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Why Black History Month?

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Black

In this article I unapologetically use the word black.  It indicates people of African origin, who can be found around the world in various shades and sizes.  It is an all-ecompassing word which covers black Africans, black Caribbeans, Afro Brazilian, Afro Columbians, African American, Black British, Black Canadians, Black Asians and Afro-European.  There was once a time black may have been deemed to represent something negative – as can be seen by language denoting a very bad situation – black hole, black witch, black day.  The phrase “Black is Beautiful” was invented to counteract the negative connotations – and today most black people are proud to be black.

To use the term African – would not denote black people, since there are many Africans who are not black. These would include people from North African countries, and whites who reside in South Africa and Zimbabwe and elsewhere who have for generations lived in Africa and are Africans.

History

History refers to events of the past.  Even yesterday is history.  History shapes our future.  We always want a backstory when we encounter something or someone new. Historical stories are loved by all.  Some stories are full of adventure, some are basically crime narratives.  There are villains and victims in all of history.  Some history is so bad – it had to be white-washed and made palatable for sensitive generations.

The press has been guilty of colluding with the corruption of history.  Only good stories could be published.  Only what the Government approved of could be published.  Even today – bias and hidden truths are rife.  Publishers – only wanted certain types of books.  The feel good type, or fantasy tales – were readily accepted. But hard truths were limited to knowledge passed underground by activists or abolitionists.

Black History Month

Black History Month has been around for a long time, but most of the country ignored it.  Black Communities however had always welcomed and celebrated it in some form or another.  Some local councils and schools would organise some activity or have speakers in.  Since the 2020 Black Lives Protests, people have decided to put place more importance onto celebrating black history in October – in the UK and February in the USA.  Black History. This link provides a history of how Black History Month Started.

The Workplace

In the workplace, this is where the majority of people spend their lives, outside of the home.  It is a home away from home.  Many use the opportunity to get to know people from different cultures if they are in the workplace. 

But for some UK companies, Blacks are not in the workplace. Blacks cannot get in the door, unless they are the cleaners, or working in the kitchen.  Why is that?  When you check the Team website of some work places – the team is all white, and mostly men.  Those work places need to realise that the world is changing.  They are missing out on brilliant ideas, out of the box thinking, dedicated and hard working people.  An Asian Contingent in the workplace is not a Black Contingent.  They are different.  Their background and experiences are different.

How companies should celebrate black history month.

Companies need to acknowledge that October is Black History Month in the same way many rush to identify with Pride Month in June. This month tends to unintentionally expose those who are closet racists and ignorant.  Those who say – why do we need a black history month? Or when is white history month? Or – this is boring.

Companies can use the month to:

  • Make opportunities to talk about black influence in various spheres of life such as music, entertainment, food, fashion and sport.
  • Acquire black art for your walls in the office
  • Invite on site – Black Visual Artists for Residential Sports.
  • Get a Mural done.
  • Organise the circulation of reading lists, and encourage staff to purchase books (or buy the books for them)
  • Watch teaching videos around black history and current affairs.
  • Watch interviews with black trailblazers, entrepreneurs, professionals, charity workers. Find out about the amount of great work which is happening – which is sometimes unrewarded.
  • An event can be organised where Speakers and Performers can come in
  • Encourage staff reach out to local black entertainers to offer a paid gig at work.
  • Convene serious soul-searching seminars as well as some merriment. Invite black academics, poets or authors.
  • Note – this is not an Asian History Month.  This is a Black History Month. Do not water down or dilute this celebration.

Black History Month can reduce Racism

Racism usually comes from ignorance.  A certain group of people only know negative black history – slavery, violence, drugs, incarceration, poverty.  For them blacks are seen as less than white or Asian people.  They have little respect – and this is exacerbated if they have never become friends with black people.

Black History Month serves to reduce this ignorance.  It serves to give a more rounded view of the black population, by highlighting black heroes and heroines, some of whose stories were hidden from view and are only now coming to the fore.  Everyone can see black singers, rappers, sports people and appreciate their talent.  But we do not know of what they went through to get there and that backstory is what can strengthen and inspire a generation.  For many it provides a healthy respect between cultures. 

In the workplace, good experiences can help to educate the hiring managers, that hiring diverse staff is good for the company.  Decisions should be made with diverse people in the room.  Promotion should be based on merit – but also with an eye for inclusion. 

If a company celebrates different parts of the world who are represented in the workforce, it leads for better understanding of cultures and better cohesion.  There would be less microaggressions which are carried out innocently by staff on a daily basis.  It wears down black and minority ethnic individuals – but most soldier on, brushing it off – but it sticks in their minds and makes them uncomfortable.

Black History Month should be viewed as a time of Celebration and Education – designed to improve social cohesion and an understanding of differences between races and culture.

Yes, we can help you organise a Black History Month Event – should you need assistance. Email info@blackeconomics.co.uk

To Check out listings and other information about Black History Month (UK) visit here…

An amazing List of People who are currently making History on our Youtube Video Channel.

Here is an example video of a current trailblazer – Chef Collin Brown