Blog: Black History Month: A Final Thought
Stephanie Richards, and Francine Bitalo, Student Success Mentors and Associate Lecturers in Criminology, blog about the importance of Black History Month.
As we come to the end of Black History Month it is important to shine a light on the Black Lives Matters Movement and highlight the historical significance to the problematic discourse of racialisation.
Black history month is an opportunity for people from the various pockets of the black community to learn about our own history and educate those who are not from the black community, in order to decolonise our institutions and our society. As Black people we have our own history formed by systemic oppressions and great triumphs. While it is easy (and lazy) for institutions to use terms such as BAME and People of Colour (POC) these problematic uses of language oppress blackness. We are not a monolith of coloured people. Different racialised groups have and will experience, and uphold difference harms and achievements within society. Furthermore, it would be naïve to ignore the narrative of anti-blackness that people from racialised groups uphold. Therefore, it is important for us and people that look like us, continue to have the space to talk about our history and our experiences.
For many people in the UK and indeed around the world BLM became a mainstream topic for discussion and debate following the murder of George Floyd. While the term BLACK LIVES MATTER is provocative and creates a need for debate, it signifies the historical ideology that black lives haven’t mattered in historical and in many ways’ contemporary terms.
While it is easy to fall into the trap of describing the black experience as an experience of victimhood, black history months allows us to look deep at all our history and understand why and where we are as a society.
The UK is one of the most diverse places in the world, yet we continue to fall prey to the Eurocentric ideology of history. And while it is important to always remember our history, the negativity of only understanding black history from the perspective of enslavement needs to be questioned. Furthermore, the history of enslavement is not just about the history of black people, we need to acknowledge that this was the history of the most affluent within our society. Of course, to glaze over the triangle trade is problematic as it allows us to understand how and why our institutions are problematic, but it is redundant to only look at black history from a place of oppression. There are many great black historical figures that have contributed to the rich history of Britain, we should be introducing our youth to John Edmonstone, Stuart Hall, Mary Prince and Olive Morris (to name a few). We should also be celebrating prominent black figures that still grace this earth to encourage the youth of today to embrace positive black role models.
Black history for us, is not just about the 1-31 October. We are all here because of history we need to start integrating all our history into our institutions, to empower, educate and to essentially make sense of our society.