31 actions you can take this Black History Month and beyond
Make Black History Month 2022 more than a tick box exercise by championing Black culture 365 days a year. We’ve put together a list of 31 actions you can take to get things started. Change happens bit by bit, person by person, and the more people that get involved, the quicker change will come.
Remember, actions speak louder than words. Feel free to tick off the actions you’ve taken, or tweak the plan to suit your family, friends or organisation. Are you ready?
Read books by Black authors and books that explore different Black experiences
- Share what you’ve read with family, friends and colleagues
- Ask local venues to stock books by Black authors including your local library, bookshop, school, university etc – so the whole community can benefit from our stories
- Suggest authors and books to help make this happen
- Explore fiction, non-fiction, poetry and more to discover different Black experiences and how Black people have contributed to British society and beyond in so many ways
Read 70 Objeks & Tings – Celebrating 70 Years of Caribbeans in the UK by Museumand, The National Caribbean Heritage Museum
- Our fascinating book will take you on a journey into the history and culture of the Caribbean through 70 Objeks & Tings that many Caribbeans hold dear – especially the Windrush Generation
- The title is a nod to patois, a traditional form of language for many Caribbeans
- Each chapter is full of fun facts, insights and stories exploring Caribbean homes, culture and contributions to the UK.
- Our book may well signpost you to aspects of history and culture you could explore further
Listen to 1000 Voices
- This podcast series is on a mission to interview 1000 inspirational Black Britons
- Discover their contributions and how they’re changing the communities and industries they’re a part of
Discover the inspirational stories of people of action – including the pioneering “firsts”
- You’ll find plenty of incredible Black Britons to inspire you on the Black History Month website
Listen to those who are marginalised by society
- Listen with intent to what you are being told, particularly when you’ve asked them for information, advice and guidance
- Be an active listener, focus on the speaker, their words and body language
- Don’t argue with or disbelieve someone’s lived experience when they’re sharing their truth
- If it’s something you wouldn’t want done to you, don’t do it to others
Listen to GM5M – a podcast by younger Black Britons
- Growing up Black in the UK comes with a lot of unwritten rules and expectations
- Listen to Scarz & Eli speak their raw and honest thoughts on a range of topics
- The unique part of the podcast is that anyone can say “Give Me 5 Minutes” at any point, the timer starts, and that person has 5 minutes to speak uninterrupted
Observe, take note and act
- Some people say they don’t see racism and prejudice – is it because they pretend it’s not happening even if it happens in front of them?
- If you don’t acknowledge racism and prejudice exists, you could be said to be part of the problem
- Racism and prejudice, just like any issue, needs acknowledging before it can be eradicated
- Acknowledge how the world around you really is, not how you wish it to be
Observe, then stop the silence
- Make sure you fully understand the term, white privilege, including everyday examples
- If you are born white in the UK, you automatically have advantages and benefits that non-white people don’t have
- That doesn’t mean that white people don’t face inequality and can’t be disadvantaged in other ways – but it does mean white people aren’t discriminated against based on the colour of their skin
- Think about a time when you’ve seen white privilege in operation – if you are white, how did you feel? How do you think the non-white person was made to feel? If you are black, how did you feel? How do you think the non-white person was made to feel? How did white observers react? How did non-white observers react?
- Stop the silence on white privilege
- If you feel uncomfortable at any point, take time to reflect and explore your feelings
- Support is readily available in the workplace, via professional associations and trade unions for example
- Benefit from conversations with others who are marginalised and willing to share their experiences
Get involved, be an ally
- If you see something that could be called stereotyping or a micro-aggression – do something and call it out. Don’t be a bystander.
- Know your own prejudices and biases and keep them in check – ask yourself, could anything I do or say be considered a micro-aggression?
- Benefit from conversations with those who are willing to offer guidance on how they could benefit from an ally
- If you are black, don’t let people make you a poster child of “token” diversity
- Once you get a seat at the table, champion others so more marginalised groups can contribute their perspectives, enhancing experiences for everyone – whether in the workplace or wider society
- If you are white, be an advocate and use the platforms you have to lift others up. Speak out against injustice and champion those who are marginalised
Inspire and inform children and young people
- All children should be encouraged to learn about other cultures represented in their society from the earliest age
- Give them a subscription to a magazine where they can see children like them, their friends, and others – such as Cocoa Girl and Cocoa Boy
- Make sure children are given the opportunity to learn about world cultures at school, and reinforce that learning at home to enhance the experience – you’ll find plenty of resources online
Stay in the game
- A word of warning – you may go into the challenge of being an ally with gusto and zeal, but it can be wearing, especially when you feel as if you’re a lone voice, or you’ve hit a brick wall
- Take time for yourself but don’t give up, others will see what you’re doing and will hopefully be inspired to join you
- Remember the saying, “It’s always darkest before the dawn”
Stay strong, think
- Don’t feel you have to listen to or laugh along with tasteless racial jokes
- Don’t be afraid to stop people in their tracks – tell them the joke’s not funny, but offensive
- Walk away and put in a complaint to your employer or organisation
- This may not be easy, you may get a reputation as the “angry black person” but this is the kind of action needed to change things for the better
- Think about times when you’ve brushed off uncomfortable comments as “banter”, or when you’ve been called out for insensitive behaviour.
