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Our kids should expect greatness, says Dotun Adebayo

DESERVED: Dotun receives his award for Best Presenter – Speech at the Audio Production Awards

IAM NOT boasting, but I am the Best Speech Presenter on radio in Britain – and that’s official!

I won the title at the prestigious Audio Production Awards at an amazing ceremony at the BFI building on London’s prestigious Southbank, hosted by our ‘darling of the nation’ Trevor Nelson (who doesn’t love him?).

All the bigwigs of the industry were there alongside celebrities like Ed Miliband and Tony Blackburn and, to be honest, I was content with simply being nominated.

I don’t know why I was content simply by my inclusion, because when we reach for the skies like our parents told us to and as we tell our children too, we should expect to reach Nirvana, Valhalla or at least surf on a star.

But, maybe, it’s a phenomenon of ‘the black condition’ that when we get our foot through the door we are just happy to be there – for the ride – and are too shy, too wary, too afraid, or simply just lack the confidence to believe that we are special. That we are the best. Even me.

I’ll come back to that in a moment, but first I need to say something to all the fellas. Whatever you do, never, never, NEVER cry in public. Don’t do it. The mans dem don’t weep. Not in public. No matter how emotional you get.

No matter if the floodgates are bursting to overflow. I don’t care how much of a modern, metrosexual, multi-cultural mumma’s boy you are and how much you’re in touch with your feminine side and all that. For the sake of all of us other black men, don’t be bawling in public. Not while being black. Stop. Don’t do it.

Now I have that off my chest, let me get back to being the Best Speech Presenter of the Year. Like my missus was saying as she carried the award itself (weighing just under a metric tonne) through the streets of London to the underground: “Dotun, stop. Wait for me, this is heavy... please. Give me a hand... I’ve got to catch my breath. I’ve never carried anything so heavy.”

And then we got into the black thing and how we black people subconsciously think we are not worthy and that we do not deserve what we get and how the gatekeepers of all aspects of society don’t always get where we’re coming from and so don’t always appreciate our talents. Does that make sense?

It could be any aspect of society. From the police not quite getting the swagger of a black yute and mistaking it for a signed confession of some wrongdoing, to the teachers and headmasters not quite getting the way our children learn best and interpreting it as some insubordination. But it is also in the workplace.

I have often said that Britain would be so much more ‘great’ if it was prepared to utilise the talents of all its people to the full extent. It missed the opportunity back in the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s when the Windrush generation first came here.

It again missed the opportunity in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s when the children of Windrush were being pushed from political pillar to political post by consecutive governments who didn’t know what to do with the Britain that we represented and fed into the racist narrative that we were, somehow, not up to the job (whatever the job was) – we who were made in the shade.

You could see it in the legislation which was used either to penalise us for hanging around the streets when we were simply looking a job or the subsequent opprobrium (not to talk of aspersions) that was cast upon those of us who couldn’t get a job for love or money and had to go draw dole.

For some reason, no matter what we did and how we did it, it just wasn’t appreciated. Not unless we sacrificed our lives serving the country (in Northern Ireland). That was a high price to pay for appreciation. For most of the rest of us, the gates to a new England were firmly shut.

Our names were not on the list so we couldn’t get in.More correctly, the colour of our skin was not on the list, just as it wasn’t on the clubs, pubs and bars that wouldn’t and still won’t let us in.

In those days there was only one way in. Today, thanks to the black man’s tool – the internet – there is more than one way to show your talent. Eventually our skills and talent will shine through.

If we can master the online world, we will become masters of our own destiny. And even though some of us, the old school types like myself, still won’t quite believe that we are so gifted and black that we should take it in our stride to be crowned Best Speech Presenter in Britain or best anything, I am confident that our children will expect it.

The question is whether the gatekeepers will ‘get’ us and our little quirks and customs that make us uniquely gifted and black, or whether we shall have to snatch the keys of the kingdom from them. But back to the other point.

I never cried at the awards ceremony. If I had, my pops would have disowned me and my brothers would have given me that look of disgust that a man gives to another when he has absolutely no respect for him. So you know I didn’t cry in public. I am a black man, after all.

But someone must have jooked me with a needle as I was making my way up to the podium to collect the award and it brought tears to my eyes, tears that just kept flowing. But I wasn’t crying.

And then, would you Adam and Eve it, a frog jumped down my throat as I was about to speak and I was so choked up I started speaking French. Ribbit.

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