BOAT Reflects on Black History Month
Black History Month. Commonly cited as ‘an opportunity to understand Black histories, going beyond stories of racism and slavery to spotlight Black achievement.’ We took the time this month to reflect and seek our student’s views on what BHM means to them and why it’s so important.
When the short blogs came rolling in. The question of ‘Why one month? What about the rest of the year?’ came up often, paired with the realisation that they didn’t know enough – highlighting the need to learn more.
With BOAT being such a brilliantly diverse cohort, we had some beautifully diverse thoughts, opinions and recommended reading, offering a global perspective on what BHM means to them.
Being a topic with such a deep meaning, we had long and thought provoking perspectives. Read on to hear from the 40 strong intake, commonly known as BOAT. Their recommended reading, links, social accounts and podcasts can be found here.
As a kid growing up in Turkey it was confusing to decide who and what to follow. I was fortunate to be guided throughout my childhood by such open minded people who knew that all people are equal. This is the first time I have heard of BHM. I hope that one day more people in my country will learn about the history of black people and their brilliance.
I think it’s very interesting to share black history with people. As a French person we are not used to celebrating this sharing and I think it’s very sad. All histories and memories should be shared.
The sad irony of a straight white male saying “we must do more”
As a straight white male creative living and working in London, the system is very much designed in my favour. I am privileged. And this is so wrong, on multiple levels. We need to challenge, change and combat this.
We must do more to promote equal opportunities. We must do more to educate ourselves. We must do more to highlight the cultural value of diverse workforces. We must do more to create inclusive workforces. And we must do this all year round, not just during Black History Month.
I spent Friday evening with my cousins; first time I’ve seen them in quite a while. It’s always interesting hanging out with them. As we’ve all grown up I’ve become more and more aware of the fact that I am white and they all are not. It’s curious; we share so much of the same life, grandparents, uncles, aunts, childhood memories. But at the same time our lives have been shaped by our outward appearances in ways that are increasingly apparent to me. I have never felt ‘white’, but the older I get the more I appreciate that it is a privilege to feel that race is irrelevant. It’s good to bear this in mind, and encourage that awareness to help guide my labours this year as my creative expression evolves.
Faced with the challenge of writing a Scab on black History month I feel due pressure to produce something of substance. I feel Silence would be preferable to Another white voice filling the air where black voices and experiences should be platformed and amplified.
Being a white boy, educated in an American Primary School. The one thing that stood out was how whiteness is taken for granted. Black History Month is a Start, but it goes without saying that a month falls short of equality/appropriate representation.
I’ve re-written this SCAB loads. I can’t seem to find the words. Maybe that’s the point, I need to try harder. Maybe I just need to listen.
I was randomly beaten up on my way home from a uni-bar job back in 2016. Funny, that during the hardcore brexit campaigning a bunch of white guys beat me up and a black homeless man and a muslim taxi driver were the ones to help me up off the tramlines.
You wouldn’t have seen that in the tabloids at the time. This kind of story litters black history, constantly beaten down by a white hemoginy. Post George Floyd, things are starting to change. I really hope it lasts. Shoutout to Wycliff and Tazi.
I am so pasty it makes me a bit uncomfortable to try and say something without in my mind stepping into something important with a very unimportant perspective. Alas I guess this mentality is part of the issues at hand. We need to embrace our discomfort and hold up the mirror to ourselve. My embarrassment when faced and voiced is a tool in itself towards the right direction in acknowledging the many barriers and prejudices in place that I have never had to face.
Growing up WHITE, with an all WHITE family, all WHITE friends, in a 99% WHITE school, my childhood experience lacked diversity. It wasn’t until I moved to London when I was 21 that I was exposed to black culture.
I made lifelong friends who are black and I met my mixed-race Husband. Through them, I learned even more. I now have two mixed-race children.
If I leave this world only able to do one thing, I’ll make damn sure that my sons grow up knowing all about black history and their heritage. They will speak about it with pride and confidence and they WILL see the world for how it truly is.
Black History Month is an acknowledgment of our shared and marbled histories of both devastation and celebration. Irish, African or British, these stories overlap and lean on one another. The omission of one is to the detriment of everyone.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of people who I feel raised the bar of culture in both Ireland and abroad over 100 years ago and yesterday.
Black history month isn’t actually a thing in France, I looked it up.
It doesn’t exist, yet I don’t feel like the issues mentioned aren’t part of black French people’s lives. I strongly support initiatives that aim to raise awareness and feel even more that, as Lilian Thuram (thuram.org) said, against racism we need to educate. Education is key to better a society’s future.
For an industry dominated by white males, I’m really encouraged to be part of such a diverse year at SCA. If all other courses were as varied as this, the industry would be all the better for it.
Before I started the course, I took a series of unconscious bias tests. I was horrified to find that the result suggested I had some level of unconscious bias towards white faces. This certainly didn’t come from my parents and growing up my best friend and neighbour was Nigerian, so it was neither nurture, nor nature, but at some point in my life societal racism has affected me on an unconscious level.
