Through my Image&Reality Black Africans in Renaissance England co-presenter Dr Miranda Kaufmann’s thoughtful, polemical response to a recent BBC Radio program I have had the chance to really consider why I am writing this blog. Summed up here in my response to the programs presenter’s defense of her position, is my manifesto as to why I write what I do:
I was saddened to read the reply from the program’s presenter, what she missed is the fact that my indignation was rooted in her program's claims about the black presence in two British Histories; at Dunkirk - ‘almost impossible’ for there to have been a black presence and during Elizabethan times – no proof of a black presence.
The media continuously reminds and confirms me of the possible roles or functions I as a black person, and people like me, can have in society through the stereotypes it creates. Reminding me of the things they believe I as a black person can do and cannot do, in doing so confirm and sustain their self-created stereotypes.
Here was the media, through this presenter and her guests, once again saying what and what not a black person could do, specifically it was ‘almost impossible’ for a black person to have an ancestor at Dunkirk or equally a family history dating back to Elizabethan times.
I would argue while it is almost impossible one can equally say it is remotely possible.
In her reply she fires a reasoned and rational broadside of supporting facts to defend her position, I’ve no doubt the presenter is well meaning and her facts are well researched and accurate, with a wealth of references, but she misses my point completely.
I was educated with a British history told with the presenter’s ‘accuracy and authority’ which most times excluded black people, where it did choose to include black people, their role or function was specifically defined.
I as a black person want to be considered as a possibility not dismissed as an impossibility, no matter how remote the former.
I as a black person want the opportunity to be considered, the presenter denies me, and people like me, that opportunity.
I as a black person, am looking to a British history which is inclusive, not exclusive, of people like me, a history in which black children can see possibilities - not impossibilities - for themselves and their family and friends: not being ignored; not having to fight to be considered and certainly not being told ‘it’s almost impossible.’