Ok. So what happened was, I started talking about how emotionally unstable I was with respect to the recent police brutality incidents in America. I wanted to go on about how the policing system in the UK and USA is very different and the way in which we deal with such situations is very different. However, I started talking about my history and found that it was taking quite a while to get to the point. I spoke about education and self awareness and therefore felt that I would address this in a separate topic instead and get back to how I am feeling about the recent incidents as it is a very hard subject to discuss. So here we go.
I am born and raised in the United Kingdom and to be honest I feel I have lived a somewhat sheltered life, a life of ignorance which stems from a lack of education. When I was in primary and nursery school, there was a mix of children from different backgrounds. Whilst the majority were white, I personally didn’t feel the divide. The concept of racism and segregation meant nothing to me, it was something I never experienced at that time. We were living the Martin Luther King dream, little black boys and girls playing with little white boys and girls. I was not judged by the colour of my skin but by the content of my character. However, at that point I had no idea who Martin Luther King was. Yes the shame of it all.
When I reached into primary school,I started hearing comments like, “blacky, browny, poo face”. It was at this point that I realised that maybe I am different, I became more self aware and started changing my behaviour. When your young and unaware and you experience these things, it is difficult to comprehend. I didn’t know whether this was playful or just plain spiteful. “Kids are Kids” as they often say. But are they?
You also start to realise that you are treated differently. I was an avid reader from a young age and my reading skills were on point. My reading level was somewhat advanced for my age. I was above reading Billy Blue Hat and Jenny Yellow hat. My teachers were fully aware of this as I would often read the books set aside for the older children to myself. However, the teachers confined me to Billy Blue Hat. Yet there were other children in my class who were able to read the other books even though they were struggling. I always remember teachers encouraging me to run and play netball and do all the sports, yet I don’t recall that same encouragement with my academic subjects. Again, when your young you don’t really take note of the significance of what is actually happening. In my last years of primary school, it would appear that I started spending more time with my black friends as opposed to my white friends, not to say I didn’t have them, but I would generally flock towards them. Hmmm.
As I went into senior school, I had many friends from primary school that I would form bonds with. However, there was a huge black presence in senior school than there was in primary school. It is at this time you start to take more notice of self. It was also at this time that I became more of aware of my history.
My Uncle was a great believer in self awareness and education, he would often come round to my mothers home bring all of the cousins together. He would sit us down and make us do maths english and we also learned about history. I think I was the only one out of my cousins who enjoyed this lol, but I feel it was a huge step in to understanding me and learning about my history, my families history and black history as a whole. I was 12 years old and at no point was I aware of slavery, civil rights etc. I only knew about King Henry VIII and his wives and the British Monarchy, The Tudors, The Victorians, The Vikings. there appeared to be a big part of MY STORY missing.
This was something I realised I had to learn for myself. Until that exciting day when we realised in history class we would be learning about black history. Oh wow, this was new, this was going to be enjoyable, so many questions to ask, so much discussion. Boy, was i wrong.
Lesson 1, we watched a video, Lesson 2, we watched part two of that video and were given paper with pictures of slaves drawn on there and we were asked to answer some multiple choice questions based on the video. This was the extent of my Black history in school. It was at this point I realised that if you want to know about your history, your going to have to learn it and that’s exactly what I did.
( It was at this point that I realised, I was talking about something else and therefore decided I will create a new topic Lol.)
When I was younger, I used to listen to a lot of christian music, specifically the Donut Man LOL… I know right I loved that man and his Duncan donut. However, I always enjoyed gospel from Hillsongs, to Kirk Franklin etc etc. But at home I would also listen to my mothers reggae records and old soca tunes, motown and soul. I loved music, I specifically loved black music (yes i said it, black music) with the exception of the donut man, hillsongs and your typically cheesy pop music.
However, in senior school I started listening to RnB and Hip Hop (late developer, I know) and it was at this time that I developed my love for Tupac. He was my everything lol. I also started listening to the likes of NWA, KRS1, Ice T, Rakeem, Public Enemy. This channeled a whole new vibration for me and they became my teachers. I learned about the Black Panthers and the great fighters and contributors, I learned about black kings and queens and the great leaders of our time. I learned about black power and revolution. I became AWARE.
A black man invented the traffic light, SAY WHAT… but that was obvious, red gold and green… DUUHHH!! lool.
