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The Sly Erosion Of Blackness

by Sherrelle Parke
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A people without a knowledge of their history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey 

Something sneaky is going on. The longstanding complaints that Black history is not effectively taught in schools, or that the single month of October is the only national nod to the contributions of Black people in the UK, remain unchallenged and unattended to. But there seems to now be a much more insidious erosion of ‘Blackness.’ Two specific events in recent months point to a more systematic and strategic attack on Black culture and history.

Firstly, the appointment of the UK’s first (unofficial) ‘Minister of Common Sense’. Ester McVey was reappointed to Government by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, as a minister without a portfolio in November 2023 – which means she’s not in charge of any specific department. Her exact job role is suspiciously vague. She has described her role as Cabinet Office minister as providing “scrutiny and oversight across all departments to ensure we deliver best value for the public.” Critics have labelled the new position an attack on “wokeness.” Essentially, the fact that Black people (and others) are becoming more awoke to racial and social injustice, and stoking political consciousness, is now a cause for concern among right-wing conservatives, to such a degree that they have assigned a government minister dedicated to it.

One might ask what does this ‘anti-woke’ agenda look like? Well, as an example, in December 2022, McVey was one of 40 Tory MPs to argue that “cutting diversity and inclusion officers could save the taxpayer more than £500 million” as well as saving time wasted on diversity training. After so many have made positive efforts to get racial bias and disparity recognised at policy and corporate level, here comes a seeming U-turn because we are now too aware? Where is the common sense in that? And how far will McVey go in her war on wokeness? One dreads to think how her brand of common sense will be allowed to manifest itself, but we can presume that any efforts to promote fairness and equity for Black people are likely in the firing line.

Secondly, the recent announcement by the University of Chichester to suspend the masters by research (Mres) course on African History and the Diaspora, surprised many, as it is the only course of its kind in Europe. The university justified its decision due to an apparent lack of funding and low recruit to the course. However, students of the course retorted that it was not well promoted by the university in the first place. On top of the gaping educational opportunity gap this decision opens up, and the withdrawal of one of the very few higher learning courses with a focus on African perspectives of African history, it also puts Professor Hakim Adi, the first Briton of African heritage to become a professor of history in UK, at risk of redundancy.

The course was set up by Professor Adi to train mature students from African and Caribbean backgrounds as historians, and he voices his disappointment in a podcast along with some of his students, suggesting that funding could have been used more effectively to provide bursaries to boost recruitment to the course. The fact that such a unique offering can be so easily dismissed, without any consultation with students, illustrates the complete lack of regard for the preservation of Black history. Notably, the Black community responded and a petition encouraging Chichester University to reconsider its decision attracted almost ten thousand signatures in a few days.

In short, we who are the genetically appointed protectors and propagators of our culture and history MUST be more mindful of how fragile our ‘Blackness’ is in the hands of others, and we MUST make more conscious efforts to preserve the rich legacies we have. This includes meaningful and consistent study of our history, for ourselves and the generations coming behind us, so that it lives and breathes in the very descendants rooted by it. This includes making sure our homes are centres of cultural learning for us and our children, because we know western educational institutions are unlikely to represent our history wholly or proficiently, if at all.

Have you noticed any other indications that we are slowing being dissolved into a meaningless pool of inclusivity, and slyly being erased out of the popular narrative? Leave some comments below please.

Sherrelle Parke

Sherrelle Parke

Hi I am Sherrelle Parke, a mother, entrepreneur, researcher, editor and writer with an extensive career in professional research and wider skills in community organising.
Over an 18 year stretch, I have led social research projects for the UK Civil Service and local governments, utilising evidence and analysis to shape national policy. I have delivered to international organisations, presenting on topics as diverse as early childhood education, maternal health, counterterrorism, Female Genital Mutilation, and youth crime. I have published works including an academic article on Neglected Tropical Diseases in West Africa – available in the Journal of International Health. After charity work in Tanzania, I was asked to be a trustee for the Mondo Foundation, a charity supporting women and schools in Tanzania, India and Nepal.
In 2023, I launched a parenting platform called Bantu Baby, to support Nubian parents in developing a home-schooling approach to teaching children Black History and self-pride. I published my first two children’s books which celebrate culture in fun ways.
I am also the lead editor of the Qubtic Revealer International Magazine.


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