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BASW’s voices for Black History Month…and beyond

Shabnam Ahmed - member of the Black and Ethnic Minority Professionals Symposium

My views about Black History Month have been torn for some years now based on my questioning the need to devote only a month to elements of histories which are in danger of being erased. 

Why is it not just an everyday part of life?

On reflection, I have come to learn that this has been my expression of anger at living in a world which is not ideal and where we have to devote a month and chant “Black Lives Matter” to get attention. 

Acknowledging such emotion was important for me to really think about what Black history month has the potential to mean to those like me who might feel this way. 

The truth, as we all know and experience, is that there is not a level playing field and never has been. Important figures in history fought hard to get a week / month in a year to have this acknowledged. 

In recognition of their fight, in paying respect to their dedication I say: If you are someone who also has mixed feelings about this, not because it is unimportant, but because it boils your blood and being only one month out of twelve placing it in the category of “minority” again, then let us use this emotion, our energy to renew, reinvigorate the work, the dedication and struggle for justice and equality. 

Let us use this month at our place of work to have conversations about the “Exclusive Islands” when we tilt our head upwards and see places where we don’t feel represented. 

Let us welcome our allies to use their privilege to ignite the necessary change. 

Let us then ensure that the lid is not placed on these conversations, so in the next five years we see, respect and celebrate more colour in every sphere of our lives.

Shabnam Ahmed
Shabnam Ahmed