Originating in America in 1926, when it started off being Black History Week (changed to a month in 1976), Black History Month (BHM) was created to bring attention to the contributions of African-Americans to the United States.
Black History Month tends to focus on slavery, and its abolition, Martin Luther King Jr. and other famously known Black people, right up to the present day. It then became a thing in various countries around the globe, with the UK’s first BHM taking place in 1987, but this isn’t a history lesson… What does BHM mean today? In all honesty, I’m sorry to say this, but not a lot.
Is it good that we have the same one month regurgitating the old segments of Black history over and over again? The same old Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, James Baldwin, and Zora Neale’s have been pulled out of the school library, having sat on the shelves gathering dust since the previous year. This is what BHM seems to have become.
There’s no longer any real meaning or sincerity when it comes to celebrating Black individuals and Black culture. Is this what white supremacists wanted all along? “Give them a month a year, that’ll keep them quiet”.
Right now, we are experiencing just the same, if not more, incidents of systemic racism in the UK, the US, and all over the globe. 73 Black people have been killed in the US this year, and counting, and between 2020 and 2021, 85,268 racially motivated crimes were reported to UK authorities.
I’m not saying that BHM should bring those figures down, but I am saying that we have a long way to go when it comes to tackling racism. In all honestly, I don’t like BHM. I think it’s an insult to give Black people a 30 day window each year to bring discussion about an entire race’s history to the table.
As many people say over and over again, “Black history IS history.” Yet, we are still waiting on governments and education boards to re-configure the curriculum so that we are represented fairly, and we could still be waiting a while.
One of the causes of racism is a lack of education. This was proven recently by Channel 4, via their BAFTA winning 2020 show, The School That Tried to End Racism, where a pioneering British school tried to help its students uncover and eradicate hidden racial biases… and it worked. Yet, here we are, with a proven method not being considered by education ministers. It’s ignorant at best.
At let’s look at this month, October 2022. What have you seen in regards to the celebration of Black history? Because I’ve seen fuck all. If anything I’ve seen more racism — certainly more racism than history.
And now we have Kanye West, once a voice for Black communities, being endorced by not only the likes of Tucker Carlson of Fox News, but actual neo-Nazis who are calling Ye the “greatest since Adolf Histler”. In case you need a refresher, West recently came out against Black and Jewish people this month when decided to sport a “White Lives Matter” t-shirt at Paris Fashion Week. He then went onto sprew ridiculous conspiracy theories about George Floud, and anti-semitic remarks on social media.
What is happening? Lack of education, that’s what. If there was correct information being taught in our educational system, there would be a lot less racism. That’s a fact.
What has BHM achieved? In my opinion, not a lot. We have a British government so racist that when a report on racial disparities concluded that the UK does not have a systemic problem with racism was released, Downing Street’s race advisor, Samuel Kasumu, resigned.
We have a police force that has been labelled as institutionally racist multipe times. They’re still facing scandal after scandal when it comes to discrimination, and then there’s the same old issues with stop and search. Now, we are seeing reports that the Metropolitan Police are set to stop recording data in relation to race when it comes to drivers being pulled over. This is despite analusis finding that Black people are 56 per cent more likely to be stopped than white people, and we can only assume that this will then carry over to Section 60. Personally, as a 37-year-old man, I am still experiencing racism on a regular basis in London.
We as a country really need to knock this on the head.
Us adults are used to racism, it’s almost relative at this point. But what we should be doing is fighting harder to get Black history and racism addressed in our schools. I’m tired of the argument that kids are “too young to learn about racism”. Kids are too young to expeirence racism, but that’s exactly what’s happening. In an ideal we need real education on racism, and consequences for racism, because right now, we’ve pretty much neither.