Black History Month

Shy One _26, DJ

 

Why is Black History Month important?

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Black History Month is so very important because our existence, contributions and experiences on this planet have been suppressed and ignored by the curriculum. You have to go actively out of your way as a Black person to find out anything about your ancestors, excluding transatlantic slavery and the civil rights Movement.

What does it mean to you personally?

To be honest, October is just like any other month to me, as I’m interested in Black History every day. I do, however, appreciate the increase in events and exposure it can inspire the younger generation to take an interest in their history!

Do you think racism is still a problem on the gay scene?

I’ve only recently had a glimpse into the queer nightlife scene of London and its mostly been spaces for PoC, but the fact we’ve needed to create these nights says something in itself really.

 


Bisi Alimi _40, Activist

 

Why is Black History Month important?

This is a very important question because it sets the stage for the argument against it. I’ve seen over the years on social media, and on traditional media, the debate on why we need Black History Month. Most of the antagonists are just typically racist and this is not my own way of shutting people up. Most are just blatantly stupid, or ignorant of history.

Like LGBT History Month, Black History Month is a reminder of the injustice faced by black people at the hands of slave owners. It is not simple a whinging and moaning mouth. It celebrates and appreciates how black culture has transformed the United Kingdom. Our food, dance, fashion, education and much more. Today, for example, you can see the influence black music has on many forms of western music today.

It is also a period where there is a deep black conscious awareness among young black people who have little or no contact with the integral part of their culture because of globalisation.

What does it mean to you personally?

As a first generation immigrant, it really means a lot to me. It means a lot first as a black person living in a strange land with brutal history connected to that strange land. Black History Month is not just for black people. It is also a time for white people to appreciate their whiteness and privilege.

It is also a sober time for me. I take time to reflect on the Atlantic slave trade route and how my fore fathers got here, in chains and shackles.

On a more positive note, it affords me the great pleasure of pride to celebrate great African leaders. Men and women who shaped the history of the race.

Is racism still a problem on the London gay scene?

This is like asking a woman if rape and sexism is still an issue. Personally, I’m tired of talking and going on about racism on the gay scene. It sucks and really makes the whole concept of community unattractive. I stopped going, as I can’t see myself mingling with people that think within prejudice. We now have a gay community that flirts with rightwing ideology. I mean, where is our sense of history? These are the same people that wanted us hanged and stoned to death.

Some members of the gay community are a part of UKIP, BNP and EDL. That’s just pure bullshit. You can’t support this group of racists and still argue you believe in equality.

Leading up to the Brexit vote, I was a guest on Queer Question Time. I argued that the debate around immigration in this country is racist and I got booed by white gay men in the audience. All they have to do is visit a detention centre where people like them are locked up, and they will understand.

So, yes racism is very out there in the gay community, and thanks to populist political ideologies promoted by egocentric politicians, racism is becoming fashionable now within the gay community.

Most often, reinforced by the gay media as well.

 


Mykki Blanco _30, Performer

 

Why is black history month important?

Because as Black People and Brown people we have to make sure our history is remembered, told, and learned. Historically our history has been whitewashed, has been erased from societies and cultures that were not as compassionate, were not as progressive as people are now. There is also healing in history.

What does it mean to you personally?

It’s a reminder of all of the greatness that our people have created and achieved in the world, and an understanding of why the world is the way it is today.

Is racism a problem in the LGBTQ community? 

Of course. Just google #GAYMEDIASOWHITE lol.

 


Josh Lee _25, Writer

 

Why is Black History Month important?
For me, Black History Month reminds us that we are more than the things that hold us back. Slavery and colonisation happened, racism happens, but if you stripped that all away, we would still be the African diaspora, innovators in music and culture and art and technology. Yes we use the month to mourn the evil that our ancestors faced, and the struggles we still face today. But it’s important to celebrate everything that we have built and created. The world owes so much to black people, and it’s empowering to spend time reflecting on all of our contributions. It can wake us up, galvanise movements, and give us all an extra coat of armour to deal with the daily gripes we face as a people. Finding the joy in being black, while the world is still so hostile to us, helps us survive.

What does Black History Month mean to you personally?
To me it’s all about the culture, and what we’ve created. I focus on that output and I try to look towards the future during Black History Month. I read work by black journalists, I browse black cabaret and music on YouTube. I watch contemporary TV created by black people. I try to help new black writers where I can. Black culture is experiencing a renaissance right now, and listening to Beyonce and Solange, Chance The Rapper and Skepta, Corinne Bailey Rae and Ingrid, is extra special this year, especially considering the rightwards shift in political landscapes and increased racism all over the world. This October, making space to immerse myself in the things we’ve created has felt super urgent.

Is racism still a problem on the London gay scene?
Yes. But what’s important right now are the spaces that are springing up all over the scene for us. The Cocoa Butter Club is providing a space for cabaret artists of colour in Camden; Pussy Palace is a women-centred, trans-inclusive night which treats the needs of queer and trans black women as sacred; gay media is waking up and celebrating diversity within the community. MNEK is one of the most important queer musicians right now, and he’s blackity black, black, black. Social racism persists, but I encourage black LGBT people to find spaces – and build spaces – where it happens less. Unfortunately, the scene is white-dominated and that will always lead to racism. All we can do is find alternatives. And when we can’t do that, say “fuck you” to the dickheads and continue to twirl through their nonsense.

I hope the next generation of black LGBT people grow up entirely unaffected by the “no blacks” crap on Grindr. Not necessarily because white people have stopped saying it (I’m not that optimistic); but because they’re too in love with their blackness to give a shit.

 


MNEK

 

Another of our pap shots! We love a pap shot these days. We’ll be speeding through Parisian tunnels on motorbikes next. Last month it was former popstar Lady Gaga at Jodie Harsh’s dragstravaganzah Dollar Baby.

This month, it’s Grammy-nominated London local, the lovely MNEK! But this was slightly different, we didn’t just happen to see him on the way in. We arrived with him! Going up in the world innit! Uber Exec and everything. It had air conditioning! He totes approved of our Black History Month issue and wanted a picture in it. How lovely!

Unlike us, he’s a polite, sweet, well brought-up young man! Keep doing what you’re doing MNEK! xoxo

 

 


Munroe Bergdorf _DJ and Activist

 

Why is Black History Month important? 

In order to understand how and why we are as we are, as a society, we need to look back and look deeper into the past. So much of black history has been wiped from mainstream history books, is missing from school syllabuses or is misconstrued in a current social context. So Black History Month is a great time of education for all, and an opportunity for us to understand each other better.

What does it mean to you personally?

As a black trans woman and an activist, every day is black history day. In the UK there’s so many events that black people have been written out of. So to me black history is British history and it’s important that we are all conscious of the past, so that we can all move forward consciously.

Is racism still a problem on the London gay scene?

Racism is a huge problem in the gay scene for sure. I think we all across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum could stand to think a little deeper into how we treat each other. It’s crazy to think how it was a black trans woman who sparked the Stonewall riots and yet black trans women have only just started to have a voice within the community. I hope that in this month people really start questioning why the world is how it is, and become open to information that they didn’t know before. Or at least be willing to change their minds on what they thought they knew about Great British history.

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