Black History Month – Reflections, Reading & Resources
October is Black History Month, a national celebration of Black history, arts and culture throughout the UK. This year’s theme for the month is ‘Proud to Be’, inviting Black and Brown people to celebrate their heritage and culture in their own way and in their own words.
More than a year on from the Black Lives Matter protests, this month-long celebration provides an important moment for reflection. At Makespace Oxford, we’re reminding ourselves of the commitments we’ve made as an organisation to challenging structural inequality and racism, examining how our actions have supported these goals, and identifying where we need to do more.
We have found that our own actions have fallen short of our ambitions in the past year, leading to very real consequences for valued members of our team and community. In the summer of 2020, we committed to examining our role in perpetuating structural racism and challenging ourselves to do better, but we realise we have not done enough. We have much more to learn and a very long way to go as an organisation.
We share this statement with renewed commitment to listen, learn and evolve, and to take thoughtful and positive action towards become a more equitable and anti-racist organisation with open hearts and open minds.
As we continue our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion efforts internally, we’ve compiled a short list of resources others have shared with us that we’ve found helpful, in case they might be useful to others. This is just a small selection, and the list is by no means exhaustive. We’d love to know your thoughts, or if you have any anti-racism resources you think we can add to our list. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share.
1. The Black History Month Website
The Black History Month website is packed with resources, news, features and events celebrating Black history, culture, art and more. We recommend checking out the 2021 BHM magazine, the event listings, and the resource pack.
2. Charity So White
Charity So White is a POC-led initiative tackling institutional racism in the charity sector. The organisation urges us to have candid conversations about racism, and to demand that our leaders to take action in dismantling the structures that allow everyday incidents of racism to occur.
Beginning as a hashtag back in 2019, #CharitySoWhite encouraged people of colour to share their experiences working in charities and non-profits, revealing an undeniable racism problem in the sector.
Charity So White have made a number of great resources available for Black History Month, including a collection of stories of Black joy, profiles on Black heroes, and visions of a fairer future.
Here is one of their stories of Black joy, featuring Joanna from the British Red Cross.
3. The Booska Paper
We’ve shared it before and we’ll share it again: the Booska Paper from the Ubele Initiative is an important and challenging piece of writing that exposes structural racism in the third sector.
Named after the Somali word for ‘position’, the paper amplifies the voice of black and minoritised community leaders in the sector, identifying the issues that need to be addressed for us to achieve a fairer and more equitable sector.
You can read the paper here.
4. Video: Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace with Janet Stovall
This short, must-see video with diversity advocate Janet Stovall shares a practical and achievable action plan for creating workplaces where people feel safe to be their unassimilated, authentic selves.
5. Ubele Initiative
The Ubele Initiative, who produced the Booksa Paper above, are a fantastic organisation helping to build more sustainable and stronger diasporic communities across the UK. They support a wide range of community organisations and groups through social action, community enterprise development and next generation leadership initiatives.
Find out more about their work here.
6. Article: Diversity & Inclusion in the Third Sector
This article from Agency for Good highlights a number of practical ways that you can bring anti-racism into your workplace, from openly showing support to diving deeper into your own learning about the issue. It also shares some useful resources on inclusive marketing, diversity, and more.
Read it here.
7. Article: How can white charity leaders tackle racism?
This insightful article by Akiko Hart and Rosie Tressler shares learnings from a short course they designed and ran to scrutinise the role of whiteness in the third sector. At the same time, it reminds us of our accountability to do the work required to become truly anti-racist.
The article touches on key concepts that allow structural racism to continue, including unconscious bias, philanthropy, white fragility and even imagery in communications.
Read the paper here.