Usually when I ask my students to discuss what their favourite things about London are, many mention the convenient transportation links, spaces dedicated to green parks and the shared sense of community and acceptance amongst those who live here.

Since I could remember, my friendship groups contain a variety of ethnicities, religions and ideas. I truly treasure those friends because, perhaps like those of you reading this, I love learning about the world and its people. There are many experiences we’ve had that are similar but, when discussing discrimination and equality, I become more aware of the many adversities that Black people and People of Colour (POC) go through because of the colour of their skin. Therefore, I have decided to share some resources which helped me learn about racism in the UK.

Though, I am writing this in light of Black History Month, I would like you to remember that Black history is especially important because it is often forgotten or undervalued. This is particularly due to the lack of education surrounding the issue of racism in many aspects of society. Look out for the words in bold – these will lead you to the general topic that the resource discusses. Listen: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-53002818

Four black men speak to the BBC’s Ashley John-Baptiste about their experiences of racism in daily life – including anecdotes of bullying, racial profiling and the effects of having a racial bias. (subtitles)

“I feel like an alien”

“Being told that, basically, your face doesn’t fit”

“The problem is so deep rooted in society that you can’t escape it”

“They called me the N-word”

“Pockets of society still refusing to even acknowledge it’s even a thing, even a problem”

“Forcing people to think about their unconscious bias”

“It’s engrained into the DNA of the UK”

Read: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-53365011

This article chronologically outlines how institutional racism is present within, arguably, one of the most should-be-trusted systems that we use. It talks of how police brutality and use of unlawful force and murder spark protests and, often, riots.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-52957637

A video showing aerial footage of a march in London.

Listen: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-52982878

After Boris Johnson urged the country to “work peacefully, lawfully” to defeat racism and discrimination in response the murder of George Floyd, Singer Jamelia talks to BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire about the serious race issues in the UK. She talks about racism in healthcare, education, ownership and the judiciary. (no subtitles)

“To say that something is less racist does not mean that it is not still racist”

“We have a serious race issue that goes far beyond the overt – it’s the covert racism that’s so damaging”

“This country has issues at the heart of its education system, it’s healthcare system, juridical system, when it comes to loans and insurance, home ownership and ownership in general, opening a small business”
“Black women are thought to be more resilient and stronger. Therefore, not needing as much care or medication”
“It’s the mindset that needs to change – and that can be changed through education”
“The racial disparities that exist are horrific – at a judiciary level, we don’t have any representation”

“You contribute by not being aware”

“Your privilege allows you to benefit from a system that chronically effects and damages Black people”

“It’s not enough just to say I’m not racist”

Though I was made aware of the importance of Black History month in school, I must admit, it was never treated seriously as teachers would not allocate time to educating their students about where our diversity actually stems from. Despite being part of the curriculum, many historians have argued that history has generally been taught in a way that ignores negative impacts of the British Empire out of post-colonial guilt.

Read: https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2018/may/26/secret-teacher-h...

Pupils are brought up learning about the strength and heroism of this country and its once ‘grand’ empire rather than about how other countries have suffered under its rule.

Read: https://www.dazeddigital.com/politics/article/49502/1/oxford-university-...

“Where are our heroes and ancestors?”

This picture was taken at Oxford University on the 9th June 2020 to protest against the existence of a statue of slave owner Cecil Rhodes and racism in higher education.

“I came to the University of Oxford to study this country’s history, but what I have found instead is a distorted and narrow view of history that refuses to see anything other than its own accomplishments. I’ve walked to lectures and had people scream ‘go back to your country’ at me.”

“The persistent racism of Oxford cannot be disentangled from its imperial amnesia. Rhodes is the most prominent manifestation of that – and that’s why he must fall.”

Watch: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p07dlcpp/alt-history-series-1-1-bl...

The above link will take you to a short film series, produced by writer and historian David Olusoga which explores some of the important moments in Black history in the UK which were not taught in schools. (subtitles)

To reflect, there are some things I am sure of. I knew little about of the colonialism of Africa from my studies in Year 9, but more about its effects on people from further research and listening to the experience of others. I know quite a lot about the fight against racism in America, the challenges faced from the civil rights movement and counter-culture from my studies in Year 12, but only because I chose to study it and educate myself on it further. My modules at university made me more aware of how language is used as a tool for both implementing and liberating people from the racial systems constructed to keep them oppressed, but I have also never felt this for myself because I am white.

It truly is a privilege to be able to only talk about the issue of racism rather than living through it. I do, however, strongly believe that talking about racism and sharing experiences holds a great significance in moving forward. We must be open in mind and heart to the experiences of those around us. When we listen, we can better understand the lives of others, broaden our own perspectives of life and its meaning, and help change the narrative for Black people and POC. Though I wish it could be instantaneous, I know it will take time as many generations before us have been fighting for the same equality. But we must continue to do what is morally right, show kindness and support each other in the hopes of a brighter future for our diverse communities.

This blog was written by Becca
Published on 10 October 2020
https://www.wles.net/blog/student-life/blogs/black-lives-matter-in-the-uk/

Author's Bio: 

West London English School is a British Council accredited English language school offering high quality courses at affordable prices in a warm and friendly environment.