Definition (change): an act or process through which something becomes different.
I was having a chat with a friend last week and he said, “make it clear what your opinion is!”. I smiled. He knows full well that one thing I want is change. Not just a change of the narrative but tangible actual change.
The resistance to change never ceases to surprise me. During lockdown I’ve seen pubs open, clean haircuts and hairstyles on people that could only have been done at a top hair joint, grand picnics of thirty plus in the park and much more. Could we not just pause during a health crisis?
Yep, the economy is slowly opening up but have we changed? Do we want to?
For many, it’s an irrelevant question as it’s a chance to work again which is positive. Change is always seen as a negative in many respects. We don’t need to, there will be risks, failure and so on.
But change can also be positive that something new can enhance things in every way. That’s the romantic in me.
Prior to Covid-19, many of us had been spoilt by the choice of news and information we could absorb. We rushed, shopped, holidayed, ate when and where we wanted and then…
We had to stop. We had to listen. We had to fill our new found time. The noise had calmed down.
In the past few weeks we’ve had a wave of emotion, marches and protests worldwide following the tragic death of George Floyd and activity of the #blacklivesmatter movement.
One important distinction to point out is that we know Covid-19 is “new” yet we must not think the Black Lives Matter movement “suddenly appeared” to stoke our conscience.
It’s not just about overt racism but also a reflection of a systemic system that is about economics and humanity.
How can we deserve the beautiful plains, sky, sun, sand and beauty of nature and others if we cannot even be human to each other?
So, are we really, really listening?
- Do you fall on the side of “let’s just get back to how things were at the beginning of the year and all “this” will blow over?”
- Have you reflected on the past few months to realise it is not just a wakeup call but a call to action for you to do something different?
- Maybe you don’t know what the different is but you do know there has to be a fundamental change in many aspects of life.
To simplify things look at the society. Too many people have told me they want “change” and they are “waiting for something”. Waiting for what?
You need to take some action and it does not necessarily mean being vocal on what you believe in. It may be very personal but collectively everybody has to play their part.
I believe we cannot ignore everything that has happened this year and simply go back to “normal”. Whether it is the economy, health, livelihoods, history or culture it would be foolish to simply ignore all what has happened.
Why not do something and make sure your pre-self has learnt something this year to actually be part of the positive change.
I have an admiration for historians at all levels from primary school to university scholars. What do they do now in light of recent events? Do they accept what they are teaching? Will they change? Will students and graduates realise they have not been told the whole story?
Eight years ago, I performed monologues by a man called Ignatius Sancho. These were for the archives of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London. The Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African is a remarkable book of letters written by Ignatius himself to various “high society” people at that time. Born in 1729 on a slave ship, Ignatius ended up in the UK aged two.
Amongst being a composer, actor and writer, he was also the first Black Briton to vote in the British general election and was a freedom fighter against slavery.
Have you ever heard of him?
I hope you are asking questions and curious to do your own research:
- “He was born a slave but how did he become free?”
- “What, in the mid 1700s?”
- “Were there other Africans here at the same time?”
- “If he was free, how come there was slavery?”
- “What was life like for an African like him at this time in England?”
One thing I’ll quote from him was that he felt like he was “only a lodger, and hardly that.”
Ignatius Sancho by George Odarquaye Lamptey
The National Maritime Museum, 2012
One last thing on the historical context is that I feel the narrative needs to change on slavery.
Like “Nazism” was never abolished but conquered and overcome through the will and fight of many, the slave trade was not “abolished” but primarily overcome by slave revolts across the Americas and Caribbean, and the subsequent economic impact it had on the European powers, including the British empire.