As unpleasant as this is, It’s a valuable thing to know about myself. Self awareness is key if we are to make progress. I would encourage everyone to take these tests, to gain some insight into their subconscious and to gain some self awareness to support their decision making.
Personally, it’s been uncomfortably easy this month to be swept up with the big changes going on in my life and not pay as much attention as usual to black history month. SCA has been so all encompassing that it hardly registered until this last weekend.
This year there hasn’t been as much high profile coverage without a very recent tragedy like George Floyd or the many other horrible acts of modern racism. It’s a reminder that there is a personal responsibility to educate yourself and you can’t rely on the mainstream/social media to remind you.
It’s a small step but I took this wake up call as the motivation to stop procrastinating reading “Why I no longer talk to white people about race” which has been on my shelf for a while.
Growing up in India, I was exposed to only an iota of the Black History presented to us today or available in the UK. Nelson Mandela was probably the only Black leader we knew much about, mainly because he drew inspiration from Gandhi.
Living in the UK has been an eye-opening experience, I’ve been exposed to the richness of Black History and the solidarity and inclusiveness they offer every creed and race they come across.
Putting aside just a month for it seems unfair but extremely necessary. We consume information so quickly these days, we tend to forget. Black History month gives other POC a chance to reflect and come together as one to help educate people like me who still remain partially clueless.
I have not heard of this month in France, so it’s quite new for me. Things are changing, but not fast enough. I still can’t understand how the world can be so unfair. Is it stupidity? Ignorance? The only thing I know is that I will not let racist acts pass in front of my eyes. I hope to live in a world where people will teach their children, as I will teach mine, that there are only two races in the world, people with hearts and people who do not have enough.
The concept of ‘Black History’ being relegated to a month doesn’t feel quite right. Proposing an allotted time slot rather than working it into our syllabus and general awareness. Then what? White history month for the other 11?
I think we should continue to celebrate and expand our awareness of Black History and Culture throughout the year as well as making ourselves aware of the racism (overt, covert and institutional) that people are still facing today and continuing to speak out against it. Check out Liz’s further reading and recommendations here.
When I saw Black History merging into British culture. I picked up and read 2 fantastic books (shared in our recommended reading list here). Both incredibly powerful and informative books on the African and Caribbean fundamental part in British history.
BHM is an opportunity for people to learn more about the effects of racism, how to challenge negative stereotypes and for us to take back our history; to remember those who paved the way for equality and the thriving diverse society we now live in.
Though, why is Black history just a month? It should be included into the school curriculums throughout the year.
Writing about black history month has always felt like quite an arbitrary exercise, usually requested by predominantly white managers, tutors, and other taskmasters who request POC churn out content for them to repurpose.
However, one silver lining is that October can be a time to actually reassess what companies, brands, agencies and the like are actually doing in practical and real terms to address racial inequalities amongst their ranks. As a budding creative who is already hesitant to enter into a predominantly white industry, this data can be used to form opinions of where I’d like to work and who I’d like to work for. Stats matter.
I haven’t heard of Black History Month until now, it doesn’t exist in France which is a real shame. These kinds of events, like Women’s Day, are just a way to apologize once a year. But what about the rest of the year? Why do discriminated people have to wait 11 months to be heard and recognized? So many questions but few answers. However, I hope that this month will help, but don’t forget to respect black history all year long.
My black boyfriend showed me this Morgan Freeman interview, and I’ve never felt the same since.
I think BHM is BS.
Trying to sum up the history of the whole entire race of people from multiple countries, multiple people, multiple religions over a one month period is ridiculous in itself. Let alone only talking about their history up to 300 years like there weren’t Black People/POC Before that.
It should be in a normal curriculum all year around, and not just trying to sum up an entire history POC within just one month. Choosing better dialogue about how we talk about our history.
So another Black History Month. This one feels less in the forefront than last year. I find it strange that everyone is good at highlighting the trauma, pain and suffering of black people but celebrating us outside of that is crickets. It’s super weird. I’ve seen some wholesome stuff too but the juxtaposition is evident.
Blackness can strangely dominate your existence. How people interact with you, the obstacles you face and your literal trajectory in life. It’s fascinating watching the duality of a society that constantly tries to copy and paste your essence whilst lording it’s superiority complex over you.
In all honesty, I’d never heard of Black History Month. In Poland, especially in smaller cities, there’s not much cultural diversity. Before coming to the UK, whenever I’d see someone of another nationality or colour I’d try to approach them and make them feel welcome. Now that I live in the UK I don’t do that, but I got to meet some amazing people from various places. Now I’m one of the odd bits and, although I don’t always feel welcome, It’s great.
Go read some MLK.
Sometimes it’s better to listen, learn and amplify than to speak. So instead of an opinion I’ll share some good news. Black British literature is not a new thing, it’s just been excluded from the canon for centuries. Many great works have fallen out of print. But now Bernadine Evaristo is bringing them back, resurrecting lost writing in a new series, Black Britain: Writing Back. Time to get reading.
