Why should black history be taught extensively in schools?
Did you know that police killed more than 1000 black lives in the UK in 2020? Did you know that black people are currently 3x more likely to be killed by the police? Did you know that 99% of killings by police between 2013 to 2020 don't result in criminal charges? Well, as a matter of fact this is coordinated activity developing across the country, and so we have declared an emergency! Black people are dying, in this state of calamity. So tell me, why is it that white crime is seen as an isolated incident but black crime is a representation of the entire black community? This cannot be seen as an isolated incident. This is why I believe that black history should be taught more extensively in schools.
To begin with, days like today are very important. We need to have more opportunities to talk openly and honestly about race. When we do this more people will learn to stop making assumptions. Educating children in schools on black history will not only benefit them and have a huge impact on their lives but, it will also result in a decrease in the amount of racial violence happening around the world right now. A department for education spokesperson said, black history is an important topic which schools can teach to children of all ages as part of the history curriculum. I agree with this statement as in my opinion I believe that racism in all its forms is unacceptable and has no place in society. I don't understand why we should commemorate world-renowned art museums and technologically advanced science museums, when educational courses are claimed to be progressive and inclusive. So, just what is the deal with black history being forgotten? Or do we want to forget about it?
In my opinion, I believe that black culture is without a doubt powerful. For years, it has helped structure the shape of many countries by modifying their art, language and politics. But, I remember when I was taking history lessons, none of this was taught to me, especially not during Black History Month. Judging from my history classes, some people would believe Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X and Rosa Parks changed history all by themselves. That information was normally rushed through within 5 lessons and included a movie at some point. However, as much as I respect and appreciate the work of these three people, black history is bigger than them and began long before their time. Students at all levels of education in the UK should be well cultured on the key aspects of black history because it is our country's history. It's time to be at ease with the uncomfortable and address the truth. Yes, the Atlantic slave trade and Civil Rights movements took place, and whilst they are an initial part of our country's history, there is so much more to impart in. When GLC, Greater London Council, officially announced October to be known as Black History Month in 1987, it was meant to seize the opportunity to honor the too often neglected accomplishments of black people in every area of attempt throughout our history. These neglected accomplishments are continuing to happen because there is an exclusion in what is being remembered. Our country was established off of slaves, our culture was established by black people, and our society continues to be unjust to black people by failing to acknowledge their accomplishments. Darcus Howe, a civil rights campaigner, believed that without the full truth, there is no truth, and there is no denying that black history is only partially being investigated in classrooms. He said, If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes an irrelevant factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being wiped out. I'm sure Darcus would probably be rolling in his grave if he could see how little black history is actually taught! From the British Black Panthers to the Bristol Bus Boycott, Black History and Black History Month is an opportunity to bring neglected historical incidents into the classrooms. We have a responsibility, as British citizens, to educate people on the entire history of our nation. Not just the hints and pieces that glitter nicely!
I am sure many people will agree that racism is learned and taught rather than inherited, so by educating people on black history, hopefully, society will learn to recognize and appreciate the contributions black people have made to our country's advancement, rather than be ignorant or ignore it. As we can see, due to this ignorance and lack of knowledge of the education surrounding it, black history continues to be in the absence of young people, especially individuals from minority ethnic backgrounds who are not being taught about their history within Britain. Therefore results in them taking away their sense of identity and belonging. Kendra Gerald, a part of teen empowerment youth organizer, thinks that people's perceptions of black people are that black people are expected to be gang involved, incarcerated, and or uneducated. Because of those perceptions that are ingrained in the history of our country sometimes, black people have the same perceptions of themselves. I agree with this and think that this can impact who they are, what they can be, and what they think they can achieve. Part of the challenge black people face is to change those perceptions and contradictions of themselves and to learn to take pride in who they are and where they come from rather than having a loss of personality and uniqueness.
