October Award Ceremonies
I did not expect to be shortlisted and then become a finalist! I am glad that I had the opportunity to meet such outstanding and exceptional individuals and I highly commend the founders of both the awards. They have created a platform for Black people to be showcased and celebrated, something which is not often done in the society we live in.
When I created DreamSmartTutors I had several aims; one of which was to encourage Black Minority and Ethnic (BME) students to know that they can achieve anything they set their mind to and that being Black is something we should be proud of and not ashamed of. As Black people we are often not expected to do well or achieve great things despite history being abundantly scattered with Black people who have achieved the extraordinary. We are stereotyped all the time- for example I am often questioned when I say that I am a doctor which can be incredibly frustrating. Whilst I acknowledge this could be because I look very young I do also believe it is because I am a Black female. Furthermore, when I go into schools, the students are again surprised that I am a doctor! This is another reason as to why I will and need to continue my work with schools and why these awards as SO important.
"We need to dispel the belief that successful people look a certain way and come from a certain background."
Black and British
I was again very fortunate to have won a competition which included two free tickets to the preview of David Olusoga’s documentary entitled ‘Black and British, A Forgotten History’ and also a free signed copy of his book which accompanies the series. I thoroughly enjoyed the preview and the panel discussion which raised some really pertinent points. I have to say that despite many people not being aware of the stories and issues raised by the documentary there are people- i.e. myself, my family and associates, who were already aware of these issues and realise that theses ‘revelations’ are NOT new. So, this series is more than welcomed if it educates those people that were not aware of our history.
One of the key points I wanted to share my opinion on further was:
1. The existence of Black people in Britain
The documentary highlighted that Black people have been in Britain for many years and that over time our stories have been forgotten. Actually, I believe the appropriate word here is hidden. The fact that our history not just in Britain but across the globe has been hidden shows that as a race we have always been and will continue to be oppressed. Our culture is often used by other races and then labelled as their own. This could be in the form of our clothing, our hairstyles and our music. I think that the onus has to fall partly on ourselves for the lack of unity among us and perhaps the lack of keeping our history alive too.
The documentary also raised the fact that there are many people who appear Caucasian and who think they are completely ‘white’ or ‘English’ but have Black ancestry. This brings me on to a point that was raised by David himself during the panel discussion. David who is of mixed heritage stated that we should encourage integration and that this shows we are making progress.
"I have no issue with integration, and agree it should be encouraged as long as it is not at the expense of our own culture."
From what I have witnessed, more often than not when two races come together and when one of them is Black it is the Black culture and heritage that may be lost. This is evidenced by the example given in David’s documentary. Cedric Barber who is a direct descendant of Francis Barber, (a slave that was taken from Jamaica by Colonel Richard Bathurst) stated that he was unaware for a long time that he was related to Francis. So, my first questions were “Why was he not aware?” “Was this hidden?” “Did his family not pass this information on and if not, why not?”. When Black people or those of mixed heritage are asked “Where are you from?” they are often proud to list the many countries they are linked to and have family from, but when ‘English” people are asked, what do they say? How many of them have Black descendants? How many of them are truly ‘English’? Why do they not list the number of places they have ties to? If they do not know why don’t they know? If they do, why do they not share this information as quickly and as freely as others do? Are they ashamed?
"It upsets me that society and western culture always associates anything negative with people of colour and that having darker skin is such a problem."
We have a long way to go before anything changes but as long as we keep pushing progress, perhaps one day change will come. If not in my generation then the generations to come after me.
Images courtesy of the Black British Business Awards.