The politics behind the curriculum
In 2013, we saw Michael Gove destroy the curriculum in the UK, surrounding the teachings in international history, as he announced the history curriculum is to, ‘‘provide’ pupils with an intro to the essential knowledge they need to become educated citizens’’… We all know this isn’t true though, don’t we? 11% of GCSE studies focus on black people’s contributions to Britain. In 2020, there still isn’t the equality that we are craving as a society for equal racial rights. I cannot remember ever learning about black history within my school lessons and I am scared to admit that I am not educated on black history at all.
Significant figures in UK Black History
After just a short amount of time spent researching, I found some significant black lives who have made a change in history. In 1831, Mary Prince was a British abolitionist, and she was an escaped slave, who was the first black woman to have her life story published in the UK. During World War 2, The SS Windrush arrived in Tilbury docks, Essex that brought in 500 settlers from Jamaica as part of Britain’s Post-war drive to recruit people from the commonwealth, to cover employment shortages such as the NHS. In 1987, Diane Abbott was the first black woman to become a member of parliament. In 2005, Dr John Sentamu became the UK’s first black Bishop.
The student’s opinion
I asked some students my age about what they learnt in their history lessons. Most of them said that they learned about WW1/ WW2 and they didn’t focus a lot on the black history subjects. All the students I asked did say that they had learnt about the slave trade, but that was about it. One student said ‘’ We should add more black history into all subjects and all times throughout the year, not just in October…’’ Which I agree with and I’m sure others would too. Another student commented something I can relate to a lot, ‘’As an adult, I am aware that I have not learnt all that much on black history and I feel like it should not be looked down on or seen as unimportant compared to the other topics that we learn.’’
The Big Question
Why aren’t we taught about the significance of our ancestors and the people who helped to break history and set the new standard for the way of living in our current timeline? Why aren’t we educated in the ongoing problems in politics, sport, entertainment, music and day to day lives of the black community?
Key people in Black History
We took the time to research and investigate some of the people who have broken history, and who have helped to push equality in the right direction. Like me, if you would like to find out more about some significant black lives in history, and their contribution to how we are where we are right now in terms of feminism, sport, fashion, music and politics, then please read on. Our TV group have also made a small feature about people’s opinions on black history and equality, which you can also find on our Instagram @miskinmedia1.
Emily Jane Sands
Chantelle Brown-Young also known as Winnie Harlow is a successful black fashion model who was diagnosed with the skin condition ‘Vitiligo’ at the age of four. This causes depigmentation of the skin. Winnie has spoken publicly about what it’s like to live with vitiligo, including a YouTube video in 2011 and a TED Talk in 2014. While also having a rare skin condition, she had to face the harsh society of being a black woman. She has been faced with multiple problems within social media and in 2015 Winnie came across some controversy when fans started to recreate her look. Society started to accuse Winnie’s fans of “blackface”.
She started her journey when she appeared on America’s Next Top Model in 2014 as a contestant on the twenty-first cycle of the U.S. television series. She was the first fashion model with her rare skin condition to appear on television. Winnie didn’t win ANTM, but she went on to do better things and show off her skin to the world.
After her elimination from America’s Next Top Model, she became the official representative of Desigual, a Spanish clothing brand. Her career took a leap from then on. She walked and closed the Spring/Summer 2015 collection of the London Fashion Week on behalf of Ashish In the same year, also modelled for the famous Italian apparel brand Diesel for their Spring/Summer 2015 campaign. Winnie became the first model with vitiligo to feature in a magazine therefore everyone wanted Winnie to be a feature and show off her rare skin. Winnie Harlow is one of the most influential models with Vitiligo and spokesperson on the internet right now. Her YouTube video ‘Vitiligo: A Skin Condition, not a Life Changer’ has more than 7 million views. She also participated in TED in 2014, where she spoke about her life’s experience, Vitiligo causes, and described how someone could cope with it.
Listed in 2020 as one of the 100 most influential people globally, Lewis Hamilton is the first ever black Formula 1 driver. Born on the 7th of January 1985, Stevenage England, Lewis Hamilton is arguably one of the best drivers that Formula One has ever seen. Winning 91 races in total so far, matching Michael Schumacher’s current record, which has been unbeaten for 19 years. How long will it last until Hamilton’s title is beaten? Or will he continue to set records that are near unbeatable? Joining Mercedes in 2013, he’s quickly climbed to the top as being world champion for the team. Throughout his career he has been targeted by racist abuse, he has also gone against the politics in motorsport when speaking about equality. An example of this is when he wore a T-shirt at the Tuscan GP, showcasing the Black Lives matter campaign. The T-shirt announced the statement that read, ‘Arrest the cops that killed Breonna Taylor’.
