Educate early to eradicate racism later

Reflecting on the last couple of months, there have been many radical changes. Brexit was finally taken off the mainstream agenda (something we never thought would happen), a global pandemic unprecedented in the modern era continues to wreak havoc across the globe, and we have rightfully become conscious of the great work that nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers do. However, for me, there is one event that stands above the rest and that will stick with me for the rest of my life – that is the reinvigoration of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Schools and teachers are responsible for shaping the future and need to do more.

From the posts to the tweets, from the speeches to the marches, we have seen a surge of support (from all races) towards the fight for racial equality. Although we have seen waves of support in the past, this revolution was different. Now people from all races are coming together and not only marching as one but actually reflecting on the situation and educating themselves on the wider topic of racism.

Hatred and abuse towards ethnic minority groups is something that is often seen as an issue found further afield, for example as in the US. However, as a British mixed-race woman, I am acutely aware that my mother and grandma have faced similar experiences here in the UK. We have come a long way since then and largely embraced the diverse make-up of the UK, however, institutional, structural, interpersonal and internalised racism continues to exist. It is this final dimension of racism that is the hardest to change as it encourages people to look into themselves and to evaluate how they perceive others. It is only over time that this form of discrimination will dissipate, and that racial equality will truly move forward.

The 1960s, 70s and 80s are littered with historical injustices from Sus laws to Windrush — none of this should be forgotten or brushed over.

There are, however, things that can be done now, starting with educating future generations. Schools and teachers are responsible for shaping the future and need to do more. Only after researching the subject and drawing on my own experience, I realised the ineptitude of the British school system in educating future generations of the part that Britain had to play in the oppression of black people. Perhaps it is because it is not yet ‘history’, as discrimination towards people of colour continues to this day. As of March 2019, black people were over 3 times more likely to be arrested than white people. [1]

On top of this, absence of black history, when it is taught to students in the UK, it is often from a Eurocentric viewpoint, citing the Europeans as economically superior (due to exploitation and the profits from the slave trade), although that part is hardly mentioned. We don’t have to delve that far back into history to see that Black History does exists. The 1960s, 70s and 80s are littered with historical injustices from Sus laws to Windrush — none of this should be forgotten or brushed over.

What is most worrying is that this lack of education can lead to serious social and political issues as people are not aware of the country’s history and run the risk of repeating it. The death of George Floyd on 25th May 2020 will forever be remembered as the day that changed the course of the Black Lives Matter movement and hopefully for years to come children up and down the country will remember that day as the day everything changed.

By Hannah Austen

Image: by Thomas Elliott via Flickr

Source:

[1] Gov.uk – https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/crime-justice-and-the-law/policing/number-of-arrests/latest

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