Local Roots and Global Routes. Hackney mais oui.

Well, on and on we go. Aren’t we there yet?

What I learnt today. I learnt that what I said years ago is confirmed by the learned. That is , that you cannot describe and share an heritage unless you touch on everything; the art, the stories, the language, the this, the that,  and that’s why all those community projects are recruiting artists and archivists to raise self-esteem in battered and abandoned communities by making those communities’ histories visible and comfortable. So you can’t teach about Black History in any month if you haven’t Kindled some black authors and got under their skins, if you haven’t boiled some grits, if you haven’t followed some threads like tie-dye techniques and batik-bashing. The once Niger-dwelling slave didn’t grow into her shackles. She had a life with her clan, a place in her hierarchal society, words of a language, and was just getting on with life like every ancient did. Her DNA travelled everywhere not just to cotton plantations. Her bone-dust blew into every continent and rested with penguins on ice.

As Black History Month’s been around for ages, then it must be that teachers were teaching only about slaves, numbers. numbers, slaves or the students this evening at Hackney Museum’s launch of their educational pack about enslavement and its connection to Hackney wouldn’t have been adamant that they’d never heard about so much of what was in the pack and that their own history was a negative one always about Africans as slaves. Or the fact is that they and their teachers needed skills in research methods. A quaint example was the fact that those kids who could write journals in the nineteenth century and ate from posh  china plates went on sugar strike to support the Abolition  of Slavery Bill.  That’s a bit like people not drinking Nescafe coffee because of the link with babies dying from cholera-saturated water in their formula milk. Global awareness is old aged.

The evening was brilliant in its welcome, its programme and in its staging. I support Hackney Museum because it has always been aware of its community a bit like Tesco being the first supermarket to sell okra in 1971. The community education officer is good down-to-earthiness. That job’s cut as from March 2015. The film was short enough. The poetry, the singing and the unscripted exposes about their classroom experiences by school and college students were ace.   “A Raisin In The Sun” is on telly as I write.

I’m going to read through the pack with an eye out for teaching outcomes and the provision of learning strategies for children with special needs.

In the seventies Gus John toured the large urban UK cities inciting teachers to force their employers, the local authorities with tremendous responsibility for education, to  recognise the black child in the classroom. He’s seventy this year and there are events to celebrate that and his tireless work to equalise our society. I have never seen him smile, never.

Updating that I’ve perused the pack and am NOT happy.I am going to challenge myself to get to grips with a critique. How to make enemies and lose friends. On it.


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