• Hannah Cartwright

My Education, or lack of, in Racism

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few days about how to add to this discussion. I’ve shared lots on social media, signed petitions, donated, written to my MP and I’m taking steps to further educate myself through books and various media. But I am yet to use my own voice on my platform. I don’t have the largest following or views and I’m confident from what I have seen so far, that those who do follow me are on the right side. I think the people in my life that need to see a lot of what I’m sharing are offline and I think this is where most of my energy will go in this fight.

One thing I would like to share on here though is a reflection of my education on racism in school as I know this is a huge issue that many others have spoken about. I grew up in Cornwall, attending an almost all-white primary and secondary school. I then went on to University in Cornwall, where again, my seminar rooms and lecture halls were predominantly white.

From my primary school education, I remember being taught terminology we could and couldn’t use. I don’t remember being told why, I just knew that if anyone was caught saying the wrong thing, you would land yourself in a lot of trouble and be expelled from the school. So essentially, we were told to not say racist things because this could impact us. This also instilled a fear in us as kids of talking about race and diversity. How could we learn or have these important discussions when we feared repercussions?

Moving on to secondary school, we were taught about slavery. We were taught about the Civil Rights movement in America. We were taught that one day Rosa Parks sat on a bus, sparking a series of events that ultimately ended legal segregation in America. Racism was no longer acceptable and therefore apparently no longer a problem.

Of course, I knew that this was not the case, but I was ignorantly unaware of just how bad racism continued to be. I still perceived acts of racism as verbal or physical attacks on a Black person. I did not think about how ingrained racism is within our society, present in every single aspect.

In my fourth year of University, we studied Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. I was shocked and appalled at myself by how much I learnt from that book. I had no idea about the history of racism in my own country. It had never dawned on me that school had only taught us about the Civil Rights Movement in America. Why had we never been taught about Britain too?

This spurred me to begin properly educating myself on racism. I actively consumed more media surrounding these issues and began to have more conversations with those around me. This however, is not enough.

Over the coming weeks, months and years, I will be sharing more on my blog. I will be reviewing more books about racism and more books written by BAME authors. I will continue to share useful links and resources over on my Twitter and Instagram. Alongside this, I will be educating myself. I will be signing petitions. I will be donating. I will write to my MP as often as is necessary. I will be anti-racist.

Petitions to sign:

(There are so many more out there so please keep signing, the fight does not end here!)

Battle Racism by Updating Reading Lists at GCSE

Make Black History Compulsory in Schools

Teach Britain's colonial past as part of the UK's compulsory curriculum

Add education on diversity and racism to all school curriculums

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