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What does black history mean to you?

Nov 26, 2021


Robert Henry

Growing up in Jamaica, I attended school in the rural hills of St Andrew before a stint at Kingston Technical High.  In the earlier years at school, I often did creative writing (essays) with interesting titles like:

  • -  Myself as a butterfly
  • -  An experience that changed my life forever
  • -  The time I faced rejection
  • -  Is a hero born or made?

To write those pieces I had to understand the arguments, research, critically analyse the evidence and persuasively put my point of view across.

There's no need for you to write an essay on this blog title.  However, think about it seriously.  What does black history mean to you?  Would your answer include:

  • -  recognising the accomplishments of black people and their contributions to the world
  • -  understanding of ourselves and celebrating diversity
  • -  giving an honest account of black people
  • -  sharing knowledge to fight xenophobia and lessen ignorance

Does black history influence your actions and your views?  Does it cause you to think of freedom, fair treatment, justice, trust, fear?  As well as its historical relevance, is it also important to you right now, today?  History is very important.  It helps people to understand why our societies are the way they are and what they value.  It helps us develop a better understanding of the world.


Deep Influence

Black teacher with students

I didn't pay keen attention to the study of history while at school.  However, several years later, while living in a European society, I decided to take a university course on Caribbean history.  The lecturer was a young white man.  Upon observing that, I laid back and slouched in my chair.  My initial thoughts were: "Here we go again.  What can this European youth tell me about my history"? 

In a way, my initial action demonstrated a disregard for the teacher.  Prematurely, I pre-judged the lecturer without a shred of evidence.  However, within his first few minutes of teaching, he displayed impressive in-depth knowledge, understanding and application of the topic.  Furthermore, he had first-hand experience of visiting key areas in the Caribbean to support his wealth of knowledge.

The way I pre-judged the lecturer was not right.  In my thoughts, I belittled him without even hearing a word from him.  His presence alone suggested a mismatch.  Similarly, as experience confirms, many black people are frequently pre-judged and stereotyped without cause or justification.  Often, disparaging attitudes make them feel unwelcome and unwanted.  Black history education will help to reduce that. 

While in the Caribbean history class, a metaphorical light was switched on for me.  It gave me a call and I could see that I need to go forth and teach, share black history.  The topic is vast, and I can only take small steps.  But like a slogan for one of the big UK grocery stores, "every little helps".  We cannot remain silent about black history.  If we do, one could get the impression that the world is Euro-centric. 

Our aim is to educate, inspire, feed curiosity, lessen ignorance.  So, tell us.  What does it mean to you?

If black history means much to you, please take the journey and join us in sharing it.



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