It’s time to listen on Black History Month

Jack May 22 October 2015

It’s all too easy to dismiss the increasing number of ‘history months’ as a fad – as some kind of a new-age, trendy, lefty instinct to designate certain things and certain groups in a certain way as worthy of particular attention for the duration of a seemingly arbitrary month.

This is not a helpful way forward. Ultimately, it’s vital that we’re all alert to racism, and alert to the kind of language that is alienating, xenophobic, or oppressive. That’s a duty that all of us face all the time – and it’s important that we fulfil it.

However, Black History Month gives us all an opportunity to go further. It can be a chance for us to listen to voices of the past, and – most crucially – to learn.

On this issue, people of colour must take the lead, and everyone else must have the grace, and the decency, to sit down, shut up, and listen. If people of colour want to mark Black History Month, they must be supported.

If people of colour want to involve anyone else in the marking of Black History Month, those people ought to be active and willing participants.

In our Part 2 supplement this week, we wanted to create a visually rich feature focused on the figures and experiences of FLY – Cambridge’s network for women of colour.

It gave us a unique opportunity to highlight the personalities behind one of Cambridge’s most active and compelling student campaigns.

Crucially though, that feature was entirely led by Audrey Sebatindira, our Columns Editor, and one of the main women behind FLY. We are enormously grateful to her for helping us to celebrate Black History Month, and to all the women of FLY who contributed articles and advice to the Black History Month Special.

In the microcosm that is Cambridge, it’s easy to forget or overlook issues of global magnitude – especially for those in a position of privilege, who may feel only ripples, where others feel waves.

If you need a reminder, and if you wish to be inspired, visit the incredible FLY website, at