Celebrating Black Excellence
Christ’s Hospital’s Afro-Caribbean Society in 2020 has banded together with various teams and departments within our School community to Celebrate Black Excellence! Our student body is incredibly diverse and in order to celebrate that diversity, the ACS has set up a range of events throughout the academic year – from panel discussions with highly celebrated authors and Saturday night events, to collaborating with the catering team and hearing from other university Afro-Caribbean Societies.
We primarily want to consciously effect change within our school – especially in the way that we confront issues around race. The ACS is a safe, open and welcoming space for those who want to talk about experiences and others who want to learn from them, and we hope, that by having these conversations, we can make an impact on attitudes towards racial discrimination.
Black History Month Events
|Monday 28 September 2020||Dining Hall|
|Saturday 3 October 2020||Black British Experience / Panel / Part 1|
|Monday 5 October 2020||Competition Launch|
|Tuesday 6 October 2020||Library Display|
|Saturday 10 October 2020||Black Experience / Part 2|
|Thursday 15 October 2020||University Panel|
|Saturday 31 October 2020||10vs10 Entertainment|
|Friday 6 November 2020||Insight Talks with Christine|
I was approached on LinkedIn by the President of the Warwick Inspire organisation and she asked me to be one of the keynote speakers at a webinar she was hosting called the 'The UK Curriculum: Our fight for education equality'.
Over the lockdown period, I launched an initiative/campaign on my social media called Black History Matters. It aimed to shed light on forgotten stories and encourage people to celebrate their vibrant history in volatile times.
In my segment, I delved deeper into what had inspired me to start my campaign. I had been interested in history in general from a young age, but was disappointed with the fact that none of the figures in my history book looked like me. I mentioned that within black history, there is a lack of ‘intersectional inclusion’. Not just including black women, but also Black British History and pre-Windrush African history and how there is a lack of awareness when it comes to these areas.
I also spoke about the inequality in the education system and the concept of ‘selective inclusion’ and emphasised how we are only taught the black figures that are widely known and accepted. There are many examples of this concept such as Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. As these are the figures we are used to when referring to black history I realised that they had the same message.
We aren't taught about the more ‘controversial’ figures such as Malcolm X or Assata Shakur and Steve Biko. When it comes to white history, we learn about the good and the bad characters, about Hitler and Churchill and Henry VIII and Stalin. We are given the freedom to judge whether their characters are acceptable or unacceptable. However, there is no choice of or exposure to more diverse figures in black history.
I had such an incredible experience. Although I was nervous to talk at my first webinar, I knew that this was an opportunity to make a positive difference and represent my School and family extremely well and I am confident that I did just that. The response was phenomenal and everyone that watched was remarkably receptive to the message that I was trying to convey.
Over the summer term of lock down the History department began to take an objective look at its curriculum. Events of 2020 had sparked healthy conversations relating to the subject material that was being delivered. The department’s audit suggested that a reasonably broad range of the history of a variety of cultures and peoples was being delivered from the Great Abbasid and Fatimid Caliphates of Africa and the Middle East to Chinese Nationalism in the 1930s. Nevertheless, the department felt that it could do better. In order to facilitate a broader history of ‘otherness’ members of the department selected various themes that our curricula focussed on and took the opportunity to plan enquiries that were contemporary to the periods that were already followed. A wonderful range of topics began to emerge, from the Haitian Revolution, to the Non Aligned Movement, Islamic and Asian scientific discovery as well as the Mughal Empire. The intention was to see these histories in their own context without outside influence.
Black History month and Christ's Hospital’s celebration of Black Excellence further afforded the department the opportunity to diversify its curriculum and broaden the scope of ‘otherness’. Investigations into Black Tudors have enabled the 03 form to learn about John Blanke, court trumpeter to Henry VIII, Jacques Francis, salvage diver on the Mary Rose and the first African to give evidence in an English court. Grecian and Deputy Grecian Historians investigated ‘Who was Toussaint L’Overture?’ A hero of the Haitian revolution but hitherto a real enigma. Enquires uncovered a cultivated, cultured articulate and inspirational leader driven by a revolutionary zeal and equality. Later on this term to coincide with the broader celebration of Black Excellence, LE historians will enquire about the role of Black colonial forces during the First World War. Our IGCSE Historians will place the Cold War in a proper global context by learning about conflicts in Africa such as Angola.
The move towards a History of otherness and looking at history elsewhere has been a hugely rewarding one that we, as a department, will continue to enjoy as part of our developments in the future.