Time for Change – Action not words 

What a great month for British History! The telling and re-telling of the Black presence in the UK has traditionally covered historical periods way back in time but the immediate past has lots of reasons to commend it as a period full of stories and lessons for Black people that will affect them in the coming decades.  

Black History Month is a great time to engage in adventures in learning and for adventures in physical activity.  Here are some things to consider, but as you get involved in them, encourage others to join with you.   

The magazine and website have a lot of articles that point out the need for allies in the workplace and in many other aspects of life. It reminds us that steps need to be taken to achieve the change we want to see. Some great examples have been offered by a range of contributors to this issue, sports persons, entertainers, educators, and businesspersons that will help elevate Black people working together and with allies.     

This Black History Month also, why not take the opportunity to update yourself on aspects of history and tradition that are becoming more important in the Black community, such things as Nine Nights, the Caribbean wake and the funeral service? Aspects of this celebration of life, an important part of Caribbean culture, are being adopted by other cultures. Things like collecting stories of the contribution of the person to the community helps everyone in appreciating and recognising the contributions of individuals to people and places in the UK. Sometimes it’s the little things people do that have made a difference to individual lives, that have helped unify communities and have just shown that being neighbourly matters. The recent pandemic and the extremely hot weather being experienced this year are challenging communities to look out for and to look after its members.  

Learning about Caribbean funeral traditions has become increasingly important to 21st century life as many people of Caribbean descent are forming family units and friendships with others who are not of their ethnic group. In dual heritage associations it is such a friendly and loving thing to know things that are important to do, say, and provide when the time comes to saying goodbye.  Many of the families who lost friends or family during the pandemic period are still having memorial services, and as those of Caribbean descent come together to do so to acknowledge and celebrate lives, many recall the Caribbean saying often heard at such events, ‘the world has lost a library of valuable experience’. 

During the pandemic and since, the issue of Black people not receiving the quality of care, they should expect from the NHS is causing frustration and anger in the community and an increasing number of calls for urgent action to prevent escalating numbers of serious neglect and deaths.   

Black people have been battling with such illnesses as sickle cell anaemia, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases and though there are a number of charities and alternative and complementary medicinal methods for dealing with many of these, this Black History Month why not try some of the things that Caribbeans have used from their African traditions. Caribbeans have been drinking ‘bush teas’ for generations and now many are available in convenient tea bag form or as leaf-blends so there’s none of the need to pick the bush and boil as Caribbeans did ‘back in da day’!! So now we can enjoy an occasional drink of Cerassee or my personal favourite Hibiscus tea daily! Our body’s internal systems will be all the better for it but do check with your doctor if you are being treated for underlying health issues. 

Other things we need to be indulging in now that are readily available in supermarkets and stores are the beauty, skin and hair products that Caribbeans have used for generations – aloe vera, cocoa and coconut. These natural and now essential ingredients in commercially produced products mean Caribbeans don’t have to pound, grate, and peel these products, activities not always easy and can often be time-consuming. We’ve been using them for generations, they have added to our melanin-rich skin, and as recognised now, darker skin people age more slowly and our skin has a natural glow that have made other cultures warm to and are regular users of what they once called primitive preparations. 

On the subject of health, why not add walking to the list of Black History Month adventures? As you walk take time to experience the sights and sounds of the country that Black ancestors have helped build. Probably for the first time enjoy the aspects of history you may not have done before or visit other cities, places or spaces to see where Black people have made a mark. Learning history while improving your health is a great combination activity during a great season of Autumn.  

This Black History Month engage in some culinary adventures as well, try food in restaurants, takeaways, and from Street Food vendors. However, nothing beats the tradition of being taught at home by a Caribbean elder, so if you are lucky to have one in your family, or you have a friend or neighbour who is from the Caribbean, great, you’re in for a treat. Why not call your time together. ‘Try then Taste’, or ‘Laugh and Learn’, or something fun, as it’s sure to be so…! 

Happy Black History Month, a great Time for Change – Action not words!