Sunday, September 16, 2007
Politics and role models
As always this canvas allows me to scribble out some thoughts before refinning them within viewmag. I've stumbled upon a magazine article amongst my papers. Yep I'm a lab rat. I hoard things. Dear me! But this caught me sideways.
It was May 1999 and the Evening Standard newspaper asked 11 different professionals to a studio where we would have our pics taken and an article written about how well we are doing.
Don't worry I shook the self aggrandisment a long time ago, but it is the art of relativity and my agent back then was keen to show me off. Amongst the group one Zadie Smith, author of White Teeth and the Dotun brothers - very clever people indeed.
Eight years on in reflective mode and in a political setting where we're told youngster, black in particular, need role models like they need ipods, I'm asking what's the point of role models.
Be careful now. It's a loaded question.
A couple of years back I was in the position to be one of the filter markers for the Economists essays. The question was: What is nature? Often the simplest questions hide a potency. It was a real joy going through papers. Some took the sledge hammer approach. It is, it is, it is !!! Unequivocal statementts piled sky high forming a tower, shaky one, of opinion
Others massaged and kneaded and eventually came up with something that filled you with wonder. I remember some one from India living in New York. His window hung over a tree where a bird was nesting with its chics. The tree became nature and everything else revolved around it.
So hopefully if I ask if there's any point in role models, I'm not being entirely obtuse. But I ask nonetheless in an environement of assumed conflict and chaos within our system.
First do I consider myself a role model? And if so what have I done about it? Told you these were loaded.
I'm aware we all need "heroes". I have my own and they are many. But I don't subscribe to titles that are vessels for vanity. Sod that! I took up lecturing because I felt I had something to offer. I hope I still do. I'm also acutely aware of often the lack of 20:20 from youngsters into some of these strange adult worlds we inhabit.
A footballer interviewed over the weekend enjoying a call back to the Engglish squad was asked whether he was a better play. Wiser one, was his reply. We stand on some shoulders to see farther.
Often the mere mention of being a journalist can often yield strange remarks: " Yeah you write in a newspaper. Do they pay you?"
So in moments I do set myself tasks and try to ensure there's a win outcome for those concerned.
Right back to the central question. What's the point of role models? A handy political weapon of choice, a genuine attempt to make some good. It's mired in ambivalence.
But something is clear, somewhere down the high school level, pre in fact are young minds amoebically taking form. Yet somehow their exists a vacuum, politically deficient, in nuturing their talents. Often by the time they've reached a decision where universities or otherwise may be a option, they're not equipped enough to make choices.
So along with the mad proposal way back to be involved with producing a new genre of journalists who insanely believe they can make a difference, I add a new pathway, say within universities, where structurally it makes it more possible to foster and nuture those indeed who might look up to others they deem role models.
A program that indeed bridges the divide not for political gain, but something richer. Can that be so hard?