This killing of George Floyd has inspired several of our History students to write blog posts, this one is from Monique, one of our current second years.
My heart aches for my people, we have been through a lot. There is so much trauma, so many things we need to unlearn that the oppressor has inflicted into our minds and society. I would like to share my opinion on a few ‘controversial’ matters.
Yes, we are currently in the middle of a deadly pandemic and no, black people have not forgotten. Many people have risked their lives to protest throughout history knowing the potential consequences however, justice needs to be served. It is sad that black people have to leave their houses during a pandemic (that we are three times more likely to die from than white people) to protest against racism once again.
We are not only protesting to get justice for the death of George Floyd but for black rights, for every black person who has lost their lives due to police brutality in the US and the UK, all the injustices that have occurred in the UK against black people. If there is a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases in the upcoming weeks, I will not put it past the British media to blame the Black Lives Matter protests despite other contributing factors such as, sending children back to school, people attending beaches, going back to work and using public transport and easing lockdown (prematurely in my opinion).
I completely condone protestors pulling down and vandalising statues of slave traders as well as Winston Churchill. Despite many campaigns and petitions calling for statues of this nature to be removed the government has continued to keep them in place. Thus, I cannot condemn the individuals who took matters into their own hands, they are not criminals or the thugs that Priti Patel are making them out to be. The presence of statues on the streets of London can evoke a great deal of emotion to black people as these individuals played a pivotal role in enslaving our people. We do not need a democratic vote take down these statues. Furthermore, the statue of Edward Colston being thrown into the river influenced the removal of the Robert Milligan statue in London, I to hope see this continue with the remaining statues.
“Winston Churchill was a racist but…” – This statement is problematic in itself and is a part of the bigger issue in the UK. No argument is good enough to compensate for the fact that he was racist and enabled millions of deaths of the people he deemed to be inferior to the white race. During the Bengal famine of 1943, Canada and the US provided aid to help them in their crisis. Meanwhile Churchill saw no need to do so as he blamed them for “Breeding like rabbits” – this is who Britain wants to label as their hero?
The National Curriculum
In my opinion the national curriculum is in need of a revamp, it is whitewashed and focuses too heavily on injustices in America in regard to black history. This country has a lot of blood on its hands, this needs to be brought to light instead of a watered-down version in order to continue the narrative that this country is innocent. Refraining from immersing black British history into the curriculum is effectively writing it out of history. This will allow societal issues such as systematic racism to continue. Students should be educated on white privilege along with systematic racism and how detrimental it is to black people in society. Slavery and Civil Rights in the US are not where black history starts or ends.
Both World Wars are taught in extensive detail however, the aftermath where Caribbean people were INVITED here to help rebuild Britain is merely referenced. The curriculum teaches us about black activists in the US while neglecting those in the UK such as Paul Stephenson, Darcus Howe and the British Black Panthers. Educate black achievements, there are so many everyday things that were invented by black people. The curriculum limits black history to oppression and tragedy. As a nation we need to come together and push for a change to the National curriculum.
There are many undergraduate History courses that are limited to British history, the University of Northampton is one of them. I’m assuming this is to accommodate the lecturers they choose to hire as they rightfully teach in the field they specialise in. I am not sure when a change will be made but change needs to occur.
Black people are exhausted, it is not our job to educate our oppressors while actively educating ourselves on our rights and history that we were deprived of learning in school. Non- black people are far too comfortable with telling us to forget about the past.
We will not forget, and we will not stop fighting for change.
Monique has just completed her second year studying History at Northampton.