I’ve always been proud of my Blackness and keen to learn about it, but every year I’m left feeling unsettled when Black History Month comes around.
Undoubtedly the month is important – it’s an opportunity to learn about our past triumphs, but I always find it odd that we’re expected to only champion Black achievement for one month of the year.
It always feels like after the month passes, people forget about our existence. And this is something I’ve learnt from a young age. Growing up, I didn’t feel that there was that much importance placed on Black History Month and you’d be lucky if your school did anything to mark the occasion.
When they did, the events were usually focused on African-American history, with a spotlight on figures such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
I didn’t learn much about Black British history until I started to seek out that knowledge for myself. Learning about Black British figures such as Mary Seacole, Professor Stuart Hall and Olaudah Equiano made me realise not only how rich our identity is here but also the role Black Britons have played in British culture.
Our history doesn’t have to be all about trauma so I’m choosing to focus on Black joy. Part of this means avoiding watching or reading anything that might trigger me, and remind me of what we’ve encountered this year.
Now that I’m older and more aware, I try to make a conscious effort to learn about Black history all throughout the year.
Fast forward to the events of 2020, racial issues have been at the forefront of our conversations. The death of Ahmad Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd were catalysts for these conversations, and contributed to the need for the world to pause and think about the structural inequalities that Black people face.
Witnessing the growing momentum and global support for the Black Lives Matter movement was bittersweet for me. As a Black person, it was gratifying seeing non-Black people speaking up for us...