The black hole in Afro-British history has led to a kind of tragi-comic travesty made even more absurd since what history is written by both the enslaver and the so called abolitionists. Much of the discrimination and racism faced by the BME community is due to the lack education on how Western Civilisation benefitted economically, culturally, and socially from colonialism. The current national curriculum does not teach about the many prominent Afro-Scottish, Caribbean, and Black British figures who have contributed significantly not only to Scotland but to the entire UK. Neither does it acknowledge or debate the fact that the British government paid out a gigantic 40 per cent of the Treasury annual spending budget to compensate slave owners after the abolition, yet nothing to those who were enslaved? This lack of reparations, transparency and deliberate omission has led to historic racial profiling, physical and mental abuse, knee-necking, and to BME groups being less likely to be recruited after achieving higher education today.
There are a huge number of people we need to learn about. What about John Edmonstone (1793-1822) one of the most important figures in scientific research? An expert in taxidermy and teacher at Edinburgh University where he trained Charles Darwin, arguably one of the most profound figures in secular British ideology. Or Composer Chevalier de Saint-Georges who in the 1700 played for Marie Antoinette at the Palace of Versailles in France, black British royalty Sarah Forbes Bonetta a Yoruba Egbado Princess from Nigeria sold into slavery becoming the much beloved Goddaughter of Queen Victoria, Philippa of Hainault the first Black Queen of England, or Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz the next black Queen, her name still immortalised at Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square. Professor Clifford Johnson a Theoretical Physicist born in London who in 2005, awarded the Institute of Physics’ Maxwell Medal Prize for his work quantum gravity and string theory or Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, MBE a prestigious Space Scientist and Honorary Research Associate in University College London’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.
Since the birth of a Nation (1915) the constant degradation of African Diaspora has been embedded into the hearts and minds of not only the BME community but to the wider western world. The savage, the illiterate, the worthless, the belligerent the monster. Pioneer’s whose work differed to this narrative such as Oscar Micheaux (1844-1851) are marginalised to the fringes of history fated to be discussed on Instagram and Wikipedia. In the 21st century award winning film makers Ava Duvernaythe, ‘When They See Us’ (2019), 13’th (2016) and the inimitable Simon Frederick’ ‘Black Hollywood: They Gotta Have Us’(2018) detail how representations of African Diaspora have been deliberately manufactured to substantiate ruling negative perceptions on race, exposing the brutal physical and psychological harm of this illusion, until finally now we are now call the shots. Hidden Figures (2016) is a brilliant example of the distinction and quality of story told when black people can represent themselves. Directed by Theodore Melfi it highlights the incredible real-life story of the team African-American female mathematicians at the heart of NASA’s space program. So how do we move forward? Through positive action of mobilisation and education, my lockdown five point positive action plan includes:
- Reform The Curriculum: A commitment and pledge from policy makers for pro-active anti-racist action. In recognition of these historic times, a meaningful step that can be taken is the implementation of a thorough and robust account of Afro-Scottish Caribbean history through the national education system. http://www.parliament.scot/GettingInvolved/Petitions/afroscotshistorycurriculum
- African Diaspora Business Support Fund Charity: A vehicle for companies and individuals help entrepreneurs and businesses from BME backgrounds who have demonstrated real business acumen and prowess to grow their existing trades and achieve economic stability: www.adbsf.org
- One Voice For Freedom Fourth Plinth Campaign We have already raised £500,000 in donations to find a space in central London for a fitting monument to honour those of Afro-Caribbean descent that aided in making Britain great. Supporters include Oswald Boateng and OBE Anthony Joshua.
- Black Heritage Museum: To build the first ever BME Heritage museum in Scotland that showcases not only the realities of TAST positive contributions that Afro-Caribbean’s have made
- Black Women In Film: BME women are amongst the most marginalised historically worldwide with little ability to represent themselves on screen. After working in the television and film industry for over a decade I am seeking funding to direct my first short film on race relations in Scotland. https://gofundme.com/f/black-women-in-film
We can all make a difference, no matter how large or small, what is your positive action plan for change?