However, Hamilton has said that he has ‘no regrets’ about wearing the T-shirt on the podium and that he will continue to find ‘common ground’ with the F1 officials to campaign for equality. Not only is he supporting equality, he is also an advocate for environmental factors. Recently, Lewis has collaborated with fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger, and he stated that ‘’45% of our materials are recycled, but the next collection I’d like it to be 100%’’.
Lewis Hamilton certainly divides opinions. Some people despise him, and others look up to him. The media has reported many controversial topics between other F1 drivers and himself. Mainly, because he is the best driver amongst them all and he drives the best engineered car. Also, Mercedes scores the highest amount of points most seasons. However, some people overlook his talent as a skilled driver and become irritable about the fact that he always gets first place. Nikki Lauder, former Formula 1 champion driver attained an amazing relationship with Lewis, and he championed what he stood for. Personally, I think that he will go down in history as a significant black figure. Do you think that Lewis is doing the right thing? Or do you think it’s for the attention in the media?
Emily Jane Sands
Rosa Parks, a name that should be remembered until the ends of the earth. “Some people said I was tired, but I wasn’t tired physically, I was tired of giving in” Born on the 4 February 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama, United States. A woman who later, pushed past her fear to do exactly what was right, putting an end to the demoralising segregation of white and coloured people by simply refusing to stand. Rosa Parks, the woman who got arrested for refusing to offer her seat to a white man on a segregated bus, the woman who initiated the protest that not only influenced other people’s fight towards freedom but saved future generations from having to live in a world that wasn’t meant for them.
The Montgomery bus boycott was the ultimate rebellion against segregation, led by the most courageous black lady fighting for her freedom and the future of millions of black families, communities and individuals.
A turning point in history, where an entire community of people refused to pay for segregated travel, protesting in the only way they would be heard. Due to the white population of America being better off, they could generally afford other means of transport, meaning 70% of the bus’s customer base were black. It forced the Government to eventually abolish segregation because the buses were losing money. It was a beautifully carried out protest that paved the way for equality in America, with its outcry rippling through the westernised world, encouraging love, togetherness, equality and a future made for all.
One woman’s rebellion which saved the livelihoods of millions and still stands as one of the most memorable, life changing protests a woman has been a part of since the abolition of slavery.
Maliha Vincent Gaspar
Muhammad Ali is arguably the most influential athlete ever as he was not only a generational talent, but also an inspirational figure who stood up for social equality and fought against systemic racism. Ali, formally known as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr is best known for his exceptionally successful boxing career as many boxing historians rank him as the greatest Heavyweight boxer of all time. In 1966 he refused to be drafted into the military for the Vietnam war as it combated his social, ethical and religious principles. He was severely punished for his actions when he was indicted and convicted of draft evasion and he was consequently looking down the barrel of a five-year prison sentence. He appealed the decision to the supreme court, and in 1971, his conviction was overturned. Although the sentence had been withdrawn, the former champion had not fought for nearly four years and had lost a period of peak performance as an athlete and his skills had evidently weathered during his period of exile.
On August 11th, 1970, with his case still in appeal, he was permitted a license to be able to fight again by the City of Atlanta Athletic Commission, thanks to State Senator Leroy R. Johnson. On October 26th he made his historic return to the ring when he outboxed Jerry Quarry to a win after just three rounds after Quarry suffered from cuts. Despite having had the best part of four years of his prime athletic career taken away from him, he remains to this day the only three-time lineal champion of the Heavyweight division. Ali’s audacious actions as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War made him an icon for the larger counter-culture generation. He was an extremely high-profile figure of racial pride for African Americans, by being very pugnacious about racial issues and all oppressed people, as he was also seen as a symbol of hope and resistance to all social injustices.
The group NWA, founded in 1986, made rap/hip hop music based on their experiences growing up in the ‘hood’. They called their music “a reflection of their reality.” They lived in Compton, in south LA, notorious for police brutality, violence, poverty and drugs. In fact, during the group’s rise to fame, the area in which they lived was being taken hostage by what was called the ‘crack epidemic’. The introduction of crack cocaine into America was felt nowhere more prominently than the impoverished African American community and a lot of the music produced by NWA were about these problems.
NWA were so ostentatious with their lyrics, videos and interviews in terms of being the voices of the young black man from the ghetto that they ended up becoming a powerful vocal point for young people in America.
Right from the start of the group’s career they said what they felt, spoke out about the issues surrounding them and fought for a place in society that wasn’t dictated to by the white man.
The most notable example of this would be their 1988 hit “F**K the police” in which many of the lyrics reference police racial profiling as well as police brutality. This song gathered so much attention the FBI wrote to them and said they were not allowed to play it at concert or they would be arrested, so they performed the song at their next show resulting in their arrest and that is why I believe they are and start for a key time in black history as they stood up for what they believed in and wouldn’t let anything stop them.