It takes a lot of confidence to be this ridiculous.
In the aftermath of the Barbican’s Human Zoo Fiasco, we who opposed this atrocity are receiving a lot of backlash from ‘the liberals’. These are people, mostly white and privileged, who claim quite blindly that freedom of speech and the freedom of artistic impression are the most important things to preserve no matter what and in every situation. These are people who are more concerned with Brett Bailey’s hurt feelings and 750 (mostly white people who can afford to buy tickets that cost £20.00 plus a boking fee) who no longer get to oggle and gawp at black bodies in chains, undignified, and reduced to animals. They have no interest in listening to the democratic voice of over 23,000 people from all races, walks of life, and backgrounds who signed Sarah Myers’ petition. Anyway, Akala has responded to these people (for the last time) in this fantastic post on his Facebook page. Have a read.
It sums up everything I’d like to say on the matter. We won. We had every right to win. The Barbican did not consult the black community at any point in this process. There was only ONE black person on their Board of decision makers. They even had the audacity to claim that they ‘do not know who the black community are’ but still feel they have the right to present our history and ‘educate’ us in such a crass manner. As I always say, if education was the motive, free tickets would have been given to schools with high populations of children from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds. But that did not happen. Can you say EXPLOITATION, GREED, and ARROGANCE? In a very undignified manner, the Barbican have chosen to slander the peaceful protesters because they are pissed that they didn’t get their own way. And we have received no apology and no remorse has been shown. I guess that was just too much to ask.
Now, I was feeling pretty riled up over all of this because it reminded me that we need more black people and people of colour in the Arts in order to have enough voices representing ourselves. I was also painfully reminded that black people do not know enough, if anything, about our rich and vast history. We are not equiped with knowledge about life before slavery or even life after slavery to be honest and if we are it is because we have gone to search far and wide. The national curriculum is inadequate and in itself contributes to the censorship of black history beyond the chains. And when we do not know our history, we cannot tell white people and non-blacks about where we have come from. Ignorance means we will believe the limited information taught in British classrooms and we will digest and internalize all the negative things the media forces down our throats about black people, black communities, and Africa – The Motherland.
If you do not know where you have come from, you can never truly know where you are going. And it starts with reading. It starts with books.
So in an effort to turn all the negativity into something positive, something which we can learn from, I started a hashtag on Twitter to help us feel empowered: #BHMReadingList
People are tweeting what they’ve read, watched, seen, and what they hope to read, watch, and see. We are also tweeting questions and recommendations from an American context as well as a British one. So far so good.
To get involved, simply tweet your recommendations and use the hashtag #BHMReadingList throughout Black History Month and beyond.
“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X.