Black Achievers, Jamal, Kwajo, Light the Way for Many

By Thomas L Blair 18 February 2022 ©

Aspiring and record-breaking Black British men and women are shattering racist preconceptions that threaten to blight their lives. They are proving to be an acknowledged part of the millennial Black Experience. Here are some myth-breaking role models you ought to know about.

The editors of the Ikon Black calendar 2022 showcase outstanding achievers that inspire and impact positively on the lives of many. Monthly images include Soul-II-Soul maestro Jazzy B, footballer and food activist Marcus Radford, senior politician Dianne Abbott MP, artist and debater Akala and other luminaries.

Jamal Edwards, the late Black achiever, music entrepreneur and YouTube star founded SBTV, the online urban music platform. He brought artists such as DaveEd Sheeran and Jessie J to prominence. Celebrated by Prince Charles, Edwards inspired a whole generation.

On another front, Student Kwajo Tweneboa spends his free time helping social housing tenants living in poor conditions. Now, Dragons’ Den investor Steven Bartlett has offered him £10,000 to support his work.

The Ubele Initiative spearheads discussions with practitioners and users of NHS services from Black and minoritised communities, in association with the Race Equality Foundation. 

Poet Louisa Adjoa Parker, of English-Ghanaian heritage, shows the incredible power of writing and truth-telling. Her first poetry collection, Salt-sweat and Tears, and pamphlet were published by Cinnamon Press, and her debut short story collection, Stay with me, was published by Colenso Books in 2020

Trailblazing Samantha Z. Tross is UK’s first female Afro-Caribbean Orthopaedic Surgeon. Based at Ealing Hospital, she is committed to helping women from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds gain a career in medicine.

In the theatrical arts, multitalented Adelle Leonce got rave notices for her starring role in Anna Karenina, the Tolstoy adaptation put on at the Sheffield Crucible.

For decades the only person of colour on stage, double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku founded “Chineke!” the first UK Black and minority ethnic orchestra. Critics say the ensemble’s debut Classic FM Live performance demonstrates the orchestra’s mission to champion change and celebrate diversity.

Seren Jones, of the Black Swimming Association, inspires Black and Asian swim teachers to be water safety instructors. She hopes they will help train ordinarily non-swimmers in Black and Asian adults and children in practical and enjoyable life skills.  

Championing diversity in winter sports, first-time Olympic skier Benjamin Alexander is looking out for the next generation of winter sports superstars. Performing for Jamaica, his chosen homeland, he finished last out of 46 skiers in the men’s giant slalom. But he says “I’m very excited to be the person that can show that it doesn’t matter what your background is, socio-economic or race, you have a place in winter sports”.

Lavinya Stennett, a 23-year-old Londoner, is a leading advocate for teaching Black British History and Culture in schools. Her Black Curriculum explores the influential contribution of reggae and calypso music to the UK music scene and provides resources, teacher training and workshops.

Black achievers are overcoming race myths in their chosen fields. Their stories are vivid examples of the Black potential. Their exploits challenge preconceptions. However, their success must be measured in the context of bigger issues.

Do they know where they are going – what are their life-goals and ideas?

Can achievers leverage their strengths to gain resources through partnerships and collaboration?

Have they encouraged confident followers in their field of endeavours?

How can Achievers energise Black communities to social action?

In this context, it’s time to change the narrative of Black “achievement”. Individual positivity must empower Black communities — and the Chronicleworld is pleased to be a part of that conversation.

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