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Why Britain needs a new politics of race too

by Sadiq Khan MP and Sunder Katwala     January 20, 2009 at 12:24 am

Four million Americans descend on Washington today, inspired by Barack Obama’s call for progressive change. Many want to see history made: the inauguration of the first black President of the United States. Then President Obama can get on with the real job of being America’s 44th President, to be judged on his economic stimulus, healthcare push and willingness to engage on climate change and Middle East peace.

But Obama can never quite be a politician who just happens to be black. He is a transitional figure in the way we talk about race. Most of the armchair theorising has been proved wrong: was Obama ‘not black enough’ to be credible with African-Americans, or too black to win blue collar votes? Could he identify as black at all when he is also mixed race? The next black Presidential candidate will face less of this nonsense, because America has thought out loud about its confusions over race.

Can we have a ‘British Obama’? Yes, we can.
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