So, after weeks and weeks of homeschooling, I finally have more time to write about the experience, and as I thought, the optimism of the first few weeks didn’t last. Things got tougher once the ‘novelty’ wore off.
It was hard enough having to become ‘teacher’ because a virus was making the world a strange, unsafe place, and then George Floyd was murdered in America, the Black Lives Matter movement grew, and suddenly I had to introduce the concept of racism, murder, white privilege and justice to a six-year-old.’
I found help from his school who sent out great information about this delicate subject, help from YouTube videos, and found age-appropriate books that explained race and inequality in ways a little kid would understand and not get frightened by.
I would have preferred not to have to talk about such hateful things to my child at all, but I also know he needs to know at least a little bit about what the world has in store for him - especially as a young black boy.
I want the Stop and Search of young, innocent, law-abiding, intelligent young black boys and men in the UK to stop so my son doesn’t have to endure it in 8 years time when he reaches 14 (the age when many young black boys are first stopped).
Especially as I intend for him to do really well academically and have a good job, lifestyle, car and home – all of which are just a few reasons why many young black men are stopped by the police, time and time again, because they seem to equate, nice car = criminal.
I want to use my creative and digital skills, my workshops and mentoring knowledge, to help make that change in any way I can. There are new youth and digital media centres being set up across London to help give youngsters from deprived areas and BAME backgrounds, the new skills and employment chances they will need to escape poverty, and a lack of life chances made even worse because of the pandemic.
I intend to carry on mentoring kids aged 6 -12 and 12 - 21 in, maker-craft, tech, digital design and graphic design via virtual summer workshops across London and through my afterschool hubs, starting in September 2020.
Becoming ‘teacher’ at home has meant that when Oak National tells my son about Florence Nightingale, Shakleton and Edison, I can also teach him about Mary Seacole, Katherine Johnson, Alexander Mathews and Lewis Latimer, alongside them. So he knows that without these black contributors, many things like the light bulb, lifts and space travel might not have happened.
I really want to change the current school curriculum, so that black innovators are reflected in foundation subjects such as history, science and engineering. Many great black inventors, explorers and pioneers past and present have helped shape our world. And yet, their stories are never told. It’s time for that to change.
Inspirational black people past and present, to look up:
Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780), Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), Dr Shirley Thompson, Margaret Busby (1944-today), Malorie Blackman (1962-today), Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent OBE, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE.