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Celebrating Black British History (With a Scottish Twist!)

Friday 09-10-2015 - 14:24

The NUS Scotland Black Students Campaign have produced a pack to help you organise for Black History Month, and right across the year. This year we're particularly encouraging a focus on intersectionality and bringing Black students involved in the wider student movement. The pack can be downloaded here

 

Hello and Namaste

Welcome to Black History Month 2015! This is a bit of a bittersweet blog for me as this will be my final Black History Month as NUS Scotland Black Students Officer.

This is a month when we celebrate the history of our ancestors and the history that is not shown in our curriculum. The historic figures that are not shown to us growing up and that we have to learn about ourselves. The history that is positive but through time and media influence is made to look negative.

Black History Month is celebrated internationally in February but here in the UK we celebrate it in October. So close to the start of the academic year, this is the first liberation history month on the NUS calendar, and it’s your first chance to engage with us at the Black Students Campaign and what we do.

We are in a time when black people are still fighting for equality and to take part fully in society. We struggle with a government whose agenda affects black students disproportionately, and a culture which puts us down and denies us our rightful place as equals in society. We have a long way to go and the fight will continue.

Black History in Scotland is so interesting! Every year we (rightly) celebrate the life and work of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. But, did you know that Robert Burns was part of the slave trade, working as a bookkeeper for a sugar plantation, built on the slave trade, in Jamaica? The influences Asian men had on our transport system, especially buses? Why we have certain street names in Glasgow, such as Jamaica Street? Our connection with Nelson Mandela? The 200,000 odd Indian Army soldiers that fought in the Second World War? It’s important that we remember the injustices of history, the legacy they left in the present, and the lessons they teach us for the future.

There are so many interesting facts about the history of Scotland’s black population and its effect on our world today. That history will continue to develop and diversify, not least as Glasgow becomes the first UK city to accept Syrian refugees.

I am so proud of the NUS Scotland Black Students’ Campaign’s involvement in Black History Month events this year. We have organised film screenings, dance lessons, a Black Herstory launch. We’ve also arranged an event as part of the ‘Students Not Suspects’ tour, which is happening at the University of Strathclyde Union.

The work of the NUS Scotland Black Students’ Campaign doesn’t stop at the end of this month. We are proud to be continuing the fight to stop the deportation of asylum seeker students, and for a country that is proud of its diversity. We will be looking at the concept of ‘black beauty’, particularly working with our incredibly important black women’s subcommittee, a joint initiative between the Black Students Campaign and the Women’s Campaign. And we’ll be ensuring we talk much more about black students’ mental health.

And we will always push for greater representation of black students within our students’ associations, within our culture, and within our communities. We still have a long way to go, even within NUS Scotland, but the times they are a changing. Of course I can’t do all this alone, and I give thanks to my great committee and the black women’s subcommittee, as well as the NUS UK Black Students’ Campaign, who support me endlessly in bringing this campaign alive.

So to finish, I would urge you to read up on the real history of the centuries gone by, to go along to events happening right across Scotland this month and educate yourself on an often-neglected piece of our history. I can’t wait to see modern-day black culture and black history bind together come to life. And always remember, Black History is more than just a month and we should remember it all every day, just as we remember the history taught to us every day in our curriculum and through the media. You can download our camapign, which can help not just with BHM but black students campaign events right across the year, here

Have a great month and, on behalf of the Black Students’ Campaign, have a great Black History month!

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