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Jeremy Corbyn has recently proposed thatBritish school children should be taught about the history of the realities ofBritish imperialism and colonialism. This would include the history of peopleof colour as components of, and contributors to, the British nation-state –rather than simply as enslaved victims of it. As Corbyn rightly noted: “Blackhistory is British history” – and hence its study should be part of thenational curriculum, not segregated in a single month each year.


(译注:杰里米·科尔宾,Jeremy Corbyn,英国最大反对党工党党魁,激进左翼人士)

‘Black history is British history’


Corbyn’s proposals would not only begin toredress the phenomenal gulf between academic history and the English schoolcurriculum. They would also help students to see people of colour as historicalagents. The proposals may also help to challenge the exclusivist andessentialist ways in which students are taught to view both Britain and thewider world

These proposals, however, have been metwith the type of outrage many have come to expect from white, middle-aged,right-wing conservatives. According to the “bullish” Brexiteer and ConservativeMP Tom Loughton, Corbyn’s proposals demonstrated he was “ashamed” of his owncountry – and was more interested in “talking down” Britain rather thancelebrating “the immense amount of good we have done in the world over manycenturies”.


A battle between revolting slaves andcolonial soldiers at the plantation Bachelor’s Adventure in the DemeraraProvince of British Guiana. Shutterstock


“Bad things”, according to Loughton, undoubtedly happened in the nameof empire, but Britain should be proud of its many legacies – including itsrole in abolishing the global slave trade. Not to be outdone, the equallybullish Brexiteer Jacob Rees Mogg trotted out Britain’s abolition of the slavetrade on Nick Ferrari’s LBC show. He also noted that while there were “blots”on Britain’s colonial history it had some “good bits” that were “reallywonderful”.


Denial about empire


As my own students have told me, being ableto interrogate difficult histories such as the history of empire, to explorethe myriad connections between people in different parts of the planet, or tostudy the writings of Indian thinkers and actors has given them a much betterunderstanding of themselves and their place in the world. Or, as one studentput it, it has enabled them to “grow as a person”. And that, surely, is whateducation is supposed to do.