In community events organised by Londoners of African descent, there have been some refreshing developments with regard to the acknowledgement and acceptance of the diverse range of our talents, skills and tastes in recent times. Nowadays, I can perform in events of this sort and sing songs from the opera and classical music repertoire and receive appreciation for my contribution. This state of affairs was not always the case.
The spoken word poetry performed nowadays also seems to be a great deal more inclusive in its themes than the content that was shared in similar events back in the day. The demographics of Black Londoners have shifted tremendously in a couple of decades. In fact, the mind boggles when one thinks about the potential for the creative expression that could emerge in the not too distant future.
I haven’t been attracted to attend many remarkable Black History Month events this year. I sense that this is because we might be in a period of change, when the Black communities of the UK might be more interested in the present than the past. Fewer of us seem to need to look backwards in genuflection to heroes and heroines of our struggle, not because we have forgotten what our forbears went through, but possibly because we’re realising that we can make history ourselves for future generations and would like to get on with doing that.
Perhaps we also starting to accept that we not likely to derive much benefit from reflecting about the painful moments in our past, when we can also create space to celebrate aspects of our history that focus on our strengths.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was more of an emphasis on creating new things that draw inspiration from the past, in future Black History Month seasons?