Sunday 14 October 2012
Oh no not October again Catherine Johnson
Of course, it is Black History Month again. Although this year, my first school visit free October ever it does seem to vanish down the cracks of the national consciousness. Nothing on TV - oh there was a documentary on C5 about the Tuskegee Airmen- but nothing British. Or in the papers. And perhaps you might say, why do we need a separate stand alone month? Well of course Black History is all our history - even Garry Bushell's. But I do think it is important to say that Britain is made up of loads of different people and always has been. We are a tiny island, and people have always set sail and landed on these shores from all corners of the world. If you wanted any kind of purism, them really lets all move out and leave Britain to the Welsh speaking Welsh and the Cornish speaking Cornish.
And we hardly ever see pictures like this, Black people dressed as Victorians, or Georgians or Tudors. We always get the rags. (This inbalance in nice outfits was always one of my primary motors in writing historical fiction.) But of course there were pictures. Paintings, tapestries, photographs, even sculpture.
From a depiction of the Lord Mayor of London's procession in the twelfth century to the lovely Dido Belle painted by Zoffany in Kenwood we are there if you look. And for another example, next time you're in Trafalgar Square check out the reliefs at the base of Nelson's column and have a good look at some of the sailors.
There are loads of other books, including my own. And there are loads of histories that deserve remembering. What is important is finding ourselves in the past. And that says to kids now, you're alright, you're not 'other', you belong.
Posted by Catherine Johnson at 07:36