October is the month we celebrate Black history here in the UK, yet whenever this time of year approaches the question is raised of do we still need a month to celebrate Black history?
For many this is the time of year when being Black is celebrated and extra effort is made to visit establishments dedicated to our history and culture. These include events, museums, exhibitions and more.
For others such aspects of our culture are celebrated and recognised on a daily basis through traditions, rituals, and appreciation towards our ancestors.
Of course neither way is more significant than the other, and there are people who oppose to the whole idea of Black history month and don’t celebrate it at all. it is not as Black and White (no pun intended) – COME BACK
The history of Black history month stems from the US where it became an extension of “Negro Week” in a bid to celebrate the achievements of notable Black people. Negro week was started in 1926 by historian Carter G Woodson and African-American minister Jesse E Moorland. By the 1970s – during the prominent Black Panther era and civil rights movements, Negro week officially became Black History month by then President Gerald Ford.
Fast forward to 1987 Great Britain, never to far behind the US, Black history month was officially promoted in the UK by Ghanaian analyst and project developer Akyaaba Addai-Sebo. In the aftermath of riots in London in areas such as Brixton and Tottenham, and the turmoil of Thatcherism – marginalisation, discrimination, and racism was at its peak in 1980s Britain. Black History month was developed as an act of enabling Black British people to gain some sort of identity through positive representation.
WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU
Although Black history month was established on positive grounds at a time where racism was more prevalent in both the US and UK, in 2017 it is argued that still having a month dedicated to Black people further marginalises us from mainstream media, education, and culture. I often here the statement, “every day should be celebrated as Black history”.
In education specifically it has often been argued that the focus on the slave trade and selective notable figures from the civll rights era has been a narrow teaching of Black history. Furthermore, it is argued that the concepts of such teachings are often told from a western point of view, creating a biased and inaccurate perception of our history.
British media has also been criticised for its lack of representation when it comes to Black British celebrities, with some celebs seemingly appearing only during the Black history season
With all of the cultural appropriation evident in western culture it would only seem right for our rich authentic history to be embodied into history itself. However, as far as we have come we still have a long way to go.
In the UK in particular knowledge on Black British history pre the wind rush era is so limited that having dedicated events during Black history month is one of the few ways we are able to increase our knowledge on Black Britain.
EVENTS IN LONDON
Whether we agree with it or not, it is a month to celebrate our achievements and to make the most out of the postivit represenations. Check out a list of some events happening in and around London here
Black History month was set in October to coincide with the new school year. Just after the summer holidays and before exam period, it was thought that this time of year was when kids were more likely to engage.