Welcome to Black History Month 2018

On behalf of the Sugar Media & Marketing Team I would like to welcome you all to the 2018 edition of Black History Month Magazine.

Patrick Vernon OBE

The magazine has a focus this year on the following key landmark dates which has an impact on Black Britons and our wider vibrant multicultural society in the UK:

  • 70th anniversary of HMT Empire Windrush
  • 70th anniversary of the NHS
  • 60th anniversary of Notting Hill Riots
  • 50th anniversary of the 1968 Race Relations Act
  • 50th anniversary of Enoch Powell’s Speech Rivers of Blood
  • 50th anniversary of the Race Equality think tank, The Runnymede Trust.

The various articles, features and interviews will capture the different elements of this watershed moment in Black History and its impact especially in 2018 with the Windrush Scandal and our departure from the European Union in 2019.

In 2017 when we launched our last publication celebrating the 30th anniversary of Black History Month in the UK this lead to a debate within the community and in academic circles of the relevance and the importance of the BHM from its inception in 1987. As Editor, I tried to reflect the diversity of the different perspectives which again is picked by some of our contributors this year especially in the light of the government finally agreeing to a national Windrush Day from June 2019.

As a Company we have been thinking of this regarding the branding of the concept of Black History Month and the fact that there are over 4000 events up and down the country start in September and finish in January as part of a season. From schools, universities, local authorities, museums, archives, various community heritage projects and staff networks in the public and private sector they are all pushing the boundaries of Black History Month in timing and content. Whilst at the same time some local authorities and schools are either adopting a colour blind approach to all histories or because of austerity and cuts are reclassifying Black History Month and creating a one size fits all of multicultural history, which often is dumbing down and serves no real purpose for young people and the public. These authorities and schools are failing in their Public Sector Equality duty in promoting good race relations. Black History Month was established to cover the deficit in lack of historical content and representation of the achievement for African and Caribbean community in Britain. With no central coordination or consistent funding sadly Black History Month is derided and at times not valued by all.

It is very clear that in 2018 we are not in a post racial Britain with the issue of Anti-Semitism, Windrush Scandal, hate crime against migrants and LGBT community, over representation in mental health system, and rising stop and search against black people. I believe it is even more critical that we advance and promote the importance of Black British history and its connection to world history both past and present.

Through our various publications and online platforms, along with the relaunch of 100 Great Black Britons in 2019, we will promote 365 days of Black History with our limited resources. We will work with various stakeholders to share and communication events, features and blogs which will add value and continue the publication education beyond October.

We are committed to work in partnership with academics, activists, policy makers and the wider community to ensure Black History in taught at all levels from pre-school to doctorate level. Also we want to support any campaign that will change how Black History and the experience of the African diaspora community is valued and respected as part of the national narrative of this country.

Finally, I would like to thank our contributors, advertisers and production team in making this magazine a success. However, importantly we want to you as our readers and those who access our online version of the magazine to be part of a social movement to share promote, inform and educate so that Black History is one to be proud of and to defend to ensure it does not lose it instinctive value for all future generations.

Patrick Vernon
Black History Month 2018 Editor
Sugar Media and Marketing Limited


Dear Patrick Vernon,

Re: Black History Month magazine

We’ve met occasionally at BAME events supporting Corbyn’s leadership, and at Windrush meetings. We signed the petition you launched that drew attention to the Windrush scandal and got the issue debated in Parliament.

We’d wanted to write sooner, but it is urgent now, as the government and Home Office are working overtime to recruit and promote people of colour, even Windrush descendants, to help them camouflage this scandal and cover their lies and crimes.

We had a conversation in Tottenham last October. As I told you, we were stunned to see that the Black History Month (Oct 2018) magazine that listed you as one of the editors, included on page 9 a message from Theresa May, and a sizeable photo. On the same page is a smaller message and photo of Jeremy Corbyn. Furthermore the magazine includes an obsequious two-page interview with May by your co-editor.
The immediate impression is that May deserves more space and has more to say to Black communities and on anti-racism than Corbyn. This is outrageous – all the more so as you’ve put a photo of Nelson Mandela on the cover of this edition! While Jeremy Corbyn was being arrested for protesting against the abhorrent apartheid state, young Tory members were wearing T-shirts demanding Mandela be strung up.
This magazine gives voice and prominence, in a very glossy format, to the architect of the hostile environment – Theresa May.

It whitewashes the deep and often untold suffering and misery of thousands of people, including Windrush families, which May reduces to “feeling unwelcome”. People who were invited from the Caribbean to re-build the UK, raised families, challenged racism and had every right to be here, but were then bullied and hounded, lost jobs, homes, access to health care, and were illegally detained and deported. Some lost their lives. It’s unbearable that a Black journal gives May space to say “sorry” for the Windrush scandal, and that it “should never have happened”, especially since it continues. She knew the outcome, because they do an impact assessment for every policy long before it becomes legislation.

We are shocked that as a prominent Windrush “supporter” you have allowed this to pass.

When I asked you how the magazine was put together, why two articles by Theresa had been included, and how this magazine was funded, you said it wasn’t up to you, others had made the content decisions. That’s passing the buck. At the very minimum, you could and should have dissociated yourself from the magazine, but you have not.

Immigrants, refugees, migrants including Windrush families are among the first to be undermined when ambitious people of colour make a name for themselves by lending credibility, or covering up, what governments do to those at the grassroots.

Thousands of Windrush families from many continents continue to suffer: the Home Office has resumed mass deportations to the Caribbean labelling people “foreign criminals” to try to undermine public support, and refuses to give figures about how many Windrush people have been wrongly deported. The Home Office is now speeding up deportations to Zimbabwe despite evidence of a brutal crackdown on protesters – who will be next?

Masking May’s crimes in the way you have attacks not only Windrush families, but fuels racism against all of us. We need to hear what you will do to rectify what the magazine has promoted and the damage it has done. Are you with Windrush families or with Theresa May – we all have a right to know.
Yours sincerely,

Sara Callaway
Women of Colour Global Women’s Strike

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