To mark Black History Month, which is the running thread through YPI this month, Elliott writes a series of blog posts on why October is Black History Month and NOT Diversity Month.
October was without a doubt the best month throughout my time in education. Black History Month was that one month where I felt we, as black people, were appreciated and accepted that little bit more compared to any other month.
The lime light was on us and it was a positive one – we celebrated and explored the greatness that our culture has consistently produced, even when we were breaking the chains.
The energy that buzzed in the classrooms in History, RE and Citizenship was powerful! Everybody was engaged, proactive, and talkative. Every single person just seemed have a fire to learn more about our history and culture, and for sure, there was and still is a whole lot more to learn about. 31 days, in my opinion, is not enough time to really explore what went on in the past, but we make do with what we have right?
I don’t clearly remember the timescale, but for the majority of the week, the school canteen had Caribbean food being served, from patties to jerk chicken, that of course we were all too familiar with. Now that I’m older, I can say all they were missing was the ackee and rum punch! And even though it was nowhere near as nice as the homemade version, it was the respect and honour that our cooks had, to put a menu together in the first place.
There is a lot of talk and debate about whether Black History Month should be solely focused on the black community. With the greatest of respect, my response to that is the history of our people serves as a different story to any other ethnic group, partly because we are still being marginalized by society. More respect needs to be shown for what black people have done to overcome adversity, to make a path for generations to come. Many schools in Croydon have actually now scrapped Black History Month and instead call it ‘Diversity Month’ which, if we are keeping it a nickel, is nothing short of disrespect for what was achieved in the last centuries.
If our ancestors gave up and accepted defeat to the colonizers, we wouldn’t celebrate black history month so to speak. However, the opposite happened, chains were broken and success then followed when we were given the same platforms as other races to progress in our respectable fields of work. That alone should ring some bells as to why we take a month out to give thanks and appreciate what took place in years gone by.
My next post will touch on some amazing events that have been written in the history books for our children to learn about and be inspired.
Elliott is a strong advocate of pushing local black businesses in London. You can stay updated on what he’s getting up to by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org or following him on Twitter: @EJ_PSOLACE