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  • Writer's pictureKirsten


This is a great article by Christina McKelvie MSP focussing on the strength of our diversity in Scotland and the importance of talking about this history:

As far back as the Celts and Picts, people were coming to what is now Scotland. They have continued to come, bringing diversity and new cultures that have become an integral part of the beautiful tartan that is modern Scotland. That rich history also includes people from countries like Africa and Asia and their descendants. However, their stories aren’t always told as part of our collective Scottish history. Black History Month champions the achievements and sacrifices of Black men and women and all people of African descent from around the world, and promotes vital discussion around issues such as racism, lack of equality and racial injustice.

Recently, the coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement have shed a light on the inequalities that persist today, making it all the more important to actively celebrate black history rather than just acknowledging diversity. In Scotland we are determined to play our part in eradicating racism, inequality and injustice and building a better, fairer world, although we know there is much more that we can and must do. To do this, we have to properly look at our history and place it in the appropriate context.

To this end, in June the Scottish Parliament made a commitment to support the development of a museum of slavery and empire. To help ensure that this work is done in a way that reflects the communities that have been affected by these terrible histories, we’ve established a panel of independent experts in museums, culture and race equality. They will make recommendations about how Scotland’s museums can represent a more accurate portrayal of Scotland’s colonial and slavery history. This committee will be chaired by Professor Sir Geoff Palmer, Scotland’s first black professor, to name just one of his major contributions to Scotland. But, as important as it is to understand the painful history of those who came to Scotland through the slave trade and empire, we have to recognise the positive, indelible contribution that they, and their descendants, have made to our country.

Education is a crucial part of our plan. Our curriculum provides opportunities for young people to learn about all aspects of history, heritage and culture of Scotland, including the role that Scotland played in the slave trade. But that is not enough. Under the leadership of the Education Secretary John Swinney, Education Scotland is looking at how to use existing teaching resources and developing further materials and professional learning, to teach about black heritage. Linked to this, we are also about to begin a programme of engagement with education and race equality stakeholders to identify how we can better support the teaching of Scotland’s Black history and promote diversity across the curriculum in schools. We are also looking at how we can better meet the needs of the teaching workforce to enable them to do so. BY ensuring our young people have a strong knowledge of Scotland’s past, we can help to make sure they understand the importance of tolerance and anti-racism in Scotland’s present. Also, we have to acknowledge the effects that Covid-19 continues to have on our society. We know that some minority ethnic groups have been disproportionally affected by Covid-19, both in terms of health outcomes and wider impacts, including economically. To help build our understanding of this, and shape our response, we established an Expert Reference Group on Covid-19 and Ethnicity, which has already submitted its initial advice and recommendations. These include recommendations on systemic racism and structural issues, as well as data and health inequality.


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