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.

Join Us on the Radio Tomorrow (Sunday)

I hope you will be able to join us on Dr. Donna's radio show tomorrow, Sunday 29th November, 1:00 p.m. EST, 6:00 p.m. UK time. I will be talking about my book Success Strategies for Black People and how you can make 2010 your year. Click here to listen.

To listen to previous interviews, go to:

Loretta N. Green 2nd October 2009

Diana Broomfield 17th October 2009

Diana Broomfield 16th September 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Thanksgiving is the time when we stop for a moment to remember all the blessings and good fortune we have received. It is an important day to spend with family and loved ones. Although I now live in the UK, I still recall the many Thanksgivings I enjoyed at home, and I bring my family to mind on this day.

I have printed President Obama's Thanksgiving message below. In addition to speaking about the things he and his family are giving thanks for, he also reminds us to remember the troops serving overseas who cannot spend the day with their own families. Whatever you think about the ongoing conflicts in which our countries are involved, spare a thought for the troops who have been sent to fight for our protection.

If you are looking for gifts for Xmas, Kwanzaa and the New Year, check out African American Holiday Shopping

The President's Message

Tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, Americans across the country will sit down together, count our blessings, and give thanks for our families and our loved ones.

American families reflect the diversity of this great nation. No two are exactly alike, but there is a common thread they each share.

Our families are bound together through times of joy and times of grief. They shape us, support us, instill the values that guide us as individuals, and make possible all that we achieve.

So tomorrow, I'll be giving thanks for my family -- for all the wisdom, support, and love they have brought into my life.

But tomorrow is also a day to remember those who cannot sit down to break bread with those they love.

The soldier overseas holding down a lonely post and missing his kids. The sailor who left her home to serve a higher calling. The folks who must spend tomorrow apart from their families to work a second job, so they can keep food on the table or send a child to school.

We are grateful beyond words for the service and hard work of so many Americans who make our country great through their sacrifice. And this year, we know that far too many face a daily struggle that puts the comfort and security we all deserve painfully out of reach.

So when we gather tomorrow, let us also use the occasion to renew our commitment to building a more peaceful and prosperous future that every American family can enjoy.

It seems like a lifetime ago that a crowd met on a frigid February morning in Springfield, Illinois to set out on an improbable course to change our nation.

In the years since, Michelle and I have been blessed with the support and friendship of the millions of Americans who have come together to form this ongoing movement for change.

You have been there through victories and setbacks. You have given of yourselves beyond measure. You have enabled all that we have accomplished -- and you have had the courage to dream yet bigger dreams for what we can still achieve.

So in this season of thanks giving, I want to take a moment to express my gratitude to you, and my anticipation of the brighter future we are creating together.

With warmest wishes for a happy holiday season from my family to yours,

President Barack Obama

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hidden Histories: Black People and WWII

As you may know, I attended the presentation on How Black People Won World War II by Tony Warner at the Imperial War Museum yesterday.

Often, we are not told about aspects of our history. Every time I attend one of Brother Tony's presentations, I learn more valuable information.

I enjoy not only his detailed and extensive knowledge, but also his enthusiasm for his subject.

It is vital that we continue to uncover these hidden histories – these stories which have been obscured or forgotten. Knowledge of our history and ancestral heritage is vital for our self-esteem and confidence.

Click here to read about yesterday's excellent presentation.

Click here for future Black history presentations with Tony Warner.

In my book Black Success Stories Volume 1, I interviewed 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 more info and to buy Black Success Stories.

For more books about Black history and Black achievers, in the UK, go to Black Gifts UK.

Outside the UK, go to go to The Black Gifts Store.

Click here for future Black history events with Tony Warner.

See also: Black History International.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Not Forgotten - Soldiers of Empire

While on the subject of Ian Hislop, I very much enjoyed his Not Forgotten series which was shown on Channel 4 several years ago, in which he investigated different people who had served during the First World War.

He has since made additional programmes, which are now being aired. On Monday night, I watched the episode about Empire troops, i.e. those from African and Caribbean countries, India, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It was made to the same high standard as the earlier series.

Empire troops are often mentioned only as a footnote to the main event, but Hislop’s programme showed footage of Black troops on the front line, while he interviewed the grandchildren of one Caribbean man who had served on the Western Front.

I had previously seen the story of the Black men from the Caribbean who sailed on a ship via the North Pole but were not given winter uniforms. Many of them had their limbs amputated due to frostbite.

Those troops who arrived fit to serve were not allowed to fight, or even carry arms. They were put to doing heavy manual labour such as moving large amounts of ammunition, and were under fire from the enemy but were not given the means to defend themselves. Seeing the footage is always a strong experience.

Another excellent programme, well worth watching.

I also recently attended a screening of “A Small Island”, a BBC programme based on the novel by Andrea Levy, at the Imperial War Museum. I shall blog about this soon.

On Sunday 15th November, Tony Warner of Black History Walks will be doing a presentation on How Black People Won World War II. Come along if you can - I'm sure it will be both educational and entertaining. Click here for more details.

It is so important for us to have a sense of our own history and cultural heritage, and our contribution to world history. This is an essential part of having high self-esteem and confidence. For more about this, see The Key to Confidence. See also, Success Strategies for Black People.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Power of a Black Skin

Further to my previous blog about the BNP on the BBC, many people have said that when the head of the BNP appeared on Question Time lately, he came across as a bumbling idiot.

However, around 100 viewers phoned the BBC to complain that he was treated unfairly and even “bullied”.

I still say we need to learn the lessons of history and stop giving these people free publicity.

I felt torn about blogging about this issue and giving it more energy. Although there are other, better ways to overcome difficulties and create the things we want, sometimes we have to engage and directly confront.

Mr. BNP Head himself said that he had been treated unfairly because there were too many African and Asian people in the audience as the programme was broadcast from London, which had been “ethnically cleansed”.

It’s useful to know that we can “ethnically cleanse” an area – just by turning up! That’s the power of a Black skin.

But the final word has to go to the folks at the quiz show Have I Got News for You the same week as the broadcast. During a photo quiz, when asked to identify a photo of Mr. BNP Head, Ian Hislop, Paul Merton and their guests all shook their heads and said “We don’t know who he is”. At which point the host, Martin Clunes, moved on to the next item without identifying him either.

In other words, treat this man as the nonentity he should be.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

One Year Ago

Check out this video from the President.

I was watching a programme about Beyonce the other day. She said, her young nephew doesn't understand why it's a big deal that the President is African American. This is the future we are creating - to the next generation, a Black President will be no big deal.

As he says, this is an historic moment. But we are not just interested in history, we are interested in change.

Click here to watch the video.

See also: Barack Obama, African American Success Story.