By the time I had finished college, I had fully begun to embrace my history and culture. I was no longer assimilating to please others and continued to learn more. I think that over time, I became so passionate about increasing my knowledge and understanding the history to the point where my whole way of life changed. I felt like I was now AWAKE, something had risen inside of me, something that made me more determined to succeed and make change. Not a massive change like Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, you must remember, i’m still shy as heck and can’t speak in public, but you know just to be in a position to educate others and allow people to see their true worth.
I moved to London in 2004, this was a whole new experience for me. It was at this point, I became aware of my sheltered existence and ignorance. London was AWAKE. This was so refreshing for me, things became so different for me at this point. Since this time, my views on many things changed, spirituality, friendships, experiences even my hair. I was inspired by Angela Davis, Afeni Shakur, Sister Souljah, I wanted that power and that presence. My wardrobe was blacked out, black shirts, trousers, skirts (OK, so this was nothing new for me, Black is my favourite colour). I started wearing my afro, unfortunately I did not have that thick kinky hair so my afro was flat and curly (see my Souls Locs page), but it was enough of a statement for me.
When I was in university, I involved myself in the African Caribbean Society, later known as the Pan African Society. I started attending black productions, comedy shows, stores etc etc. I knew who I was and I was empowered by this knowledge.
Let me make it clear, just because I’m awake, does not mean i’m still sleeping on other issues. I’m not one for segregation and I do not think that the fact that I choose to embrace my culture and history makes me a separatist. I still appreciate the history that I learned in school, I am always open and aware of other people and their cultures, however you have to wonder why ‘the system’ seems to go out of its way to make black history so unavailable. What exactly are they scared of.
THEY ARE SCARED OF THE FACT THAT BLACK PEOPLE MAY WAKE UP AND REALISE EXACTLY WHO THEY ARE AND WHERE THEY COME FROM. THEY MAY BECOME AWARE OF SELF, THEY MAY BECOME EMPOWERED AND ACTUALLY RISE UP AS A PEOPLE, COMMUNITY, NATION AND RACE HMMMMM. Maybe, Possibly, just my thoughts.
In London, the ethnic minority population appears to exceed that of the non-ethnic community, yet there is minimal representation of this in the education system. Is that fair? In this day and age, should there not be an even representation of history and social issues being taught in school
As a black woman, I think it is important for me to be completely aware of my history, break free from stereotypes and be a representative of our past in order to create a better future. I am not a parent yet, however I think as parents it is important for your children to be aware of this history, not just black children. However, if they are not getting the education in school, where they spend the majority of the day, then it has to be up to us to educate our children. I have already started creating learning tools for my children as I am concerned that by the time they go to school, Black history will still not be a thing.
Black History is such an integral part of history and that should be recognised, it should not just be about slavery, we need to be aware of the uprise, the revolution, the power. I still think this should be adapted into the school curriculum.
If we were more aware, maybe our attitudes towards each other would be different, maybe our actions towards others would be different, maybe we would have our own businesses, schools, banks, everything (again not being separatist). Maybe we could overcome all that is going on in society right now.
Its such a difficult time, yet its something that is not new. It’s like the US Police have been carrying out real-life promo for Straight Outta Compton. Not Funny. But lets think about it, whats happening now is nothing new, this is what was happening in the 1970’s, 8-‘s etc. The difference between then and now is people were some what more aware and willing to take stand. There were the black panthers, the Martin Luthers, the Malcom X’s, the Civil Right activists like Jesse Jackson, Dick Gregory, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan. The The Harriet Tubmans, The Rosa Parks, the Fredrick Douglas’s, the Marcus Garveys. These were people who were ready to stand up for our rights, put their lives on the line for what they believed in and many of them lost their lives still fighting. Who do we have to represent us today, why do we not have the same fighting power as we used to. We were able to come together and protest without violence and death (sometimes).
Even the music spoke out in support of our history and rights. The message was in the music, artists that I mentioned before, Afrika Bambataa, Big Daddy Kane, Furious 5 etc etc They were able to impact a nation with their lyrical skills. Who do we have today. Hip Hop is none existent and the representation of our culture is so negatively stereotyped as a result. However this is a whole new topic. I digress again.
My dissertation was all about hip hop, crime, institutional racism, black youth – I love this topic.
Back to Black History – Yes it is important. I would go as far as to say it is a necessity and if they refuse to teach it in school, we should take the responsibility to teach the youth at home. Help them to understand why they should be better and need to be better for thier futures and that of their children.
I’ll be honest with you, i’m scared for my children and I only want the best for them, I want to raise the next generation, the generation that will make that change. In order to this education is key.
It was Euripedes who said – “Whoso neglects learning in his youth, loses the past and is dead for the future.”
Marcus Garvey said “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”.