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Black History Month was introduced to celebrate and remember important people and events in the history of African diaspora. It was first introduced into the United Kingdom in 1987 and has since been celebrated every October.
There are often debates on Black History Month which tend to divide opinion. Some argue whether there should be a month solely dedicated to black history. White history month and Asian history month do not exist currently.
There are also debates as to whether Black History Month gets the attention that it deserves. In the UK there are no events on a large scale in October which pay homage to Black History Month and that causes some to question the validity of it.
At Premier Gospel, we ran a string of video debates a few years ago during the month of October to see how people felt about topics which affect black people in society. We wanted to see whether people actually cared about these issues and whether having a month dedicated to the history of the race encouraged people to think deeper about it. We asked five questions and wanted readers to add their voice to the conversation. The #AddYourVoice questions are listed below:
- Are black people racist against their own race?
- Who will raise the black fathers of the future?
- Do black people respond to racism in the right way?
- Are you proud to black?
- Is it ok to use the term ‘black is beautiful’?
We received feedback that showed that some people were extremely passionate about these topics and they cared about having an open forum regarding them. We monitored all the comments left on our #AddYourVoice discussion campaigns and picked a few great comments to showcase in this blog.
“I agree and disagree. To be racist to your own would mean to be prejudice against yourself, and I haven't met too many people that completely hate the colour of their own skin. I do think we could embrace differences in the right way. These differences could be race, skin tone, gender, whatever.”
“As we know all the stems from slavery & unfortunately black people have never got over ‘shade ism’. However, it also happens in the Asian community as well.”
“We shouldn’t have it. All people have a history. What about the Indians?”
“Not really sure why we need a black history month. Do we forget about black history for the other eleven months? Should every race have a month to itself? That's not even possible.”
“Black History Month isn’t what it used to be. No one cares about it in England.”
We received some great comments however on the most part I was surprised at the passivity of some of those who read our posts. Our statistics show that less than 20% of people who watched our Black History Month video topics responded with a comment. This could be down to the fact that some of us prefer to be viewers of such things rather than put forward our views but it begs the question, do people care enough about Black History Month?
In the last few years, as a black man, I personally feel like interest has decreased and the month seems to come and go with not much to get excited about. I don’t have much of a problem with this as it is my belief that all races should be celebrated throughout the whole year as a way of life rather than just dedicating a month to them. But, for the black people who complain about the validity of the month and how interest seems to have declined, I’d quote the late Maya Angelou: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
If we want more recognition then the onus is on us to take ownership of the month by supporting the black leaders of today, creating events, supporting talking topics and raising awareness. We must be the change we want to see. And if we feel like we can’t do that, or it’s not high enough on our priority list, then we shouldn’t complain about the decline.