“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey
Yes, it’s that time of the year again where we celebrate and explore how our history has cultivated our cultural behaviours in today’s digital age. 2017 has been a rollercoaster of events for the black community. The growing list of names used as hashtags to highlight those who have been unjustly killed by police forces is worrying. We still have to witness our beautiful historic culture and heritage be wrongly appropriated repeatedly for profits whilst fighting for inclusion in the same repeated offenders particularly in the creative industry.
On a brighter note, we managed to help Cardi break a 20-year-old Billboard 100 record, Rihanna broke the internet with her beauty brand, Fenty Beauty leaving her competition in dust and Edward Enniful was appointed British Vogue editor-in-chief (first black and first male to do so) and has already pushed towards diversity in the once very white workplace.
Black History Month is and forever will be an important time to reflect, learn and embrace our comprehensive history but it should also be a time where we as a generation can continue to seek progression in society, overcome societal stigmas and thrive as a community. There are many ways, you and I can get involved not only this month but also in the near future. This could be attending educative black history events, reading and of course, supporting black businesses. Continue to read for more information.
It’s impossible not to find a black history associated event in the UK especially if you live in big cities such as London and Birmingham. Have a look around online or via social media (Twitter and Facebook are probably best) and attend any that interest you. There has been a steady rise of active black creatives who have been hosting talks and events so your support would be much appreciated plus it is a good way to network and learn more about different cultures and social perspectives. For events, follow the link: http://www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk/listings/
Educate and Understand:
Even though, racism is a “hot topic”, there is much more to Black History to the naked eye. For a tiny island that once was recognised as the most powerful colonies in the world, it’s impossible to believe that there is little to no history of Black Britons influence in today’s current society and infrastructure. Apart from Mary Seacole, I wasn’t really taught much about British Black icons which lead me to believe that our ancestors were mainly just slaves but frequent visits to the library, watching documentaries and speaking to friends and family, I was able to gather a clear understanding of why my parents left home for the UK in the 80s and such inequality exists in the western world.
A great place to start is a museum if you are into art and designs. Some are accompanied by a staff member who may speak into great detail about the African/Caribbean history and their journey to the UK. Tate Modern is currently hosting an exhibition to much acclaim (more info). Liverpool also has an International Slavery Museum, open throughout the year.
Knowledge is power so reading is key! Books, books, books are probably the best way to grasp a detailed understanding of people’s experiences and opinions on such race-related topics. Here are a few recommended reads that might interest you: Black and British: A Forgotten History, Why I’m No Longer Talking…About Race, Melanin Monologues, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Documentaries, films and videos are also another way you can learn about Black History as an alternative to reading. YouTube is the best source for in-depth interviews and journals of historic events.
Pretty much says it on the tin. It’s time to stop feeding these corporations that continue to profit from our culture with no given credit to the origin of heritage and start supporting our black entrepreneurs. I’m not saying do a massive clear out of products that are not black-owned but start being conscious of who you are giving your money to. Though most brands advocate diversity through advertisements, their company values determine otherwise (see L’oreal) so why support a company that isn’t transparent with their views and beliefs? I have been doing some research and found a great Instagram account (follow Black British Shoppers) which promotes black-owned businesses around the UK, Bloggers such as Curlture and Saabirah actively support black owners and promote their products too from accessories to hair care.
It is our responsibility to keep to preserve our legacy and importance of Black History Month for future generations. I will be doing my part from now on and hopefully after reading this YOU can too!