It’s a dark night, fire rages, chanting is in the air. An image of white nationalists holding lit torches goes viral. Many disagree for what they stand for, some think otherwise. Across the country, a young black man is walking home with a bag of sweets for his sister. He’s followed by an older, much larger man of a different race. He reaches into his pocket. He’s shot and killed.
Am I talking about something from 50 years ago? No. Could it be an extract from an A Level History textbook? Possibly, one day. These are just two examples of events that have occurred within the last 5 years across the pond in the land of the free, the USA. What makes them more shocking is that they are not isolated events. Maybe if they were, they would be slightly more forgiven. I’m not just talking about the US. Racial inequality here in the UK is extremely prominent- especially in higher education institutions. In 2015, only 14 black male students were admitted to the University of Cambridge. That is why 2017’s Black History Month is so important. We need to remember and celebrate the amazing work and impact of incredible black men and women across the world.
This year, the Student Union have organised an unprecedented amount of talks and interactive sessions in order to get Leicester more aware of both the amazing work done by this community alongside getting people talking about the injustices that they face and still do. There isn’t a single person here today who hasn’t faced some form of ridicule or social barrier. The fact that this is still going on towards such a large and influential community is the reason why this year’s Black History Month is more important & significant than ever.
‘Black History Month is the opportunity for us to celebrate black prominent figures who have lived remarkable and inspirational lives’ says our current BAME officer Eden Mesfun. She also goes on to state that the SU plays an important role in ensuring that the celebration and awareness of the struggles and challenges faced by relatives of those students at our University. This is the general consensus held by the rest of the SU team with the Wellbeing Officer, Mollie Henstock, adding that we can not only ‘learn but improve our society for the future.’
In the past, it has been argued that to continue with Black History Month is a way of ensuring that those within that community are still isolated and regarded as different to the rest of society. I think differently. How can you expect anyone to feel as if they belong when the only time they are represented is for negative headlines? We need to encourage an open discussion about the social injustices and barriers faced by all within our community and, in my opinion, Black History Month stands for that open discussion to be allowed and for other ethnic groups to reflect on what makes them great. We spend so much of our lives focusing on the bad, isn’t it time we looked at the good in our society? Isn’t it time we stood together?
For a full and up to date list of what’s on this Black History Month- ranging from sports fixtures to The Great Debate with a film or two in between- head to http://leicesterunion.com/blackhistory
Nidhi India – What’s On & Editor-in-Chief