October officially kicks off Black History Month in the UK. This national holiday seeks to increase awareness of and appreciation for the contributions of people of African and Caribbean descent to British society and to encourage a broader understanding of Black history.
The US Black History Month (also known as African American History Month), which is an annual celebration of African American achievements and an opportunity to acknowledge their major role in US history, served as at least a portion of the inspiration for the UK Black History Month. Each February, US Black History Month is observed.
These two months are not the same and shouldn’t be treated as such, despite the fact that their missions are identical. Black people who are born and raised in Britain have quite different viewpoints and experiences than those who are born and raised in the United States. Unfortunately, discussions about the Black experience across the African Diaspora sometimes fail to recognise these disparities and, in some cases, leave them out entirely.
Every October, Black History Month is observed in schools and at tens of thousands of events across the nation. It has been a staple of British culture for more than 30 years. However, this year’s celebration, which begins in October, is at the centre of a name-related controversy after several councils dropped the term in favour of the celebration of all diverse nationalities, according to activists.
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After prohibiting white students from attending Black History Month events, a student union has come under fire, leading to claims of racial segregation.
In order to promote a safe atmosphere for talks and open dialogue, some of the events at the University of Westminster would be reserved for black students, the union for the school’s students informed students in an email.
Dr. Neil Thin, a lecturer in social anthropology at Edinburgh University, responded by calling the decision unfortunate and accusing the London university of imitating the racial segregation that had previously been practised in the South African and American educational systems.
According to the Telegraph, the University of Westminster students were not informed of the events they would be prohibited from participating in during a month dedicated to honouring black history through presentations, dance parties, and movie screenings.
Using the rhetoric of safe places to support racial segregation, according to Dr. Thin, is a cruel irony. This kind of deliberate seeding of interethnic suspicion and division is most likely to make communal areas insecure.
However, the student union’s most current social media post from yesterday made clear that everyone in the student body was invited to a meeting with Zoe Garsh, the founder of Ms Independent, a company that offers professional training for young women. The event is for Black History Month, but ALL students are welcome, according to the caption! Aim to avoid missing out.
Toby Young, the leader of the Free Speech Union, added his voice to the discussion by branding the organisation as “zealots” who were failing to grasp the wider picture.
Young claims that these zealots should eventually realise that treating people differently based on their race will not reduce racial discrimination. However, because of ideological groupthink, they are unable to see this obvious incongruity.
Sir John Haynes, a Tory lawmaker, has demanded a probe to see whether there may have been discrimination. He also expressed worry about how sinister it is for such views to spread in a free and democratic country.
The Westminster Students’ Union chose not to respond to questions.
Meanwhile, a university official stated that one of the institution’s major Black Lives Matter pledges was to close all achievement discrepancies for all BME students. To address inequities among black students, Black History Year Create, an intense career-defining programme, offers just that.
Offering some programmes to individuals who are underrepresented or who have had less access to opportunity can level the playing field and promote equality of opportunity without necessarily ensuring that everyone has access to the same things.
Additionally, Black History Month has frequently drawn criticism for being patronising, serving as an excuse to disregard Black history for the rest of the year, and serving as a means of segregating Black history from British history. Regardless of the arguments’ strengths and weaknesses, they all emphasise how crucial it is to study history in order to comprehend the present and potential futures.