This is a month that doesn't mean a lot to many people. For me, and the 3% of black people that make up the British population it means an entire month that aims to educate Britain of the cultural backgrounds and reputable achievements of black people. This is Black History Month.
It's not widely advertised or even celebrated, it's just something I have always been aware of. I'm second generation British, and fear that my culture will deteriorate in time, but I'm not prepared for that to happen, and feel it can remain as long as people put in the effort. It's not just about the food and the music but the general feeling of belonging to something that people before me have fought for.
I am intruigued by history, Black history in particular, so when my own race call me a bounty because I liked S Club 7 at fourteen or have just graduated from uni, I don't try to defend it. I got down to the funky beat, I also had the best three years of my life studying at the University of Chester. It is not acting white because I like a certain band, or that I want better for myself, I am just grabbing all opportunities with both hands, and so are the thousands of other educated black men and women.
My Nan and Grandad did not endure racism and rejection for me to run around with knives and guns and sit on the dole. Nor did they share houses with other families, fight to be educated and most of all listened to, for me to throw it back in their faces. Yes, our race is a minority and a lot more needs to be done, but far too many people are biting the hand that feeds them, the recent riots are proof of that. So much has changed in the last sixty years, than ever before, I've only been here for twenty-four of them but history is what needs to be taught, maybe it will change a few of the youths perspectives on things.
I was raised being aware of my surroundings, my Nan went on to marry a white man, he embraced more of our culture than we did his, but I also was maybe one of five black girls in my year. Mixed race doesn't count as black if you are being raised by your single white mother, like the media seems to believe. Ask Obama, he found out about his history on his own. I was brought up on it, and at home I embraced what I ticked on forms Black British/Caribbean.
We did the traditional 'Jamaican' things. Saturday soup, rice and salad with Sunday dinner, hot milk with cereal, nine nights and pardners, but we also did chippy on a Friday, and had sleepovers that weren't just at our relatives, trust me that one's a biggy. When I was younger I was naive to think you are where you're born, I have had this debate many of times, born in England, makes you English right? No, there is a reason why I tick the Black Caribbean box on those forms, not only for statistics, but because of my heritage. My heritage that I embrace when I knead dumplings, just as much when I willie bounce, but like I said, it's not just about the food and the music, it's about that old saying, knowing where you have come from to know where you're going.
I am grateful that a month is set aside for us to not celebrate being black but to recognise all it has taken to get to this point. Black History is created everyday, whether good or bad, it is molding me and the future generations. I just hope when my four year old nephew reaches my age, he too embraces his heritage rather than the thuggish antics route that so many others have taken.
I cherish this quote 'Learn to dream, believe and achieve!' It's what our forefathers fought for.