In light of the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, how is this year different?
“The movement undoubtedly highlighted widespread racism and police brutality around the world but, for many black people, it’s something we have been living with our whole lives. I hope there will be a different approach this year, but I’m sceptical as to whether real change will happen. We need to tackle systemic racism once and for all, and while BLM has been incredibly important in highlighting this, ultimately change needs to come from the top. Governments around the world need to take legislative action once and for all.
“During last year’s Black History Month, I created the NkrumahSzn merchandise for the Afro Native streetwear brand featuring @AdwoaAboah as part of Ghana’s ‘year of return’ (an initiative set up by our government to encourage investment into the country). People in my industry have a cultural responsibility to actively champion Black History Month and elevate black voices to the wider world.”
Why is it important for non-black people to acknowledge and celebrate Black History Month?
“The celebration and acknowledgement of black people is essential for everyone. While it’s a time to celebrate black culture, it’s also an important time to highlight systemic racism and make steps to try and tackle it head on. Everyone has a part to play. Through this, people can unlearn their unconscious bias towards race and take steps to co-exist with all races peacefully. Through this coexistence, we can begin to facilitate lasting solutions to tackle racism. We must simultaneously acknowledge and celebrate black people to create awareness, and foster empathy for the black experience.”
How can non-black people be allies?
“You can't be an ally to something or someone you don’t know or respect. You must connect to black culture through an unprejudiced experience of it – from music and food, to fashion and architecture. Through genuine moments of experience, you become an ally to the black community. Remember, it is not the responsibility of a black person to educate you on black history, you must educate yourself. There are countless ways you can do this, but one of the best is to seek out literature from black authors – if you read one thing this Black History Month, make it All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes by Maya Angelou.”