It's Black History Month in America right now and the same event takes place in the UK throughout October, but why is black history limited to a month? As a young black male Calum has been musing on the subject.
During my time in education I learnt about white history a lot. Shakespeare’s stories, Henry the viii, Romans, Saxons and so on, but when it came to black history all I was taught was a brief summary of slavery. How is it the norm that as a kid growing up all I knew about my own history was that my ancestors were slaves even though they were much more than that? I didn’t learn about any achievements of black people or civilisations built and was convinced into believing that before slavery Africans were unintelligent people who had no concept of anything more than dirt huts and cannibalism. I was often told that we should appreciate and celebrate black history month, but I never understood this notion, why is black history confined to a month? Why was it seen as extracurricular and not part of the standard history taught, isn’t it just as important?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that I don’t want to learn about white history, because I do, what I’m trying to convey is that we now live in a multi-cultural society with many different histories and cultures that we should all be taught about from a young age. For young people growing and finding themselves, knowing nothing about their own people’s past can have a very negative effect. Self-hate can become a daily practice, from my own experiences I used to see and still see a lot of unintentional self-hate. Whether it's believing darker skin is less attractive because of social influences and the western media or people being ashamed of having African sounding names; When I was in school, if someone had an African name they were usually ridiculed, and what made even less sense was the fact that it was children of African descent that made the most jokes! They laughed purely out of ignorance from having no education about themselves.
(Hidden Figures out now, is an example of untold black history which is now being shared in this film)
I believe that this lack of knowledge causes divisions and rivalries between the black community -instead of supporting and working together- which in turn prevents us from progressing. There are people out there now who are trying to share this knowledge which is good but it should become a standard in all schools across the country. The more we educate our people the greater they will become, black, white, Asian, whatever race or colour we should be taught our own and each other’s histories so we can properly learn to recognise all our mistakes and achievements then move forward to a better future.