Black History Month is here! As a non-black person of colour, BHM is not something I paid very much attention to ’till last year. Before then, my school didn’t focus on it at all, I was taught MLK was the good revolutionist and Malcolm X was the bad revolutionist, I thought BHM was a time to be sad about the trans Atlantic slave trade, and that was the only history black people had.
Last year I was introduced to a whole new world of activist, I was taught what euro-centrism is, what solidarity means, what liberation feels like, how political Blackness unites us. I went to a variety of events – from panels to performances. The veils around my eyes blew off and the glass of false pretence teaching us all that the world is fine and everything horrible happened many moons ago shattered. I was empowered.
And that is what BHM is to me. A time where we can focus our energies in teaching ourselves – about our heritages and strengths and struggles. And of the heritages and strengths and struggles of our brothers and sisters across the globe. And we can be empowered to not sit back and let the glass continue to encapsulate the many of our brothers and sisters who still sleep.
Yes our heroes should be remembered but our struggles are more than three (MLK, Rosa Parks and Ghandi) people – with even their struggles being summarised to being passive. Black History is so much richer than that – in all areas of the world, in all fields, in all cultures. Black history is world history, and until it is recognised as such – BHM is vital in empowering us to at least remember so.
BHM for me is a start, a reenergiser, a reminder. When we can come together and celebrate. We are here. And then we can plan and organise. We can organise against racist laws such as the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act. We can organise against Apartheid Israel. We can organise against the White curriculum. It is not just a month, but more like a start of the year.
Even if your experience of BHM has not been brilliant – even if you don’t see the point of it – do check out the events your local area are organising. Whether that be in your university or community. Don’t limit yourself.
“We should emphasize not Negro history, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.” – Carter Woodson