AFRICANGLOBE – Bristol’s Afro-Caribbean businesses have made very little impact in the city over the last 30 years, according to the chairman of Ujima Radio.
In an interview with the British Afro Caribbean Society, Roger Griffith said that he believes there should be increased partnership to build a stronger economic base in the community.
He also praised Ujima for being at the centre of St Paul’s and for the radio station providing “the glue” for dialogue and diversity.
“I don’t think we have moved forward at all,” he said when asked to look at the economic development of Bristol for the Afro Caribbean community since the 1980s.
“There are pockets. Lakota (below) , Marti Burgess and the Burgess family. Very few. When we do get successful Afro Caribbeans in the public or private sector they have drawn up the bridge and have very little to do with the community.”
A Government report from 2013, Ethnic Minority Businesses and Access to Finance, suggested that there are high aspirations to start-up in business among ethnic minority groups groups but ‘conversion’ to start-ups remains very low.
Even though the first generation of Afro Caribbeans came to the UK with entrepreneurial skills, Griffith said that he does not believe their skills have been passed down.
“We do not know enough about what it takes to be entrepreneurial,” he said.
“Part of the problem lies with disproportionate number of family break ups. When we join large corporations or public bodies you often become emerged into another culture and it is easy to forget where you come from.”
Griffith spent much of his career working in local government before he got into community work in Bristol.
Looking at his hopes for the next five years, he said: “A more equal slice of the cake in terms of opportunity to succeed, our role in the city should be recognised. However, we know that we have a long way to go.
“Bristol is a great place to live. Students mix which adds to the diversity of the city; they may not be affluent but they bring energy, creativity and a fresh way of looking at the community.
“The recent success of the contemporary style in art comes from Black culture, e.g. the artist Banksy.
“The call to action for the community should be a partnership between private and public partnership to get down in the community to help.
“Greater awareness, reducing marginalisation and make things ‘real’ and that’s what we do on the radio station.
“There is no point talking about polar bears melting on ice caps .If you talk about it in local terms, i.e. Easton being one of the most polluted place in Europe – how does that make you feel when you are breathing in those fumes when you are walking your kids to school?”
To read the full interview, visit www.britishafrocaribbean.com
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