In his recent interview for ‘Time’ magazine, the British grime artist Stormzy was keen to discuss his projects regarding improving the lives of black British young people such as his scholarship scheme which has contributed to the rise in the number of black students at Cambridge. Stormzy talked about how he could use his platform as a successful black celebrity to raise awareness of racial inequality, stating that “we can’t shy away from politics… my purpose is to shine a light where I can”, something which he managed to achieve in his Glastonbury performance. He is one of the most politically active UK musicians and often talks about problems such as knife crime and the Grenfell tragedy.
Stormzy is correct to argue that we must not be afraid to engage in political discussion. Despite there being an increase in awareness of political issues following the EU Referendum and the rise of hate crime and far-right extremism across the world, many of us are still reluctant to participate in or admit to an interest in politics. The idea of the ‘political world’ is still seen as boring, stale and not relevant to everyday life.
Many of my friends have told me that they don’t really follow politics or simply aren’t interested but haven’t really stated why or what exactly puts them off. But I know that they and others like them are extremely caring and thoughtful people and do take an interest in issues relating to the environment, education and mental and physical health care.
Therefore, this does make them interested in politics, as all of these things are political! They relate to everyday life and how we go about making the world a better place. Having political interest isn’t just about naming as many MPS as you can off by heart or being an expert on the UK economy. People don’t always realise that politics is all around them, so it is important that celebrities like Stormzy not only raise awareness of social issues but also encourage others to do the same. Taylor Swift has also stated that she has had a ‘political awakening’ since 2016 and is no longer shy about open political discussion, with her new album exploring themes such as homophobia and misogyny in the media.
I have often been labelled as “the political one”, and I am aware that my keen interest in politics is regarded by some people as funny and unusual. But I’m sure that I’m not wrong in arguing that there is not a single person in the world who doesn’t care about any issue and wants to change something in society for the better, even if they don’t know much about how the political system itself functions. People may also think that they are less interested in politics if they don’t have party political allegiances. There is an increase in the dealignment of voting behaviour, with people less likely to show allegiance to one political party and more likely to change the party they vote for. As shown by the recent actions of the climate change strikers and the inspiring words of Greta Thurnberg, young people in particular are increasingly taking action in political discussion relating to climate change and many other social issues, even if they don’t all express loyalty to one particular party. People shouldn’t be afraid to speak out on an issue they care passionately about, even if it is about something as obvious as the increased prices of food or the toll of student debt. Political debate isn’t something that anyone should feel insecure about engaging in. After all, society will never make any progress if its people shy away from wanting and trying to make it a better place.
Image Credit: Encyclopaedia Britannia