One of the main obstacles to the present day achievements of African/Caribbean, African/American or African/European heritage is the negative stereotypical imagery that is so widespread in our society. This is further reinforced by the absence of their original African names. If one learns that an individual, by the name Singh, has made an important discovery in the field of science, written a book or composed an opera, then one could be fairly certain that the said Mr. Singh is of Asian descent. Likewise if the name were Patel or Chin one would be aware of their ethnicity. If however we hear of Dr Charles Drew, the founder of the world’s first blood transfusion service, most people automatically assume, by virtue of the European name, that he is white.
While the nationalities of the great figures of history are common knowledge, their ethnicity is not. How many of you, Black, White or Asian, are aware that the French author Dumas was Black, that the first commercially viable electric light bulb was invented by a Black scientist, Lewis Latimer. These are but two of a multitude of examples where people with an African racial heritage, have made their historical mark. Until this knowledge is included in the mainstream of world history, peoples of African/black heritage will continue to suffer the burden of negative imagery that is forever portraying the race as low achievers and mentally inferior or deficient.
If having read the following pages, and you work in education, and you can say that you are already aware of most of these facts, then fine. If not, what hope is there for our children?
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter”
Martin Luther King, 1929 – 1968