Before reading this take a look at the original article this piece is in response to here.
Tribalism? Right, so celebration of one’s culture is immediately equated to ‘tribalism?’ I never knew! You would have thought that a writer for The Telegraph would understand that an informed appreciation of ones culture is one of the most beneficial tools an individual can possess – whatever their culture. Knowing where you are from and an appreciation of heritage in its context is key to functioning within any society from infancy to old age, and to theorise Black History Month celebrations as ‘tribal’ is in itself a crime.
The problem a big man like Ed fails to grasp is that the problem isn’t in the celebration of any particular history (or culture), but the ideology that is attached to it. To be honest, I’m no big advocate of Black History Month myself and am thankful that at 22 years old, my education, and knowledge of my heritage is my prerogative. Just this week I heard complaints from ‘English’ friends about the lack of celebration of St. George’s Day, due to what was perceived as heightened political correctness and I don’t blame them.
Celebration of culture/history should occur equally, and shouldn’t have to involve slandering others in the process. As black people, we do it among ourselves with Africa vs Caribbean,Yardie vs Smallie etc. so no wonder people like Ed see it as ‘tribal’ – when in reality our native histories interweave and compliment each other.
However, the prize fact Ed misses by saying: “taxpayer-funded propaganda is psychologically put into the junk folder by most intelligent people,” i.e. state-funded celebration of BHM, is that the real ‘intelligent people’ will understand that it is fulfilling to learn more and celebrate any culture. I doubt in our society today any BHM celebration is ever solely attended by African-Caribbean’s, I’ve seen people of all races celebrating and actively taking part in black history celebrations in the past. Contrary to Ed’s beliefs we don’t spend BHM celebrations speaking in Swahili and dancing around fires in anyway that is seperatist. Anyone can join in.
If we’re really going to push this multiculturalism thing, the key is for people to develop a respect and appreciation for all cultures. With the majority of cultures nestled in thousands of years of history everyone has a lot to celebrate and be proud of.
As is often said: ”black history’ should be one and the same as ‘World history” but it isn’t. Skimming over Martin Luther King Jr’s exploits in a history lesson aren’t enough; hence the perceived need for a dedicated month to black history. If Ed wants us to stop celebrating Black History Month tell him to make David Cameron re-write the curriculum and tell primary school kids about Marcus Garvey, Steve Biko, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Fela Kuti and Olaudah Equiano. Tell us how there were black Britain’s here as far back as the 16th century, tell us why the Brixton riots started and tell us how Dennis Brown and other Reggae stars found home in communities such as Harlesden and made music promoting oneness.
An interesting quote from the article: “BHM not only doesn’t bring people together, whatever local politicians have to say – it provokes contempt and racism, since any “achievement” that has to be promoted by taxpayer-funded propaganda is psychologically put into the junk folder by most intelligent people. Which is a shame, because African, Caribbean and black American history is interesting and significant enough without Haringey council’s help.” Gallant though it is, Ed’s stamp of approval for our history is thwarted by the stupid assertion that funds should not be set aside for celebration of our culture. Are we not a part of your society in our numbers due to the government? Was it not big bad Britain who put together their best imperialistic propaganda to woo migrants to help build after WWII? Where did they get the idea that the streets were paved with gold…? Out of a coconut tree? And now you don’t want to help us retain our sense of identity?…rich.
Here’s another gem from Mr. West (no Kanye): “That same contempt is increased by the justification often aired that black history is necessary to raise the self-esteem of young black boys, as if they get into gangs because they’re not taught enough about Mary Seacole or that Roman emperor who may have been black or maybe North African.” I wonder how many black boys Ed’s spoken to and how much he knows about gang activity. Speak to a gang member and time and time again you’ll be told of the ‘belonging,’ status and pride that comes along with it. Now, these factors are not all immediately gained through knowledge of ones history, but as a part of a fundamental shift in attitude and an accurate perception of ‘self’ it helps prompt positivity.
For a long time, I’ve been saying that society is flawed in its values and what it celebrates. Western value of superstardom and wealth, which are deemed the metre stick for self-worth creates a lot of problems. Tell a young black boy from the moment he is born he is a king, part of a lineage of rich culture and observe how more or less likely he is to tarnish that. Your prison system is not rehabilitating and by then it is too late, black history and youth schemes in general are investments which will help ensure black boys grow up with a mindset that views gang activity for what it is: low life. But I guess you’d rather spend the money on tackling crime and showcasing black boys being thugs on prime time BBC TV. A whole ‘crime’ season, showcasing black boys in all their thuggery, but Black History Month celebrations should be rubbish? I guess it’s not as entertaining for you. I guess your wives enjoy the game of crossing over the road when they see young black boys walking towards them – because we’re all purse snatching thugs. I’m guessing she didn’t learn that from: “taxpayer-funded propaganda?”
If me and Ed do agree on one thing though, it is that multiculturalism is not without its flaws, but what is? Without going too deep into it, negative bi-products are unavoidable, as my final year dissertation, which explored whether American societal conditions caused misplaced aggression in young black men explored. It does. The story’s the same on these shores and that is why, though Ed seems to think history has no political purpose, I’ll have to wholeheartedly disagree.
It’s all about belonging. I find it cheeky that the government are trying to abandon the ‘monster’ (but to me more ‘donkey’) of multiculturalism, which they originally adopted with political motive. With a population that is increasingly un-British, the ‘British’ government needs to put things into perspective. You can’t be screaming about London’s diversity to the world, while suppressing it. I mean, coming up to the Olympics it’s that very multiculturalism that will carry #TeamGB.
Just three weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a the unveiling of a blue plaque in honour of Reggae singer Dennis Brown at an address in Harlesden. It was a great event, with a couple hundred people filling the street of all races, listening to the late artist’s songs, and reminiscing about his life. The organiser Nubian Jak is the driving force behind the first scheme to recognise black pioneers contributions to Britain, through commemorative plaques around the country. Much was said on the day about how good it was that the government was helping us recognise the African-Caribbean contribution to building Britain. The mayor of Brent gave a great speech assuring us that this country was proud of what black migrants had done for the country. Reggae lovers of all races were present to celebrate the occasion. But yet there are still idiots like Ed.
If the British government have a problem with helping me celebrate my heritage I’m sure my mother’s native St. Lucia and Jamaica won’t. Let’s all go back and see how well Britain fares without our multicultural selves.
For more information about the blue plaque scheme run by Nubian Jak visit NubianJak.com.