“This is for the underrepresented” – Noel Clarke

Written by on 22/04/2021

Noel Clarke gave us raw, unfiltered passion at his Bafta award acceptance speech, The only person to collect his award in person he dedicated it to the underrepresented, sharing a story about how we had previously said if he ever was fortunate to win another award he would apologise for how he reacted when he won his first. 

Here’s the context. When Noel Clarke first won his Bafta he jumped out of his seat, smiled, popped his collar, did a 2 step and went to collect his award. Subsequently he was plagued as insensitive, arrogant and passive aggressive. Imagine that – you win an award that someone who looks like you doesn’t usually win, even if your work is the best, and when you celebrate the world sees everything but your humanity. This is the story of the underrepresented. 

Consistently told that our words, actions and behaviour signal anything but our intention. Why? Because the world does not see our humanity. Black boy group joy is loud and causes people to cross the street or phone the police. Black girl gymnastic magic is seen as an insult to the swan like movements expected from the sport. Black man success forces the police to stop your car consistently and Black woman boldness is aggressive. 

If you read this and are downtrodden I understand why, but this is for the underrepresented. Our stories of “despite all of [insert discrimination faced here] are OUR stories and they can be yours too and honestly we need it to be! The problem we have is the amount of ‘firsts’ Black people still need to overcome. The first in a CEO position, the first in an all white industry, the first head boy/girl of a school – so many firsts. But we are getting closer. 

If you are reading this and thinking how can I help, open a door, mentor an emerging leader, support the community. Because we are in the most probable period to move our story of underrepresentation to too loud to deny – and that is when change comes! That is when allyship grows. Remember it was Fredrick Douglas who said “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” The time is always NOW, don’t ever stop trying to be the first. 

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