I feel I would be remiss in having a blog and not talking about recent events in the USA. The problem is, when it comes to the subject of racism, I am not sure I have anything useful to say. I could tell you it is a very bad thing but you know that. So why am I writing about this? Because I have seen on the Twitterverse posts that suggest that staying silent is unacceptable. Doing so might be considered, at best, not seeing the problem and at worst agreeing with the prejudice. So what am I to do when I don’t know what to say? Well I am just going to write and hope something good comes to me.
History was one of my favourite subjects in school. I don’t know how it is now but back then an argument was made that World War Two was too much of a focus. If memory serves half of the history units we did were on the war or Nazi Germany. (This was As Level or GCSEs I can’t remember which) Please bare with me I am going somewhere with this.
A war, and particularly Word War Two, has a narrative. You can point to Neville Chamberlain, his ultimatum to Hitler, and the invasion of Poland as the start – and you can point to the Nazi surrender as the end. It is also easy for it to have a narrative of good defeating evil.
At least that is the way it can come across. I in no way mean any offence to my history teachers. In fact one history teacher in particular was amazing.
We also studied the civil rights movement in the USA. I remember learning about segregation, Rosa Parks, the Montgomery bus boycott, Martin Luther King, including his famous speech, and I remember stories of children who needed military protection just to get an education.
These stories were unbelievable to me that such racism would exist and that it was so recent. It was so easy for me to believe, as a child, that things like that were behind us. I was 18 when I finished school in 2006 – the events above happened only 50 years before I was born.
As I indicated above it is very easy to fall into a narrative mindset with history. We can delude ourselves in to believing that King gave his speech, segregation ended, and racism became a thing of the past. It is not true though. The only thing that ended was the lesson. There were, and are, events beyond the syllabus and sometimes we have to remind ourselves that they are still going on.
I don’t have anything substantive to offer in closing this post. I don’t even know what to say. The fact that we still have issues of racism is sickening and I hold on to the hope that we will end this one day.
Being British it is easy to dismiss this as an American problem. This is demonstrably not true. For our part we need to lean the truth of our own history and look at in a narrative that doesn’t show us at our best. If you feel so moved I would like you to to take a look at this petition: Teach British Children about the Realities or British Imperialism and Colonialism.
I am not completely happy with this post and something is missing. I will only add that I hope things start to change and that we can all begin to make things better. It is beyond sad that King’s dream is still a dream.
I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.
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