To start of Pride month I would like us to acknowledge the contribution of black activists to the LGBTQ+ movement.
Black LGBTQ+ people have paved the way for the entire queer community. In particular, we have to thank Marsha P. Johnson, American gay liberation activist and self-identified drag queen, who took part in the Stonewall Riots of 1969.
Marsha P Johnson was amongst those who protested and fought courageously for their rights to be heard. Johnson was the first one who threw the first brick. Amongst Johnson, was Stormé DeLaverie, a bi-racial butch lesbian and Civil Rights and LGBTQ+ activist, who is said to have been the first person to throw a punch at a police officer.
These acts of bravery and strength are what ignited a new age of revolution and uprising for the LGBTQ+ community and influenced the gay liberation movement.
We will never forget the influence black people have made and continue to make to the LGBTQ+ community! Never be afraid to be who you are! No matter the cost. We thank Marsha P Johnson, Stormé DeLarverie and many others for fighting for their rights. Without them, today we wouldn’t be able to celebrate at Pride or Black Pride.
This is why it’s important to never stop fighting for what you truly believe in. Change will come even if it takes some time, it will come. ✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽✊🏼✊🏻✊
Many of you may have heard about the Slave Trade taking place globally, particularly in Libya. Some of you may have even attended the Anti-slavery March in London 2017 to the Libyan embassy.
In Libya, migrants are being sold as slaves. Many make their way from places in Africa after being made to believe that they’ll receive more job opportunities and have a glowing life in Libya. Instead, they are captured and confronted with harsh realities of suffering and are taken advantage of.
Black people are still being branded like cattle and sold like meat at a market. It’s shocking to see that this sort of thing is going on in the 21st Century.
I wish there was a way to eradicate all of their pain and suffering. But I guess one of the first steps is awareness. More of us need to be aware to bring forth change.
There is a stereotype, a haunting shadow of a stereotype which screams that the fearless, outspoken black woman is merely an “Angry Black Woman”.
Black women have been countlessly silenced. For example during slavery, in the workplace and with their lack of media representation. The world shuts them out and if they speak up they are instantly labelled as angry.
Black women often feel the need to keep quiet about their wants and needs with the fear of coming across as too aggressive.
I’m enraged by the way society undermines black women. And angered by the discrimination that we face and have had to endure. I am infuriated. Yes, I am a black woman. However I will not subscribe to that narrative that I am an angry black woman.
You don’t have to silence yourself because of the fear of this shadow. Be loud. Be outspoken and be proud!
When it comes to stop and searches there is racial bias mostly with young black teenagers dressed a certain way. Usually targeted are teenagers in black tracksuits, jumpers, hoodies and hats. Police often assume things and racially profile them, associating them with dealing drugs or other criminal activities.
”Black Britons are now stopped and searched for any reason at 8.4 times the rate of whites – a figure that has more than doubled since 1998-99 when the Macpherson report into the Lawrence murder declared the Metropolitan police to be ‘institutionally racist‘.”
I was stopped by four police officers, questioned and asked to show them my ID. I was wearing a beanie and a black puffer jacket. It makes me upset to know that many black people have to experience this prejudicial treatment by the police. It’s unacceptable and something should be done about it!
In the black community we can acknowledge the number of families with the absence of black fathers. Some argue the reason for this traces all the way back to slavery.
Black people were forced out of their homes in Africa and sardine-packed into ships to new foreign lands and sold in markets to white owners, who they were made to serve. Men were often separated from their wives and children. Hence where the absence of black fathers began and this ability for black women to support their family without the need of a man.
The media perpetuates this stereotype of absent black fathers. An example below from the popular 90s show “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”
Although some black fathers are absent, which studies show can causes an increase in gang culture. There are black men who are very present in their children’s lives and are breaking this stereotype!
The black community can have is this warped view, passed generationally, that having a mental illness is shameful. Within my family mental illness is seen as something that should be hidden.
The belief that seeking professional help is weak in the black community, enforces the idea that mental health is something we should be ashamed of.
This opinion that black people are indestructible and can’t be weak may stem from colonial times. Harriet A Washignton’s “Medical Apartheid” speaks on the horrific medical experimentation on African Americans. She describes the cruel treatments they experienced and how they were treated like subhumans, unable to feel pain. Black people may feel the need to conceal their pain like they had to centuries before.
However to tackle this negative stigma of mental health issues in the black community, we must speak up and accommodate people who suffer with mental illnesses, not isolate or shame them!
Black history month is a month where black people, culture and history are celebrated. What first began as Negro history week, was expanded to a whole month by President Gerald Ford in 1976.
Some question why the history of black people is celebrated for only a month and seemed to be ignored for the rest of the year?
In a world where the media can be saturated with negative images of black people, it’s fundamental to have a month where these ideals are shattered and influential black people are praised for their profound contributions to society!
To name a few: Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman and more recently Stormzy, Meghan Markle and let’s not forget about Oprah Winfrey.
It’s beneficial to have black history month so black children can have something good to look up to instead of constantly internalising the negative stereotypes and labels that are hung over their heads.
For years there has been a lack of representation of dark skinned women in the music industry.
Black empowerment movements seem to be at their zenith in today’s society, black culture is celebrated and black superheroes exist! (Black Panther, 2018). Despite this, it seems difficult for dark-skinned female rappers and singers like Ray Blk or Little Simz to top the charts when light-skinned artists like Jorja Smith do so with ease.
This issue of colourism has even been raised by Beyoncé’s father, who said that his daughters Beyoncé and Solange, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj’s success are attributed to their light skin. Without it he questions how successful all of them would’ve been.
The music industry continues to reinforce what is deemed as an acceptable face of black womanhood. Arguably, one that is more digestible to the public eye, lighter skinned black women.
Historically, the natural state of black people’s hair has been subjected to scrutiny by society and characterised as “wild”, “unkept” and “unprofessional”. Which meant that they often chemically straightened their hair or wore wigs.
In the 70’s, during The civil Rights movement the Black Panther Party popularised the afro and used it as a political symbol of defiance.
“When you have natural hair that is Black, it stands up and it is not really considered mainstream”
Despite this black women are dismantling Eurocentric beauty standards and wearing their natural hair like a crown and we are here for it!
The proliferation of this movement is changing the view that natural hair is subversive. Chris Rock’s documentary ‘Good Hair’ (2009), Solange’s song ‘Don’t touch my hair’ and with Hollywood actors wearing their natural hair such as Lupita Nyong’o, conversations about natural hair are being made!
Colourism is the discrimination against a group of darker skinned people based on the preference for lighter skin tones. It is a seed planted and deeply rooted in society by white supremacy, however it is watered amongst communities, like black and Asians. In these communities skin bleaching is sometimes used to achieve a lighter and therefore more beautiful Eurocentric skin tone.
These women are willing to compromise their health to achieve this standard of beauty. They are inclined to put their health on the line for more relationship and financial opportunities as a result of their darker complexion, which is seen as undesirable by some.
The increase of discourse on colourism, however, is burgeoning and therefore opening the minds of people who may have been naive to such issues. Movements like the natural hair movement continue to uplift and inspire black women to see the beauty in their natural hair and skin!