A generation comes of age
He believes that another critical element behind the stepping up
of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 is that a new, politically charged
generation has come of age.
“My view is that this generation has done much more than my own,”
he explains. “I’ve spent my time going on panel shows and making documentaries
complaining about Edward Colston’s statue; they have torn it down. So, I feel
that this is a moment to listen to younger people.”
Young people today often have radically different ideas to their
parents about race, as well as on topics like Brexit and climate change. This,
Olusoga believes, is a reason to be optimistic.
Throughout history, big generational gulfs in attitudes have led
to enormous change. The last time it happened in the UK was with the
counterculture movement of the 1960’s. But perhaps the most striking example is
what happened in Germany following World War II, when young people challenged
and fiercely condemned their ancestor’s compliance with the Nazi regime.
“If you want to work out which direction a society is going, you
don't look at the attitudes of the old, you look at the attitudes of the
young,” says Olusoga.
He believes that the two big ideas that millions of people
absorbed for the first time this summer are anti-racism (not being racist means
proactively fighting racism) and the idea of allyship.
“Drawing the poison of racism from our society can’t be the task
of black people alone,” says
Olusoga. “Three quarters of people in the UK claim they want to live in
a society where race plays no part in people's life chances. This is something
we need to do together.”