What Black History Month Means to Me – by Alex Ololade

young girl with curly hair

Black History Month is so important for the younger generations of Black people. It’s a great way to actively engage with our cultures, history and look to the future.

Representation means a lot to me, growing up Nigerian British there was a serious lack of representation for other families that looked like me or my family. I grew up in an area that was predominately white, it had an effect on my siblings and I growing up as we were often pointed out for being different from the rest of our school amongst the usual discrimination most Black children encounter during their school experience. Introducing Black History Month into our education systems and institutions is vital for representation. It is vital for the mental health of young Black kids as they need to be exposed to the triumph of the Black community not just the sacrifices or suffering that has been endured. Black children should be able to see people who look like them regularly, this month celebrating Black culture, Black history, and Black achievements helps do that. By having a month celebrating Black history, it creates positive reflections and narratives that inspire the next generations to do great things too.

Black History Month is a showcase for the past which educates us all on the history that affects the world, which is often not taught or highlighted in traditional education. It allows us the chance to celebrate those who may not have been celebrated in the past for all they achieved even with limited freedom. To celebrate them for things they invented or contributed to but were not given credit for. This month is an opportunity to reflect on the past, good and bad, educate each other, and then look to the future for the great things to come. It gives us a clear moment to acknowledge the work and sacrifice of all those who came before us to break down barriers.

Celebrating Blackness, culture, and heritage is a wonderful way to feel connected to the community. I love the way that it helps re-energise the culture to connect us back to our routes of community and family. It’s a way for us to promote and understand what ties us together as well as what makes us such a diverse community of people all with different stories to tell.

Black History Month is important to me because I think it highlights Black narratives, ones that often get overlooked or bypassed in favour of other narratives. When we know more about our histories, we can only become more empowered. These histories are tragic, beautiful, pain-filled, and joyous all at the same time, our history shows our strength which is an important takeaway from the dedicated month.

To have a look at more Black History Month events at Reading check out the Essentials website. Or you can look up some of the history that is being celebrated on the Black History Month official page.

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