Black History Month 2020 has been quite something! To be frank, It feels like the UK has just woken up to Black people of African and Caribbean descents links and contribution, which is not just focused on slavery. Let me be clear, I am not dismissing of an industry which supported other industries using enslaved people as disposable labour.
My ancestry sits somewhere with African slaves, Arawaks, Maroons and a bit of Scottish thrown into the mix. But I know little more of my family history due to changes in names, documentation containing limited information or else have been destroyed. Ring any bells?!
I have attended a few virtual webinars during October, however, the one that had the biggest impact on me was hosted by an organisation called Black Leaders titled’ Black Inclusion The Past, Present & Future.’ It started off with a black history lesson given by Laurence Westgaph whose overview of the contributions of Black Britons actually stunned me. Some individuals I was aware of, others were new to me. I was reminded of how little I knew about Black British history and what a tragedy it is that they have not been included in our collective history of Briton.
I wear a number of hats, one as a School Governor of a secondary school in Southampton. I feel a sense of disappointment that we are failing our children and students in not giving them a broader education. It would help them to understand others and benefit children from diverse backgrounds to be aware and proud of the contributions that people who look like them, have made to the UK and the world.
I love watching historical documentaries and am a real fan of Henry Louis Gates Jr and David Olusoga. Gate’s documentary, Black America Since MLK and Still I Rise is a great watch, as is Olusoga’s Black and British and Forgotten. I have the book too. I must add Out of Darkness a three-part documentary examining the history of African people.
My observation and this is where I will undoubtedly be accused of ‘getting political’, is that there has been a complete failure of the Public Sector Equality Duty created under the Equality Act 2010 intended to give public authorities three aims namely:
1. To eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.
2. To advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
3. To foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
I say this because:
§ There has been a rise in hate crime.
§ Who? Where? When? How? in advancing equality of opportunity.
§ The language used by those in power and authority does not help to foster good relations. On a scale sits, around antagonistic and divisive, although it would not take much for me to move up the scale with Allport’s Scale in mind.
§ Research on Race and education; socio-economic impact shows discrimination and disadvantage with lifelong implications.
Legislation has failed. Just look at the statistics, newspaper reports, articles, television interviews, social media feeds and political’ speeches to know laws do not change things, people do.
Thinking of something my Mum used to say, ‘Where there’s the will, there’s the way’. So, my question is, where is the will? And if it exists, how long will it last, this time?