Celebrating and marking Black History Month
29th October 2021 by Ellie Thompson
As Black History Month comes to an end, we wanted to mark and reflect on Black History Month by giving every member of the D&A community the space to share their thoughts on the importance of this month.
“For me, I wish ‘history months’ like this one weren’t needed. But the reality is that societally we still neglect Black experiences and undervalue Black lives. For me, the most crucial change that needs to be made is in our very understanding of why this month is important.
We need to look at these things as an opportunity for the psychological and social liberation of all of us, that Black people are doing the emotional labour for. We need to understand that Rosa Parks- for example- gave us all a gift, but it was especially a gift for white people to realise their part in a dehumanisation rhetoric and their responsibility to unlearn, unpack and undo that rhetoric. The way to progress is to create space to truly explore where power and powerlessness sit, understand and stop the erasure of experiences and voices, and celebrate the gift and strength of diversity.”
“Black history month is a time for us to reflect on why it’s still important for us to have this month set aside and how it is linked to liberation for all. It’s also a time to think about the incredible celebrations of black people’s achievements!
For me this month I’ll be seeking to listen to stories of and about Black people throughout history. My favourite way to learn at the moment is through podcasts so here’s some ideas if you’d like to have a listen too;
“On all levels, it’s so important to remember and take responsibility for the unthinkable history of this and other nations and to acknowledge, honour and hear the experience of Black lives, past present and future. What a long journey and still far to go.
This month as always I find out more and more about people from the past who have been so inspiring and have achieved such greatness, but who have never been widely known or celebrated due to their race and colour.
I love D&A- sharing poems, celebrating Indigenous Day and now Black History Month is just so brilliant- makes me feel at home and in sound company!”
“I think that it’s important to reiterate that being anti-racist and making noise to make people hear that Black Lives Matter is something that we need to do every day and although continuing to have conversations around race all year, making a conscious effort to educate each other during October. As a white woman, I really recognise my privilege in being safer than Black women in many aspects of life, even down to the basic human right of health care – Black birthing parents are 4 times more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth for just one shocking example and it’s essential to continue to advocate and fight for Black lives in the hopes that more lives will be saved.
It’s also really important to recognise and unpack the intersectionality of racism, making sure that we support, listen and advocate for Black Trans Lives too and protect young Black Trans people has never been so important.”
“For me, Black History Month is working hard to do lots of things! Colonialism, racism, oppression is a story we don’t acknowledge anywhere near enough – although I sense it’s starting (but always too slowly and too late). (And the powerful have to give up their power which they don’t want to do!) It’s also about celebrating – the richness and diversity of different heritages and cultures and acknowledging the huge contribution Black lives have contributed to our history. It’s giving voice to unheard voices.”
“For me, this month has been a reminder to commit to anti-racism as a practice. Like most activities that involve practice, the aim is to actively engage in the activity, improving our proficiency until it eventually becomes second nature.
I also wanted to share some Instagram accounts that have been blessing my feed.
Black & Gay, Back in the Day honours the history of Black queer life in Britain and acknowledges the intersectionality of racism.
UK Isn’t Innocent is a youth-led platform that educates on present and historical systematic racism in the UK.
The Black Cultural Archives is the only national heritage centre to preserve the histories of African and Caribean people in the UK.”