Why Black History Belongs to Everyone

Now that Black History Month is over, there will be some who breathe a sigh of relief in the hope that they can relax for another year. However, these people are very often those who fail to realise that Black History Month is simply a reminder of what they should be concerned about all year round.

Black History Month.….Some say what is that all about; and who is “allowed” to get involved and sometimes this is a question that may be dependent on who you are and how you see yourself relevant to the issue. The rise of the Black Lives Matter movement attracted people from a variety of racial backgrounds and encouraged people who otherwise may have been cautious about being involved in the discussion and this perhaps indirectly contributed to the early dissolution of this “uprising” when that association became less fashionable.

Back in the day the term “Black” was loosely applied to anyone who was not white and were subjected to the slings and arrows of racial discrimination, racial harassment and outrageous fortune! I remember some friends and colleagues of an Asian and Chinese background happily sharing the well-known phrase “I’m Black and I’m Proud” ; and standing side by side with those of African/Caribbean descent.  However, over the years it soon became clear that the different communities were pursuing different objectives and the reality was the major factor that bound us together was the “Racism” that cared little for those distinctions.

Nonetheless, it still begs the question as to who could and should be involved . Well, of course, everyone should be involved. However, from a white perspective “White Communities” need to concede that the histories of Black people are intimately intertwined with their history, socially, politically, historically, and genetically., and no matter how pure blooded they may think they are it is likely that the blood from other ethnic groups is pumping in their veins. One major example is “The Transatlantic Slave Trade” which is considered to be a major part of Black History; but the reality is that it is a significant aspect of “White History” and underpins many of the values that contribute to white cultures.

Moreover, the question that challenges many regarding their involvement in Black History Month may be how Black they have to be to legitimately involve themselves in Black History Month. At one time in the UK, it seemed to be the preserve of people from the Caribbean and people from the African continent were not sure whether they should be involved. Religion also played it’s part in determining the identity of “Black” people and some felt that their Christian identity or Muslim identity trumped any notions of Blackness.

Then of course there were those of mixed race who were also not sure whether they were dark enough to qualify regarding their black identity and their legitimate association with Black History and whether any connection was a betrayal of their association with white members of their family.

Well, I guess the bottom line is that all humans are descended from a Black woman from the heart of Africa, and there ain’t no escaping that, so as far as I am concerned Black History belongs to each and every one of us; and not just in October but all year round!

Don John