The Importance of Black History Month In The UK

Empire Windrush

We are at the end of another Black History Month. I have been reflecting on all the tweets, blog posts, events and other activities that have happened this October. In particular, I have been thinking a lot about the importance of  BHM in the UK and to those who self identify as Black & British. I have also considered my contribution to BHM and this project that I set up at the start of 2017.

What was a passing thought a few years before I first set up the Twitter handle, has become something that I dedicate a few hours to every week without fail. Why the project is important to us is partly linked to why Black History Month exists. I have discussed in an earlier post about my identity growing up in the 70s as a Black British child. Whether your heritage was African or the Caribbean, your parents held onto and instilled in you an identity that was related to their country of origin. It could have been through food, music, language, jokes, social events and the like. Everything revolved around what our parents took with them and used to make themselves feel at ease in the UK.

 

As I grew up I began to realise that despite being supposedly welcomed with open arms to this country, people from an Afro-Caribbean background were constantly only allowed a one dimensional portrayal in the media. The stereotypes were prevalent. So if we watched a film
we would see how long it would be before a black character was soon killed off. Or if the character was allowed to be at best a footballer or musician or at worst a drug dealer or a layout about who smoked weed all day.

Why is Black History Month important?

For those who don't get why BHM needs to exist and continue then you won't get any of what I have said or am about to say. But this is an
example of the lived experience of many black people. At grammar school, despite having good grades in many of my subjects, a number of my teachers would dumb down on my achievements. The experiences of my friends and when we started clubbing and going to pubs and bars, was similar. If we went to venues with predominantly white clientele, my friends and I would get approached to see if we were selling any drugs. Where else would people with pretty much no black friends have got the idea that any black guy they see in a club must definitely be a drug dealer of sorts?

BHM is about recognising and celebrating the many positive and significant contributions that black people have made in the UK and the world at large. This impact was long before the Windrush generation started arriving in the 50s and certainly before slavery became a
regular part of British society. Black history is a part of British and world history. Thus for black people in the UK we would like that recognised, accepted and appreciated.

Useful UK Black History Resources

There are many BHM events that have happened across the UK. Many of which continue throughout the whole year. Below is just a small sample of links to projects, organisations and people who are doing some great things to this effect. As we continue to develop this platform we will be providing many more examples via social media and this site.

I recently tweeted about Black History Month being for life and not just for October. Don't let it stop here. Keep using the #BlackHistoryMonth and #BHM hashtags when posting on social media and other platforms. Let's keep the conversation going