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When in pursuit of a peaceful, equal and productive society, it is extremely important that we commemorate and appreciate all aspects of, and contributions to, our complex human story. That is the good, the bad, and the ugly. The past, the present, and the prospective future. Black history has much to reveal about the ancestral legacies of black people— and provides important lessons for us all.
Black history is not solely contingent upon slavery and colonialism, neither is it rooted in suffering and hardship; there was a rich and colourful history before colonialism where indigenous African and Caribbean people revelled in the facets of their culture and enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with their environment. This rich history continues to exist in the rhythms, beats, colours, food, clothing, dialect/language of black people globally.
Black History Month is a national call to remember the tragedies inflicted upon innocent black lives, because remembering holds people accountable, it sets people free and allows their voices to be heard and their pain to be shared. But, let us continue to also remember the achievements of black people: their contributions to the wider society, the astounding talents and gifts which have paved the way for young black children in education, sport, music, performance, science/technology and many more.
I challenge you to see Rosa Parkes as a hero before a victim. I challenge you to re-write the narrative, reject the hegemonic fables projected by empire and to question the status-quo.
This month a wonderful variety of events, socials and initiatives have been run by the BME Network, the African and Caribbean society and the Women of Colour Collective—even departments and other societal clubs have got involved to show their appreciation of black history this October at Royal Holloway. Starting conversations is a crucial step towards progress.
But, if I can leave anything with you it is this: Black history at Royal Holloway will not be remembered only in October, but every single month of the academic year, just as we endeavour to celebrate all other ethnic minorities and marginalized groups. Let the conversations continue.
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