My name is Naomi Onyeanusi, I am a 15 year old school girl from North London. I was born in the UK but my heritage includes a mixture of Nigerian, Trinidadian, Jamaican and Ethiopian.
I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be educated in this country. I have been blessed with many great teachers who have exposed me to a vast amount of knowledge and who have taught me invaluable skills.
Whilst progressing through education, I appreciated the rich curriculum but I also noticed that there were gaps concerning the contributions of British ethnic minorities. In Primary School, there weren’t many books with ethic minority representation and whenever we did have those types of books it was because it was a link for Black History Month or a cultural day.
I always thought these matters would get better once I entered Secondary School. That secondary school would have more resources in the library and that there would be more time and opportunity to learn about the contributions of ethnic minorities in History. Whilst topics like Slavery, The Windrush, and The Black Panthers are key topics of black history, I feel as though there’s more to learn about black British history.
Surely the history of ethnic minorities did not begin when we were transported, conquered and enslaved by white people. What about black history before slavery?
What about the African kings and queens from the Benin era?
What about the history before Windrush that includes the creation of the commonwealth and the significant ethnic minorities from that period?
We learn about LGBTQ+ Rights, civil wars and refugee issues. Why can’t we also learn about modern day racism and recognising microaggressions?
I conducted a survey through my year with my school as my case in point. I won’t go into detail about all the questions but here was my main point:
‘Do you agree with this statement?: We learn enough about racism in school?’
7.4% replied strongly disagree, 59. 3% replied disagree and 33.3% replied agree.
I am not trying to say that my school is bad by any means, but I am saying that the lessons and the quality of them can be improved.
‘How can you reduce racially motivated issues and improve people’s knowledge on racism?’
That was the last question on my survey. From all the responses and my own personal feelings, I have a few solutions that could aid us. I have made a petition in an attempt to pursue greater development.
This was the most important question to me because anyone can recognise that there is a problem but acting on solutions to improve the problem is what takes us a step further.
Here’s my petition and examples of what I believe needs to be done:
We want the Government to:
– Increase curriculum content on ethnic history and racism, in primary and secondary school
– Require all exams and assessments be marked blind, to avoid bias
– Require all teachers to undergo unconscious bias training
I do hope you will read the petition and add your name.
(NB The photo is a stock photo from iStock by Getty Images)