By Aminata Kamara, Employment and Training Officer
Let’s face it, Black History Month is a bit old school and outdated. It was probably only necessary at a time when Black people were specifically targeted because of their race during post war migration. But we have moved on immensely since then. We are a more inclusive society and celebrating diversity is high on everyone’s agenda 365 days a year.
But to break it down further here are my top seven reasons why we no longer need Black History Month.
The whole story of our ‘Black’ history (pre transatlantic slavery) is reflected in British history and is taught in all schools
All schools are teaching students the truth about who Black people were before they were enslaved. I mean this isn’t true, but for the sake of my argument let’s just pretend it is.
Black people are treated equally
So the stats that say Black pupils are around three times more likely to be permanently excluded from school than White British pupils (0.29% compared with 0.10%) and around twice as likely to receive a fixed period exclusion. This must just be a chance and unfortunate statistic.
Black people are seen as equally valuable members of society
So the fact that Black adults are more likely to live in substandard accommodation and are 35.7% more likely to live in poverty, compared to 17.2% of White people, might just be because Black people prefer to live a basic lifestyle (I mean lets face it, we did originate from Africa so poverty is in our DNA!).
Institutional racism has been acknowledged and addressed since the days of Stephen Lawrence
So just because Black people are three times more likely to be arrested, and the rates of prosecution and sentencing for Black people are three times higher than their White counterparts, must just mean that Black people are more inclined to commit crimes and therefore they deserve to be punished harsher because of it. (Don’t shoot the messenger!)
Black people have equal access to employment progression
So just because unemployment figures stand at 12.9% for ethnic minorities, compared to 6.3% for White people, must just be because Black people are lazy and can’t be bothered to look for work. Oh, and because Black people earn 23.1% less than white people must just be because they are not good enough to get paid the same.
We acknowledge diversity and accept everyone is different
So the fact that Black women are three to four times more likely to die in childbirth must be because… Well I don’t know why, but surely it can’t be racial can it?
I don’t see colour!
So the fact that my three year old daughter has been taunted in nursery because she has afro hair, and not long or sleek European hair, must just be because kids are kids and they will find any reason to tease you.
To my daughter she is normal, but in everyday life she is the minority, but hey no need to teach her or her peers about her Black history because she is equally represented, equally reflected, equally spoken of, and equally treated in everyday life!
Now I can’t change reality, I can just give you the facts. So if you honestly believe that all of the above is true, then please continue the agenda of dismissing the need for Black History Month.
But, and this is a very big but, if like me you can clearly see how ludicrous it is to question the need for Black History Month, at a time where there is no racial equality, then please join me in understanding why it’s so vital and imperative we celebrate the Black narrative, not just in October but throughout the year.
One thing we can maybe agree on is that Black history is part of British history, it’s just not taught as such. So Black History Month gives us the space and permission to share the whole truth about our history, our journey and our identity.
Black History Month is not about segregation, it’s about bringing us closer together and giving the opportunity for everyone to learn the truth about our history, which in turn will transform our future and put a stop to those shocking stats above. But hey… what do I know?!
Statistics taken from: