For Black History Month in the UK, ITB celebrated and commemorated Black British history throughout the month of October. We hosted internal weekly online events centred around the critical need for a comprehensive education of Black History in the UK and opened up in-depth discussions about racism. One of the key takeaways has been that Black History is more than just a month of awareness – we must continue to educate ourselves on an ongoing basis as there is much to learn.
To start the month, members of the ITB London team joined a lunch and learn on anti-racism hosted by London-based writer, speaker, podcast host and creative, Jess Mally. Jess lead a frank discussion about racism and how to be an ally, and we are incredibly grateful and thankful to her for her time spent with us to share her knowledge and insight on this topic.
Moving into the second week, we opened up the conversations to those internally by creating drop-in open forums to discuss thoughts and learnings based on resources shared, which included articles, books, films and podcasts. These open forums were unstructured and designed to allow team members the opportunity to express what was on their minds, ask questions and initiate honest conversations to facilitate growth. Three themes and key learnings emerged from these conversations: 1) A lack of education in the UK on Black history as this is not part of the current curriculum 2) Dodging the spotlight: the UK tends to use the US’ history & current issues to defer attention away from our own doorstep and 3) Face Up Together: We need to face up to our own biases (we all have them) and actively re-train ourselves to change our thinking and behaviours. It was humbling to have such honest conversations across the team, and we are thankful to everyone who joined and shared their thoughts, feelings and experiences. Through conversations like these we really can begin to learn together.
In the third week, New Business & Marketing Manager at Octagon UK, Lauren Estwick, hosted a virtual panel whose speakers included industry dons; founder of Psalt Impact, Sam Akinluyi, founder of The Barber Shop, Dino Myers-Lamptey and co-founder of Imagen, Jay Richards. The conversation was incredibly powerful, insightful, and explored a range of personal and professional experiences that have shaped their journeys so far. They shed light on how each of us can actively influence our worlds and how we should all be equally motivated to create a culture that celebrates difference. Jay, Dino and Sam all brought into focus – through sharing their experiences – ways in which we can learn and develop to become inclusive, so a massive thank you to them for being so open with us and offering such personal stories.
To close Black History Month in the UK, we have one more event on November 3rd organised by our partner Creative Equals – an inclusive language workshop. This session will be hosted by award-winning business coach, TV presenter and inspirational speaker, Lydia Amoah. This workshop is set to equip ITB team members with a clear understanding of how to harbour an inclusive culture through language as well as identify isolating language that can be exclusive and harmful. Designed to be fun, interactive and shame-free to encourage people to see that the road to inclusivity and equality means at times getting it wrong, but learning from it. Scenarios and case studies will be provided to bring in language that is current and includes all people, regardless of their age, race, gender or ability. Language is key to our work in connecting people and culture, so it is incredibly exciting, and necessary, to have the opportunity to learn how we can be better.
We look forward to closing off the month armed with a better understanding of Black British history, how to become – and actively behave as – allies and to continue to remember that Black History is more than just a month and should regularly be celebrated.