31/10/2013 13:28 GMT | Updated 31/10/2013 16:43 GMT

Black Britons Subject To 'Lazy Stereotypes', Says Chuka Umunna

Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna takes questions during a visit to TTP group in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire.

Young black people in Britain still do not have enough positive role models despite the progress made in race relations and equality, Chuka Umunna has warned.

Labour's shadow business secretary, who as one of the country's most senior black politicians has been also tipped as a future party leader, said while black people were frequently hailed for their success in sport and music it was not the same in other areas.

"If young black people can’t see people who look like them editing our newspapers, sitting on the Supreme Court or running our great British companies, how can we give them the hope that if they work hard, they can make it too?" he said.

"One of the reasons is because our broadcast and film media have a tendency to stereotype black people: to present an image of black British people that suggests we can succeed in sport, entertainment and music, but not necessarily in other fields.

Umunna was speaking on Thursday morning at his old law firm Herbert Smith to mark Black History Month.He said: "If I am wrong about this, then why do so many black British actors have to leave the UK for the US to get decent film and television roles that fall outside the stereotypes?  Too many in the British film and television industries simply don’t cast black British actors in certain roles that fall outside those stereotypes." 

He added: "It’s often only after they’ve made it big in the States that black British actors get more – and more varied – roles here. That is unacceptable and has got to change. As a society, we cannot allow people to default to lazy stereotypes."