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Commemorating UK Black History Month with BAME

  • Posted on October 30, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 2 minutes

Black History Month is observed during the month of October in the United Kingdom and is a time to celebrate and appreciate the often overlooked, history, culture, achievements and contributions of Black Britons. For far too long, black history has been concealed or portrayed in a negative light, and facts have often been misconstrued which is why the celebration of Black History is still so relevant and important as we strive to achieve greater inclusiveness, cohesion and acceptance of diversity.

As a British born Afro-Caribbean, I am exceptionally proud of my roots and heritage, and I believe it’s important for both individuals and organisations to value differences. Diversity of thoughts and backgrounds brings different perspectives, opinions and ideas to the table and fosters collaborative thinking, inclusion and innovation. (Fun fact: companies with diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation.)

Black History Month for me is about learning and embracing the past and present whilst understanding what I can do to help shape and inspire a better future where we continue to push towards racial equality and building a society where everyone is and feels included and equally respected and valued and where everyone has access to the same opportunities to succeed irrespective of their background.

So back in February 2019, I proposed the idea of building a BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethnic) & Multicultural employee affinity group, which officially and successfully launched on in September of 2019 under the name Beyond. The goal of this group is to help increase levels of awareness, inclusion, acceptance and celebration of ethnic and under-represented employees. BAME is getting the conversation started with a screening of Marvel's "Black Panther" and building a digital library of inspirational black figures of history.

We are now at a point in time where we can understand and appreciate the benefits of a diverse workforce. However, increasing representation alone won’t shift the dial; educating, challenging stereotypes, promoting cultural and racial awareness and interrupting unconscious bias are also key factors.

Let Black History Month inspire you to get involved. Here are a few of my suggestions:

    1. Learn about unsung heroes of black history – check out these essential heroes you should know.
    2. Netflix & Learn – Netflix has a host of thought-provoking movies and documentaries. Some good watches include “When They See Us”, “13th”, “Barry”, “Fruitvale Station”, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” and “Hello Privilege. It’s Me, Chelsea.”
    3. Celebrate black literature – if you love a good read, why not indulge in novel or non-fiction by a Black author? Some good reads include: “Queenie” by Candice Carty-Williams, “Becoming” by Michelle Obama, “Fresh Water” by Akwaeke Emezi and “Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo.

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