Being Black: What Black History Month means to me
By Chrystalle Brade
29 October 2020
This year, we witnessed the reality of some harsh injustices that Black people endure in everyday life, but also saw not only Black people but people of all races and classes united around the world to stand up and fight against these injustices. This continued fight for justice and equality made me feel proud and invigorated to be Black and a part of the process.
Black history is not only present for one month of the year, but ingrained in our everyday lives. Are the contributions of the Black faces who have helped to shape and mould our societies so insignificant, so menial, that only at this time their contributions are recognised? It is glaringly and ever so apparent that these faces do not fit the comforting UK narrative, and our Black heroes have become unsung and forgotten. 2020 has shown that, collectively, this must change. It should be an everyday celebration and not limited to just 31 days of any year. There is hope and excitement that Black history will be shared widely, through all communities and the education system.
The lack of not only Black history but Black British history education in the United Kingdom is alarming. Should we not be teaching this in our schools if we are to fight for equality and to eradicate racism? This year we saw even more pressure on the government for schools to include Black British history in the curriculum. There should be a responsibility to teach a balanced curriculum which is not possible if Black history is left out. How would young people be able to understand why the world is the way it is today without studying about the slave trade and civil rights?
This year we saw an awakening to the system of racism. If we are not actively trying to dismantle systemic racism, then we are being the brick and cement to upholding it. This year proved that not only Black people, but everyone needs to focus on these issues if we are to witness and bring about meaningful change. We saw Marcus Rashford using his voice to champion and support the feeding of school children from low income backgrounds during COVID-19, which led to the government reconsidering their position. These critical stages both from the past and present show the importance of creating awareness and education during Black History Month.
Black culture isn’t a commodity to be appropriated or used when conveniently monetised without investing back into the Black community and culture. In the same sense, Black history should not merely be recognised within one month that’s being ticked off on the calendar. We must endeavour to shine a light on Black history without the rose-tinted glasses, and not be discomforted by the impact of the challenges and pain which are truthfully told by the voices of those who have lived and experienced the position of lesser power, respect and dignity.
Overall, Black History Month is about keeping hope alive for this generation and generations to come. It is a time of reflection and celebration of the struggles and hard-fought gains of our ancestors. It is a time for rejoicing, and thanking those before us for giving us hope and life lessons that could be used to further advance our history and culture. At the same time, Black History Month is not just about the bad times but about integrity, dignity, leadership and determination. It is a stark reminder that although we have come so far and achieved so much, there is still a lot more to do, a long way to go, in bringing about equality, justice and peace, so that history does not repeat itself.
Throughout the month of October, as part of our practice-wide Black History Month activities and celebrations, we're publishing a series of blog posts written by Black members of our practice. You can read all of our BHM2020 blog posts here.