Every year in the weeks leading up to the month of October if you have children in school, all you get to read from the school letters shortly after the autumn term has started in September, is Black History month, prompting you to submit something or other towards’ a showcase of being black or citing an influential Black person that can yet again be fed to presumably unsuspecting school children. Bearing in mind, your kids have been attending school with these very same Anglo-Saxon/white children since they could recite the alphabet or Beatrix Potter books. Nobody has yet stopped to ask why there isn’t an Asian history month by the way… just Black.
I am not sure if it is something aligned with the education system in a sense that they have to appear to be seen to do “something” or “anything” in order to pacify or tick off some boxes for political correctness . Not sure what is worse, the past years before Black History month was recognised and/or after it became the “New Age” thingy within the mainstream education system. At times I wonder if being black or the evidence of being black along with the challenges that a person in a black skin faces, only comes to light in the weeks just before October. I mean, I’ve been black since I can remember being on this planet and so have my children – so why wait until a given month to acknowledge this fact? Why does the October month take precedence over my existence over the rest of the months in the year when I meet with all sorts of challenges which in effect have to wait until October to be showcased, or draw upon a famous Black historian or personality to give it credit or providence? In some aspects the challenges are compounded by the colour of my skin but that’s not to say they are unique to just me as a black individual. Must it be like the old ages when an artist had to die first in order to be recognised? The stubborn gene in me reacts against such…
Let’s for instance take the example of looking for rental property. True, as a black person, getting accommodation within the council cannot be equated to that of my white counterpart, it is especially challenging were I to be male and black. Getting to rent a place as a single black male is not easy I can testify to. Many a times, I’ve had to pretend to be an intending cohabitant to a male friend in order to get him a place to rent privately. To ensure he got the place, I had to set aside time to go with him or in his stead and talk nicely to the owners… yes life can be doubly tough for a black male in these parts of the “developed world”. It is little wonder most are often signed off as being schizophrenic! Sadly the drugs given them, just compound the situation and result in eventually inducing them to become ga-ga. Returning to the point I was trying to make, an Asian person will not have difficulty renting a place simply because most property is owned by Asian landlords or that Asian person will most likely bunk with family until they raise the necessary capital to buy their own property. Belive me on this. The back garden or quientencential rose black British garden is a thing of the past – it has become an extension to the main house in most areas of Britain. Chances are also high; being Asian, that person will be housed and employed within the “family business” in that shop that sells you grocery or sweat-shop you never quite get to see, in some part of UK. Something which is lacking in the black community where we get too busy reporting on each other’s immigration status or otherwise.
Returning to my black brothers and history: It is little wonder some opt to marry our white sisters in order to speed up or avoid society headaches. That’s not saying much for the black footballers…they are just working through hormonal issues coupled with varying insecurities.
For the last 35yrs I’ve lived here in the UK, I have met with all sorts of ignorance about my skin colour, race, assumed stupidity etc…, country and continent and that’s not mentioning the fact that I happen to be of small stature and raising three kids on my own which most often gets confused to that of me being a teenage black girl spewing out kids at every god-given opportunity whilst relying on state benefits. In the past this often earned me dirty looks from the predominantly white folks when using public transport ferrying my kids to school etc… I guess it fulfilled the tabloid reports of single black teenagers who did nothing but smoke weed, have kids in order to get council accommodation yet be able to dole them selves out in designer outfits with matching jewellery, nowadays commonly known as” bling”. (I often have to remember the web search engine of the similar name to keep abreast of the changes.) Now whilst battling the tabloid induced stereotypes of my being black and copiously draining the welfare state of fringe benefits that should only be legit to white folks or afro-Caribbean – yes, some if not most Afro Caribbean folks also suffer from left over issues about slavery and Africans in general , I had the added battle of my so-called African heritage. My own African folk gave me just as much hell but in a different measure. I just didn’t understand my folk nor behaved as expected but I’ve long given up the ghost having come to terms with the personality that I am. Ye siree! Whilst I’d initially walked under the umbrella of being Afro-Caribbean at the time when being African was not seen to be cool, nor on the ethnic minority section of forms which sly put across “to tick where appropriate”. See this is another interesting chapter. Ethnic minority. Now that’s a term that makes me truly ponder. If being in the minority; and we are considered ethnic, we sure do give a lot of problems to the white majority in how they rate what goes out to apparently appease us. I have long come to the realisation that being ethnic equates expense or something expensive but not mentioned outright in the same sentence – just hinted at alongside the charity column.
So when all the publicity about the October month being Black History comes to the fore, I often ask myself, is it only in October that as a Black race we need reminding of who is who to keep us in perpetual hope that we still factor in the global stakes? Perhaps I’m crazy, but I would be of the school of thought that encourages our children to aspire to positive role models in whatever race whilst also maintaining and appreciating their genetic skin tones in their everyday experiences to equate balance of the rainbows of the human race. This brings me to another contraversial topic of sking toning. Whilst we spend the most part of October acknowleging past and present Black historians etc…, we fail at some level to address some of the everyday issues such as the inferiority complexities that lead most of our black children or people to bleach their skins in order to fit into the perceived requirements for beauty, perpetuated by peers and media houses – globally. We exist as a race and should be able to command our own market that trains or educates in order to service our race instead of perpetual reliance on consumerism. As a resident within UK faced with the floodgates of Eastern Europeans coming into Britain versus black children/population in competition for jobs etc, is it not time to rethink our strategies on the future of our offsprings as opposed to trailing the Black history exercise yearly?
Perhaps we ought to be doing or undertaking something beneficial and practical to our Black communities in acknoweledgement of our history.