The Black History Month boycott

Updated: Here's the article!

The ArtsWom blog, after reading our post about boycotting Black History Month, thought it would be appropriate to email folks about the event to get opinions about the topic from outside the UK. They prepared this mini-interview "in honour of Black History Month..." I'd like to see more people answer these questions and so I told them that I'd encourage readers to answer them too, so they'll be checking the comments for your answers.

1. Can you please explain who you are and summarise your perspective of the aims and purpose of BHM?

Brian Kasoro, son of two great African parents. The purpose of Black History Month is to remind myself and the world of the history of my people, who I believe to be representative of the oldest (and wisest) human tradition on earth, with the understanding that no progress can be achieved in the future without an understanding of the past.

2. For 30 years, October has marked the celebration of black history and culture in the United Kingdom. Why is it important that we carry on this tradition?

I can't answer that directly because I'm not sure that much would change if the tradition was ended to be honest. I'm also not sure that any one person or cadre of people has the power to end the tradition. All that can happen from this point on is more progress. This so-called boycott can do nothing but get African people talking more about African history and that is never a bad thing. The tradition does not need to (perhaps cannot) be ended, it can only be extended. If Black History Month "ends" it will only be because it has evolved into a greater manifestation of education, meaning the replacement of an incorrect and incomplete European history with a more complete world history that contains the missing and/or non-corrupted African history which has been and is still purposefully and criminally eliminated from educational and media venues and denied to the world and all humans.

3. Which black personality has had the greatest influence on your life and why?

I'm not influenced by personalities but my parents and those siblings and friends who I call family have had the greatest influence on my life from a first hand perspective. From an historical perspective my ancestors Jesus, Malcolm X and Kwame Ture (probably in that order) have all served as my clearest beacons for guiding me in the right direction. My exposure to the account of Jesus turning over tables in the temple was probably my first exposure to a revolutionary act against exploitation. If I can turn over a few tables in my life, I'll be at peace with death.

4. Throughout the month there are numerous events running across the country, encapsulating various facets of black history and culture – what would your dream event be? No matter how impossible!

My dream event (and I think the eventual and logical direction for the Black History Week tradition) would be to have African history take its rightful place in the daily education and interaction of Earthlings. My dream event before that one (to respect the question) would be to have everyone join or start a weekly African history study group and the annual event if one is necessary could be more like an anniversary celebration of those community study groups, rather than just another day where we're asking someone to do something that we don't ask them to do any other day. Our holidays ought to be celebrations of what we've done the rest of the days.

5. Name one website that you would recommend to someone with an interest in black culture or black history (other than your own, of course!).

My dad's friend Benjamin Mchie started a website called The African American Registry that I think is a great educational and reminder tool for all of us, especially kids and our educational institutions. I think the logical and eventual direction of this site (or the idea at the root of this site if Mr. Mchie doesn't live to see the evolution) will be an African history registry and eventually the day when the Wikipedias (the so-called registries of history on the web) of the universe have a correct representation of African history.

6. What do you think of BHM and the decision by Voice Of Africa Radio to opt out of the celebrations?

It's their well-intentioned right to act in a manner that, to them, advances the cause of Africana studies. Like I said, I think this is a marketing tool for African history, whether that was their intention or not. The beauty of change is that everything and everyone contributes to it whether we want to or not, and if you try and withhold your contribution you sometimes end up making a greater one. This so-called boycott can only help further the evolution of the Black History Week tradition. If you are able to incorporate African history into your daily or weekly personal and communal routine then when Black History Month rolls around you'll already be celebrating it! Ashe.


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