Each October in the UK is Black History Month, a festival at least partially inspired by the US Black History Month (also known as African-American History Month), which is celebrated every February.
This national event is designed to promote and celebrate the contributions made by people of African and Caribbean heritage to British society, as well as to foster a broader understanding of Black history in different parts of the world.
One way to honor Black History Month is to focus on improving our allyship. This may encompass building a richer awareness of Black experiences or rooting out any subconscious assumptions and subtle prejudices within ourselves.
Finding appropriate resources may seem difficult, so we have gathered some that you may find informative or illuminating.
Diversity and Marketing
Marketing overlaps with issues of diversity on many fronts. Effective marketing can resonate with an audience, re-framing existing diversity issues in a surprisingly or insightful way. Marketers also seek to engage people across a range of demographics, which requires sensitive and inclusive messaging. Relevant marketing-themed resources include:
- The Four Layers of Diversity
- Inclusive Language for Marketers: A Pocket Guide
- Inclusive Marketing
- BRiM : A resource to improve the representation of Black people in marketing
- Proud to Be Hub : Created by Meta, a platform to find Black creators for any projcet or industry
Some Black History Month marketing campaigns to be inspired by are:
In honor of 2021’s Black History Month, Spotify launched a number of curated playlist takeovers under the theme ‘Phenomenal Black Music’, while also highlighting podcasts run by Black creators. The campaign was effective as it was integrated intuitively into the Spotify user experience, elevating Black voices in a way that felt organic.
The Atlantic’s Inheritance campaign sought to unearth and collate lost Black experiences. Starting in February 2021, this campaign spanned 18 months, with its length tangibly reflecting the depth of the publication’s commitment to this project.
To commemorate Black History Month in 2020, Royal Mail installed four special-edition Black post boxes around the UK. The black boxes are strikingly decorated with gold trim, and each bears the name of a prominent Black Briton who has also been honoured with a Special Stamp – Sir Lenny Henry CBE, Yinka Shonibare CBE RA, John Barnes, Nicola Adams and Marianne Jean-Baptiste are among those who appear.
The campaign was effective because of the simplicity and virality of the post boxes, which were widely shared around social media.
The whole of this YouTube account is packed full of educational content, but if one video might serve as a springboard into it, it would be this one: Shirley Chisholm - The First Black Congresswoman.
- How To Move From Performative Allyship To Effective Allyship
- Make These 27 Books Part Of Your Anti-Racism Education
In addition to the books listed in the link above, we particularly enjoyed:
Ijeoma Oluo explores the nuanced reality of today's racial landscape – from white privilege and police brutality to systemic discrimination and the Black Lives Matter movement – with an insight and clarity that lays bare this complex and sensitive topic.
By sharing her sometimes cringe-worthy struggle to dislodge her own quiet prejudices, Debby Irving offers a fresh perspective of racial bias, stereotypes, manners, and tolerance. As she unpacks her own long-held beliefs about colourblindness, Irving reveals how this well-intentioned mindset actually works to perpetuate racial inequities.
Historically Black uses personal objects to map Black history. Each episode explores the story behind a listener-submitted artifact – a photograph, an instrument, a piece of jewellery – and in the process curates a sort of ‘people’s museum’ that honours the lived experiences of a number of Black Americans.
Witness Black History features interviews with people who were present for, or have close ties with, key moments in Black history. These moments span the historic accomplishments of a range of notable Black figures and key developments in the drive towards civil rights.
The Humanity Archive’s episode on Living Black History rejects a conception of Black History Month that consigns the struggles and achievements of Black people to the past, and instead focuses on how Black history continues to inform and shape a Black present.
Social Media Accounts to Follow
- @ibramxk – Ibram X. Kendi, director of Boston University Antiracism Center, writer for the Atlantic and NYT best-selling author
- @eji_org – The Equal Justice Initiative, which works to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment and racial inequality
- @ckyourprivilege – Founded by Myisha Hill, this account focuses on guiding ‘white folx on the journey of becoming actively Anti-Racist’
- @amandascgorman – Amanda Gorman, US inaugural poet
- @blackandembodied – Alishia McCullough, co-founder of #amplifymelanatedvoices and licensed mental health therapist
Films to Watch this Week
More than any other medium, film offers a tangible glimpse into a different place, time, and set of experiences. In this section we’ve listed some films that delve into a range of moments from Black history – and are currently available on UK streaming services!
This epic tale spans forty years in the life of Celie, an African-American woman living in the South who survives punishing abuse and bigotry. After Celie's abusive father marries her off to the equally debasing Albert Johnson, her life only deteriorates, leaving her to seek companionship wherever she can. The film explores her resilience and the durability of her dream of one day being reunited with her sister in Africa.
Selma explores a series of pivotal civil rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965. The film particularly focuses on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an iconic Black figure in the history of the United States, and builds to a spectacular climax depicting his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.
In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free Black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Confronted by cruelty as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life.
Hidden Figures spotlights the previously obscure lives of three brilliant African-American women at NASA – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson – and their contributions to the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. This stunning achievement would restore their nation's confidence, redefine the Space Race and galvanise the world.
We hope you found these resources helpful. If you have any other suggestions for content that might deepen understandings of this topic, please share them in the comments below.