What do I mean by taking away their sense of identity and belonging? Well, the assassination of George Floyd and the following global Black Lives Matter Protest have seen a renewed demand for curriculums to be decolonized, targeting the whitewashing that occurs at all levels of education. In my opinion, I believe that we should let George Floyd's death be a flashpoint in modern history as a time when as a society, we decided to promote diversity and inclusion, rather than expecting history to elude us, we should teach children about how their past is casting their present. How would you feel if you were segregated and judged by your skin color? Not great, perhaps even offended or guilty. A friend of mine said that the black community is being attacked in so many nuanced ways from racial profiling to police brutality. She said that she couldn't be friends with someone she was close to because she was black and the person's mum forbade her to be friends with her daughter. After hearing this I felt very emotional and guilty as this type of behavior is just intolerable and disgusting. Black people have encountered some challenging situations regarding race. Remarks and contradicting things such as my dad saying that black people aren't allowed over the house because they steal, or my parents would disown me if I ever dated a black guy. Is this really what some people believe? Just because there is a difference in skin tone, all of a sudden they are now belittling and having other innocent people have their character being slandered by false and unjustifiable statements. As a teenager and hearing these, things really start to make me think, is this what the general white population thinks about black people and other people of color? Does this in the end, all go down to identity and how since slavery, racism has impacted how people feel about themselves and about others? I cannot accept the fact that this kind of behavior is still going on, even when it's 2021!
This is why I believe that black history should be taught more extensively in schools, educating both the new and old generations. All children benefit from learning about black history. It aids in the fight against racism and helps both students and parents as it gives a full and honest view of Black people who are segregated. Students now more than ever have an opportunity to educate their parents or guardians who have not had the same experiences and knowledge as them in school through no fault of their own. Therefore, a greater chance for everyone with no excuses to be aware of the current affairs and situations we are currently in as a society and community. It has a significant impact on racist attitudes, and these factors benefit all students by ensuring that schools are a place where all children feel respected, appreciated, and protected. This is critical because educators know, and have known for a long time, that children find it difficult to learn when they feel devalued, insignificant, or unsafe. Students benefit from learning about black history all year, not just during Black History Month. However, instead of just focusing on black history I think personally schools should extend the curriculum of educating students on black history across all the subjects in schools. There is a new law in the UK put into place which is that black history lessons are to be made compulsory in schools. I think that the best way of achieving this is to educate children not only in history but in all the other subjects. For example, by studying literature we can look at not just people's lives but be looking at examples of stories. We can use that to empathize with the different situations that people would have been in and develop our knowledge and understanding of them so that we include learning about all different races and cultures not being unfair and having inequalities around the world globally.
Is Black History Month Necessary: an examination of the Origin, Culture, and Politics of Black History Month
Four hundred years ago, after being trafficked several times by human traffickers, 19 black slaves arrived on the American continent for the first time. Today in 2019, people commemorate them by celebrating Black History Month. Is Black History Month necessary? I think the answer is yes, Black History Month is necessary.
The father of the Black History
For decades, it is widely considered that black people did not have much history except Slavery, till now, much of the growing recognition of the true place of black people in history can be attributed to one man, Carter G. Woodson.
Carter Godwin Woodson (Dec. 19, 1875 – Apr. 3 1950) was a historian and the co-founder of the “Association for the Study of Negro Life and History”. He grew up in a rural family in Virginia, his parents James Woodson and Eliza Riddle Woodson were slaves released after the American Civil War. In order to attend a new high school for black students than was under construction, the Woodson family moved to Huntington, West Virginia. However, Carter’s application for admission was rejected.
Although his family cannot afford his tuition, deep down in the young Woodson’s mind, he knew how important it was to receive proper education in his efforts to secure and make the best use of his sacred freedoms. He started to teach himself English, Math, and chemistry. He didn't start formal education until he was 20, thought his own intelligence and efforts, He received a bachelor of arts degree from Berea College in Kentucky and an honorary degree from the University of Chicago. In 1912, he earned his Ph.D. in history at Harvard University 1912, where he was the second African-American to receive a Ph.D. From the bottom of Woodson’s heart, he truly believed that the role of our own people in American and other cultural history is ignored or misrepresented by scholars, so in 1915, inspired by his time in Chicago, he founded the African American Life and History Research Association, which aims to formalize the past education of adults and their country. In 1926, Woodson launched a celebration of 'Negro History Week', which corresponds to the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. US president Gerald Ford has designated February as Black History Month since 1976.
