Throughout my middle and high school history lessons, I always questioned what we were being taught about American history and inquired as to why the topics of Native American displacement and the subsequent slavery of Africans were only two chapters or 1 month out of the entire school year. These two parts of history have left a legacy that is very poignant and tangible today. Every school history textbook that I've searched in lacked two things that I believe are essential in understanding these two ethnic groups today: the cultural background and history of Native Americans and Africans before subjugation, and their heroic or groundbreaking roles in American history from 1776 to now. The tours we had of St. Paul's and Brixton with Dean Adams and our guide, Tony delved into this side of history that is largely unspoken in America and the United Kingdom.
We began at the UK's version of Wall Street, known as St. Paul's, where many medieval and colonial guilds are established. These groups no longer sell products like saddles from the Saddlers Guild or Goldsmiths from the Goldsmiths guild, but they still retain a large amount of wealth and influence on the British, and global economy. Tony pointed out that their source of wealth originally came from Africa- the Transatlantic slave trade (goods which were produced and sold) and sometimes slavery itself. The evidence of this can be seen in their exotic logos such as lions and leopards that are obviously not in the U.K. but expressed as icons of strength and ferocity.
But their influence in African history did not end there. One of the more widely known modern examples is Nelson Mandela's requests to large business from the U.K. and US like Barclays bank, IBM, Ford, General Motos, HBSC, and Llyods Banking Group (and which used to insure slave ships and their human "cargo") to stop investing in South Africa as it per pushes unequal treatment under apartheid. Ironically, when he was freed and elected president, those CEOs applauded his speech to the British government on the condition of South Africa.
We also learned about the documented presence of Africans in London since the time of the Romans (about 2000 years ago). There was so much information jammed into this tour but Brixton, in South London on the Victoria line, was an excellent manifestation of the diverse minority groups in the U.K. This area is relatively poor compared to central London which is disheartening. But on the bright side, they have been and continue to increase sustainable business practices that bring people and commerce to their side of town- including people trying to gentrify the area.
To tie this back to public health, discrimination and poverty are immediate SES factors that lead to poorer health and lower quality of care. So it's important to learn/ appreciate history so we can understand why certain regions and statistics are the way they are.
Cool fact: David Bowie and Naomi Campbell are from Brixton!