Monday, 3 October 2016

Why Black History Is Important To Me

Last Thursday while I was going through some old things at home, I came across my school picture from 1998 when I was 11 years old. I remembered the picture so well because I had just come back from a five week family holiday to Zimbabwe and South Africa. Zimbabwe is the birth place of my parents and I have family living in South Africa too. It was my first time stepping foot on African soil and learning about where I come from, where my parents grew up etc.

Over the years I have been learning more about my family’s history how and why they left their home country to study in America and settle down in the UK.

Growing up in a predominately Caucasian neighbourhood and school, I didn’t understand where I came from, why we were classed as a minority, why we were treated as insignificant and the only lesson on black history we received was in year 9 in two one hour classes during Religious Education which baffled me because I didn’t understand why Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Rosa Parks were taught in Religious Education. It should have been part of the history class, but anyway that’s all I got. I remember going home doing my own research as a 14 year old school kid wanting to find out more.

Over the years that’s what I have been doing and learning more about the history of not only my country of origin but also my race. It has actually helped me to understand the struggles my forefathers went through, why family members, especially from the older generation had a particular mind-set and attitude towards certain things and why my parents were so insistent on us furthering our education all the way to university. I remember we even had a private tutor for subjects we weren’t excelling in and we had to get jobs the moment we finished school at 16 instead of depending on my parents. They sacrificed a lot, even their own lives just for us to not have to struggle and live the life they did.

When we know where we come from and what those before us have had to go through, it motivates you (well at least it does me) to work harder, to aim higher, because we have access to things that they weren’t allowed to by law. Because of them, we are able to advance academically, professionally and socially like never before, because of what they did for us! That’s why black history is important for me.

This time of the year is the only time we have events and workshops dedicated to our history where we can learn and appreciate where we come from and continue to invest in ourselves so we can be an example for the generation to come, because boy are they in need positive examples!

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