Black History: Why Only a Month? By Lucas Jeffcoate
Our creative strategist questions why the appreciation of Black History is limited to one month.
History is ever-present.
It’s the blueprint we’re meant to study and learn from so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. It helps us understand people and societies, which gives us more context as to why things are like they are today.
So, when it comes to Black History month, I have to say that I’m rather conflicted.
It may seem like a good thing that we have a month to celebrate Black history in all its glory - but is there a reason why we can’t intertwine this history into our learning year-round?
History is a subject that I enjoyed a lot when growing up. It involved great (and not so great) people, magnificent battles, rebellion, and ultimately, amazing stories you would have thought were fiction. It was only when I finished the subject that I realised throughout my school career, I learnt about Henry VIII three times (and will never forget the order of his wives' fates) and WW1/WW2 two to three times, all from a British perspective. Now, this wasn’t to say I didn’t learn about slavery and the American civil rights movement but this was few and far between and you know, not the most… positive.
This narrow syllabus may have made more sense before the world was connected 24/7, but now different cultures come into contact on a daily basis, so it makes sense that all people should have a sense of understanding of world history as a whole. This is especially important for businesses where it is now almost impossible to stay within a cultural bubble.
One of the key fundamentals of History was to have a balanced argument for which you came to a conclusion that took everything into account. This was, however, not how the subject was taught in terms of showing all aspects of a historical period. Only the ‘winners side’ was portrayed when it came to British involvement.
This is why it’s important for there to be a varied education within schools and businesses so that people learn to understand and respect black history and culture so that prejudice is reduced.
What if the Moors, for example, who ruled Spain for 800 years and introduced new scientific techniques in Astronomy, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Geography and Philosophy, had been widely taught? Would there be a wider acceptance of positive black history which was one of prosperity rather than struggle? Perhaps. Is it hypocritical to be posting this during Black History month rather than on a random day in July? Again, perhaps.
We have reached a point where businesses often struggle to connect with Black Talent on all levels as there seems to be a lack of understanding about the current black experience and how things have become that way.
Companies find themselves attempting to tick a box, especially since George Floyd, that seems disingenuous to many. If it was shown to the public, through action, that businesses care about their black employees/black people around the world for more than a month a year, they would have a much larger chance of connecting with a black audience.
Education is the main way businesses can integrate and connect colleagues across the globe so that everyone feels welcome and part of a team. So even though Black History month is progress and a brilliant initiative that highlights the need for black education. Please, let's not just make it one month out of the twelve.
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