What Black History Month means to me - Anonymous

7 October 2020
Written by: Anonymous

For starters it isn’t just a month – it’s the make up of my existence.

It represents the struggles my ancestors faced daily, and what we somewhat still face today. Funnily enough, what is coming to light in the media most recently is not a surprise to black people; we have fought this silent battle for years and have been dismissed by the view that slavery is a historical thing that we should ‘just get over’.

I personally, in various settings, have had to water down my passion/personality for fear of being branded the aggressive black woman, remained complicit and silent on issues that I haven’t agreed on.

Being black means having to explain to generations gone and generations to come that they have to work harder to be recognised, seen or successful because of their skin colour/race and name. Being black means knowing your white counterparts have had a head start in life yet expect you to compete equally in the race of life. Being black means having to explain to my 2 year old son at some point that he has to remain complicit with the police so as not to be shot/arrested or tasered. Being black means I have to explain to my son that his legitimate success is a threat to his white colleagues and silent oppressors alike – somehow that he had to have been involved in illegal activity to have made something of himself.

Being black means having to fight for your basic human right to live and exist. Being black means knowing you’ll be the token black man or woman and expected to be the mouth piece for a whole race and several groups of people. Being black means fading in the background when the term ‘BAME’ is used – feeling like many organisations have hidden behind this term in order not to really understand the experiences of Black and Asian people separately. By using the term there is the assumption that black people are actually treated equally to Asians and White – when companies are asked to produce figures it is apparent that the people that account for their ‘BAME’ quota are only of Asian origin – there again people of African and Caribbean descent lose out.

Being a black African means losing out to black Caribbean’s whose names are easier to pronounce, whose names seem easier read/closer to that of a Caucasian/European. Experiencing microaggressions such as: that’s not your hair is it? Is English your first language? Where are you really from?

I hope this provides some insight into what it means to be black. We have a rich culture that informs a lot of the arts we indulge in today but don’t always get the credit for this; in a sense our art is loved so long as we don’t get the credit or recognition it deserves. I hope we can move away from tokenistic celebrations and really start educating the true nature of Black History.