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Black History Month, my experience

Written by: Borokinni Joshua, VP Wellbeing and Diversity

For some people, the month-long celebration for Black History Month offers an opportunity to reimagine what possibilities lie ahead. For many others, the forces that drove Woodson nearly a century ago are more relevant than ever today.   

Personally, my experiences as a young black person have been an even mix of love, pride, and sacrifice; love for my people, pride in my history, and sacrifice for my beliefs. My people are my people, regardless of whatever.  I exude a great amount of pride in my history - the struggles, pain, and misery that my ancestors had to go through to ensure that we, their descendants, get a good life; a life void of injustice, humiliation, and unfairness. Without those sacrifices, I would not be here today, educating you about our history. Finally, I have had to sacrifice for the things I deserve. For example, I believe I deserve the best quality of education, and in pursuit of this, I have had to sacrifice a great part of myself to stay awake studying in the library, my fears to ask for help, and my doubts when I decide to be creative. In the same vein, I believe I deserve to be free - freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of movement, etc. Also, I believe I deserve to be rewarded sufficiently for work done, I believe that I deserve to be treated with respect, dignity, and grace, and I believe I deserve the very best from life - first because I am a human being and secondly because I put in extra effort to get the things I deserve.   

I wish that, in this time and age, black people do not have to face racism, inequality, and injustice. But the reality is different. Black people are still being exploited, stereotyped, and abused. I did not plan to be black nor did my parents. It happened without my consent, and, even if I could I change it, I won’t. I love black and I have come to cherish, accept, and propagate my identity as a black person. I have also grown to be aware of the wide range of diversity, ambiguity, and multiplicity that this world offers.  This is why, more than ever, we need to stick together, as a people, shunning the divide of race, class, and status. In this case, focusing our minds on the outstanding contribution Black people have made to society, not just here in Plymouth, not just now in October, but in every single moment in history.   

Posterity demands that we do not trivialise or overlook the history of oppression faced by Black people, rather we should be guided by it. Until then, let us, together, celebrate the beauty of Black History Month and work towards a future where humans are not judged by the colour of their skin rather by the content of their character.  

As a University of Plymouth student, there are plenty of ways to actively engage in this year's Black History Month, check out this page to see what is happening       

As Lonnie G. Bunch III, Director of the Smithsonian Institution said at the opening of Washington D.C.'s National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2016: “There is no more powerful force than a people steeped in their history. And there is no higher cause than honouring our struggle and ancestors by remembering". The road ahead is farther than we can imagine but as a people of vision, strength, and resilience we should be, more than ever, confident in our ability to survive, thrive, and multiply.   

Happy Black History Month!