In the first of a series of reflections on the recent Black Lives Matter protests from local Labour Party members, Grace Hardy remembers a class discussion she had at school.
In a class at school, we’d been told that The Holocaust wasn’t on the German curriculum. That wasn’t true, their curriculum has always included Holocaust education. But we unanimously agreed that if it hadn’t, it would be very wrong. After all, you would expect German children to confront the atrocities in their own history, otherwise how could they learn from them?
Sitting in that history class we had no idea that our own country is first in the queue when it comes to “not confronting our responsibility”.
Throughout my history lessons, we looked at our “glorious” role in the liberation of the concentration camps, condemned the US for their involvement in The Vietnam War, and condemned the US AGAIN for McCarthyism. Then we praised Martin Luther King for his role in the civil rights movement before heading right back to condemnation, when we decried Malcolm X for protesting “the wrong way”.
British imperfection was touched upon during WWI studies, as some Generals were depicted as bumbling and short-sighted. But that was about as close as anything came to introspection.
Yet the slightest research will lead to an understanding that Britain has a starring role in an historic and continued production oppression. It should not be left up to individuals to peel back the curtain and discover our ugly truth. We have a responsibility to reform the curriculum and give our children a much fuller picture of what it means to be British.
As it stands, we don’t teach history in our schools: we whitewash it. If we want to make lasting change, we must dare to look at ourselves in the historical mirror and say “Never again” instead of “It never happened”.