Plight. A word that is all too often intricately associated with Black lives and the Black experience. It is not a uniquely Black experience though, many other people groups throughout history, and to this day, can claim the same struggle. However, as we approach the end of a year that has been fraught with Black pain and a seemingly inordinate amount of Black grief, we wanted to take a step back and re-examine the narrative of Black history as we know it. We are reclaiming our time, as Ms. Maxine Waters would say, and flipping the narrative. That’s not to say the struggle isn’t real, we’re simply saying the narrative is broken.
Growing up in Scotland, we were taught hardly any Black history in school, in fact Black History Month was barely a recognised concept. This is not because there is no Black history to be learned, the British empire has a long dark history rooted in the slave trade and colonisation, it just simply wasn’t a priority. And it’s still not - but hopefully change is on the horizon.
One thing that has become very clear this year is that education is essential, crucial even. When people know the root of things, they are better informed and better able to understand how the consequences of past actions manifest in current events. Just like how doctors review their patients’ history before diagnosing and treating the problem, we have to understand the past to inform what is happening in the present and how we can change the course for the future. This can only be done through proper education of Black history. As long as people remain uneducated, the oppressive systems that perpetuate the injustices we see will continue to frame and control the narrative that upholds white supremacist ideals.
But let’s step back even further.
Before the founding fathers of white supremacy touched on the shores of the African continent.
Before the land rich with gems and minerals was raped and pillaged in the name of colonisation.
Before there was a need for Black History Month.
You see, before we were foreigners, we were a people with some of the most advanced earliest civilisations. If you’ve ever been to Egypt and observed the wonder of the pyramids - we built those. Before we were colonised, we were Kings and Queens and rulers of nations boasting great wealth. Before we were enslaved, we were a free people rich in our diversity of culture, languages, foods and lands.
The truth of the matter is we still are! Despite the many struggles Black people may experience, we have persevered and continue to fight for the freedoms that are rightfully ours. You cannot understand our resilience if you do not know about the warrior spirit that runs through our blood as a people. Our voices are loud and proud in our pursuit for justice and equality because we know our worth.
And that is the whole narrative. That is the history we are reclaiming. And with reclaiming, comes freedom.
The plight in our history is not the only story there is to tell. We are a resilient people so our story continues to be great and will become even greater as we reclaim our identity. Just like there is a sense of victory and pride in white history, Black history has that same narrative. And we are choosing to own it, share it, reclaim it and claim it often.
Next up - Reclaiming Black Greatness