To stop racism we need to rewrite our history books

This starts with school and teaching kids about black history and UK colonialism. The Labour Party’s pledge to introduce an Emancipation Educational Trust is vital and is an investment that is long overdue. The Emancipation Educational Trust will address the historic injustice of the slave trade. It will aim to provide school programmes and visits for young people to ensure it’s never forgotten.

It will highlight positive stories often hidden from history, including the immense strength, sacrifice and resilience of those enslaved, and acknowledge the special wealth and beauty of Africa and the Caribbean. The trust will look to consult with banks and businesses with historic links to the slave trade, to establish bursaries for education and training for black, Asian and minority ethnic people.

The misrepresentation of particularly black African Caribbean people throughout history has had a negative accumulative effect, not just on black African Caribbean people but on how said people are perceived.

So we need to start again, we need to look at history and improve how it is taught and how black people are represented. Not only to give – as Whitney said – a sense of pride, but fundamentally as Bob Marley in his famous song Buffalo Soldier sang: ‘If you know your history, then you would know where you coming from, then you wouldn’t have to ask me, who the heck do I think I am.’

Therefore, part of the solution is recognising the role that each of us play in each other’s lives and the understanding that, to progress, it should not mean the destruction or dehumanising of another – but an understanding of each other.

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Let me put my point in the current context – with the comments made about Ovie Soko, a black guy who recently appeared on this year’s Love Island. I have never watched Love Island so I had to research what was so amazing about him. He is definitely attractive but that wasn’t it – there were comments like: ‘he is so nice, so calm, so compassionate, I have never seen a black man be so in touch with his feelings,’ and so on.

It was these comments that reinforced to me just how important representation on all levels is. I have known many amazing black men in my life – of course my earliest memories in my own family showed me that, but the fact that to large parts of society this was an alien concept surprised me.

But when you reflect on representation in the media and in the news, you begin to see how this imbalance of perception and reality exists and affects how people view others. Especially those who are different from them.

The Fabian Society and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan are campaigning for a slavery museum in London to help with the teaching of the UK’s colonial past. I am not keen on the name but the concept is to be encouraged.

I was so pleased to read this month that Glasgow University is to pay £20million in reparations after their link to the slave trade was revealed. This is a great example to set and I look forward to banks and institutions with links to the slave trade recognising their responsibility and doing the same.

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These proposals come at a time when racism is increasing, amid fears the polarised Brexit debate, the nationalist rhetoric, Trump as US president and Boris Johnson as prime minister has legitimised abuse in some people’s eyes.

Londoners from African Caribbean, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds continue to face racial discrimination every single day. Instead of accepting the legitimising of oppression and discrimination, we must remember not to repeat the mistakes of the past and dispel the myths of centuries-old tropes about racial inferiority.

Proper history lessons at school is a very good start.



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