Updated: Jun 12, 2020
The world has been flipped upside down with the tragic passing of George Floyd. An amalgam of pressures and anger regarding racial injustice that has been mounting for years exploded and has resulted in numerous protests across the world, standing in solidarity with #blacklivesmatter. The same can be said in the UK, and NEAR has been involved in the protest that happened last Saturday in Newcastle Upon Tyne.
However, whatever the purpose of these demonstrations and the awareness and legal changes they might be hoping to achieve, protests and heightened recognition of the issues of race and white privilege can only go so far. The only way to properly enact societal change is to implement reform to the education system. The majority of us will only learn history as a compulsory subject up to year 9, we then choose our options and most of us do not ever study it again. We are taught of the concept of ‘Great Britain’, a concept that is inexplicably tied with the fact that Britain has invaded almost every nation on earth, and that is tied with the ‘civilising mission’ that Britain used as justification for colonisation and extraction of resources from African, Asian, and Latin American nations across its history, no doubt fuelling the industrial revolution that Britain so proudly boasts as having started. We are told that the empire was a force of good in the world and that its advanced civilisation was necessary to develop and educate the backwards parts of the world.
What we were not told is the true breadth of the human evil of the British empire, an immoral institution that was heavily involved in slavery, responsible for rampant colonisation and damage to large portions of the world, numerous genocides and mass murder. The empire took away from Africans and Asians many hundreds of years of development that they will never get back, but the majority of the population today are taught of Britain the great, and of the ‘mother-country’ operating in a commonwealth of equals. When they try to teach you about the Second World War, Churchill, a vehemently racist man, takes the spotlight instead of the 4.5 million colonial soldiers that were instrumental in the war effort against Fascism. History is written by the victors, and we must now take action to ensure all the victors are celebrated.
A petition has been created to ensure that the true extent of British colonialism, slavery, and imperialism are present on the national curriculum. As a History student myself who took it all the way from GCSE, A level and through to university, it was only until my final year that I began to come to terms with the true extent of the history we weren’t taught, and of the history that blatantly lied and glorified the ‘white man's burden’.
It is absolutely imperative that this petition is signed. We cannot legislate on a person’s heart, but somebody that is educated from a young age on the truth of their history, might go on to change the world in the future. Help make that change today, sign the petition.