During these strange and sad times, once again I am thinking about what I want to try and do when I teach. With what is happening in the world right now, I know that at least one of those things is to try and stress the need (and importance) in addressing racism and combating it. In history, I want to teach a curriculum that delves into the issues and topics that are far too often left silent. I want my future students to learn about slavery and its evils, the nature and legacies that exist within Britain today, but also to encourage my students to learn about how people have fought back against injustice.
I want to encourage students to research the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, the Apartheid system in South Africa, and of the occurrence of race riots. I want to encourage them to feel happy and content within their skin, to not let anyone (ever) make it a barrier.
I am white, and I am male. These two facts have given me a boost in life. It is times like these that I realise how much of a privilege being white truly is. It has given me a great education, a great family life and area to grow up in, and no stops from the police. It is times like these that I realise that not everyone has such an easy time of things. No colour should mean one has advantages or disadvantages. We should all be equal. It is times like these that highlight why we must seek to change things, to ask ourselves why my skin colour gives me more, and others less.
An amazing book which I read in January of this year (2020) was called Natives by Akala. This book was, in many ways, a horrifying look into what being black in Britain is like. Akala grew up in London in the 1980s and 90s and experienced racism (sadly like many others have and still do) many times both when he was young and grown up. The part which really hit me was when he was recalling his experiences in school. His art teacher slated his work all to often and for ill-reasons, his history teacher was offensive..RACIST to him and the school did next to nothing about it. I cant imagine what that must have been like or felt like. No student should have to experience such things. It is when reading such things as this that I wonder if I ever witnessed such things and never realised.
I want to be a teacher. I want to make a difference to society and hopefully, help others in the process. I want to read of these experiences in order to learn more about how people have been treated. Reading about Akala's experiences, I really want to help all students, to respect their difference, to love their difference but certainly to not mistreat them as a result of it.
Things to take away:
I really recommend reading Akala's book, it really is fascinating!!.
History, and this is something that I will talk about more in the future, is contested arena and one filled with power! Just like our world today, where different races very much appear to exercise unequal levels of power, this has long been the case in history as well. See Trouillot's Power and Production in History for a great and insightful text on this issue-especially the chapter on the Haitian Revolution!!