Three words that start brewing around late August, pick up momentum in September and then come October we are overloaded with events, whether comedy, exhibitions, dramas, or music events.
There is still a need for Black History Month, but change as in all things must take place. Whereas I learnt about Martin Luther King, Garratt A Morgan, Charles Drew, Septimus Severes, Madame C J Walker, Harriet Tubman, etc etc the picture to promote those icons to today’s youth has somewhat altered, the historical roots to keep historical people and events alive aren’t as deep in today’s schools. The world has experienced a black President, and God Bless him, but with media, social and otherwise, taking on a different and higher power level, Black History has developed in its meaning – a new meaning.
This month represents so much more…
Usually, Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate prominent Black people who have inspired and overcome. I believe that Black History Month needs to be more than the history of the black experience. It is the history of race relationships in the UK, which started well before WWII. It’s a complicated history spread across three continents.
It’s beautiful, it’s difficult, and it’s so worthy of our time and attention.
The aforementioned black historians are still very much celebrated in the USA and Africa where the demographic of African Americans/Africans is naturally much larger in numbers than in the UK. However, we can’t ignore the fact that the UK has become extremely diverse and cosmopolitan, and black “culture” has very much risen especially in terms of music, food, fashion, art and even television. Having access to US TV shows with more black images has become the “norm” here in the UK (Scandal, How To Get Away with Murder, Blackish OWNTV).
On a music tip you can’t ignore grime artist Stomzy and how much he has closed the gap and has created an audience who envelope him – not his colour – him, and so a whole new generation has been socially exposed to black culture, the same can be said of Kendrick Lamar in the USA and also Jay Z….. which rap artist can you think of who donates millions (sometimes silently) to support many causes and also had the direct number of the then President of the United States on speed dial? These music makers are embracing this conversation and leading the way for the rest of us to continue the conversation.
This month needs to be more than looking at our heroes, no matter how inspiring they may be. It’s an opportunity for a dialogue with people of ALL colours. A chance for the majority to realise the privilege they take for granted.
So Black History Month needs to continue, in schools, socially, in our churches etc etc. History is history, and will always be history for every generation. Ignoring culture, chips away at the life experience of that culture and its generations. It eventually leaves that culture and generation feeling unwanted and invisible.
It’s on our shoulders to strengthen and develop the next generation. We NEED to celebrate our history and keep open the conversation for our children. To learn and grow from our past, to create the very best future we can. It’s up to us to keep the dialogue open.
How do you plan to acknowledge/celebrate/remember Black History this month? I’d love to hear your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Let’s talk about it!
I’m planning on participating in the following events and I’d LOVE to see you there!