If the prey do not produce their version of the tale, the predators will always be the heroes in the stories of the hunt – Igbo proverb
It is presumed by many that the ‘backwards’ assumptions of the past were challenged with the dismantling of colonial rule alone, however these problematic opinions persist in a wide range of places in society- including academic discourse. One way we could look at interpreting decolonisation could be challenging these ways of thinking by what we teach in our institutions.
This point of view is shared by many students and academics across the United Kingdom. The movement Why is my curriculum white? started at UCL and has gained attention from many other Universities nationwide.
“The movement, which started at UCL, has created a wave of uprising against the ‘Whiteness’, Eurocentric domination and lack of diversity in the curricula with recent launches in Bristol, Birmingham, and Manchester, and an unwavering online presence.” (1)
What the video highlights are some key and universal problems
Many students said that the inclusion of POC authors was merely ‘tokenistic’. Much like ‘Black History Month’ or ‘Race week’ on a particular literature module. This trivialises the whole point behind the movement and actually highlights how easy it would be for this content to be removed without damaging the structure of the course at all. Ideally we need to shift our thinking to a place where these thinkers and authors are not thought of as supplementary but essential.
The fact that so many UK students can say they have never been taught by a lecturer that wasn’t white really shows that it is a combination of lack of representation and lack of inclusion. Why would you challenge something that praises your own identity? Most people don’t- this is why it is extremely important to open up the conversation and encourage more POC academics into the institutions that are perpetuating these issues.
The thing is- we have a long way to go and that is clear. Accepting this is a huge part of being able to make progress. The British Empire still had significant colonies up until 1997. It would be unrealistic to assume hundreds of years of colonial rule could be undone with putting a few postcolonial novels on the syllabus.