Thursday, March 31, 2016

Black History Presentation: The Black Image

St. Maurice of Germany
It is crucial for Black parents and teachers to learn about, and share, our history with the next generation. For more about this, see below.

I recently attended the  presentation on "The Black image" by Tony Warner of London Black History Walks. I think it was the third time I've seen it.

One thing I enjoy about Brother Tony's presentations is that he always adds some new information. Thus, I enjoy watching them over and over again.

At one time, Black people were depicted in European artworks as regal and magnificent, often dressed in finery.   But in the modern day - starting with Transatlantic slavery and continuing to this day - the Black image has been distorted and degraded.  Films often depict situations in which a small band of white – British or American – fighters are up against hordes of Black enemy soldiers. The white soldiers are represented as brave and heroic, fighting off massive numbers of Black people.

Old films such as Zulu follow this pattern, and it continues with modern-day films such as Black Hawk Down. Similar patterns also appear in video games.

These kinds of images reinforced the British idea of empire: that they had gone into Africa and other places and stood up against huge numbers of hostile locals or, as they would have called them, “natives”. These attitudes continue to be reinforced in the British and American psyches today, through the use of these powerful images. And they affect the way we see ourselves and our history.

Perhaps the most important point Brother Tony made is that we must create our own images. We must record our own history and share it. As a griot, this is my job. It it is the responsibility of all of us - particularly that of parents and teachers. It is useful and important for us to understand the prevailing mainstream images of Black people and Black history, but we must create our own.

There are loads more Black history and African history posts on this blog, so please read them and share them with your networks.  Please leave your comments below.