‘I think it's really important that we start to introduce the idea of race with a Black History that begins before teaching kids what black people were told they couldn't do, right?'
George, an unarmed black man, died whilst being arrested by police outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 25 May.
In viral video footage taken by a bystander, a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, can be seen kneeling on the 46-year-old’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, whilst pinning him to the ground. ‘I can’t breathe…please stop,’ were his last words but the police officer continued to choke him until he lost consciousness. He died in hospital an hour later.
In America, a black person is three times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a white person according to the Mapping Police Violence research collaborative, with one in 1000 US black men expected to die at the hands of the police.
Our global approach to race needs to be redressed immediately and the protests and riots are proof that the world is refusing to stay silent any longer.
The way forward is education. It is only with education, that we can amplify each other’s voices in demanding change.
This is something American Son actor Kerry Washington opened up about this week, explaining the need to change the way Black History is taught during a virtual appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
‘There’s a lot of posts about privilege looks like discovering that racism exists as opposed to knowing that it exists,’ Kerry explained. ‘For a lot of Black families, we don’t have the privilege of ignoring what’s going on and pretending that it’s not happening. But the thing I’ve been thinking about a lot, honestly, with my kids — and with my friends’ kids — I’ve been thinking a lot about education and a lot about talking about race and introducing ideas of race. And really thinking about the idea that for a lot of kids — kids are introduced to race at Black History Month or in the concept of change-makers like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.’
She continued: ‘I think it’s really important that we start to introduce the idea of race with a Black History that begins before teaching kids what black people were told they couldn’t do, right? So, there’s Maasai Warriors and the kingdoms of Ghana and Queen Nefertiti and the pyramids of Egypt. But this idea of teaching kids that Black History and Black people were a lot of things before segregation and Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement, so that we understand the beautiful complexity and elegance and richness of Black History before refusing to be put in the back of the bus.’
This is extremely important.