- Don’t hide behind the banter tag, think before you speak
- If you’re serious about being an ally, start putting together a new language of words, phrases and jokes
Lead the way
- Ask the company or organisation you work for to carry out a fairness and impartiality report. They should be happy to do it if they’re committed to improvement
Visit exhibitions and engage with diverse heritage spaces
- A good exhibition to start with is the Bank of England’s free exhibition: Slavery and the Bank – exploring the history of transatlantic slavery through its connections with the Bank of England and the wider City of London
- Learn how Black people helped to build Britain, and how others benefitted from their efforts
- Pick a period of history or a historical figure that interests you and explore further. British history is rich in information and inspiration when it comes to allyship and taking action for change. From Elizabeth I to the Industrial Revolution
Immerse yourself in Black History Month magazine, online 365
- Black History Month’s print edition is published annually in October – but the website and social media channels are available all year round, updated daily
- Check out the listings section for details of events and activities happening across the UK
- Explore the articles and submit your own article on the subject of your choice, including news stories, features, and opinion pieces
- Enjoy, learn, share!
Connect and share
- No one expects you to know everything, but what is expected is a willingness to learn
- Listen, learn, question, swap and share
- As you learn, pass the information you’ve gained onto others, so they can learn too
Find a mentor
- Seek out a trusted supporter or ally to be your counsel and mentor as you work towards being an ally yourself
- They may have faced similar experiences and can help you avoid the pitfalls and guide you to a better place
Create an event
- Invite a guest speaker to your event to discuss how you can take action and help eliminate racial injustice, and improve equality, diversity and inclusion in your organisation
- You could also focus your event on exploring how Black history is a part of British history – and therefore, why it should be championed 365
- Make it a real “myth buster” event to call out stereotyping and biases etc and encourage others to become informed, effective allies
Reflect, write down, change
- Learning is important, but the next step is to take action and become a game-changer
- Turning learning into action isn’t always easy though
- Writing things down helps you see patterns in your thoughts and behaviour, and the links between things
- When you change one thing, it’s likely to help change another thing, and so on
- Breaking things down in this way can make problem solving quicker and easier
Reflect on your power
- Everyone has a degree of power and it’s important to reflect on how that power is being used
- How regularly do you use it and to what effect? Are you helping to empower others or not?
- Consider your power in the context of all your social groups, including black family, friends and colleagues, white family, friends and colleagues, and other marginalised groups.
- If your power is oppressive or destructive in some way, it’s time to change
Think about your lifestyle
- Ask yourself these questions to learn more about yourself:
- What are the last five books you’ve read? What is the racial mix of the authors?
- What is the racial mix of the main characters in your favourite TV shows and films?
- What is the racial mix of people pictured in the photos and artwork in your home?
- Who do you notice on magazine covers? What roles are black people filling in these images?
- Who are your ten closest friends? What is the racial mix in this group?
- How does this compare with your friends, family and colleagues?
Think about where you live
- Ask yourself these questions to learn more about society
- Who is filling the different kinds of jobs and social roles where you live?
- Who is serving and who is buying?
- Can you see any links to racial identity?
- As you move through your day, what’s the racial mix of the people around you? At the coffee shop, on your way to work, in your workplace, at the gym, at the venues you visit at the weekend?
Think about your workplace
- Ask yourself these questions to learn more about your organisation
- Does your organisation need to do more to champion marginalised groups and other cultures?
- Where do you think your organisation is now in terms of equality, diversity and inclusion?
- What’s your evidence for this? What’s shaping your opinion?
- Has your organisation evolved and improved since you’ve worked there and if so, what enabled that change?
- Do you have the power or platform to improve equality, diversity and inclusion?
- Who would your workplace allies be, both inside and outside of your organisation?
- What is the racial mix of your organisation across different jobs and roles? Are you able to spend time with people of your own racial identity?
- When you talk about racism and prejudice in the workplace who’s engaged and who isn’t? Why do you think this is?
Create a personal playlist of songs to inspire, empower, get you through or just vibe to
- You’ll find loads on Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Fight the Power – Public Enemy
- Fight Song – Rachel Platten
- Give Your Hands to Struggle – Sweet Honey in the Rock
- Get Up, Stand Up – Bob Marley
- If It’s Magic – Stevie Wonder
- Keep Ya Head Up – Tupac
- Love’s In Need Of Love Today – Stevie Wonder
- Ne Me Quitte Pas – Nina Simone
- People Get Ready – Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions
- Same As It Ever Was – Michael Franti & Spearhead
- Strength, Courage & Wisdom – India Arie
- The 10 Stop and Frisk Commandments – Jasiri X
- The Colour In Anything – James Blake
- Try – Colbie Caillat
- We The People – A Tribe Called Quest
- White Privilege – Mackelmore
- White Privilege II – Mackelmore
- Stand 4 What – Nick Cannon
- This Is America – Childish Gambino
Is your organisation using ‘jaw-jaw’ to avoid or delay taking action?
- Watch out for strategies such as organising consultations, that could indicate your organisation has simply agreed to discuss issues around racial injustice, rather than taking real action for change. Consultations could be useful of course, as part of a process of change, but only if they’re acted upon and lead to the next step.
Change may mean losing something
- Making a change for the better can often mean losing something along the way, or having something delayed – so be prepared to make a trade off
- As the saying goes, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs
Go beyond the short term
- This Black History Month, start championing Black culture 365 days a year, not just in October
- Go beyond making gestures and make meaningful and effective interventions
Actions speak louder than words
- Focus on achieving real outcomes such as workplace policies that can be measured and evaluated
- Follow us on social media to let us know how you’re getting on with our 31 day guide, and to swap and share ideas – we’d love to hear them