Why Black History Month Is Important

Why Black History Month Is Important

October marks the UK’s black history month, a 31-day celebration and appreciation for black culture and the people within it. Here, Dawn Morton from Employee Angels shares why the month is so important, especially as it relates to the current climate:

“Black History Month is normally a time to educate and highlight to others black people’s achievements and struggles and to celebrate where they are now, and the positive influence and impacts we have had on society. This year is different, this year has almost been Black History Year – COVID-19, and the reported effects on our race in particular, the racists killings of black Americans by the police force, the riots, the marches and protests both in the UK and the States – the birth of the Black Lives Matter Movement – there has never been more mentions of black people in the media to my recollection than in 2020.

“Even during this month of celebration, we have seen the fallout from Sainsburys stand in celebrating black history month, highlighting again that here in the UK, we live and work with people, who for some reason or the other are intolerant of us.”

Dawn adds “I think it is important that employers recognise that their black employees are feeling many emotions right now, for some BHM could represent another painful reminder of how ‘different’ we are seen, for others it’s a time where they can again let the world know that we are present, we contribute, we are valuable. Most of us are just emotionally tired for many reasons. There is no one size fits all with how you should acknowledge the period, and most of your employees would prefer that they were acknowledged from a professional standpoint all year round. In the UK we like to bury our heads sometimes and pretend that things are not happening, employers need to acknowledge that racial tensions are high right not.

Some of your White employees will not know how to act, whether they are saying the right thing, if they should be advocating for black people, if they should just stay out of it, your black employees for the most part don’t want to be under the spotlight, and also feel awkward at times. I think this is a key time for education for all of us, it’s the time for communication and speaking openly and honestly about our experiences.

“If the Corona Pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we are ALL human, no one is exempt, we need to do more than co-exist, it’s time to develop unity, and if it starts this month, I am all for it.”