Should we change or abandon Black History Month?

Where are the great British Black people who have done great things to advance the British Black community?

Avril Nanton, Director of Avril’s Walks and Talks

Black British history seems to have gone astray. Every year during October, the British Black History month, we learn about American people who, mostly, have done great things to advance the Black American community.

But where are the great British Black people who have done great things to advance the British Black community?

They’re hard to find. There are some historians that specialise in talking about the British experience but I wish there were more. Our British experience is not like the Americans. We didn’t have plantations over here; our plantations were in the Caribbean. But once we started arriving here in our hundreds, that part of our history was quickly forgotten as we found ourselves faced with a different type of racism. Whilst we [or should I say our forefathers] were in the Caribbean, we knew our place, we knew the system, we knew we wanted better for ourselves and we thought that we would find it by coming to Inglan. But instead we found hatred for our skin colour alone, much less for our personalities and our ways.

We found British people didn’t like what they saw in us, they didn’t like the fact that we were here, trying to get jobs and have better than what we had in the Caribbean. Many of our parents and grandparents fought hard for what they have and today’s Black people take for granted what they fought for. So, it’s imperative that we continue to teach children about Black History Month but it has to concentrate more on the British experience so that British children can learn and understand what their parents and grandparents have been through rather than what American children and their forefathers have been through. By all means change Black History month, but change it for the better by ensuring that we teach our own British history as well as, and not exclusively, American history.

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Comments

I am in agreement with you Black History Month is an essential tool that has been under utilised in the telling of the Black British Experience. It is high time that changed, it is time for our forefathers and foremothers of African and African-Caribbean descent to begin retelling their stories/accounts of their experiences. We need their voices in order to change the narrative that Black History only speaks to the African American experience, which I would argue is still essential to know.


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