Adam Afriyie: British Citizenship is to be treasured

The 2015 General Election marked the 10th anniversary of my election into Parliament. Things have moved on a fair bit since then and it’s clear to see that parliament and politics is making steady progress towards a post-racial age. Yes, I’m an optimist.

Adam Afriyie was born in Wimbledon, London, and grew up on a council estate in Peckham,

Non-white Britons are playing significant roles in politics as MPs, councillors, Ministers, advisers, party workers and activists – think Sam Gyimah, Kwasi Kwarteng and James Cleverley to name just a few.

It all seems a far cry from my childhood, where my siblings and I were lovingly “dragged up” by my mother in social housing in South London at a time of open hostility and when few expected that a kid like me would ever amount to much.

Times have changed. Britain is now among the most diverse & tolerant countries on the globe. Whether you go into business, sports, medicine, teaching or any other career, the opportunities are increasingly available.

In the UK, if you work hard, push yourself and get into work that suits you, then you can make it. We are fortunate to live in a free, tolerant country with a fast-growing economy that provides opportunities and prosperity to those who seek it out.

I am extremely proud to be British; and I would urge everyone here, regardless of background, skin colour, gender or disability, to take pride in their place in British society.

For me, Britain is a nation of social mobility: full of opportunity and possibilities. The increasing success of Britons of all colours and backgrounds shows that we are heading rapidly towards a colour-blind society.

Those of us from non-white backgrounds therefore need not ask what our country can do for us, but how we can take up the opportunities open to us and make our contribution to its ongoing success.

The message of this year’s Black History Month should reflect that not only have the mix of different communities in the UK helped contribute to the shaping of a tolerant, open and prosperous society but that there has never been a better time to be British, regardless of your background.

We must treasure our British citizenship and make the most of it for ourselves, our families and for our country.

Adam Afriyie is the MP for Windsor and was the first black Conservative MP elected to Parliament.

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