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Black British History Black Influences on British Culture Black British History Black Influences on British Culture
Black British History Black Influences on British Culture

How did the idea for Black British History Black Influences on British Culture come about and how did you go about researching all the entries for the book?

Robin Walker, Paula Perry, Anthony Vaughan and I worked together as volunteer teachers at the Croydon Supplementary Education Project (CSEP) teaching African history to Key Stage 3 level pupils. The idea for the book came about because we wanted to expand the teaching material for our students.

 

To our knowledge, there was no other educational resource covering this subject designed specifically for young people. We created a list topics to research, i.e. Civil Rights Struggles, Claudia Jones, Migrant jobs, Mods, Punks, Skin Heads, Teddy Boys, etc; to teach but we quickly concluded this information was too important not to share with other children and so it developed into a textbook.

 

Let’s go into a bit more depth about the book, can you give us a synopsis of it?

Black British History: Black Influences on British Culture (1948-2016) is a textbook that covers nearly 70 years of struggle (civil rights, racism, violence) and how aspects of Black/African culture were incorporated into the mainstream.

 

The focus is on 70 years of Black music, from Calypso to Grime and the influence Black music had on British sub-cultures. We begin the chronicle from 1948 as this marks an important juncture in Black British history. The book follows significant events in chronological order that took place in Britain culturally and the impact on race relations in this country.

 

This book contains a picture appendix to accompany the content and can be used as an educational resource for secondary school pupils at key stage 3 level (11-14 years old).

 

Why did you decide to focus the book on key stage 3 of the national curriculum?

We decided to focus on this age group because we recognised this age is the beginning of a critical moment in young people’s lives. As the writers Amos Wilson and Juwanza Kunjufu have proven, young people at this age are more at risk of negative peer pressure that may cause them to join a gang, carry a weapon, and/or take drugs.  Children start to become more aware of their cultural and racial identity.

 

Along with puberty, self-esteem issues, confusion, insecurities and fears which may not be understood and/or appropriately addressed by teachers, can lead to exclusion from school. According to the Department for Education website regarding Permanent and Fixed Period Exclusions in England: 2016 to 2017, under the category of Exclusions by pupil characteristics – Ethnic group – “Black Caribbean pupils had a permanent exclusion rate nearly three times higher (0.28 per cent) than the school population as a whole (0.10 per cent)” (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/726741/text_exc1617.pdf)

 

 

Why is it important for children to learn about Black history both in and out of school?

It is important for children and adults alike to learn about history. Dr John Henrik Clarke wrote “…History is a clock that people use to tell their time of day. It is a compass they use to find themselves on the map of human geography…”  All children should learn about the contributions that African people and people of African ancestry have made to this world.

 

By not learning this information, all children from any heritage will have a distorted view regarding African people. It is imperative for children to learn African history as this is fundamental in framing their self-identity, which may be adversely affected by the whitewashing of history.

 

While it is acknowledged that changes have been made to the secondary school curriculum since 2008, with the inclusion of inspirational figures like Olaudah Equiano, some may view this as tokenistic. In the conclusion of our book Robin Walker describes how there is room within the National Curriculum to incorporate more African history into schools.

 

 

You’ve also said parents will enjoy this book. What is it that they will take away from it?

Parents can teach their children about the positive contributions Black/African people have made in this country. The feedback we often receive from parents is about their uncertainty of where to start teaching African history with their children. This book can be a starting point and can be used as a guide, because we have provided questions and activities for the children.

 

As the content focuses on the Windrush generation, this may help people relate their own experiences to history. Parents, grandparents as well as young people, can engage in learning about what has taken place and how individual and family journeys play a role in the whole story.

 

 

‘Children will find the book’s content empowering’. What do you mean by this?

Children will be inspired to set high goals and achieve their own success with an understanding that great things can be achieved despite adversities. One of our duties as human beings is to pass on knowledge. Children equipped with this knowledge are therefore empowered to pass this information on and will feel confident to do so based on what they have learnt.

 

 

How have you overcome the challenges you’ve met during your business journey what additional advice would you give to other young female entrepreneurs?

I seek to learn from setbacks. While I may initially feel disheartened, I look for the lesson within and attempt to find another route. I would advise young females whether they are entrepreneurs or not to be driven and adopt a winning mentality.

 

Have courage, self-discipline and determination. Believe in your own gift, have confidence in yourself and go for it! It is important to build a supportive network of like-minded people and mentors with the right knowledge and experience.

 

One of the things that has helped me along my journey is changing the way I view personal and business ventures. I now call them experiments. If it doesn’t work, I’ll try another experiment. That way, I am not focusing on ‘failure’. “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” (Frederick Douglass)

 

What have been some of the books that have inspired your personal and business development and why?

When We Ruled by Robin Walker provided the missing pages in my African history knowledge and helped me learn more about myself and where I am coming from. Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad opened my eyes to an understanding of how different people think which creates the different types of lives people live.

 

Books such as Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T Harv Eker, The Success Principles by Jack Canefield and The Power of the Subconscious Mind by Dr Joseph Murphy, also contributed in shaping my understanding of this concept in relation to business.

 

 

Complete the sentence ‘Black History Month’ is important because…

History is a powerful tool for changing perceptions and challenging stereotypes. Black History Month can be used to create forums to challenge misconceptions and provide the platform for open discussion and celebration centred on all things relating to African history and culture. Black History Month is important, but we must use it wisely. For it is necessary to know where we have been to understand where we are now but more importantly where we need to go.

 

Vanika will be exhibiting her book Black British History Black Influences on British Culture at the next Black Business Networking & Growth event taking place on 25 September, We Work, 2 Leman St, E1 8FA 6-9pm For limited FREE tickets visit https://ebonyonline.net/tickets

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