“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” Nelson Mandela once said.
Black History month isn’t just a month, it's a history of the world since time began but it’s chosen to be celebrated in the United Kingdom in October and America in February of each year.
These months now take on a new sentiment more so than ever before, the world already in a fragile state with close to a global lockdown, due to the lack of response to the warning signs of COVID-19, also suffered on the 25th of May 2020 another pandemic that had spent too long being ignored; cultural and systemic racism.
This pandemic was on a wider and deeper scale and had been apparent for hundreds of years, yet it took another Black African American man to be killed at the hands of the police his name was George Perry Floyd JR.
Global collective trauma which is defined as; “a traumatic psychological effect shared by a group of people of any size, up to and including an entire society. Traumatic events witnessed by an entire society can stir up collective sentiment, often resulting in a shift in that society's culture and mass actions.”
Which is why from the moment people witnessed the horrific murder of this man the world began to stand up in a way I have never witnessed before. A mixture of pain, hurt, anger, defiance, strength, courage, and optimism all rolled into one.
Subsequently this incredible ball of forward-thinking behaviour and leadership lead to Black Out Tuesday and in the UK The Black Music Coalition within our industry. Our whole industry came to a standstill, top executives were listening to their people all the way through to the front door, the person who once fought so hard to be seen was visible and the artists plus all of those behind the scenes who make a track, a video even possible were there clear as day.
It’s like the whole world just got woken and shaken up in one stir.
From all the musical influences, the struggles and the successes, Black History Month is an opportunity for education, for understanding, and for change now more than ever before.
It’s of huge significance- genres of music wouldn’t have existed without Black artists, the charts as we look at them today is dominated by Black music culture and is seeing our industry and culture thrive more so now than ever because of it and rightly so.
As a Jamaican, Nigerian, British woman I resonate with Earl Sweatshirts words; “Too black for the white kids, and too white for the blacks” and within that recognise there has been a privilege in my own lived experience no matter how complex that has been.
Which is why intersectionality “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.” feels like the opportunity to understand that there is more that binds us than divides us and though lived experiences might be different there is a basis for understanding the struggles of one another whether you are from the Black community or not it requires us to take on a new level of listening, communicating and doing better in being more human.
“Take all the rules away. How can we live if we don’t change?” - Beyonce
Written by Amanda Maxwell
Independent Manager to Ellie Prohan
Equality Justice Advisory Group to BPI
Freelance Queens Founder
UK Music Futures Chair & Board Representative
All Black Coalition Member
She Said So Member
What you can do beyond Black History Month.
- Read up on how to be an Ally here
- Read the resource document with all recommendations from Kwame Kwaten’s Ferocious Talent here
- Keep up to date with Equality Justice Advisory Group to the BPI this group goes right to the top, left, right, up down within the industry and is set to make big changes.
- Ask what your business is doing to change and apply the 10 Step Plan created by Paulette Long and Ammo Talwar from the UK Music Diversity Taskforce.
- Join groups outside of your company to make progressive change such as the The Black Music Coalition, UK Music Futures Group, Freelance Queens and She Said So.