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Where's the Black British History in BHM?

 Opinion

Although organisations such as the Black Cultural Archives, Black History Studies and Bernie Grant Art's Centre educate others and simultaneously celebrate black history, within the education system Black History Month has become a repetitive and half-hearted attempt, barely scratching the surface of Black history. This is problematic in more ways than one. Every year Black History Month is restricted to the black struggle, more specifically the American Civil Rights period with very little if any inclusion of black history before the slave trade or positive contributions which have greatly impacted modern day society.

 

In many cases, youths in schools across the UK only taught about the transatlantic slave trade, Martin Luther King Jr, Malcom X and Rosa Parks. Not to discredit the work and achievements of these individuals, but why isn't the month tailored for the British population?

 

Students are not taught about the significance of the Notting Hill area in the 1960s. More specifically the Mangrove, which quickly became the center of the black community, attracting many intellectuals, creatives and campaigners.

How many Black Britons are aware of the Mangrove Nine, in which nine Black British activists were trialed for the organisation and execution of the protest of 1970 against the discrimination of the Black community?

What of Eugene Bullard, an African-American who moved to Scotland to escape the crippling presence of discrimination in the South, later becoming a pilot during World War I and serving in World War II?

Despite his service, Bullard was never honored by the country of his birth and died from injuries obtained after the war, after being beaten up after attending a theatre in New York.

 

Many can quote segments of "I Have A Dream" but are completely unaware of exceptional Black British individuals who have significantly contributed to British history. Individuals such as Guy Bailey, who spearheaded the Bristol Bus Boycott in 1963 after his bus driver application was refused due to the colour of his skin. Forgotten are the lives and contributions of Neil Kenlock, Evelyn Dove, Ignatius Sancho or Ira Aldridge along with a whole host of Black British inventors, servicemen, activists, intellectuals and creatives who lived on British soil.

 

Every year, the black experience is presented as homogenous despite our numerous cultures, practices and achievements. Black history and contribution is almost presented as equivalent to that of the African American experience, disregarding the dynasties that came before the slave trade and failing to showcase black history  across the globe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10th December 2018

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