I’m constantly coming across black British people, especially my generation from the 1970s, who say they were not taught enough about their own culture in school.
Obviously we were educated in the UK, so to some extent you can’t expect to get the same history lessons (or perspective) as someone taught in the Caribbean or Africa, but I think most people would accept that we (as in every state school pupil in England) seem to learn a lot about American history and European history alongside British history but there was (and probably still is) very little time spent, if any, on black ancestry.
It was only after I went to live in Barbados when I was 33 and tried to fit in to a different culture, albeit the home of my parents and immediate ancestors, that I really realised how ‘British’ I was.
I also became acutely aware of my limited knowledge of Caribbean history and especially in terms of how it fit in and contributed to the development of the British ‘Empire’. I think I have been actively trying to make up for this deficit ever since.
Anyway, I recently came across a course which would probably fill in some of the history blanks for me and many other black Britons.
It’s being advertised by Goldsmiths University in London and I just wish that it had been around when I was a teenager and I also wish that I had time to go on it now (I’m currently researching my MA dissertation while working three jobs so barely have time to eat).
It’s called Black Britain: A History of Struggle and Triumph
It’s running every Tuesday for 6 weeks from January 17th and will run again in the Summer at a cost of £150.
According to the website accompanying the course, it is for “anyone seeking to explore and share their experiences of the history and cultural roots of Black people and ‘Black culture’ in London.”
It adds that participants will “learn how it came to be that Britain was a key destination for migrating workers from the Caribbean in the 1960s …The course will highlight the contribution of people of African descent to the rich history and culture of Britain and will explore film, photography, literature and biography that will generate great conversation.”
I think it sounds like an interesting six weeks and I’m happy to promote it to anyone who visits my site and might be interested – don’t forget to tell your friends.
Hopefully, one day soon I may go on a course like this, or something similar, because any method that’s striving to ‘complete’ our education as black British citizens, has to be welcome.
I would also argue that people from other races should also go along if it is something that they are interested in because we all learn, and hopefully advance, when we know more about each other.