By Maurice Mcleod

Cleaning the corridor

For some, the revelation that black MP for Brent Central, Dawn Butler, had been mistaken for a cleaner by one of her fellow MPs came as a shock.

‘In these prim and proper days, when diversity is shoved down your throat from every angle,’ they ponder, ‘how can anyone senior working in the public sector make such a silly mistake?’

For any black person who has ever worked in a large, predominantly white, professional environment, the situation was all too familiar. I’ve lost count of the times a work colleague has mistaken me for Winston the toilet security guard (real name Wurade, studying for his law conversion course).

While it is easy to shame the individual who misidentifies you in this way, the errors come from a fairly natural reaction to the environment. Most black people the MP sees in Parliament are cleaners and most black people walking around the newspaper I was working on were security guards.

Sadly, until the corridors of power look more like the high streets of Britain, Dawn had better get used to being overlooked and underestimated. Of course, the sadder issue is that anyone would think to complain about someone who works in the same building using a lift.

Rooting for awful to stump Trump

Casting a sideways glance at our noisy American cousins, the results are coming in and the field looks set. Donald Trump looks like he will face off with Hillary Clinton for the Iron Throne after both triumphed on the ‘Super Tuesday’ set of primaries.

I’m personally holding out for Bernie Sanders. For me, he is the only candidate who will make a positive change to America. Killer Mike summed it up perfectly for me when he compared Hillary’s snooty reaction with Bernie’s, when both were interrupted by #BlackLivesMatter protesters. I’m sorry to say it but Hillary is awful. She has big questions to answer about her stance on criminal justice. She said some black kids were ‘super predators’ who needed to be ‘brought to heel’. Hillary wouldn’t move things forward in any meaningful way.

…But sometimes, you have to root for awful.

If Bernie can’t recover and give America a real choice then even Hillary would be better than Donald Trump for President. Sometimes, I think we pay too much attention to what America is up to but if the US crown sits on top of Trump’s thatch after November, the world for black and brown people will change. This week he struggled to reject support from the former Grand Wizard of the KKK, David Duke.

When he says he wants to ‘Make America Great Again’, you have to wonder which point of America’s history he wants to return to.

Deadbeat Britain’s Trident-shaped whip

While we’re looking back in time, the weekend saw the largest anti-nuclear weapon protest in Britain for decades as tens of thousands gathered to reject Trident in central London.

I can usually see both sides of an argument, but with Trident, I’m lost. If we can come up with £100+bn to replace a weapon that we don’t need and would never use, why can’t we fix our public services?

CND claim for the £100bn we will spend on Trident, we could fully fund A&E services for 40 years, employ 150,000 new nurses, build 30,000 new primary schools, or cover tuition fees for 4 million students.

Britain is behaving like a deadbeat dad – claiming he can’t pay maintenance for his kids while buying himself a new gold-plated Hummer.


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 White Men Dancing is a weekly column. Kiri Kankhwende and Maurice Mcleod keep an eye on Westminster. Politics is too important to leave to politicians.

Kiri Kankhwende is a Malawian journalist and blogger specialising in immigration and politics. She has a background in French and Chinese language studies and holds an MSc in International Political Communications, Politics and Human Rights Advocacy. An accomplished public speaker, she has also written for the Guardian and the Independent, and has been a contributor to BBC TV and radio, Al-Jazeera and Fox News. Find her on Twitter  @madomasi 

Maurice Mcleod is a social commentator with Jamaican/Swazi heritage. He is director of his own communications company, Marmoset Media, and writes regularly for The Guardian and The Spectator among other titles. He has commissioned for the Guardian, Media Diversified, Engage Magazine, Open Mind, Single Step and Voluntary Voice. Before setting up Marmoset, he had a 15-year career as a national newspaper journalist working for The Express, The Independent, The Voice, The Evening Standard and The Sunday Times among others. He is also a trustee for campaign group Race on the Agenda. Maurice often appears on Sky News as a talking head and writes about social issues, behaviour, racism, politics, diversity and housing. On Twitter he is @mowords


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