Ethnic diversity makes Britain’s culture great. It would be a disaster if we lost it

A reminder and a more positive picture:

A couple of weeks ago, a young black man from south London stood up in front of tens of thousands of people and delivered one of the most celebrated performances in the history of Glastonbury. A few days later, an England cricket squad – almost half of whom were born abroad or are from an ethnic minority background – made it into the semi-finals of the World Cup. Meanwhile over at Tate Modern, a British artist of Nigerian origin is displaying an artwork made up of thousands of booksimprinted with the names of migrants who have made significant contributions to British culture.

Today, some of our most brilliant prospects in art and culture are from minority ethnic or migrant backgrounds. We present a gloriously multicultural face to the world. And that is important not just for the story we tell to others, but for the stories we tell ourselves. Think of the cultural power of the first Asian families on EastEnders, the breakthrough of Soul II Soul in the 1980s, or the nation-defining literary output of Zadie Smith.

The British actor Riz Ahmed refers to this as “stretching the flag, so it’s big enough to embrace all of us”. He is talking about how art can remould how we see ourselves and the country that we live in. The Pakistani-British heritage of his youth is just as much a part of our modern national story as the playing fields of Eton, remote Shetland communities or the multi-ethnic melting pots of Leicester, Birmingham and London. But it is only through the representation of that experience in our national culture that those truths are cemented across the whole country.

Source: Ethnic diversity makes Britain’s culture great. It would be a disaster if we lost it