Black History Month is a commemoration of the history, achievements and contributions of black people. It is celebrated in the U.S and the U.K, and in each place this celebration takes different forms. As Black History Month draws to a close, this is the perfect time to reflect on the diverse contributions to culture by those who are of African and Caribbean descent right here in the UK.
In recent years, there has been a general discomfort when black people attempt to celebrate themselves on their own terms. Some may argue that it’s still a present force to this day. On a positive note, there has been a surge in black people refusing to mute their blackness. As a people, we are refusing to minimise our greatness, and, in this post, I’ll be recognising Black Britons who have used their positions to shape the way the world sees people of colour:
Nicole Crentsil and Paula Akpan – Founders of Black Girl Fest
Black Girl Fest celebrates all that is great about black women and girls all over the U.K. It is one of few POC festivals that champion #BlackGirlMagic in all its glory. This year, the focus of the festival was facilitating the growth of black women. Featuring talks, workshops and masterclasses, there’s no denying that Black Girl Fest is inspiring black women to be proud of their achievements and to celebrate what sets them apart from the rest.
Akala – Author, Poet and Activist
Akala aka Kingslee James Mclean Daley isn’t afraid to speak out about issues affecting the black community. He has appeared on shows such as Question Time where he has made it his duty to address misconceptions surrounding black people and black culture. He is also hailed as one of this country’s socially conscious rappers. In 2008, he launched the Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company, which provides writing workshops for 13 – 25-year olds.
Audrey, Milena and Tolly – The Receipts Podcast
Since its launch in 2016, The Receipts Podcast has been all about real talk with no filter. Hosts Audrey, Milena and Tolly have used their platform to encourage women of colour to be vocal about the important issues they deal with. No topic is off limits, whether its colourism in the workplace or interracial dating. There’s never a dull moment with this podcast and the ladies are praised by fans for adopting an open and unapologetic approach with every topic they discuss. Let’s also not forget that they have made podcast history by being the first podcasters of colour to top the iTunes Chart.
George The Poet – Spoken Word Artist
George The Poet is a spoken word artist who speaks out on social issues. In an interview with The Sunday Times, he openly talked about young black people being interpreted, understood and discussed from the perspective of white people. The acclaimed artist said he got into poetry because it offered an opportunity to ‘talk about social progress’. George makes no secret of the fact that society is marred by many inequalities, which he addresses in his outstanding performances.
Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene – Authors of Slay in Your Lane
Hailed as ‘the book of 2018’ by The Observer, Slay in Your Lane isn’t just a guide, it is a movement! Black women have had to overcome many obstacles to achieve success in many areas of their lives and this book acknowledges those struggles and gives a voice to the next generation. Featuring 39 successful black women including author Malorie Blackman, singer Jamelia and British Vogue’s Publishing Director Vanessa Kingori, the book proves that the voices and experiences of black women in this country are valid.
Stormzy – Rapper
Stormzy is one of this country’s most influential rappers. His debut album Gang Signs and Prayers dominated radio play last year and topped the UK Album Charts. Stormzy’s career is going from strength to strength. The rapper, whose real name is Michael Omari, has also used his platform to address issues affecting black and underprivileged communities. We all remember the verbal reprimand he launched on Prime Minister Theresa May regarding Grenfell and he has also announced the launch of a scholarship for black students at Cambridge. Stormzy has used his position to make a valuable difference in the lives of black people and he’s also proved he isn’t afraid to hit back at critics too.
Ronke Adeyemi – Brown Beauty
Brown Beauty is the UK’s leading online beauty magazine for women of colour. The website was launched by Ronke Adeyemi in 2014 when she noticed that there weren’t many online beauty destinations for Black and Asian women. Brown Beauty features the latest product launches and interviews with inspirational women who are redefining what beauty means for women of colour. Ronke and her team of writers and influencers have taken beauty for women of colour to the next level by hosting events such as natural hair and skincare workshops for UK Black Brits.
Bilal, Patrick, Kwaku and Tom – Over The Bridge Podcast
Bilal, Patrick, Kwaku and Tom are the hosts of the Over the Bridge Podcast. The foursome, who are all Cambridge graduates, have used their platform to talk about their experiences at University. They have touched on some very important topics on their podcast such as colourism, black excellence and cultural appropriation. Society has placed more emphasis on the struggles of women than the struggles of men, and the Over the Bridge podcast has has made it acceptable for black men to engage in unfiltered conversation.
There’s no denying that the Black Britons in this article will continue to have a great impact on our society. They have all used their voice to raise awareness of the issues that affect black men and women daily. They are bold, unashamed and unapologetic and these are the traits we should all celebrate and emulate.