Black History Month promotes cultural diversity
For a long time, white people dominated the art world. Black artists often go unnoticed and even get isolated by racists. In the eyes of those racists, we black people should work on someone’s farmland, in someone’s kitchen, or someone’s flowerbeds, rather than painting, writing poems, songs, and scripts at our own house. At that time, no talented black musician could be as famous as Elvis Presley, no talented actress could play the leading role in a movie as Marilyn Monroe do, and no talented painter could hang their artworks in the Wadsworth Atheneum as Stuart Davis do. With the start of the Black History Week celebration, the works of black artists begin to get wide attention, they make art of our own race in an era full of white man’s art. The success of Jacob Lawrence, James Brown, Sidney Poitiers, and others injected a different color into the art world at that time.
Black History Month promotes racial harmony
As a black woman, I represent a group of people that has been repeatedly robbed of expression. Most history books are written by white people, and the efforts of our fellow citizens are often not valued. Except for slavery and apartheid, our children know nothing about the history of black people. Through Black History Month, the voice of our race is getting louder and louder, more and more brothers and sisters are proud of their skin color, and more and more people who are not white are willing to talk about their ethnic experience. People will peak up for oppressed people of all colors, they have the guts to complain about the phenomenon of racial discrimination.
In a jungle society where egoism prevails, in those Social Darwinists’ minds, they are born strong, they can easily succeed, and other races are destined to fail. Those Social Darwinists ignore the fact that other races can only succeed if they overcome layers of obstacles. When vulnerable groups speak up or get attention, they will use 'political correctness to blame the weak. Maybe some of them will think that Black History Month is too “politically correct”. I strongly disagree, I think the abuse and over-vigilance of 'political correctness have made us blind to the substantive discrimination faced by vulnerable groups. We have talked enough about the topic of 'Political Discrimination', but the issues of equality and pluralism are not summarized by the term 'political correctness.
Black History Month can be an opportunity to educate all people, no matter what race they are. You and I together, we must stand up to expose and criticize systematic discrimination relentlessly.
In the end, let me quote what Japanese writer Haruki Murakami said at the Jerusalem Literature Awards 2009:
“Each of us is, more or less, an egg. Each of us is a unique, irreplaceable soul enclosed in a fragile shell. This is true of me, and it is true of each of you. And each of us, to a greater or lesser degree, is confronting a high, solid wall. The wall has a name: it is “The System.” The System is supposed to protect us, but sometimes it takes on a life of its own, and then it begins to kill us and cause us to kill others--coldly, efficiently, systematically.”
“We are all human beings, individuals transcending nationality and race and religion, and we are all fragile eggs faced with a solid wall called The System. To all appearances, we have no hope of winning. The wall is too high, too strong--and too cold. If we have any hope of victory at all, it will have to come from our believing in the utter uniqueness and irreplaceability of our own and others’ souls and from our believing in the warmth we gain by joining souls together.”
In conclusion, I believe that black history and the curriculum should be taught more extensively in schools. Picture this, a world where black people are up to 37x more likely to be stopped and searched than white people. A world where black people are 87% more likely to be arrested than white people. A world where black people are 4x more likely to be unemployed than white people. I think that we need to begin to have honest conversations about people's cultures and learn that the negative assumptions that are made about others are not true. We need these conversations to take place in schools and within different communities and see that they engage people of all ages in the process. We need to find a way to have these conversations and to educate people who live in the city and people who live in the suburbs, between rich and poor and between the young and old. We will never break down these stereotypes unless we bring people together so that they can get to know each other and appreciate the challenges that people of color face in this country on a day-to-day basis. So I ask all of us to understand that we come from different cultures but we are all part of one race, we are the human race. The sooner we understand that as a county the better off we will be. Hopefully, by doing this there will be a decrease in the number of racist and violent experiences around the world. Of course, we all need to play our part and contribute to helping make a difference and a better place to live in. We need to have Black, White, Asain, and Hispanic to step forward and say we are not going to accept that kind of behavior anymore and with that, I say thank you for listening.