So as we approach October, it is safe to say we will soon find ourselves emerged in a world of celebrating all things black. Brands will push all elements of blackness to the forefront, media outlets will proudly broadcast historical documentaries about the black experience and schools will likely ask their students to produce posters about their "favourite black person" (sounds ridiculous, but I don't think I've ever worked in a school that hasn't given this tasks to its students).
I personally have quite a love/hate relationship with Black History Month. I remember one school I had just started working in and the Head of Department turned to me on my very first day and said, and I quote, "as the token black teacher in the history department, I will leave Black History Month to you". I imagine this was said in some kind of weird attempt at humour but nevertheless I have always remembered that as an example of how tokenistic Black History Month can be. A tick box exercise to get out of the way and then return to business as usual Once we hit November. I also find it slightly patronising... Africa is the motherland. The epicentre of creation and the beginning of mankind. And you want to squeeze all of that into one month? It's almost an insult.
On the other hand, what is so wrong with celebrating your history and your culture for a month? Yes, some of us do this year round. But there are children in homes where this does not happen. So if those children can get online or turn on their televisions and see themselves being represented and celebrated, then surely that's a good thing?
Also, we all know that so far as black people being represented in school history curriculums, it doesn't tend to exceed the realms of the transatlantic slave trade, the civil rights movement in the United States and perhaps Empire soldiers during World Wars One and Two.
Many schools these days will attempt to showcase other areas of black history during October, and while some do it better than others, at least it's something.
So I say all of this to say that I am still quite on the fence with Black History Month. It can be a beautiful time of celebrations with events and lots of great content online, but can also feel a little gimmicky.
What are your thoughts on this? I'd love to know.
Love and light always,