It will not have escaped you that it is black history month in the UK. And lots of people from different walks of life are communicating that they support black owned businesses, black artists, etc.
But supporting people of black heritage (or any other minority) is not a tick box exercise. Just like sustainability isn’t only worth mentioning or actioning on at World Environment day. The environment needs nurturing every day. And Black people deserve to be seen and feel supported, every day.
I keep thinking about diversity in nature. I always tell my kids when we are in a space abundant with butterflies and dragonflies that these beautiful magical creatures can literally only exist in bio-diverse spaces.
Our human world is the same; it works at its best when we have diversity. Diversity of thought, diversity of work, diversity of people, diversity of understanding. It is in meeting the other with wonder and curiosity that we grow and develop. That we find in effect the magical.
Being a person of black heritage shouldn’t define your chances of ‘success’ in this world, but it does. I think it originates from entrenched institutional racism and internal struggles with identity.
As a person of mixed parentage (African/European) I have felt my fair share of this burden. For instance (to keep it business related), in the early days of setting up this business we used the strapline “Germanic bakes”. And there I was with my afro hair and brown skin selling quintessential Dutch and German cakes. And lets face it, quintessential Dutch does not look like me.
(picture: Foundervine awards evening in London)
Stories of not belonging, of being invisible, of being stigmatised, etc. are far and wide in the Black community. It is the reason companies like Foundervine were brought to life. It is the reason people from the diaspora had to rise up and write their own books about their histories. Showcase that they are so much more than the history of slavery. That our skin tone and hair textures come with beauty. That we are all indeed descendants of age old tribes from Africa who have deep rich histories and cultures that are worth knowing about. Like the Maka, my mother’s people from Cameroon, of whom I am a descendant.
This world is diverse. This country is diverse. The people in your communities are as diverse. To only see and celebrate them one month of the year is to miss the point of living together in wonder.
Let’s start seeing, celebrating and cooperating with all this abundance of diversity.