Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Importance of History

Click here to join me on the radio.

I often blog about history-related events, such as those with Tony Warner.

In case you were wondering why, it's because I think it is vital that we know our history. So much of our history has been deliberately hidden. This gives us a false impression of ourselves and our achievements.

I remember sitting in a self-styled Afrocentric bookshop one day talking to one of the workers, who insisted that "Black people haven't achieved anything". He sat there all day every day surrounded by Afrocentric books, but he still had the view that we had contributed nothing to society.

This is a lie which we have been told. Not only that, the dominant group and other races have been told the same lie. They, and we, have been led to believe that Black people have achieved nothing and contributed nothing.

As you can see from this article on Black people in World War II, our contribution has deliberately been hidden. This is just one example of what has been going on for hundreds of years.

Stealing our history and lying about it is just one way in which our cultural identity has been stolen from us. Whe we don't know our history and our ancestral heritage, how can we know who we really are? This leaves us subject to being defined by others.

When those in charge of the media consistently portray people of African heritage as lazy and stupid, or as criminals, this has an effect on our psyches as well as on how we are treated by the wider society.

Even now, Black children as young as three see themselves as ugly. Where did they get this message? It is being fed to them every day. It is being fed to their parents as well.

We need to change how we see ourselves and we are the only ones who can do this. We need to define ourselves, and reclaiming our history is an inherent part of this process. This is an essential part of our healing.

For more about this, read Success Strategies for Black People. For true stories of Black achievers, see Black Success Stories.

One of the people I interviewed for that book was the late Len Garrison, founder of the Black Cultural Archives
in South London. He describes how, when Black people in the 1970s started offering to donate their artefacts to museums, they were told "We are not collecting this type of material". So, off his own bat and without any funding or training in this area, he set up the Black Cultural Archives.

Click here for lots more books about Black history and Black achievers

Click here for the next Black history events with Tony Warner.

See also: Black History International.

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