t hit home and women over the age of 30 were granted the vote the following year (it took another decade to bring it down to 21).

Nowadays we’d laugh at what were then powerful arguments to stop women being equal.

Suffragettes marched, were arrested and caused disruption fighting for women’s equality — a notion that was seen by the powers that be as preposterous.

But at least those opposing this move gave reasons (however ridiculous) as to why the status quo shouldn’t change.

So, as Black History Month draws to a close, let me ask what “dreadful” things would happen if the issues black people have spoken about so passionately these past few months were put right?

Oh, and to those quick to counter “Black Lives Matter” with “All Lives Matter”, this is especially for you.

For example, what could possibly be the downside of black women not having five times the risk of their baby dying in pregnancy compared with white women?

Meanwhile, a 2018 study found that black babies in the UK had a 67 per cent increased risk of neonatal death compared to babies of white people.

How would it affect us if, as research by mental health charity Mind showed, black people were NOT more than four times as likely as white people to be detained under the Mental Health Act?

Would society collapse if black people in England and Wales were not — as the Home Office’s own data revealed — 40 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched?

ENORMOUS CONTRIBUTION

And how would it affect the average Brit if, for instance, black people driving an upmarket car were not stopped and asked for proof of ownership?

And what, when we do our utmost to instil values of honesty in our children, is the irreparable damage that would occur if, instead of it being an elective subject, the British school curriculum taught both the good and bad actions of the British Empire?

And for those grumbling about a more rounded version of British history, is it so bad to have children learn about the enormous contribution of those of the Windrush generation?

Immigrants like my late mother, who spent six weeks on a ship coming to England, thinking that perhaps they would never see their loved ones again — all to help Britain after the war?

These are just a few of the examples of what affects the vast majority of black British people on a day-to-day basis.

And, of course, there are no “reasons” to oppose any of this.

So let’s get on and not just talk about it, let’s make that change.

One day, history will look back at those either dithering or actually opposed to tackling these issues and see them as being as ridiculous as Rowland Hunt, MP for Ludlow in 1917, who, opposing women ever being in Parliament, proclaimed it would never work.

Why?

Because “Women will wear enormous hats”!

Age? To Mel with it!

AH, those pictures of Mel Sykes – aged 50 – playing tonsil tennis with that 23-year-old gondolier in Venice? How brilliant!

In these scary times she obviously felt passionately enough about him to risk nursing each other through a bout of Covid.

Back in the early ’80s, when I was in my 20s, women aged 50-plus were deemed ancient.

The mere idea of women of a certain age doing anything but knitting, going to bingo and being dewy-eyed over their grandchildren was seen as nothing short of horrific.

How wonderful that things have changed.

Because here I am in my current “old age” finally experiencing the kind of sex that seems to have totally eluded me for the previous few decades.

Gossips storing up grief

ONE of the many things I miss when I’m in the US, where I now live, is good old British supermarkets.

So when I returned recently for a few weeks, I was excited to be cruising the aisles of stores like Tesco, M&S, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.

But my joy soon turned to anger as I witnessed first-hand several lapses of the new health and safety order.

While shopping in a London Waitrose, I stood and waited while a masked employee stood chatting about her love life to an unmasked off-duty colleague.

My polite request that they stand back and allow me access to the salads was met by exasperated, barely concealed eye-rolls. Um, social distancing, anyone?

Of course the vast majority of staff do play by the rules and are helpful.

But I can’t help but feel that those who don’t could perhaps learn a thing or two from those less secure in their jobs during this pandemic.

Take the air stewards on my flight home – on an airline, like most, facing real hardship thanks to all the travel bans.

The staff couldn’t have been more hospitable to passengers up and down the plane – treating everyone as if they were in first class, hoping that when the good times return they’ll have earned some new loyalty.

Pope has given us all hope

POPE Francis has endorsed same-sex civil unions. “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it,” the 83-year-old said.

He also praised a breastfeeding mother during a Vatican general audience. Why do I mention these two wonderful reactions from the head of an estimated 1.2billion people? 

Well, attempted suicide rates among LGBTQ youth are estimated to be higher than in heterosexual youth.

Plus, according to the World Health Organisation, increasing breastfeeding could save hundreds of thousands of lives and add hundreds of billions of dollars to the global economy (the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates).

So thank you Pope Francis for taking a step in the right direction. 

Chipping away at intolerances and practices that negatively impact lives is surely what faith is really about.

Suspense in Bridge 

WHEN my kids were little, hearing “Mum . . . I’m sooo bored!” was like music to my ears.

Why? Because that was when they became most creative – putting together little plays, inventing games, letting their imaginations roam.

As I empathised with my 30-year-old daughter Billie in the early days of Covid as she declared herself bored with working from home, stuck in her flat with her little cat, I knew she’d come up with something.

She sure did! She signed up for C4 reality show The Bridge, where 12 strangers have to build a bridge . . . by hand.

Well, that’s one way to beat the Covid blues. Check it out on Sundays.

Evil spirit be gone!

AS we hurtle towards Halloween this weekend we have a genuine evil spirit in the world we all want rid of.

Two thousand years ago it was believed by the Celts that on the night of October 31, ghosts of their dead would revisit the mortal world and large bonfires were lit in each village to ward off any evil spirits.

Nowadays Halloween means trick or treating (socially-distanced, mind) and shovelling in sweets (a quarter of all “candy” sold in the US is bought to celebrate Halloween).

UK consumer spending for Halloween products is steadily increasing, having doubled in the five years between 2013 and 2018 to a massive £419million.

Here’s hoping all the money we’ll spend and goodies we’ll offer and consume actually does what the Celts hoped it would do all those years ago.

Begone, Covid. Begone!

Debate winner

IT may not have had the fireworks of the first debate but Thursday night’s Trump v Biden presidential debate was great TV.

And the winner was not either wannabe prez – but moderator Kristen Welker.

The 44-year-old NBC journalist had faced an onslaught of personal attacks from Trump in the lead-up.

He had called her “terrible” in a tweet to his millions of followers while his aides dredged up her parents’ political donations and leaked a photo of her with Barack Obama at a party.

And yet Ms Welker, the first black woman to moderate a presidential debate since 1992, kept her poise and managed to keep her cool and successfully rein in two of the biggest egos on the planet.

Yup . . . Kristen definitely gets my vote.

Trump and Biden go head to head in the final debate before the 2020 Presidential election

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