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Myth of Perfection – Time for Change


Ramatu Umar Bako, (Volunteer) Programme Officer, Engagement and Participation at Pachedu

Black History Month is historically celebrated in October the world over however, considering the importance of the celebration, we would like to see ongoing conversations take place all through the year. The theme for this year was – ‘Time for Change.’ Time to change negative stereotypes, time to do away with prejudice and racism and time to change media narratives of black people and immigration by highlighting what black people have contributed to UK society and to the world.

You may wonder why this is necessary and I would say, it is because of the ongoing debates about the negative effects of immigration.  When people hear about immigration, people automatically think of black people coming over illegally to the UK in boats and claiming asylum. Hence, there is the need to highlight the fact that many people come into the UK legally and are making positive contributions to the economy and to the communities they settle in. Black history month is an occasion to engage in this conversation and show case other narratives. On a sustainable level, it is also an opportunity for people in diaspora or black immigrants to identify with their cultural identity and expose their children to their heritage.

When I first heard about Black History Month (BHM), I wondered ‘which history’ and ‘’which black people?’ is being referred to? Many times, when people think of ‘black history,’ they think about African American History. They forget that the black race is not homogenous and black people have diverse history and backgrounds. Even when you talk about African black people, there are differences in perspectives and histories of those from North Africa, West Africa, South Africa, and Central Africa. Africa is so wide and diverse, it’s like having many continents in one continent. As a black person or person of colour, it is important to lend a voice to such conversations as a means of creating awareness, encouraging community engagement and civic participation.

Initially, BHM was created to focus on the contributions of African – Americans in the United States however, it has become a global celebration for black people everywhere. With an understanding of diversity and shared histories, it is important to also realise that black history month will mean different things to different people. Not only that, but many will also view its importance from different lens. Consequently, black history month is a celebration for all people of colour as they deem fit.

As a development worker, an immigrant and person from the Black and Ethnic Minority (BAME) community, supporting intercultural conversations and encouraging civic participation is at the heart of what we do at Pachedu for all the reasons given above.

The focus for our Black History Month conversations was on ‘action not words’ in relation to the theme ‘Time to Change.’ The conversation started with the movie screening of a documentary by Pachedu called ‘Paisley Pioneers’ exploring the double burden immigrants face. Racism and discrimination which is further compounded with being expected to fix the problem themselves. After the movie screening, participants were invited to share their experience as black people in Scotland. It was heart-warming to see the challenges faced by African immigrants over the years and the progress that has taken place. It was also worthy to note that the community recognises some of these positive participations and seeks ways to widen and expand the conversation. We need to highlight the importance of continuous engagement and collaboration to improve economic, health and wellbeing – ensuring that no one is left behind.

The history of black people in Scotland is wide and diverse with the many rich cultural background and heritage in the community. Many came into the community as students, missionaries and refugees and have established roots into a Scottish lifestyle.

At a time when there is so much negative media around immigration, it’s important to showcase positive contributions. It is also important to take active steps to honour such achievements by supporting black owned businesses, entrepreneurs, professionals, and students. It is a great opportunity to fund, support and work with charities like Pachedu that support anti-racism and discrimination and promotes equity, equality, diversity, and inclusion. But most of all, it is an avenue to have conversations about humanity and the beauty in diversity and come together as one. Because ‘all lives matter!’

* The Pachedu Charity simply called Pachedu was established in 2016 in Renfrewshire as a registered charity working with diverse minority ethnic groups to promote diversity, tolerance, and dignity for humanity

Pachedu, in the Shona dialect, is defined as ‘self-representation’. We aim to advance equality of opportunity for marginalized minority communities in and around West of Scotland initially. We provide activities that: reduce isolation, advance health and socio-economic wellbeing, empower young people to explore and nurture artistic talent, promote inter-generational and inter-cultural activities and amplify the voice of minorities.