Black British history is indeed a part of the DNA of British history and its present. Black History Month was celebrated for the first time in the UK in 1987, in an effort to acknowledge the contribution of people of African Caribbean descent to British history and society. During this annual celebration, we not only commemorate the achievements of African descendants but also raise awareness around the continuing legacy of inequality affecting black people.
There is still much work to be done to improve the lives of British African/Caribbean communities in the UK. There are numerous reports that account for the racial and ethnic disparities in the provision of health care, access to justice, employment compensation, wealth acquisition, educational advancement among others.
The pandemic has further illuminated the breadth, depth, and consequences of these disparities and that we are in desperate need of a more egalitarian society. The road forward towards true equity must be paved with policies aimed to bring about equity, not simply equality.
This kind of policy-making requires new voices with the diversity of thought as well as the diversity of lived experience to craft policies that can best remove systemic barriers so that individuals and communities can flourish and enjoy their highest level of well-being – economic, educational, professional, psychological, and physical.
Newly founded, The Black Policy Institute seeks to be one such agent of social change. We are a collective of diverse professionals who utilise our voices to speak comprehensively to the policy needs of the most vulnerable.
We use our expertise to craft real solutions to challenging problems facing our communities, as we are a collective that is a part of our community and have a direct relationship with the issues we seek to redress. We work in partnership with the communities we serve and constituencies who share our vision of a healthier and more equitable society.
Through our commitment to the next generation of transnational policymakers, we have launched our Future Global Leadership Programme which trains 18–25-year-olds residing in the UK and the USA from African/Caribbean backgrounds to develop policy solutions aimed at improving the lived conditions of Black people throughout the African Diaspora.
Moving forward, as we reflect on Black History Month, we must not be mired in the past, but we must reflect on how our past shapes our present and how the present will shape our future. Doing so should propel us to act with purpose and fuller appreciation of the myriad dimensions of black people’s experiences in the UK and around the world. Commemorations without action and understanding are poised to be to become tokenistic. From decolonising school curriculums to a more just and humane approach to immigration, Black history celebrations should be an entry point to challenge institutional inequities here and abroad.
Black British history month is a part of the DNA of British history, its people, and its identity. British people should have full access to the richness of their history. Black History Month provides us with an opportunity to better appreciate the multicultural nature of how we indeed live and have always lived. Black history is a gift that benefits us all. Black history is indeed our history, British history, global history. So, to all, I wish you a happy Black History Month.