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Reflecting on Black History Month

As Black History Month ends, I’ve been reflecting on the celebration and observation of the month and a conversation I had with someone who asked why black people are singled out and have a month dedicated to them. This person couldn’t see how this was fair.

Black history change makers

This opened space for the conversation around the portrayal of black people in general throughout history but particularly throughout British history. There are so many black people that have made major contributions to our societies, but we aren’t taught about them. We don’t even get told about those that are currently making a difference now – until or unless it goes wrong or disturbs the status quo. A modern example of this is Marcus Rashford and his inspirational work and selflessness in helping to provide school meals in his local community and the country at large.

Watching young men like Marcus Rashford do such positive things for society gives me hope for the future. When I look at my son, I’m sometimes frightened by the reality that he is growing up in a world that still doesn’t value people that look like him. It is encouraging to see that even at a very young age he continues to push himself to be the best in what he does and that he has other black people to look up to and be inspired by.

Reflecting on the world and its future, I feel it’s important that we gain a greater understanding of the contributions of people of African and Caribbean descent in history. Our children need to know that they can be effective in society. It’s important to have examples of other change makers put before them. School curriculums are a good place for this. But so is societal awareness of the issues that may not be discussed in schools or other formal settings.

Black History Month

Black History Month (BHM) gives me/us a chance to publicly celebrate people of black descent. And acknowledge their hard work in the societies we live in. To me, the aim is to remind people of, and carry forward that resilient spirit of determination to ‘be the change’ to the next generation. I’m so proud to be black and I love it.  It’s always a good day to be black, but during BHM there’s a special universal recognition that is bonded to this feeling.

As a Black British national of African descent that has been in Dorset for just over 5 years it’s almost become normal for me to be the only person of colour in a room or shop. This shouldn’t be normal, but it has never fazed me or made me feel uncomfortable. Instead, it makes me hold my head a little higher and tap into my mental and emotional strength. It is easy to get beat down mentally, especially when you feel different or othered. But I hope to be an example of what you can achieve with a mindset of strength. A mindset that celebrates the beauty of being an anomaly in an increasingly homogenous world.

My family’s struggles

I am not naïve. I know my struggles are less than those faced by my grandparents, my parents. I’m impressed by their resilient spirit to keep pushing. Regardless of the struggles and obstacles thrown upon us as black people. A real-life documentation of what people are more than able to accomplish no matter the difficulties. Anything is always possible, with hope.

When you create awareness there’s an opportunity to create change. This is why I believe for certain that this is an opportunity to create change in the world. To know that there is no room for racism and discrimination, and we need to start re-educating each other about equality and the spirit of ‘Ubuntu’ (Zulu term; togetherness, we look out for one another).

‘Proud to be’

I’m proud to be black and I am proud to be on this journey as an ambassador for Dorset Mind. I will continue to fight against racism and discrimination. I will continue to fight against the misconception that black men are mentally and emotionally invincible. My goal is to build a platform where we can share our day-to-day struggles and vulnerabilities. And be comfortable to ask for help. I hope that you all can see and understand an important part of me as I share my thoughts and feelings around being black and celebrating BHM.

Let’s normalise conversations on mental health challenges faced by black people in day-to-day life but particularly during BHM. I believe doing this will reduce and eventually end the stigma faced by people of African (and Afro-Caribbean) descent when broaching the subject of mental health. And as we seek to normalise conversations on the challenges that people of colour face, lets normalise conversations on mental health. We create this awareness because we know it matters and has purpose to create change for the better.

I love that Dorset Mind recognises people of colour and their culture in a way that transcends racist and imperial formations. It’s a call to act and to continue to stand up for and uplift those in our communities who are often pushed down to the margins.  For me, BHM is an invitation for all of us to join in the conversation. To celebrate blackness, the beauty of love. The spirit of sharing and unity.

Committed to anti-racism

Huge thanks to our Ambassador Chris Tshuma, who wrote this moving blog. Inspirational and a reminder that there is still so much more work to be done.

At Dorset Mind, our ambition is to advocate towards a more inclusive environment for all. This commitment helps us achieve our mission to celebrate and promote diversity.

We support equality and inclusion within Dorset Mind. From our recruitment process and throughout people’s journeys with us to allow applicants to understand our core values. These are underpinned by our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and Policy.

Dorset Mind strives to be a diverse and inclusive charity where we can ALL be ourselves.

And this is just the start of our intentions to reach racialised communities. We know they suffer great mental health issues and barriers to accessing mental health support.

Getting support:

If you need help, we offer a range of 1-2-1 and group support – which you can find here.

Alternately, take a look at our mental health resources where you can find support for Black and Ethnic communities here.

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