Historical Ignorance

Society is ignorant of the historical contributions of different communities. History is predominantly white-washed. We are often lead to believe that white superiority has been well-earned and that other cultures and communities migrate ‘on the take’. This historical ignorance is demonstrated in the dismissal of colonisation continuing to have negative impacts on racial equality, economics and poverty worldwide. The mistreatment of the Windrush generation who helped to rebuild the British economy post-war is also an example of history being distorted and white-washed. This can cause tension between different communities. For example, it contributes to white superiority attitudes and makes Black and Asian communities feel undervalued.

Michael shared his memory of an incident where he felt frustrated by the ignorance of racist people who told him to go back to his own country and how he responded by making a historically educational point. He also highlights the hypocrisy of the British migrating around the world with minimal fuss.“One time I was walking in the Northampton Town Centre and this group of White people started making monkey noises and [shouting], ‘Go back to your country! Go back to your country!’

I turned round to them and said, ‘My forefathers built this country.  In fact, they didn’t build this country with resources from this country, they were built with resources stolen from my continent.  So I tell you something, I have as much right to be here as you have.  In fact, I think I have more right because my forefathers built this country.  And this country was built on resources stolen from my continent!  So this country belongs to me more than it belongs to you. When my forefathers were building this country, all your grandparents and your forefathers did, was to sit on the bench, making the ropes that will lynch us, if we decide not to work.  So don’t tell me about, Go back to your country! Before you tell me to go back to my country, go all around the world and tell all your people who are there, to come back to their country before you come and tell me to go back to my country.” Michael Opoku (Interviewed 10 January 2018)