I sense that there are still a lot of racist people. I wonder if fear, shame, or resentment is what keeps them like that. I wish we could talk openly about it, instead, I see people pretending they aren’t racist so they walk undercover while making us believe that they aren’t part of the problem that we need to fix just like that Police that killed George Floyd. I am still upset at how someone like that was part of an entity that is supposed to protect us.
Don’t want to look dumb but I have never heard about Black History month. Before writing a couple of lines about it, I did some research.
Important topic. But there is one thing I didn’t understand. Why one month? Only one? And what about the other 11 months in a year?
People talk about important social issues and create some events etc, but only for a short period of time.Does it make sense? One month is better than nothing. But what about 12 months?
It’s great that we have these moments of awareness in our global calendars but I’m not sure how I feel about them, really. How many will take it upon themselves to read up on history? And has where we’ve come today with equality been a result of reflecting once a year or through brave acts of activism, large or small?
I always find Black history month a bit conflicting. On the one hand it really doesn’t make sense to condense world history (because black history is a global thing) into a month, but on the other hand for many, this is literally the only way they will get exposed to black history outside of traditional media.
For me, Black history month creates a great opportunity to learn about and celebrate a section of history that isn’t commonly explored, especially through traditional education. It’s vitally important to open our eyes to old and new influential figures that don’t have enough light shining on them for the rest of the year. But within this comes my only issue; how this focus is limited to one month in a year.
So I always have mixed feelings when it comes to Black History Month it feels a bit bittersweet. It’s nice that finally there’s some acknowledgement growing up. I don’t remember there ever being any and it’s nice that my daughter will get the opportunity to learn about our culture a little.
I find it unfortunate that we live in a world where people don’t want to educate themselves all year round and there is just 1-month throughout the year. However, I do think that giving that opportunity to people to educate themselves and allowing them to find out more about the contribution to history people of colour have made is good.
I’ll forever be proud and grateful to be Black. The world wouldn’t be anywhere it is right now without Black people and what we’ve not only given to the world but what was also forcibly taken from us and continues to be. It can make Non-Black people uncomfortable to discover the reasons why the world is how it is and why things have been put in place that were specifically made just to have a negative impact on Black people.
Black history is important at all times because it explains the present, and hopefully lets people learn and understand mistakes from the past. The UK definitely wouldn’t be what is now without Black people. The world still needs to be educated on these things.
My childhood sports hero wasn’t white (Dean Gordon; what a sweet left foot; presented me with my U10 POTS award). My current health role model isn’t white (David “Can’t Hurt Me” Goggins; seriously… try to. Good luck.) One of my absolute best mates isn’t white (isn’t this what all white, borderline racists say…?). All three have been racially abused. I’ve been in s**t-kicking-off street fights defending the last.
Black history month takes from the British comedy TV show ‘Famalam’ (see in recommended list).
Who is Famalam for? Am I allowed to love Famalam? (And binge all seasons in one day?) Am I allowed to (literally) fight racism on the streets? Am allowed to eat ackee and saltfish with a best mate in South London at 3am?
Who do you admire for a talent right now that doesn’t look like you?
I am very glad that SCA asked us to think, reflect and discover Black History Month. While I think that we should commemorate subjects such as these for the whole year, it made me realise that this month of awareness isn’t the same in each country, some don’t dedicate a whole month to it at all, such as France. We dedicate only a few days to BHM. For that I am very glad to study in another country as the UK to discover this kind of commemoration and open my mind and my awareness.
The idea of Black History Month has always confused me. I’ve never really understood who exactly it’s for. Certainly not for me, I live this ‘history’. And I make it a point to have role models that look like me in every aspect of my life. But I’ve decided to see BHM as an opportunity to recommend and suggest media that non-Black people may not otherwise come across.
BLACK. What does it mean to be black? From Africa? Melanated? Nappy haired? Big nose and full lipped? Resourceful? Strong? Athletic? Angry? Guilty?
I’m all of the above.
I’m not a great dancer. I don’t have wide hips and a very voluptuous ass. I’d be reaching if I said I’m bilingual. I kinda knew my Dad. But I don’t like melon. And I don’t love eating meat.
Black history month is the opportunity to celebrate black greatness and a reminder of black bloodshed. Black is multifaceted. To embrace it or not is your choice. Dig below the surface. There’s some BLACK in your story too.
I thought that what I would be writing here today would be celebratory and educational.
But eventually, I started thinking of how I only learned about a black history month a few years back.
Last Saturday, in the spirit of the weekly late-night tradition, I engaged in a conversation with a stranger outside of the pub. He asked, “Is Poland as racist as they say?” The rest of his sentence revealed that Poland sounds like a decent holiday destination, but only if you’re white – which he was not.
Every now and then I go back to the memories of myself from many many years ago trying to understand the perception and knowledge of race and cultural heritage in the people that were educating me. In the white people dominated country, this is not a kind of education that is prioritised, this is not a part of the history that seems as relevant.
But I think that over there as well as everywhere else this exact lack of conversation and knowledge is what leaves space for prejudice, apathy and ignorance. I’m thankful to all of you here, who shared your knowledge, thoughts and links.
Read the full list of links and recommendations here.