Today marks the end of Black History Month, a time where I hope we have all reflected on the role black history has made in shaping the world we live in today. It was a month in which we celebrated black culture and the contributions black people have made to society, but as we celebrate these achievements it would be wrong not to recognise that such accomplishments were often made whilst fighting against adversity, prejudice, and systematic structural racism.
During half term I was at an exhibition at the Royal Academy of the South African artist, William Kentridge. His artwork deals with themes of repression, subjugation and colonialism. One piece of artwork focused on the two million black Africans conscripted as carriers for the European armies of the First World War, shining a light on the individuals who contributed bravely to the war effort but who were almost entirely and deliberately erased from the historical record. It is extraordinary that two million people can simply be forgotten.
Now that Black History Month is over, we are not done – we don’t wait until next October to begin thinking about this again. Diversity and Inclusion is one of our three school priorities, with the aim of changing the culture of the RGS so that discrimination, whether deliberately hateful or unconscious, is eliminated from our community. Educating ourselves on black history, or any other marginalized group, should be our aim all year round, not just when the calendar tells us to.
Dr JM Cox